Category Archives: Grace

Amazing Grace And Why I Love Verse 2

Imagine being a 17-year-old girl who read just enough of the Bible to know she was a hopelessly wretched sinner deserving of eternity in hell. Imagine her not understanding that the Son of God took her place on the cross, shedding His innocent blood to satisfy the Father’s wrath towards her selfish, wicked thoughts. But then imagine her profound relief when she finally heard the Gospel and gratefully received God’s grace.

I don’t have to image that scenario. I lived it almost 47 years ago.

Looking back on that time, I praise the Lord for allowing me to sense my wretched condition, despite the pain of knowing that I belonged in hell. As strange as it sounds, God’s grace opened my eyes to see my sin. Until He did that, I was blind to my need for a Savior.

The hymn, Amazing Grace, always brings me back to that 17-year-old girl who experienced both the terror of her sins and the joy of God’s forgiveness. ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved beautifully encapsulates my testimony. Does it describe yours?

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Saturday Sampler: October 8 — October 14

Saturday Sampler graphic

Mark McIntyre, in Attempts at Honesty, asks us to consider whether or not Christian on Christian crime apples to us. His comment on discernment ministries may prick a bit, but it alone makes the blog post worth reading.

Do you ever feel tempted to skip reading your Bible? I sure do! So I appreciate Michelle Lesley’s response in The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it. (No, I didn’t submit the question.) Michelle answers this question with honesty and compassion while not compromising the truth in any way.

Not that Christians should still be confused on this matter, but the author of Unified in Truth answers the question, Can women teach or exercise authority over a man? with simple appeals to the Word of God. There’s really nothing to complicate the issue except our rebellion.

Ouch! Erin Benziger does some necessary, but painful, wielding of the Sword of the Spirit with her article Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Gossip in Do Not Be Surprised. She also encourages those of us who struggle with this sin to remember God’s grace.

According to Scott Slayton of One Degree to Another, Before You Get Angry about a News Story you might want to ask yourself some probing questions. Our “righteous indignation” may not be as righteous as we think.

You’ll have to read Elizabeth Prata’s The Gathering Storm in The End Time all the way through to get what she’s saying, but I urge you to work through her crucially important essay. Believe me, this lady understands where our society is headed, and we need to pay attention.

Although I don’t have the time to sign up for the online Bible Studies that Lisa Morris offers, I enjoy reading the companion blog posts she features in Conforming to the Truth. Launching her study of James, Lisa writes Genuine Faith: Knows Considers and Asks Without Doubting in a manner that encourages us to walk through trials as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe you’d like reading her thoughts on James 1:1-5.

Usually I won’t include articles in Saturday Sampler if they quote someone I have significant disagreements with (like Michael Brown) or favorably reference unbiblical practices (like psychology). Walt Heyer’s article, The Transgender Matrix: It’s Time to Choose the Red Pill in Public Discourse is a necessary exception. Heyer lived as a transgendered woman for eight years, only to realize that his surgery couldn’t change his genetic makeup. His article challenges politically correct assumptions about transgenderism, and for that reason  I feel compelled to recommend it.

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Holding The Lord Accountable For The Massacre In Las Vegas

Who Are WeA couple days ago, in response to a Tweet I wrote saying that the mass shooting in Las Vegas shows the urgency of preaching repentance, a non-Christian retorted (using unnecessary language that I won’t repeat) that those who died that night probably demanded that God account for His apparent absence and negligence. As shocked as I was that someone who knows me personally would post a vulgar word on my timeline, I was primarily troubled by the sheer arrogance of requiring the Lord to give an account to people He created.

I shouldn’t have been shocked. When John had cancer five years ago, I did a little fist shaking at the Lord myself. My arrogance horrified me even then, and I earnestly pray that I’ll never speak to Him defiantly again.

If I did such a blasphemous thing as a Christian, why should I be shocked that someone who doesn’t know the Lord would say something similar?

At the same time, I tremble for that man. Unless the Holy Spirit mercifully brings him to repentance and faith, he will spend eternity experiencing God’s wrath. He may think now that God owes us explanations for all the terrible things that happen in the world. He may even think God owes him explanations for the truly unjust things that he has endured throughout life. But sadly, he doesn’t understand that God owes us nothing, and that He will ultimately judge us rather than submitting to our judgment of Him. Scripture, in fact, warns us against presuming to question the Lord.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” ~~Romans 9:19-20 (ESV)

Rightly, Americans should feel outrage over Sunday night’s massacre. That gunman, in blatant rebellion against the Lord and His commandments, also shook a defiant fist at his Creator. His arrogant disregard for people created in God’s image ought to fill us with righteous indignation.

But let’s not presume that the Lord deserves our wrath. Let’s remember that we all, like that gunman, have sinned against a holy God Who will one day demand us to give an account for our rebellion against Him. If you haven’t repented and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ Who bore the wrath of God for all who trust in Him, please do so now. Please don’t be arrogant toward Him. As 59 people in Las Vegas learned Sunday night, you never know when He’ll call you to face Him.

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A Reason To Sing Of My Redeemer

Why do so many hymns center on the cross? If the Lord has allowed you to understand the horrifying depths of your sin, and then allowed you to experience the exhilarating relief of His grace, you know that we can sing about nothing more wonderful! Today’s hymn underscores the joy of singing about our Redeemer.

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The Obligation Freedom Brings

Not Your OwnCertainly, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin, and in His crucifixion the Lord exchanges His righteousness for our unrighteousness. Putting it another way, the Father now considers us righteous because Jesus paid the penalty of our sins (past, present and future) on our behalf. No sin we commit will undo His work of grace.

During my devotions this morning, the Lord brought me to an interesting passage in Colossians.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. ~~Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV)

The preceding verses highlight the wonderful truth that the Father qualifies us to share in the inheritance of the saints by reconciling all creation to Himself through His Son. Now in verses 21 and 22, Paul tells us that Christ has reconciled us to God, consequently presenting us to the Father as holy, blameless and above reproach. He proves that our reconciliation is genuine when we remain in the faith, not deviating from the Gospel.

The insistence on anchoring our righteousness solely in what the Lord did for us on the cross must remain in the forefront of our minds. So often, we try to take credit for His work of righteousness in us, mistakenly thinking that He requires us to maintain our salvation. We obey His commands with an attitude of self-righteousness, patting ourselves on the back for being such good little Christians.

So yes, we can rest in Christ’s finished work on the cross, assured that the Father sees us as righteous.

However.

I’ve seen evangelicals pervert God’s grace into license to sin. They reason that, since the Lord declares them righteous because Jesus died for their sins (past present and future), they can live in any way they please. Lately, they describe this approach to life as authenticity. In their estimation, they’re being true to themselves, convinced that the Lord is fine with it.

Yet the Bible teaches something entirely different, doesn’t it? Although Jesus has indeed borne the eternal consequences of our sins and therefore the Father sees us as righteous, the Lord now claims us as His property. Let me show you a passage written specifically about sexual sin that applies to sin in general.

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ~~1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

Dear sisters, God’s grace frees us from sin, but it also places us under obligation to Him. Rather than being authentic to ourselves, we must now be true to Him. Not that we in any way earn or maintain our salvation. Christ has already taken care of that. But in gratitude for His sacrifice, we need to recognize our obligation to live in ways that honor Him. We must reflect, however imperfectly, His holiness. At least we ought to desire to reflect His holiness.

Authenticity shouldn’t give any Christian an excuse to indulge in shameful thoughts, attitudes or behaviors. Instead, the wonderful grace of God should fill us with grateful devotion that inspires our joyful obedience to Christ.

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A Prayer To The One Who Owns Me

I love the grace of God! Knowing my wretchedness, I praise Him for shedding His precious blood to pay the penalty for my past, present and future sins. When I first heard the wonderful truth that Jesus died in my place, voluntarily taking the punishment that I deserve, I overflowed with joy!

At the same time, I instinctively understood that I suddenly belonged to Him. By being my Savior, Jesus Christ also established Himself as my Lord. And,  by the power of His Holy Spirit, I gladly acknowledged His authority to take my life.

The hymn I feature today celebrities the Lord’s glorious claim on my life, as well as my acceptance of His claim. It prays for Him to use every part of me for His purposes and His glory. Is this hymn also your prayer?

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Perspectives In Titus: The Liberating Grace And Its Obligation To Serve

Titus 2 v 14

Ladies, God got me really excited as I prepared today’s Bible study on Titus that I want to dive right in! So let’s look at our passage and then enjoy working through verse 14.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)

Last Monday, after we talked about Christ’s appearing, we noticed Paul’s boldness in proclaiming His deity. Now we circle back to the theme of God’s grace. Specifically, Paul’s words to Titus reveal God’s grace as a means to accomplish His purpose in establishing the churches in Crete, as well as the Church as a whole.

Verse 14 continues a complex sentence that begins in verse 11, and centers on the purpose and result of God’s grace. It immediately follows the assertion that Christ is indeed God with a further assertion that our great God and Savior Jesus Christ gave Himself. At the risk of distracting you from the primary point of this passage, I want to say a bit about the idea that our great God and Savior Jesus Christ gave Himself.

In John 10:18, Jesus explicitly declared that He would lay down His life of His own accord. Neither the Sanhedrin nor the Romans ultimately caused His crucifixion. Even God the Father didn’t force Him to the cross. True, His human nature asked for another way (Mark 14:35-36), yet He went voluntarily, focusing on the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).

Furthermore, He gave Himself on our behalf. As Jamieson, Fausset and Brown put it, redemption means to deliver from bondage by paying the price of blood. He took pity on our enslavement to sin, and bought us back by shedding His precious blood. See 1 Peter 1:18-19 for an appreciation of the value God places on Christ’s blood. Acts 20:28 teaches that He bought us as a church, not merely as individuals, although we must keep in mind that individuals make up the church. In relation to the verse before us, the emphasis is on the precious blood that Christ shed as a payment for His church.

Jesus redeemed us from lawlessness itself, rather than merely the penalty of sin. As verse 12 has already said, God’s grace trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions — redemption gives us the ability to say “NO!” to our sin nature. Barnes emphasizes that the Lord’s principle objective in redeeming us is our purity (or holiness), citing Hebrews 9:14 as a cross-reference.

He also redeemed us to make us a people belonging to Him. This point reminds us that redemption signifies His ownership of us (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Although we most definitely benefit from our liberation from our own sin natures, that wonderful liberation obligates us to serve Him in gratitude for His mercy.

Paul once again emphasizes a distinction between Christians and the world, especially because of the well-known lawlessness of Cretans. But Christians in all places and eras must separate from the corrupt cultures that surround us. Therefore, He had to purify us, since no sin can exist in His presence.

The Lord also redeemed us to be zealous to do good works. Ephesians 2:10 echoes this thought by stating that we are created, at regeneration, to walk in good works that God has already prepared for us. Please notice that redemption gives us the zeal; the good works don’t cause us to be redeemed. God’s grace so fills us with gratitude that we no longer want to engage in the lawless behaviors that characterized the Cretans (and indeed characterize our postmodern culture). Instead, grace gives us the zealous eagerness to please Christ.

Titus 2:11-14 depicts God’s grace as a conduit for honoring Him, as we’ve seen over the past  few weeks. I pray that each of us might apply His grace when temptation calls us to indulge our selfish desires. How wonderful of the Lord to give us this liberating grace that frees us to serve Him!

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