Category Archives: The Gospel

Facets Of Redemption

The hymn I’ve selected today has a simple melody, but a deep and profound theology of Christ’s redemptive work. I love the way it takes us through the various ramifications of salvation while keeping our attention squarely on the Lord!

As I listened to this hymn in preparation to post it, I thought of a beautiful diamond with all its intriguing facets. It reminded me that salvation involves so much more than sparing us from the torments of hell (although that alone would be wonderful). The more we see the different facets of redemption, the more we want to sing of our glorious Redeemer.

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Our Wrathful, Loving Father

John 3 16a

Typically, Christians think about salvation in terms of Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf. Certainly, that ought to be our primary focus. God’s Word indicates that we will spend eternity praising Him for shedding His blood for the remission of our sins.

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.” ~~Revelation 5:9-10 (ESV)

Of course we should regularly praise and adore the Lord Jesus Christ for taking our place on the cross, where He took the Father’s wrath that rightfully belonged to us.  How could we not worship Him for such a profound demonstration of selfless love? It will be both a joy and a privilege to kneel before Him in gratitude for bearing those nail scars!

But lately I’ve also been amazed and thankful to the Father for His role in my salvation.

At first, it seemed a bit strange to draw a connection between the Father and salvation, especially in light of the doctrine of propitiation. Propitiation means an offering made in order to appease wrath. Therefore, Jesus accepted the task of serving as the propitiation for our sin, appeasing the Father’s wrath that we deserve.

Again, we naturally focus on Jesus’ gracious obedience to make Himself our substitute, and so should we! But as we do, perhaps we should also remember the most famous New Testament verse of all time:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~~John 3:16 (ESV)

Think through the first two clauses of that verse with me, keeping the doctrine of propitiation in mind. The same Person of the Trinity Whose wrath against our sin demands appeasement actually gave His beloved Son as the offering to turn away His righteous indignation! I don’t know about you, but I think that’s mind boggling!

The Father, in extremely real terms, actually provided His own offering for our sin, ladies.

If I had more skill as a writer, maybe I could express the enormous impact of the Father’s generosity in giving His own Son as the means of sparing us from His wrath. I wish I could describe how I tremble with a strange mixture of awe and joy when I praise God the Father each morning for His part in bringing about my salvation.

Instead, allow me to challenge you to start thinking about this incredible love that God the Father has demonstrated to whomever believes in Him. Like me, you might want to incorporate this concept into your daily prayer time. See if the Holy Spirit  doesn’t get you excited about the Father’s wondrous role in your salvation.

 

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Enough Evidence For Faith

Clouds and light

Occasionally — usually in the wee small hours of the night — the thought comes to me that I’m believing a gigantic fairy tale. Perhaps God really is just a myth, and nothing exists beyond the grave.

When such thoughts come, I immediately remind myself of the overwhelming evidence of Christ’s resurrection. For instance, His tomb had been sealed so securely that the women who came to anoint His body wondered who would roll away the stone?  Didn’t they realize those burly Roman soldiers guarding the tomb would be the only people with the authority to do so? Or is it possible that the stone was even too heavy for them?

And those soldiers definitely wouldn’t have permitted anyone (least of all the disciples) to steal the body. Pilate appointed them to guard the tomb for precisely that reason! Sure, they probably thought it was a ridiculous assignment, but they also knew that any dereliction of duty would cost them their lives. In fact, the Pharisees had to offer them protection in exchange for letting them spread the story that the disciples took the body.

Speaking of Christ’s disciples, why would such a cowardly collection of men risk their lives to perpetrate a story that they knew to be a fraud? Ten died horrendous deaths as martyrs, and John suffered as an exile in a prison camp on Patmos. All any of them had to do would have been to say they made the resurrection up. Seems to me that, given their abandonment of Jesus at His arrest, they simply lacked the fortitude to then allow a falsehood to dominate their lives and  send ten of them to death.

Finally, Paul made this claim:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. ~~1 Corinthians 15:3-6 (ESV)

Did you catch verse 6? Most of those 500 men who saw the risen Lord were still alive when Paul wrote the letter to the Corinthians. That means, dear sisters, that the Corinthians could have interviewed enough of them to legally establish the truth or falsity of Paul’s claim. No court of law, in any judicial system, could reject the testimony of almost 500 eyewitnesses!

Since Christ’s resurrection is therefore an established fact, I believe it follows that His claim to be both God and Man must also be true. Likewise, He must also have sent  the Holy Spirit to superintend the writing of Scripture. As I see it, the resurrection validates everything else about Christianity.

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I Can’t See God’s Grace Without Seeing Who I Am

NegativeNobody particularly enjoys reading about human sinfulness or God’s wrath. We much prefer blog posts that celebrate His goodness, love and mercy. I’m stating the obvious, of course, but I do so because I suspect some readers may believe I take some misanthropic pleasure in writing about God’s judgment.

Frankly, I can appreciate that sentiment. I also would rather read (and write) about God’s grace. I like thinking about how much He loves me. I don’t want to be  confronted with my wretchedness, or to realize my utter dependence on Christ’s righteousness because I have no righteousness of my own. Humility often feels distinctly distasteful to me.

Scripture, however, has absolutely no interest in making people feel good about themselves. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets and apostles to compose scathing indictments against humanity.

10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” ~~Romans 3:10–18 (ESV)

Clearly, the apostle Paul’s compilation of Old Testament Scriptures doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture of the human race. Yet he doubles-down on the theme of human depravity all the way through Romans 7 so that his readers will comprehend our desperate need for a savior.

Romans 7, as a matter of fact, spotlights Paul’s personal struggles against sin, escalating to a point of hopelessness just before he presents the only hope of deliverance.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. ~~Romans 7:21-25 (ESV)

Our wretched condition, repulsive as it is, allows us to see how precious God’s love, mercy and grace really are.

Sadly,  postmodern Western society has not only bought into the lie that people are basically good, but it perpetuates that lie in a plethora of ways. To make matters worse, evangelicals now adapt their theology to accommodate that lie!

Consequently, I emphasize human depravity in my articles with the goal of accentuating how glorious the grace of God truly is. Until we come to terms with our inescapable wretchedness, we regard His goodness lightly. Sometimes we even convince ourselves that He owes us His love (a ridiculous proposition).

I long to write posts praising the Lord for His unfathomable grace and mercy. As a woman who has seen her own vile rebellion forgiven, I well know that I best understand the wonder of His grace when I face the ugliness of who I am apart from Him.

 

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Saturday Sampler: December 17 — December 23

christmas-sampler

In his OnePassion Ministries blog, Steve Lawson alternately brings us to tears and gives us belly laughs with his personal memories of R.C. Sproul. The R.C. I Knew portrays several sides of Dr. Sproul, all of which are endearing.

I’ve often emphasized, at this time of year, that Jesus was born for the purpose of dying for our sin. But Amy Mantravadi, in her essay entirely Christ Was Born for More Than Death, fills out the story by reflecting on the Lord’s righteous life. We need to remember the whole Gospel, not just the Readers Digest version.

The author of A Peculiar Pilgrim writes The Truth About Love as a challenge to the postmodern interpretation of what it means to love. As conservative as I believe myself to be, even I see remnants of worldly love in myself as a result of reading this article.

‘Tis the season for final exams, and Elizabeth Prata of The End Time seizes on the theme by writing about the respective Final Exams that believers and unbelievers will eventually face. In all the frivolity of the holidays, perhaps this sobering essay can keep us  grounded.

Jordan Standridge had planned for months to visit St. Andrews Church in Florida on December 17. In his moving and surprising article for The Cripplegate, he recounts The First Sunday Without R.C. Sproul in that church. Burk Parsons, now St. Andrews’ pastor, used the situation to demonstrate the benefit of church as usual.

There is no other name by which we must be saved insists Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries. Sure, most Biblically literate Christians know that fact, but a little reinforcement never hurts.

Winter often brings discouragement and depression, even amid the joyous season of Christmas. In Clang! The Harsh Notes of Discipline, Sophie McDonald writes about God’s purposes in bringing us through difficult circumstances. See this encouraging blog post based on 1 Peter 1 on the Unlocking the Bible website.

Don’t miss Michelle Lesley’s beautiful Christmas essay, The Shepherds’ Gospel. Absolutely magnificent!

The author of Eternity Matters skillfully refutes liberal theologians with his article Leopard Theology: Not as fun as it sounds. Those of you who seriously care about Biblical discernment would do well to read this one to learn how a high view of Scripture helps us detect error.

 

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The Scripture Made Me Ask Myself Some Uncomfortable Questions

PonderingWhat do you put on your prayer list? When you gather with other believers, what prayer requests do you typically make? If you’re like most Christians, you most frequently ask people to pray for your health, your job, your living situation or other temporal matters.  Ain’t nothing wrong with that! One pastor I had used to say, “If it’s big enough to think about, it’s big enough to pray about.”

Last week, I read a prayer request that the apostle Paul made in his letter to the Colossians.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. ~~Colossians 4:2-4 (ESV)

He wrote  that prayer request from prison. That little piece of information really arrested my attention when I read it last week, and caused me to mull over what prayer requests I might send out if I were in a Roman prison, chained to guards day and night.  Based on my attitude during the two years I spent in a nursing home, I more than likely would have asked people to pray for things to alleviate my physical or emotional discomfort.

But Paul only sought prayer that he could further the Gospel!

How often do you pray for opportunities to declare the Gospel? I don’t pray such prayers often enough, even though I pray them a great deal more than I once did. (What might the Lord have done if I had prayed that way in the nursing home?) I could be mistaken, but I have a hunch that very few 21st Century Christians pray that way.

Those verses in Colossians challenge me. Do I take the Gospel seriously enough to pray for opportunities to proclaim it? Am I more interested in my comfort than in making sure that others hear what Jesus Christ did for them? These questions don’t feel good. Actually, they make me squirm. But they’re probably some of the most important questions I’ll ever ask myself.

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Proclaiming God’s Glory

One of my favorite aspects of the Christmas season is that people tolerate — and sometimes even enjoy — hymns that celebrate Christ’s incarnation. What a glorious thing! Granted, many have little idea of what the hymns actually mean, but they sing them anyway.

Maybe we can use these beloved hymns as springboards for telling others that God the Son became a Man so that He could shed His blood to atone for the sins of all who will believe. For instance, the angels in the hymn I’m featuring today shout “Glory to God in the highest” because the Savior had been born. We can share this popular hymn and then explain why the angels had such tremendous joy. Joy that could cause our friends to sing their own praises to God.

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