The Offensiveness of Talking about Sin and the Gospel

June 30, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 1 Comment
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Pagan: You are a cruel #$@&%*! for telling your children that they are sinners. If the Bible says that God is love, and He made us pure, then aren’t we born of love and light, and made to show love, not fear?

Christian: The fact that we all come into this world with a sin nature is proven by both the Bible (Psalm 51:5), experience, and plain common sense. Jesus Himself is the Light of the World and He is condemned and rejected because human beings love darkness more than light (John 3:19). We are born physically alive, but spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). Think logically and critically for a minute. Do parents have to teach little children to deceive and lie and be selfish? No, of course not. In fact, loving parents spend much time trying to teach their children to be kind and honest and loving and generous. Pure children of light and love wouldn’t need such training or correction. Presumably, you think that people SHOULD be loving and show love. But what was your first reaction when you saw a viewpoint you strongly disagreed with? To be loving and accepting and tolerant? To be “pure” light? Nope. It was to call names and blurt out profanity. We can pat ourselves on the back and boast about how loving we are, but until we come humbly to God, trust in Christ, and receive a new spiritual heart, we are simply incapable of pleasing our Creator. Our default setting is evil, and we are condemned by our thoughts, deeds, and attitudes. That’s why we need a Savior who can give us His righteousness that allows us to be accepted by a holy God Who hates sin. See John 3:17-21. Nobody likes to be called sinful or evil, but the Truth is what sets us free.

Pagan: It is my opinion that babies are born clean. It is the world – we grown people with our silly stuff – who put upon them our foolishness, our pride, our prejudices…. Shame on us!

Christian: Hardly anyone personally likes to think of himself as a sinner. And most people share the opinion that babies are born without any guilt until some mean or thoughtless grownup corrupts them. The problem with that is, our opinions never outweigh Scripture, which is God’s explicit revelation of the Truth. The Bible says that the wicked go astray directly from the womb (Psalm 58:3). It says that not a single one of us is “good” or righteous (Romans 3:10-12). It says that our hearts are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). This can be tough to hear because it hurts our pride. But if we can’t admit that we are sinners, we won’t really see our need for a Savior. Jesus didn’t suffer and die for basically good people. He died for the wicked and the self-righteous and the people who would rather not think that God might want to punish them for lying and cheating and stealing and being covetous and a bunch of other stuff we give ourselves a pass on every day (see Exodus 20). And no one likes to be confronted about sin, but only those who can admit the truth about themselves will be forgiven when they believe the Truth about Jesus (Mark 1:15) and call upon Him to save them (Romans 6:23; 10:13). God doesn’t see our sin as silly stuff. He sent His Son to be murdered by vicious blood-thirsty liars in order to rescue those who will be humble enough to admit that we don’t deserve that kind of love.

Pagan: The Bible doesn’t prove a thing. Try science.

Christian: You make it sound like you think those things are at odds with each other. They are not. Science is just knowledge which is gathered and tested. The Bible provides the only logical explanation in the whole world for why there is even such a discipline as “science.” Without the God of the Bible, things like gravity and logic and time and thoughts could not exist or ever be expected to behave consistently according to the “laws” that only a divine Creator could have made them to follow. Therefore, the Bible does indeed “prove a thing.” It proves everything (Colossians 2:3).

Pagan: I am so sorry for all who believe this sinner stuff. You are so much more than what you have been told that you are. You have you been lied to by religion and government. The concept of sin is profitable. All we need to do is love one another, and stop destroying our planet by doing things like killing the bees. Without the bees, we are all goners.

Christian: You say that you are sorry for all who believe this “sinner stuff.” But then you go on to list a number of things you think are wrong. Do you see the contradiction in this? Why speak loudly against hurting the environment or exploitation of the masses or any of the causes you are against? Who’s to say that those things are wrong? If you reject the notion of sin and sinners, then those people are just exercising their preferences and you have no basis for placing your preference to be free from manipulation and control above their preference to control and manipulate you. But I don’t think you’ve really thought this through. It’s just easier to classify others as evil and not to think about our own sin. We think, “If we really stand-up against the government or the industrialists or the bee-killers or the religious oppressors, then maybe God won’t notice that we have told lies, or committed adultery, or stolen, or blasphemed His name, or dishonored our parents, or failed to love our neighbor, or to worship Him the way He deserves.” But that won’t work. Hebrews 9:27 says we are all going to see God one day (sooner than we think!) And He is going to judge each of us individually, and He’s not grading on a curve and giving us a pass just because there are some people out there that you think are worse than you. When we stand there before His throne it will be one of two ways: with our sin or with His Son. If you are with His Son, He will welcome you as His child. If you are there with your sins unforgiven, then He will do what is right and good and cast you away for all eternity. It’s sobering and frightening to consider, but that is the absolute most LOVING thing you could hear because it’s true.

For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us [humble repentant sinners], who [Jesus] knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [Jesus].

II Corinthians 5:21 (bracketed words added)

 

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Take the Good with the Bad

May 23, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | Leave a comment
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It is commonly said that we often have to “take the good with the bad,” meaning that some things are so enjoyable, that, while they are not perfect or ideal, they are still worth the trouble that comes with them.

facts of life

Most people certainly do NOT enjoy being painfully injected with a vaccine, but they are willing to put up with it in exchange for crossing some deadly disease off their list of concerns. I abhor waiting a long time outside a restaurant for a table to become available, but I am willing to endure it if the food is delicious enough when it is finally served to me.

Biblically speaking, we find this principle having various applications, one of which is:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

II Corinthians 10:5 (emphasis added)

This is what some theologians have called “The Great Assize,” more commonly referred to as “The Final Judgment.” One day (and it could be today!), after Christ has returned to this world to claim His rightful ownership of it, and to assert His absolute authority over it, all the people who have ever lived will stand before Him in some sort of judgment. For Christians, whose sins have been forgiven, the judgment seat of Christ will be a place where our works, words, thoughts, and motives are judged. There will be rewards and there will be loss of rewards. For non-Christians, there will be a Great White Throne Judgment. There, sins WILL be judged. The Book of Life will be opened, and those who have not trusted Christ unto salvation will find that their names are not therein written, and they will be cast into the lake of fire forever.

So, while different judgments will occur for the two most important categories of people – saved vs. lost; born again vs. born once; saints vs. sinners; children of God vs. enemies of God; Christians vs. non-Christians; true believers vs. unbelievers; sheep vs. goats; wheat vs. tares; justified vs. unjustified – it is still true that everyone will be judged in some sense according to the things he or she has done during his or her earthly life.

This should be a powerfully bracing reminder to us that what we do each and every moment of our lives MATTERS. God is watching. He is keeping records. He sees our most secret deeds, hears all our words, and even knows our deepest, darkest, and dearest thoughts. We will truly, one day (much, much sooner than we think), take the good with the bad, and, let’s face it, as good as we think our good might be, our bad would far outweigh it on the scales of God’s perfect divine justice.

This is why it is vitally important to have an “alien” good (meaning a “goodness” or “righteousness” that comes from somewhere outside of ourselves) imputed to our account, and just as vitally important that our “bad” gets fully removed by someone who could pay the price for it in our stead. That’s where our Heavenly Advocate comes in. Only Christ can accomplish both of these gargantuan and eternal tasks for us.

When we have to cushion the blow of some disturbing information, we sometimes ask the recipient of the information, “I have bad news and I have good news: Which do you want to hear first?” You’ve already heard the bad news: We all stand condemned before God Almighty, the Judge of all the earth. Now, please, hear the Good News: Christ will remove your condemnation, pardon your crimes, justify you before the Judge, and give you eternal life, if you will believe, repent, turn to Him in faith, and ask Him to rescue you.

Buried Treasure

August 4, 2016 at 10:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Isaiah 53:9

The prophecy that Christ would be buried with the rich was fulfilled by the actions of Joseph of Arimathaea. Jesus’s death and Resurrection are integral parts of the Gospel, but so is His burial.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, [how can a dead man with no children have descendants? he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

The Lord Jesus bore our sin to the Cross, but it is not the weight of that sin that crushed (“bruised”) Him; it was the weight of God’s wrath. Jesus was childless in the biological sense, and, furthermore, the prophecy describes a dead man “seeing his seed.” How could this be? It was fulfilled in Jesus’s Resurrection and the spiritual children He would regenerate and adopt.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11

God the Father was not “satisfied” in the sense of taking delight in Jesus’s suffering, but His righteousness, law, holiness, and justice were satisfied by payment in full for the entire sin debt of His people.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:12

Jesus on the Cross made intercession for transgressors, and He’s still doing that today.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:17

Let us esteem Jesus Christ better today than men did when He came to die for us. Let us look at what they esteemed instead of Him, and ask ourselves if we esteem those things more than Him today. He was poor. Do we esteem wealth? He was an outcast among the religious establishment. Do we esteem popularity and acceptance? People lied about Him and said vile things. Do we fight for our good reputation with plans and schemes to get even, and with our own get-back-at-you gossip? Which do we care about more – that we look good to men, or that God looks great to men? He came to serve and to die. Do we dare to try to get ourselves in the position of being served by someone else? He suffered hardship and discomfort and a life of hard work. Will we dare to pamper ourselves?

Jesus is rejected so much today, for so many of the same reasons He was rejected back then – He represents everything that carnal men hate. He is worthy, and that’s an thing easy to sing, but do our activities and attitudes and awe prove that He’s our Treasure?

The Assurance of the Blood

December 28, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Eternity, Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Perhaps over the past year you have done some good works. Perhaps you have done God’s will. Perhaps you have even – dare we say it without sounding proud? – done some things which were not only PLEASING in the sight of the Lord, but which were WELLPLEASING to Him?

If so, we have Him and Him alone to thank for these accomplishments and blessings – since these types of deeds and activities would not be possible with anything less mighty, amazing, and all-sufficient than Resurrection power, perfectly good and great shepherding, and all-powerful blood which purchased and confirmed an everlasting covenant!

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

Perhaps you feared God more over the past year than you ever had before. If so, and if this fear was a holy and reverent fear given to you by God in His grace, then it is very likely that He has also caused you to grow in knowledge and wisdom. These things, too, were and are secured by His blood-bought covenant!

And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.

Jeremiah 32:40

Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Luke 22:20

Among the assurances that will keep you going as you face the trials, struggles, temptation, troubles, and battles that a new year will surely bring, I hope you will resolve to look to: (1) God’s own Word, preserved in the Holy Bible; (2) the seal of the Holy Spirit upon your soul; (3) the facts of the Crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. But don’t forget this one, too: The everlasting Covenant – wholly the act of the Triune God – found in the shed blood of the Savior.

Douglas Wilson on Why We Must S.W.I.M.

October 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
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There are Christians who say that we ought not protest abortion, but rather preach the gospel. We ought not to oppose the official degradation of marriage, but rather preach the gospel. That is like training lifeguards to rescue people without any references to water. That is like watching millions of people drowning in the same ocean, and holding pep rallies on the beach.

And this brings us back to the point about story. The old stories train us to recognize scribes who speak with no authority, lifeguards who never swim out to anybody, cancer surgeons who are scared of scalpels, firemen who never jump on a truck, jet pilots who never scramble, guardians who will not guard, and gospel preachers who keep muttering peace, peace, when there is no peace.

Douglas Wilson

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16

And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

Jude v. 23

Sleeping with the Enemy

September 16, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Weeping Creeping and Sleeping with the Enemy | 1 Comment
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In a previous lesson I discussed the blessings that Phinehas somewhat surprisingly received from the Lord for his violent attack on Zimri and Cozbi. When thinking through the reasons for this it is important to remember that Phinehas, unlike so many of his compatriots, had not joined himself unto Baal, and so his thinking was not cloudy or unclear or tainted by self-interest. He was thinking like God, and therefore He had a zeal – even a violent passion – for the holiness of God

Phinehas expressed God’s wrath in an atoning way. He did not kill the offenders because Zimri had personally ticked him off. It wasn’t because he was jealous that Zimri appeared to be getting away with what he wanted to be doing. It wasn’t because Phinehas wanted to show off, or because he was a sadist who just liked a good spearing. What motivated Phinehas was his intense hatred for what Zimri’s actions said about the Lord his God, and he discerned that it was time for something extreme.

As stated in the previous lesson, though, extreme physical violence inflicted upon sinners is not commanded for New Testament Christians. A principle to be taken from Phinehas’s attitude, however, is that there is a time for something as extreme as telling the truth in actions, not just words. Too many Christians today are sleeping with the enemy – if not physically, then intellectually, practically, and even spiritually. This is seen most blatantly in the ecumenism invading Christian churches, homes, and families. An adulterated, watered-down version of the Gospel deserves pointed and harsh truth. A hybrid bastardized version of the Gospel – part Christianity and part pragmatism, right in the midst of the camp, right in the middle of a ministry that calls itself by the name of the Lord Jesus – deserves pointed and harsh truth.

When Phinehas took up his spear, it looked like it was over – like it was too late. Have we lost the battle for the truth in our culture? Is right now wrong, and wrong now right? Are there now just no such things as “right” or “truth?” This is going to sound bad, but, in a way, I hope so. I hope the battle that we’ve been trying to win in our strength is over – that we’ve lost – that it’s too late. God often comes to the rescue when all seems lost. It was too late when Phinehas stood up and executed judgment. It was too late for the Israelites, and it may be too late for us, but when it’s “too late” by our estimate, that is often when God shows up – when He sends someone with the courage and the conviction, with the disregard for popularity, to take a stand and to symbolize atonement.

Phinehas stopped the plague because God really stopped the plague. Jesus didn’t make atonement by impaling us sinners on the point of God’s wrath, although that’s what we clearly deserved. He stopped God’s wrath by offering Himself as the atoning sacrifice. Will you and I weep rightly? Will we stop creeping around with the enemy? Will we stop sleeping with the enemy? Will we get out of bed with the enemy and get on board with God? May He help us.

Christ’s Childhood Preparation

December 19, 2014 at 10:55 am | Posted in Matthew | 3 Comments
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In the book of Matthew, as we study the beginning of Christ’s life on Earth, we learn that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, was taken to Egypt for His protection, and actually grew up in Nazareth.  He was sometimes called “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Nazareth was a disreputable place, and must have seemed hardly a fit background for the King of Kings.  However, it may be that Jesus’s childhood home was one of the things that prepared Him for a life of humility.

God’s desire for Christians is that they actually be conformed to the image of His Son.  Are we keeping this in mind in our prayers for our children today?  If we are praying in God’s will that they be conformed to the image of Christ, then we may be seeing those prayers answered when our children experience rejection, pain, or humiliation from their peers.  Parents may grieve over this, but, really, it should bring us joy.

After all, will a child who has never experienced the “embarrassment” of dressing modestly in a carnal world, or who has never expressed disapproval over the foul language of his classmates, ever have the nerve to stand up in public and proclaim Christ, or the courage to knock on a stranger’s door and share the Gospel?

Catechism Question 14

December 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 3 Comments
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Question 14: What has God done for you so you can have eternal life?
Answer: He sent his Son.
Prove it.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

God came into this world in the Person of His Son, Who became a man while remaining fully God. He started out His earthly life by being born of a virgin, and then growing into manhood, all the while living a perfectly righteous and holy life, never sinning.

He purchased eternal life for all who would believe on Him by taking our sins upon Himself on the Cross, paying for them fully as He died, then rising from the dead.

Other verses to consider:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

Galatians 4:4

Clear Calls for Christians: Point Upward

September 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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As Christians:

I. We are called to Pure Upgrade.
II. We are called to Proper Unity.
and
III. We are called to Point Upward.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

I Corinthians 1:26

We are called to recognize our weakness, our foolishness, and our lack of nobility, and to still believe and act as though this message from our King and Redeemer will confound the mighty.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:27

We are called to believe and act as though the message will conquer the world. We are called to admit that we do not deserve to be loved and helped by this King. God calls the weak and the foolish, not because He has a weak spot for the helpless, not because it’s His fault that we are like that, not because He has to take what He can get. No, the primary reason He uses the weak and the foolish is to show off His glory.

That no flesh should glory in his presence.

I Corinthians 1:29

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

We are called to preach and live the Gospel, and – when it works – to point straight upward.

Our Part with God

June 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Posted in Galatians | 2 Comments
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Galatians Chapter 3 contains some of the strongest writing in the whole Bible. It has the logic and language of a brilliant lawyer who is arguing for his own life. It combines the truth about what happened to Jesus and the readers’ own experiences with Old Testament Scripture, and then combines the two together in a masterful closing argument.

Experience

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

Galatians 3:1

The Greek word translated as “foolish” is the word for a barbaric fool, and it would be similar in our day to calling someone an illiterate blockhead. When Paul says “who has bewitched you?” he is asking them, “Who waved a shiny little trinket before your eyes, and led you over a cliff? Who led you into this ridiculous state by tricking you? The fact of Jesus’s crucifixion was placarded (“evidently set forth”) before your very eyes! Why do you think He had to die like that if there’s still something you can do to save yourself?”

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Galatians 3:2

As we read this today, we need to ask ourselves the same question. In your own experience, how did you receive the Holy Spirit? Did you receive Him by being sprinkled with water? By paying money? By joining an organization? By keeping rules? By jerking or twitching or rolling on the floor or barking like a dog? No! It was by the hearing of faith! You heard the truth, and you believed the truth, and you received the Holy Spirit! What makes you think you are going to become more spiritual, or more “complete” by working? Or by keeping rules? Or by following the traditions of men? Foolish! The Apostle tells them that they’ve been suffering for nothing, if that’s what they were suffering for!

Scripture

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

Galatians 3:6-7

The Gospel came from God; it came through the Jews; but it was intended for all men, or else God was lying.

Recap: The Galatians’ experience was that they were saved, and received the Spirit, through faith. The Scriptures – God Himself – said it was through faith. Therefore:

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Galatians 3:22

No one is righteous by birth, by nature, or by deed, but anyone can believe.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Romans 3:24

The purpose of the Old Testament Law was to teach people that they were lost. The purpose of the whole Bible is to point people to Jesus Christ. Not so we can start working for Him. Rather, so He can start working in us.

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:26

Apart from Christ, we have no part with God. We are utterly alienated – not related by birth or adoption. But in Christ, we have a part with God – and not a distant, academic part – we are His children! We are servants, yes, but more than just servants. We are friends, yes, but more than just friends. Children. Beloved. Sons and Daughters of the Most High God.

Children serve their parents, and that is right, but when children disobey, they are still children by birth of those same parents.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

Your nationality, social status, gender, or skin color do not matter a whit to God in the sense of your justification. If you are truly a Christian, you stand before God on the same level as Queen Esther, Billy Graham, and the Apostle Paul. God is a loving Father, and He has more than enough love for every one of His children.

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