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We Need the Cross Everyday

Here is one of my heroes, D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, writing wisely in his book, aptly titled The Cross, about one of the great verses in Scripture…

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14 (ESV)

“(He does not) say that it is just something at the beginning of the Christian life. There are many Christians who have said that in one way or another. You start with the cross, they say, then you go on to what they call a deeper Christian life. The cross, they say, is only for conversion, the cross only deals with forgiveness of sins. It is something that marks the beginning, and then you go on and you do not come back anymore to the cross. You start there, but then you leave it, and you go onto the deeper depths of the spiritual life.

“That is not what the Apostle Paul says. Here is a man writing at the full height of his maturity as a Christian, the great Apostle to the Gentiles. At the very height of his experience he says, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He has not left it to go on to some higher reaches. The cross is still everything to him. Why? Because, he has found that everything proceeds from the cross. It is the source and the fount of everything that he has as a Christian, everything that he has become, everything that he can ever hope for.”

For tomorrow, Tuesday, June 23rd: Ephesians 1

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Comfort for those who believe they have committed an unpardonable sin (Part 3)

disastroWe’ve been discussing the trouble Christians have with believing they have somehow done something beyond the grace of God.  Part one is here and part 2 is here.

Here is the second reason Christians need not worry…

2. The gospel. Over and over again, Scripture makes it clear that justification (God declaring us righteous) comes by faith, not works. Christ takes our sins on Himself on the cross and gives us His righteousness. If somehow salvation or damnation came by what we said or did, then the whole of Christianity would be turned on its ear and would cease to be Christianity.

So Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

Or consider the first letter of the Apostle John, where he writes:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 (ESV)

As someone once said, “I looked up the word ‘all’ in the Greek, and it means…all.”  He cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness. And then finally…

 3. The example of the Apostle Paul. Look at his autobiographical story in 1 Timothy chapter 1:

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:12-16 (ESV)

The meaning here is clear.  Paul is saying that he really was the worst of sinners…a blaspheming, Jesus-hating, Christian-killing, absolutely nasty religious dude. In short, Paul was the worst man who ever lived, and yet God saved him…but with a specific purpose – to show a watching world that no one, not a single person would ever be beyond His grace.  If God saved Paul, He can save you too.  You must simply believe.

And that leads to the most convicting consideration of this whole matter, given by Martyn Lloyd Jones in the article to which I have referred in the previous two posts.  He says that if after considering all this, you still think that you have committed the unpardonable sin, then your real problem is that you don’t believe the Word of God. And for this you should simply repent. If you have trusted in Christ alone for salvation, not in your own works of righteousness, then you are a Christian.  Tell God you are sorry that you have not believed His Bible. Tell Him that you are sorry that you have not believed this statement from Jesus:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

John 5:24 (ESV)

Amen…and Hallelujah!

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Comfort for those who believe they have committed an unpardonable sin

disastroIn January of 1991, I filled up my 1984 Chevy Celebrity with all my worldly goods and headed east to help start a church with my friend John Cox.  John was a fairly recent Fuller seminary grad, and I was out of college working at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.  We had met at Willow Creek in Chicago where he was an intern, and he told me of his desire to start a church either in the Washington D.C. area, or L.A. When he decided on Washington D.C., I was delighted, long having been a political junkie; I determined to come along.

These were exciting days – ah, for the adventure of youth!  We wanted to reach lost people, and figured there would be plenty of those out in the land of politics and passion.  It was just the two of us, plus a young gal named Mindy Ebert who would be our children’s ministry director.   John moved out a few months before me and secured lodgings with a guy who owned a townhouse in Centerville, VA.  When I arrived, I moved in with the two of them.

Just about every day, before I headed off to Enterprise and he headed off to do whatever church planters do, the two of us would pray together, asking God to begin the work which would eventually be called Cedar Run Community Church.

And then, when our landlord/roommate set a wedding date, we took the hint and set about to find a new place. Happily, John had a contact named Brian who had a couple of spare rooms in his house, and one evening, we went out to eat with Brian and his other roommates, I suppose to make sure there would be the all-important roommate chemistry.

We were all believers, and had a great time of fellowship. Except. At one point in the evening, Brian, a charismatic Christian, played a cassette tape of a worship service he had been a part of, as I remember, to get our opinion.  And it was a cacophony of sounds, probably screaming, chairs turning over, that sort of thing.  And after listening to it, I made an off-hand comment: “It sounded demonic.”

Probably not a wise comment, but it was what I was thinking, and Brian seemed to be looking for our opinion.

Now, it didn’t occur to me right away, and nobody else said anything, but perhaps a few minutes later, I realized that the people associated with this worship service characterized this particular moment of the service as “the Holy Spirit coming by.”

And in a flash of emotional pain, I thought, “Uh-oh…what if I was wrong?”  If so, I had just called the Holy Spirit a demon.  And I knew my Bible well enough to know that if I had just called the Holy Spirit a demon, I had also just committed the unpardonable sin.

Or had I?

It is a passage of Scripture that has caused great trouble to surely thousands and probably millions of Christians through the centuries: Jesus said…

“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

Matthew 12:31-32 (ESV)

Would you believe me if I told you that off and on for years, I would wrestle with whether or not I had committed the unpardonable sin that Jesus speaks of here?  The reasons for my long struggle included a misunderstanding of Scripture resulting from a too-light hold on the gospel, and a powerful enemy who wished for me to live as a discouraged Christian. As Martyn Lloyd Jones said, “…Satan who, though he cannot rob us of our salvation, can definitely rob us of our joy.”

Now there have been books written on this subject, but let me enumerate just a few reasons that a person who worries about having committed the unpardonable sin…shouldn’t…

Continued tomorrow, Saturday, January 17…

(In the meantime, consider reading this most wonderful article by the great hero of the faith, mentioned above, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones.)

Coming on Monday, January 19: Matthew 13

 

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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