Sunday, May 19, 2019

6 Benefits Believers Receive from Christ’s Death

Christians know that it is important to believe in Christ’s death on the cross. But some find it difficult to explain how it benefits us. They know that salvation depends on it but perhaps struggle to explain how it is central to the Christian life. Christ taught that it must be crucial in how we live (Matthew 16:24). Paul said that it was the controlling principle of his life (Galatians 2:20).  How can we make it central to our life?

This is a very large theme and we can only consider one aspect of it. In this updated extract, Andrew Gray helpfully outlines some of the advantages that Christians experience from Christ’s death. Enjoying these benefits enables us to see how the cross influences the Christian life.

1. Enjoying Justification

Christ’s death is the evidence of our justification, the cause of our sanctification and the pledge of our glorification. It is the hope of our eternal and complete victory and the door of hope that will make you sing and triumph over death (1 Corinthians 15:55). We are brought to paradise by four streams: (a) His justification by which He justifies us; (b) His sanctification by which we that lay among the pots are made white as a dove; (c) His wisdom by which we are conducted to heaven; and (d) His redemption by His complete victory.

Is it not clear that Christ’s death was an evidence of our justification? “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12)  He has “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). By the solid faith of Christ’s death we may answer all objections. If you could multiply objections throughout eternity, you could have no answer but this: Christ has died and is risen again. His resurrection is a great pillar of justifying faith; “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

All objections are answered in this, Christ has died and, risen again (Romans 8:34). “For while we were enemies, we were reconciled by his death” (Romans 5:10). The great pillar on which faith is founded is Christ’s resurrection. Is the death of Christ not the cause of our glorification? “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself witl├Čout spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14). Paul, speaking of the cross of Christ says, “By whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). You were redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19). Christ died that “they which live should not live unto themselves, but unto God” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Is Christ’s death not the pledge of your glorification? Did Christ not wear a crown of thorns so that you might wear a crown of immortal glory? Did He not wear a purple robe, that you might wear that robe of His righteousness? If Christ ascended up, then He will certainly draw all the members of His body after Him.

You have Christ’s death as the door of hope to overcome your sins.  Christ’s victory is that He has in His person overcome principalities and powers and has made an open show of them. He has likewise overcome death and the grave. That is evidence of your victory and overcoming; for there is a great similarity between the head and the members of the body.

2. Enjoying Communion with Christ

Christ’s death may be a strong argument to embrace and welcome Christ. It may stir us up to that duty, “Open to me, my sister, my spouse, for my head is filled with the dew, and my locks with the drops of the night” (Song 5:2). If Christ has died and is now risen again, will not that persuade you to love Him? O what arguments will work with you? Do the five wounds of His blessed body not preach this doctrine to you: to love Him?

3. Enjoying Christ’s Love

If you believed the sufferings of Christ in the right way it would be a comprehensive way to bring your souls under the constraining power of His love (2 Corinthians 5:14).  There is a sweet constraint in His love that it lays hold on the understanding and the affections. Christ’s love constrains a Christian’s understanding so that they think Christ alone to be excellent. It constrains their affections and makes them burn within out of love to enjoy the person they love.

4. Enjoying Eternal Life

The way to heaven is now made manifest through the sufferings of Christ. “I will make a new covenant with them, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers” (Hebrews 8:8-9). Believe this, it was more difficult for Christians to go to heaven under the Old Testament than under the New. Christ is now clearly revealed as crucified before your eyes. We do not need to exercise faith in Christ as being yet to come, but as already come. Sins against the gospel will certainly therefore be of greater guilt than under the law.

5. Enjoying Assurance

If you truly believed that Christ died for sinners your unbelief would be at an end. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. Paul then adds, “of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). If you believe that Christ came over that infinite distance that was between Himself and man, how easily, will He come over the infinite distance between you and Him? Christ’s love is that which will bring your souls to see the necessity of this love. It will bring you to a felt sense of the preciousness of Christ, who has perfected the work of your redemption.

6. Enjoying Holiness

Christ’s death is an excellent way for a Christian to bring their soul to a God-given holy hatred of sin, “we should not live unto ourselves” (2 Corinthians 5:15). Since Christ has “suffered for us, let us arm ourselves with the same mind, to cease from sin” (1 Peter 4:1). There are these two things in Christ’s death to make sin most hateful to you.

(a) consider the burden of sin. Do you not think that it was a heavy burden that made Him cry out that he was troubled and “exceeding sorrowful” (Mark 14:34)? And was it not an infinite weight that made Him say, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39)?

(b) consider that these sufferings were because of sin. Might you not conclude that the justice of God was highly offended? “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him” (Isaiah 53:10).

7. Three Questions

(1) Were you ever through considering Christ’s death, constrained to sit down in speechless humility and put your mouth in the dust (Lamentations 3:29)?

(2) Were you ever through considering Christ’s death, constrained to love him, and cry out, “His love to us has been wonderfully great!”

(3) Were you ever through considering Christ’s death, constrained to wonder at that union between Him and us? Was the death of Christ ever an effectual means to unite you to Christ by the two chains of faith and love?

Conclusion

When we speak of the cross this also includes Christ’s resurrection. As Calvin emphasized, we can’t think of them in isolation even when only one of them is mentioned. All that the cross and resurrection mean should be central to our lives. The Christian life is a dying life; dying to sin (Colossians 1:22; Galatians 5:24). But it is also a life in the power of Christ’s resurrection (Philippians 3:10). The cross must have an overwhelming influence on how Christians should live and the motives for their life. They walk in loving obedience, a love that is derived from Christ’s dying love (Ephesians 5:2).

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Book Recommendation: J.I. Packer's "A Quest for Godliness"

In A Quest for Godliness, Packer uses the theology, lifestyle, and experiences of the Puritans to show their relevance for struggling saints today. He demonstrates that these Puritans were not the cold, hardened stoics we commonly see portrayed; rather, they were warm, passionate, heroic people who had their collective gaze fixed on glorifying God.

Any time Packer writes an introduction, I prepare my mind for stretching. In this work, with measured humility, Dr. Packer opens up to us his very soul as he writes of lessons learned through years of studying the Puritans—not mere academic facts, but the stuff of real life.

After the introduction, nineteen chapters filled with food for thought are arranged into six topical sections. Each section, except the last, contains a trilogy of chapters. The whole work shows an exceptional balance of orthodoxy and orthopraxy (right belief and practice). Two chapters are worth special notice in light of today’s situation.

First, “ ‘Saved by His Precious Blood’: An introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ is a classical introduction to a classic work. Owen’s incomparable essay is a classic. Many people have often gone back to its deep comforting insights to be reminded of the enormity of our sin and the price that Jesus so freely paid to secure our redemption.

Second, “John Owen on Spiritual Gifts” was a pleasant surprise. Early on in the essay, Packer gives four very erudite principles by which John Owen would have judged the so-called “Pentecostal phenomena.” Packer then paints a biblical, theological, and historical portrait of the substantive issues. We so often major on the minor points and fail to see that which is of greatest significance. May this essay help many to “seek the greater gifts.”

In the “Afterword” from Packer’s pastoral pen, he recapitulates the major emphases of the work, applying them to the modern church. There is much to glean from A Quest for Godliness. Perhaps Packer’s own words will give you the itch to investigate these things. He says, “I have compared the great Puritans to giant trees; I have implied throughout that they were saints of great stature, showing us the characteristic pigmyhood of present-day believers, at any rate in the West.”

Friday, May 17, 2019

PreacherCast - May 17, 2019 - All the news that's fit to podcast...for preachers!



This is the May 17, 2019 edition of the PREACHERCAST, and today we look at:

Alabama passes nation's strictest abortion ban, would send doctors to prison for procedure;
Vermont Legislature Passes Bill Protecting Abortion at All Stages of Pregnancy;
Beth Moore Challenges Theologian, Explains Why Women Should Preach in Church;
Harvest Halts James MacDonald’s Walk in the Word;
Arthur Becomes 1st PBS Cartoon with a Gay Wedding – ‘It’s a Brand-New World’;
Promise Keepers to relaunch men's ministry with first stadium rally in 20 years.
BOOK Recommendation: "Porn Generation" by Ben Shapiro and "The NKJV Evidence Bible" by Ray Comfort

All the news that's fit to podcast...for preachers!

Three Dimensions of Sin

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

The Bible presents sin in three dimensions: as a debt we owe God, as our estrangement from or enmity against God, and as a crime against God.

To understand sin as a debt, we consider the objective fact that God is the creator and is sovereign over His universe. He has the right and authority to impose obligations on His creatures. If God imposes on us an obligation and we fail to perform it, we incur a debt. The fact is, we fail constantly to do what God has told us to do. In truth, we are monumental debtors. But what can we bring to pay our debts? What do we have, as mere creatures, that He will accept?

Second, to understand sin as enmity we consider the objective fact that our relationship with God is personal. God is a Person and the only way we can relate to Him is as a person: face to face, mouth to ear. The fact is that we have an inborn hostility to God. We are estranged from Him and angry at Him. Yet, objectively speaking, it is God who is the injured party because we have violated Him.

The role Christ plays in our redemption is that of mediator, reconciling the broken relationship between God and man. Because God is the offended party, it is He who must be satisfied if the relationship between Him and us is to be restored. Motivated by His love for us, despite His legitimate anger, God sent His Son to mediate between Him and us. But how can Jesus Christ restore that relationship?

Finally, to understand the price that must be paid to cover our debts and to understand how Christ can be our Mediator, we must consider the objective fact that sin is a crime against God. Crime must be punished. In the atonement, God the Father takes the role of governor and judge, while Christ Jesus our Lord takes the role of priest and victim. God objectively puts on Jesus Christ the responsibility for our sins, then puts Him to death for those sins. On the legal basis that the sins have been paid for, God reckons our debts paid in full and accepts us as His children once again.

This is only possible as a result of the principle of substitution: Christ for us.

It is critical that we understand the objective facts presented in this post. In your own words, try to explain the three dimensions of sin and atonement to an invisible friend. Keep doing this until you have mastered the facts.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

3 Minutes to a Stronger Faith - Ep. 6 - "What is true, Biblical religion?"



Episode 6 - What is true, Biblical religion? We will answer that question today in 3 minutes. True, Biblical religion answer three primary things: 1. How great my sins and miseries are (1 Cor. 6:10-11; John 9:41; Rom. 3:10, 19); 2. How I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries (John 17:3); 3. How I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance (Eph. 5:8-10). These three things still stand as defining marks of true religion.