Category Archives: The Gospel

J.C. Ryle Reflects on Death and True Belief

When we have carried you to your narrow bed, let us not have to hunt up stray words, and scraps of religion, in order to make out that you were a true believer. Let us not have to say in a hesitating way one to another, “I trust he is happy; he talked so nicely one day; and he seemed so pleased with a chapter in the Bible on another occasion; and he liked such a person, who is a good man.” Let us be able to speak decidedly as to your condition. Let us have some solid proof of your repentance, your faith, and your holiness, so that none shall be able for a moment to question your state.

Depend on it, without this, those you leave behind can feel no solid comfort about your soul. We may use the form of religion at your burial, and express charitable hopes. We may meet you at the churchyard gate, and say, “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.” But this will not alter your condition! If you die without conversion to God, without repentance, and without faith–your funeral will only be the funeral of a lost soul; you had better never have been born.

J.C. Ryle  (Holiness, 228-229) via Kevin DeYoung

Advertisements

A Jealous Love

The sentiment that Jesus has unconditional love for all of us has become standard fare in many evangelical churches. The speaker assures the congregation that Jesus loves them to such an extent that he died for them. He assures the audience that Jesus is just waiting for them to turn to him and to reciprocate the love he already has for them. Some people go even further in their claims to unbelievers. I remember once reading an article by Rick Warren printed in Ladies Home Journal. In this article, titled “Learn to Love Yourself!,” Warren wrote the following: “God accepts us unconditionally, and in His view we are all precious and priceless.” The article closes with these words: “You can believe what others say about you, or you can believe in yourself as God does, who says you are truly acceptable, lovable, valuable and capable.” Nowhere does he qualify these statements. Instead they are offered as blanket statements, encompassing all of humanity.

Is this how the Bible portrays God’s feelings towards those who do not believe? It’s worth a glance at just a few of the many passages that speak of God’s position towards the unregenerate.

Psalm 5:5 says that “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.” The NIV translates this as “you hate all who do wrong.” Psalm 11:5 tells us that “The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” And turning to the New Testament, John 3:36 reads “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” The Bible clearly portrays God as one whose wrath burns against both sin and sinner. His righteous anger burns against all unrighteousness, and against all who are unrighteous.

In The God Who Justifies, James White writes the following. “Theologians should be those enraptured by the beauty of the unchanging object of their study: the eternal, immutable God. But theologians are people, and they are influenced, to greater or lesser extents, by the society and era in which they live. The cultural decay of modern times has inspired many a theological denial of biblical truth, most often when that biblical truth speaks to something that is unfashionable. One such issue…is the oft-repeated biblical phrase ‘the wrath of God.’” White goes on to say that while we most often associate God’s wrath with the Old Testament, where he commanded the Israelites to utterly destroy the pagan nations, in reality his wrath is most clearly shown in the New Testament. Were you to ask where in the Bible we see the clearest picture of God’s wrath, I would have to point to Jesus’ final hours, from the Garden of Gethsemane to his death on the cross. After all, what but the need for satisfaction of God’s wrath, could compel the Father to send his Son to such a horrible, painful, death?

Readers Digest has (used to have?) a monthly column entitled “That’s Outrageous” where readers can submit stories about miscarriages of justice. These stories often feature criminals who have committed crimes, yet have found either a corrupt judge or a loophole in the system that has allowed them to escape justice. When we read this, do we react with adulation towards the judge who let the person escape justice, or do we react with an exclamation of “that’s outrageous!”? Of course we react with shock and outrage. This is a natural reaction—we expect and demand justice for all who violate the law. Yet when it comes to God, we seem to want him to be something just a little less than human. We expect God to look upon human evil and wink his eye or turn his back, loving the one who has blatantly, purposely violated his rules and flaunted this sin before him.

There are some words we use all the time, but we can never expect to hear from God. Among them are “we can’t blame him…” and “it’s not his fault…” When a young man commits a terrible crime, we are quick to excuse his actions because of a tough past or abusive parents, but God never excuses sin. When a woman deserts her husband and children, we may look to her past and find all sorts of reasons that she should not be held accountable, but God does not do this. He holds each of us accountable for every one of our actions. There is never an excuse for violating his law. God cannot and will not turn his back on even the tiniest sin. It is against his very nature to do so. Every sin demands an accounting.

Perhaps part of the problem is that we have misunderstood God’s love. Perhaps we have interpreted God’s perfect love, through our imperfect, changing, emotional, sentimental, untrustworthy love. To paraphrase Leon Morris in The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, when the Bible speaks of God’s love, it does not refer to a warm, fuzzy sentimentality, but a love that is so jealous for the good of the one who is loved that it blazes out in wrath against all evil. The writers of the New Testament had no concept of a love that did not react in the strongest fashion against all sin. He writes “Perhaps the difficulty arises because we are making a false antithesis between the divine wrath and the divine love. We are handicapped by the fact that we must necessarily use terms properly applicable to human affairs, and for us it is very difficult to be simultaneously wrathful and loving.” But God is able to be both perfectly loving and wrathful. Unlike us, he is not given to outbursts of emotion or to irrationality. His wrath is as perfectly and completely manifested as his love.

So now we must ask why this matters. What does it matter if we believe God has full and unconditional love toward everyone? The problem is that a diminished view of the wrath of God indicates a diminished view of human depravity. A person who believes God’s wrath does not abide on the sinner, must also believe that God does not hate his sin. This will inevitably lead to a diminished view of justification. What use is justification if sin is not really that important? It is no wonder that the doctrines of grace begin with Total Depravity. Only when we understand the desperation of man’s condition can we understand the love and wrath of God. It may seem to us that it is easier and more effective to preach a gospel of universal love—a gospel where God loves and accepts us just as we are. But this is not the gospel of the Bible. Until we know our sin and God’s wrath against it, we cannot know love. Until we know love, we cannot know the Savior.

Courtesy of  Tim Challies


Quotable #5

God is more interested in our holiness than in our comfort. He more greatly delights in the integrity and purity of his church than in the material well-being of its members. He shows himself more clearly to men and women who enjoy him and obey him than to men and women whose horizons revolve around good jobs, nice houses, and reasonable health. He is far more committed to building a corporate “temple’ in which his Spirit dwells than he is in preserving our reputations. He is more vitally disposed to display his grace than to flatter our intelligence. He is more concerned for justice than for our ease. He is more deeply committed to stretching our faith than our popularity. He prefers that his people live in disciplined gratitude and holy joy rather than in pushy self-reliance and glitzy happiness. He wants us to pursue daily death, not self-fulfillment, for the latter leads to death, while the former leads to life. —D.A. Carson


What is the True Saving Gospel of Jesus Christ?

I love Paul Washer! He is one of the greatest expositors of Scripture of our time. Set aside some time to listen to this sermon on the Gospel!

HeartCry Missionary Society


Which Gospel Does Your Pastor Preach?


“I am convinced that multitudes of confessing Christians have been sold a lie when it comes to their eternal destinies. In our contemporary efforts to spread the Gospel to as many people as possible, I believe we have so maligned and manipulated and misrepresented the very Gospel that we have wished to spread. We have formulated the Gospel as a ‘plan of salvation’ and forgotten the Gospel as the power of God for salvation. We have pared it down to the minimalist picture, the smallest picture, and it gets smaller and smaller and smaller into a shrink-wrapped presentation that if one delivers it and gets someone to say the right things back to them, and even pray the right things back to them, then we pronounce them saved and we move on. And multitudes of professing Christians have been told that as long as they prayed that prayer or walked down that aisle and talked to that person or signed that card, that their salvation is complete. And the result is a host of professing Christians, including many people in this room, think that they are eternally saved from their sins when the reality is they are not. And the reason is because we’ve taken the Gospel, the very lifeblood, out of Christianity and we’ve put kool-aid in its place . . .

“. . . Do you think that it’s possible in 20th century – 21st century Christianity that we have taken threads of the Word here and there, pieced them together with our thoughts and our traditions and our external standards and our ideas about what makes us OK with God, put it all together and said, ‘If you do these things you’ll be alright’? I think it’s entirely possible to do that. I think it’s entirely possible that we have done that. You listen to how salvation, the Gospel, is sold today –‘Accept Jesus into your heart’ . . . ‘Invite Christ into your life’ . . . ‘Make Jesus Lord’. None of these are Biblical phrases. None of them. Now that should throw up red flags — that in the most important issue that determines our eternal destinies we are using phrases that are not even displayed in Scripture, shouldn’t it? You will struggle in this Book to find anyplace where someone says, ‘Bow your head, close your eyes, and pray this prayer with me’. You won’t find it. We have taken the Gospel and substituted language and thoughts and practices that are not displayed in Scripture. The reality is that the Gospel confronts us face to face with the law of God, confronts us with the lordship of Christ, confronts each and every one of us with the depth of our sinfulness before God — the necessity of Christ’s death on a cross to take the wrath of God upon Himself, the necessity of His resurrection to provide victory over sin and death and the grave. The Gospel confronts us with the demand to repent, the enabling to repent, to turn from sin and to turn to Christ. Now these are Biblical terms. These are Biblical terms, but modern day evangelism has cast them aside and has built an evangelism on sinking sand that is disillusioning millions of souls. Biblical evangelism involves wrestling with the depth of the sinfulness of our soul, crying out to God because we realize that we have absolutely no where else to turn. Biblical evangelism sees Jesus not as someone who is looking for an invitation, but Jesus is the one who is infinitely worthy of all glory and demands immediate, total obedience — immediate and total surrender. And Biblical evangelism knows nothing of saying a prayer and then going on and living your life like nothing has happened. Biblical evangelism demands radical obedience to Christ.”

David Platt



Quotable #2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our own failure to grasp the gospel shows itself when we demand penance from those who have wronged us. Whatever offense I’ve received is infinitely smaller than the offense God has received from me. And since God has freely, fully, and unconditionally forgiven us in Christ (counting our sins against him) we should be quick and desirous to freely, fully, and unconditionally forgive.

Tullian Tchividjian

 


God, Sin, and Time

I recall going to a neighborhood boy’s house with a group of my friends when I was about 6 years old. We made fun of the poor kid for whatever reason we thought we had to make fun of him. I remember taunting my victim and belittling him mercilessly. I really didn’t have a grasp on loving my neighbor as myself at that point in my life! I don’t remember many events from (ahem!) forty-some years ago, yet I remember that one. Actually, I’m quite thankful that I don’t remember what are certainly scores upon scores of sinful acts I committed throughout my youth. I suppose nobody is capable of keeping such a scorecard of their life. A little lie here, a bit of thievery there. It’s all a faint memory after a short while then, eventually, completely forgotten as the years pass. God’s memory, however, does not fade with the passage of time.

 
Scripture informs us that God has a completely different perspective on time than ours because He is timeless. That is, He exists outside of time. God has always existed! It strains the mind to contemplate that God had no beginning and He has no end. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2, ESV)

 
Since God is timeless, how does His perspective of time differ from ours? Well, the Bible tells us, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:4)
Wayne Grudem sheds some light on this verse in his book Systematic Theology. With regard to Psalm 90:4, he states that “When we realize that the phrase ‘a thousand years’ does not imply that God forgets things after 1,100 years or 1,200 years, but rather expresses as long a time as one might imagine, it becomes evident that all of past history is viewed by God with great clarity and vividness: all of time since the creation is to God as if it has just happened.” (Systematic Theology, Pg. 170). It’s absolutely devastating to consider that every sinful act ever committed, even those that are long forgotten by man, are ever before almighty God.

 
Similarly, Peter informs us that “. . . with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8). Now, with the first half of this statement, we glimpse some additional information about God’s perspective of time. Grudem remarks that “. . . any one day from God’s perspective seems to last for ‘a thousand years’: it is as if that day never ends. Again, since ‘a thousand years’ is a figurative expression for ‘as long a time as we can imagine’, or ‘all history’, we can say from this verse that any one day seems to God to be present to His consciousness forever.” (ibid, pg. 170).

 
So, consider these questions: “If you sin against God today, when would it start bringing sorrow to God’s heart? When would it stop bringing sorrow to God’s heart? Does this reflection help you to understand why God’s character requires that He punish sin?” (ibid., pg. 181). Considering the previous discussion, I believe the answers are painfully clear.

 
For the sinner, all of this is really bad news. Sin is often fleeting to us and so easily forgotten, but God does not forget. And our sin is so offensive to Him. So offensive that He sent His Son, fully God and fully man, to live the sinless life that we are unable to live.

Now, a perfectly just God requires that sin be punished. Just as a human judge would be considered unjust for letting a convicted murderer go free, sin cannot justly escape God’s punishment. By God’s grace, our sin was placed upon Jesus Christ. At the cross, Christ bore the full wrath of an infinitely righteous and holy God against sin. Jesus died in the place of sinners such as you and I, and conquered death for us by rising from the grave after three days. Once we repent (i.e. admit that we’ve sinned against God, and turn from our sin) and trust in the work of Christ alone for our forgiveness, God saves us. Just as our sin was placed upon Jesus at the cross, Jesus’ righteousness is placed upon us through our faith in Him! Instead of receiving God’s justice, we receive mercy. And we live for the greatest treasure the world will ever know, Jesus Christ. That’s the really good news. That’s the Gospel, actually. And for those who are in Christ, God no longer “remembers” past sins!

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8: 1)

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity . . .” (Psalm 32: 1-2)

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5: 8 – 11)