Saturday, July 26, 2014

Renounce Your Righteousness

God certainly desires to save us not through our own righteousness, but through the righteousness and wisdom of someone else or by means of a righteousness which does not originate on earth, but comes down from heaven. So, then, we must teach a righteousness which in every way comes from without and is entirely foreign to us
Christ desires to have our hearts so free and divested (of our own righteousness and wisdom) that for our sins we fear no denial of grace and for our virtues we seek no glory and vain satisfaction. We even should not boast before men of the righteousness which is ours from Christ; nor should we allow ourselves to be cast down by the sufferings and afflictions which are sent to us by Him. 
A true Christian should renounce all things — (all righteousness and wisdom) — that in honor and dishonor he always remains the same, assured that whatever honor comes to him belongs to Christ, whose righteousness and gifts of grace shine forth from Him, and that whatever reproach he endures is inflicted on Christ, (who is in him).

— Martin Luther
Commentary on Romans

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Absolutely everything hangs on this...

Audio: < 2min.

The state of the promise:

The christian faith is all about the promise. At the end of the day, it's all or nothing for us. We live or die on the promises of God. That's it. We add nothing to them, and we hang everything upon them. And that is both its great comfort, and what terrifies us most about it.

Is it really enough to trust God's promise? And all of us, to one degree or another, answer that question with a 'No'. It doesn't matter how long we've been in Christ, how long we've been in the faith, the temptation to abandon faith is always there. And it affects all of us one way or another, from time to time.

... It doesn't matter if it's me, or you, or somebody else that delivers the promise, what matters is that it gets delivered consistently, routinely, to people who can't believe it. And this is exactly why, in Luther's great catechism, he wrote, "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or effort believe in my Lord Jesus Christ, or come to Him. But that He has called me, by the gospel."

Luther was saying that what I believe about my belief is what? ... that I can't believe. And so I turn to the promise that calls me again and again to trust. That is the fundamental business of the preacher and the hearer. You come ... I come ... with my unbelief. And into that unbelief, we preach Christ sufficient, Christ alone ... in spite of unbelief. It is preached to unbelief to create faith.

-- Pastor Mark Anderson

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What kind of person receives the gospel?

The sinner is the gospel's reason for existence. You, my friend, if you are undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving, then you are the sort of man for whom the gospel is ordained, and arranged, and proclaimed. God justifies the ungodly.

It does at first seem most amazing to an awakened man that salvation should really be for him as the lost and guilty one. He thinks that it must be for him as a penitent man, forgetting that his penitence is a part of his salvation.

"Oh," says he, "but I must be this and that," but salvation comes to him before he has any of the results of salvation. It comes to him, in fact, while he deserves only this bare, beggarly, base, abominable description... "ungodly." That is all he is when God's gospel comes to justify him.

-- Charles Spurgeon, "All of Grace"

Saturday, July 12, 2014

An Effectual Love

A man may love another as his own soul, yet his love may not be able to help him.  He may pity him in prison, but not relieve him, bemoan him in misery, but not help him, suffer with him in trouble, but not ease him.  We cannot love grace into a child, nor mercy into a friend; we cannot love them into heaven, though it may be the greatest desire of our soul. . . . 
But the love of Christ, being the love of God, is effective and fruitful in producing all the good things which he wills for his beloved.  He loves life, grace and holiness into us; he loves us into covenant, loves us into heaven.

--John Owen, Works (Edinburgh, 1980), II:63.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Right Perspective is Grounded in This...

A couple of posts ago, we were introduced to the idea that perhaps "our fatigue is mostly driven by a confused perspective". What follows is some Good News for those of us who may have "lost our way a bit":

Audio: 3m:29s

You know, if you think about christianity, there's a kind of paradigm we can use to kind of describe the way it's often portrayed: In this life our job is to do the best we can, to be as good as we can, because in the next life we're going to be rewarded for what we've done. Now I would argue that that's probably the way most christian people actually think about their religious life. The demand that you fulfill your existence.

[But John says that] When the Messiah comes, a different word is going to be given to you. It's a word that is actually going to do something. And it's not going to be something that depends on you. The winnowing fork is in His hand, John said. He will do the work.

But in order to see that, to know that, something must be given to us, and it's called faith. For the christian life, faith is what gives us access to the promise. That's why, for the christian, it is not the struggle with sin that is the hardest thing, it's the struggle to believe the promise. That's the hardest thing for a christian, to actually believe that I am forgiven for Christ's sake no matter what.

Faith is not a little bit of "well, you know, I'll just kind of hope that God will help and trust that maybe somehow He'll give me a little grace, and I'll somehow get a little better, and..." NONSENSE. Forget it. Throw it overboard. It aint gonna happen.

When the Messiah comes, and He starts baptizing, something is going to happen. The Holy Spirit is going to be given. A new life is going to be yours, and is yours. Now, you see, what this paradigm creates is a life that looks forward in hope, rather than one that looks forward in apprehension and uncertainty... Have I done enough? Have I believed enough? Have I loved enough? Do I have enough faith? This way of life looks forward and says I can dare to hope all things, believe all things, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Not because of what you've decided, not because of who you are, not because of how good you are or how bad you are. You are mine for Jesus' sake because I say so. And that is a formula for freedom and hope.

Now the christian can enter daily life, not seeing it as a burden and project to be performed, but as a gift to be lived, with all of its struggles and uncertainties, and joys and promises ... in the greater light of God's promise.  Your sin is forgiven. Now, and always, for Jesus' sake. I mean that's the kind of word that just might get you smiling, looking forward, anticipating what's to come.  Why, you might even want to call that GOOD NEWS, GOSPEL!