Adoption Matters

I’ve known a few people in my life who were adopted as children and the longing of their hearts was always to meet their real biological parents.

Everyone wants to know where they came from. That’s a common desire.

As a Christian, have you ever asked yourself where you came from? And why was it that God chose you to be in his family?

Let me start by saying that it had nothing to do with you!

Once upon a time, before the world was made, God decided to give his Son a people as a gift.

Those people were known only to God before they were ever created.

These people had one common purpose: they would glorify God by imaging the Son.

If you have faith in Christ today, you are one of those people.

God chose you.  photo-37

God drew you to Christ.

God clothed you in Christ.

For the purpose of being holy and blameless.

It was God’s love to his Son that he adopted us into his family for the glory of his grace.

The fact you love the Lord and believe in him was all God’s plan for you.

Check it out. Read Ephesians chapter 1.

And start praising!

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

Belief Is All

You’ve heard the word legalism many times as I have. But do you know what it means for your life? It means your standing with God is obtained or maintained in something in you. Something you do or don’t do.

The Pharisees were experts in legalism. They were the ones looking down their noses at Jesus and reprimanding him for not keeping the law. He dared to heal people on the Sabbath. He didn’t fast. He touched the leper and the blind man. He ate dinner with sinners.

Legalism is legalism no matter if it’s Jewish or Gentile, it doesn’t matter. All people are legalists if they don’t know God. Everyone has a set a rules for living. That’s why most people live with guilt because they haven’t lived up to their own or somebody else’s expectations. And for the religious it’s Christ plus a bunch of strict behaviors. That’s why Paul rebuked Peter for pulling away from eating with the Gentiles. See Galatians 2:11-14.IMG_7835

Legalism does not keep you in fellowship with God, just the opposite, it is an offence to God. Why? Because by being legalistic you’re saying Christ is not enough, you have to add something of your own to his perfect righteousness.

And here’s another big one: legalism doesn’t make you holy. Only Christ makes you holy.

Christ obeyed and merited God’s favor and fellowship for you. It’s through him that God accepts and approves you.

Christ’s obedience to the law and his death for your sins is imputed to you by faith alone. As Martin Luther said, it is an alien righteousness, it’s outside of you and it’s not based on any holiness that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in you.

By faith alone, in Christ alone, you are counted as righteous as Jesus Christ himself. There is nothing more for you to do, but thank God for such a wonderful gift. The Holy Spirit’s job is to assist you in living it out. So no matter how weak you are or how often you fail, your sins are not held against you because Jesus paid for them all and you continue being righteous in Him.

You want joy today? Read this post again!

Talk to me.

 

 

 

So Different

A lot of Christians think they need to be as close to the world as they can in order to be cool and accepted. They wear the clothes, drive the status car, engage in the culture, and adopt the language, even the curse words.

That’s a very bad idea.

How can a person who has been raised from the dead be anything but gloriously different? (see Ephesians 2:1-10)

It’s the sinner who needs put-on identities. He has nothing else.

In contrast the Christian has the Holy Spirit in him.

There’s nothing cooler than that! (see Acts 1-2)IMG_3779

Under the Old Covenant the Spirit was given to a few men and women for a short time to do a special work, and then withdrawn and placed back in the Temple, which was His customary home.

Under the New Covenant, the Christian is himself the temple, and the Holy Spirit dwells in him from the day he believes the gospel to the day he dies, and beyond.

The Spirit comes for a purpose, the first of which is to vindicate the promises of God. He promised in the Old Testament to fill His people with His Spirit permanently, and on the Day of Pentecost He did just that. This He did for the praise of His glory, and to make God look good.

Second, we are blessed because by the Spirit:

  • we understand the gospel
  • we repent of our sins
  • we believe in Christ
  • we feel conviction
  • we grow in grace
  • we know the truth
  • we recognize heresy
  • we witness for Christ
  • we suffer with grace
  • we die in hope

We do nothing good apart from the urging and restraining power of the Holy Spirit within us.

And one day, the Holy Spirit will raise our mortal bodies and invest them with the glory of immortality, thus making us fit to live in heaven and in the presence of God forever.

Remember, every Christian possesses the Holy Spirit, including the one you can’t get along with, are looking down on, is slow to learn, and difficult to love. Which means practically everyone, including you!

The reality is every believer is a treasure in the Holy Spirit, which makes every one of us invaluable to God and to each other.

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

Not This Time

This past Sunday the sermon was brilliant but wrong.

While the pastor hit all the high points, he missed the intent of the passage.  Cross & Church

Instead of leaving us with the joyful reminder that through faith alone in Christ we are forgiven and loved by God, he left us with an application to live better as Christians.

We got good advice instead of good news.

I went home feeling heavy. The law does that to me. I walked away from church with the weight of my sins on my mind and felt wretched because my joy had left me.

It wasn’t until the next day that I went back to the same passage to read it in its context (rule #1 of bible study), and then I carefully read the verses that were the theme of the sermon. When I read the last verse of the chapter, the truth of the gospel exploded in my heart and I was set free again. The entire point of the passage was having faith in Christ!

The pastor longs to shepherd a healthy church. I get it. We can all improve, I know that, too. But the only way to do that is to go deeper in the gospel, marvel more at what Christ has done for us which would lead to loving him more.

We didn’t need an application lesson.

That’s the Holy Spirit’s job anyway.

I tell this story because if you’re not watchful, you might go home with law instead of gospel. It happens in most churches these days. There’s a huge push to be relevant, practical and captivating. People expect a take-away every Sunday.

What is more significant?

Coming to church to serve others or coming so God can serve you from his Word, bread and cup?

Coming for the fellowship with other Christians or communing with God through Word, sacrament and prayer?

Opportunities to work and serve abound, but on God’s day, he summons us to sit and listen and eat and take delight in him. He has prepared a table before us and he is host and server.

Don’t let anybody take that away from you.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why IsThe Good News Really Good News?

If it’s been a while since you’ve read the book of Romans, I recommend a re-read. Especially chapter 1, although the entire book will change your life.

Verses 1 through 7 is one large, explosive sentence that will rock your world.

Paul, who wrote the book, calls himself a slave of Jesus Christ. Where was his self-esteem?

He was called to be an apostle (a sent-one). Who called him? God did. Paul didn’t appoint himself like so many do today.

Paul was set apart for the gospel of God. That was his job description. He didn’t have to forge a career path, or construct a vision for his ministry.

And what gospel was this that Paul was set apart for?

The same gospel that the prophets preached in the Old Testament concerning Christ, the Messiah. This gospel was not a new message for New Testament people, but an ancient message promised to God’s people from Genesis all the way through to Revelation.

Jesus Christ was both God and man. His human lineage came from David and his identity as the Son of God was declared according to the Spirit when Jesus was resurrected from the dead.

It was this gospel that Paul was commissioned to preach to the Gentiles.

Have you been called to belong to Jesus Christ? Has God revealed his Christ to you as the solution to your sins and separation from God?

If the answer is no, re-read Romans 1: 1-7. Then pray this prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment on the cross and offering me forgiveness and new life. Knowing that you have been raised from the dead, I turn from my sins and receive you as my Lord. Amen.

If the answer is yes, you do know him as your Lord, know this: it is God who loved you to this. It is God who called you to be a saint (set-apart one).

This was God’s idea, not yours!

Go out and tell someone!

Leave me a comment if you prayed to receive Jesus today.

Whose Virtue Are You Trusting In?

There are three levels of authentic faith:

1) you start with the historical facts and the creeds concerning Jesus

2) you believe these facts to be true

3) you cast yourself dead on the floor, trusting solely in Christ; his death on the cross will save you.

The moral plan is bankrupt!

The difference between law & gospel:

law = your obedience in order to win God’s acceptance – self-righteousness

gospel = Jesus obeyed for you and died for you; believe that and you have God’s approval

Your daily “spiritual” experience is captive to your diet, sleep habits, health, & emotional state. None of these is to be trusted for your salvation, or your nearness to God, or his love for you.

The apostles had first-hand experiences of Jesus. If there was ever a group of people who could tell their stories, relate their personal experiences with Jesus, it was them. With the exception of Paul, who was compelled to defend his ministry to the Corinthians, none of the apostles spoke of themselves. They spoke only of Christ and his saving work. (See the sermons in the book of Acts.)

When the apostles did speak of their experience with Jesus, they spoke of their doubts. They highlighted their weaknesses. (See Paul in 2 Corinthians 12.)

You have no virtue of your own, so don’t count on it to gain God’s approval.

The only virtue worth having is Christ’s virtue. And he gives it to you as a gift.

Have you received it?

Exhausted!

Have you noticed an increase of motivational speakers lately?

The more the world unravels the more upbeat these guys seem to be. (Most are men. I think women know better.)

You know the type.

They challenge you to make your life count.

They tell you to change the world and make an impact for God. And then give you a zillion pointers. They call it a blog.

What about the super-godly who want to die with their boots on? (I don’t have boots. What does that say about me?)

How do you respond to these calls for excellence?

I’m a cynic at heart so my reaction is: Oh yea? Show me what you’ve done lately
to stop the rotation of the planet.

I hate these guys.

They’re appealing to the flesh. My flesh. Of course I want to be great and important. Who doesn’t?

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for excellence. I ripped a new play apart last week because it could have been so much better. (And I wished I had written it.)

I’m all for success. My success. I really don’t care about anybody else’s except maybe my children’s.

I know that these things in themselves aren’t bad. There’s a lot of mediocrity that passes for excellence, like that play, and so a slap on the head is a good thing.

But the question is: is this where God is calling us?

I know he tells us to be perfect as he is perfect, and that without holiness we will never get to hang out together. That’s quite a standard to live up to. It pales in comparison to the motivational mantras of becoming rock stars.

However, I’m not sure, given all the right resources, that we can even live up to being mediocre.

Even mediocrity has its standards that are hard to achieve.

I have a motivational poster in my office that says: “Ineptitude: If you can’t learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.”

I’m learning to follow Jesus poorly. I don’t get it right. My motivations are wrapped in me, myself and I – my favorite trinity.

I need a Savior. That’s why Jesus died for me.

My rock-star status doesn’t exist. It’s a lie.

My real status is bound up with his. God captured me, subdued me, and extracted me from the world and put me into the kingdom of his Son. Don’t look at me like that. It was God’s idea.

So maybe the challenge is not so much what I can do for God that is so great, but what God has already done for me which is enormous. I need to focus on that.

And then tell somebody else so he can wipe the sweat off his brow and know he’s not alone.