Jesus Won the War

A war movie is an apt metaphor for life because we’re all prisoners of war. Everyone of us, from the rich and famous to the homeless person sleeping in a doorway. We are born in bondage to sin. There is no other identity. We can thank our first parents for that. They threw us under the bus when they chose to disobey God and eat of the forbidden fruit. Ever since that day all of us are born broken, needy and rebellious.

The bible calls it bondage to sin, Satan and the wrath of God. The trio of horror, except we don’t recognize it as such. We think it’s normal. We have no other reality to compare it to.

Self exacts a gravity that pulls us deeper and deeper into itself. We are the compass we live our lives by. The darkness is light to us. Selfish behavior is the stuff of life. The only god that rules is ourselves.

But God. He has redeemed us. FullSizeRender (53)

He’s pulled us out of our misery.

Sin no longer has dominion over us.

Satan’s slavery is broken.

We’re free from the wrath of God.

Jesus paid the price for our freedom.

He has given us his nature.

We live our lives in His light now.

Hallelujah!

Talk to me.

 

 

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Not So Quick

Have you ever asked yourself, like I have, what was lacking in the rich young ruler’s life that turned him away from following Jesus? Something nagged at him to ask Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. He said he kept the commandments and Jesus didn’t fault him in that. What was missing?

He may have been thinking that there was something he needed to add to the rule list. “Just tell me and I’ll be on it.”

Or he may have been thinking that he was doing alright and wanted Jesus to confirm him in his performance.

But that wasn’t it.  FullSizeRender (4)

Just like this blog is fond of repeating that acceptance with God is by Christ alone, by faith alone, by grace alone, this young ruler had everything, including wealth and possessions, but lacked the one thing that could give him eternal life.

Without faith in Jesus he had nothing.

He was a rebel in God’s world. He was spiritually dead. Notice in today’s culture, he would be described as a seeker, someone who was close to God, and whom God was pleased with. But in truth his heart was of stone. His sins were not forgiven. He was under God’s wrath.

So what does Jesus tell him?

To sell his possessions and give his wealth to the poor.

Why would Jesus say that instead of telling him he needed to have faith in him?

No doubt Jesus saw that he trusted in his considerable wealth and put his finger on it to expose it. The young ruler heard that and walked away sorrowful. He was willing to do anything, but part with his riches. He loved them more than God. While being rich he was poor. He failed to realize that eternal life was more wonderful than all the riches in the world.

We see time and time again that those who feel secure in their performance, Jesus refers them to the law, but to those who are a mess, like the woman caught in adultery, he consoles with the gospel.

If you’re keeping the rules without a corresponding love for God inside, you of all people are not keeping any rule. You must be poor and needy inside, a beggar of God’s love and life and then he will grant it to you.

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

faith in Jesus, the one person who could give him what he needed.

And notice how Jesus answered him.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Even Though You Fail, But God

The gospel shows us that we fail to obey God.

Not sure that’s true?

Try this on for size: How well have you loved God and your neighbor today? Yesterday? How about last week?

If you’re like me, you must admit your failure. photo(43)

But not only do we fail to obey God, we dupe ourselves into believing that our imperfect obedience somehow is sufficient for God to fully accept us.

That’s because we’re trusting in our own performance.

We insist on being our own Messiahs.

Even people without faith in Christ are believers – in themselves, their performance, or the idols of their own making.

Christians struggle with the same issues.

Failure to believe the gospel results in our problems in church, in our relationships, and in our work.

We all agree that belief in the gospel is the way into the kingdom of God, but then we forget it’s also the way of life in the kingdom.

We never graduate from the gospel.

It’s essential for kindergarteners as well as PhDs.

It’s the only way to grow and be transformed by Christ.

So what is the gospel again?

To quote Question 60 of the Heidelberg Catechism:

Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Sleep Like a Baby

When I look inside myself, all I find is corruption, pride, selfishness, and sin.

I could list a whole host of other horrible sins, and fill you with stories, but then I’d be focusing on myself, and that’s not the point.

My conscience skewers me when I look inside. If I were to stand in God’s courtroom, I’d have no defense and He would be perfectly right to consign me to hell.

However, knowing this, I still sleep well at night.

How can that be true?

The only reason I can sleep well at night is that even though my heart is depraved, and I’m not doing my best to please my Lord, I have in heaven at the Father’s right hand my beloved Jesus, who not only has done His best for the Father, and for Himself, but has fulfilled all righteousness for me in my place.

So no matter how much I fail, or how much I succeed (both are shot through with sin), I stand in the perfect record of my Lord Jesus.

Now that is something to shout for joy about!

Remember The Truth

Your salvation is in Christ.

Your right standing with God is in Christ.

Your total and complete acceptance is in Christ. 

Your merit is all in Christ.

Your wholeness is in Christ.

So what does this mean to you?

It means your imperfect obedience, lukewarm love, and stumblings are swallowed up in Christ’s perfect life of obedience.

Remember, his perfect record is yours.

God loves you because of him.

As believers, our default position is now the full and complete life of Jesus.

That’s pure joy!

Are You Perplexed About God’s Will?

If I were God, and I wanted to get my message to the people I’ve created, I certainly wouldn’t put my best men in prison for years, mistreat them, put them through hurdles, and even kill my best man on the job.

But that’s exactly what God did with Elijah, Moses, Abraham, David, Paul, Peter, John, and of course, Jesus.

“I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” – Jeremiah 10:23 ESV 

That’s an understatement.

It is my experience that God leads and directs in mysterious ways.

The things I most pray for don’t come to fruition in the way I ask.

In fact, oftentimes God keeps me waiting or answers me in opposite ways.

And his answers can be risky and perplexing. They make me ask what God is up to.

They also produce fear in me, and then I realize I can’t fix the outcome, and then I am forced to trust him.

I am no longer in control.

Martin Luther experienced the same thing.

“We need to learn how God guides his people as they grow and develop. I too have often tried to dictate to our Lord God a certain way in which I expect him to run things. I have often said, ‘O Lord, would you please do it this way and make it come out that way?’ But God did just the opposite, even though I said to myself, ‘This is a good suggestion that will bring honor to God and expand his kingdom.’ Undoubtedly, God must have laughed at my so-called wisdom and said, ‘All right, I know that you are an intelligent, educated person, but I never needed a Peter, a Luther, or anyone else to teach, inform, rule, or guide me. I am not a God who will allow himself to be taught or directed by others. Rather, I am the one who leads, rules, and teaches people.'”

I am reminded that since God is taking care of every detail of the universe, surely he will take care of me.

I am learning to rest in that truth.