The gospel is…the word about Jesus Christ and what he did for us in order to restore us to a right relationship with God. – Graeme Goldsworthy

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gospel Truth for the Satanically Condemned Believer

Saint, do you feel condemned with oppression today for your sin and shortcomings by voices of demonic condemnation? The only cure is gospel truth! Read the fantastic quote below, look up the verses, and sing this song – drowning out the serpent’s words with that final and authoritative Word from God to you: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8.1).

On the basis of the description of in Rev. 12:9-21 and the description of Satan in Job 1:6-11; 2:1-6; Zech. 3:1-2, it can be concluded that the devil was permitted by God to have a place in the heavenly court as a [lawyer] to “accuse” God’s people of sin. The OT texts portray Satan accusing saints of unfaithfulness, with the implication that they did not deserve God’s salvation and gracious blessings (Zech. 3:1-5, 9). Implicit also in the accusations was the charge that God’s own character was corrupt.

In light of Rev. 12:11 (“they overcame him [the devil] because of the blood of the Lamb”), the accusations mentioned in verse 10 appear to be directed against the illegitimacy of the saints’ participation in salvation. The devil’s accusation is based on the correct presupposition that the penalty of sin necessitates a judgment of spiritual death and not salvific reward. The charges are aimed against all saints who do not receive the deserved punishment. Until the death of Christ, it could appear that the devil had a good case, since God ushered all deceased OT saints into his saving presence without exacting the penalty of their sin. Satan was allowed to lodge these complaints because there was some degree of truth in the accusations. However, the devil’s case was unjust even before the death of Christ, since in part the sins about which he was accusing and for which he wanted to punish people were instigated by his deceptions.

The death and resurrection of Christ have banished the devil from this privileged place and prosecutorial role formerly granted him by God. This is because Christ’s death was the penalty that God exacted for the sins of all those who were saved by faith. The sinless Christ vicariously took on himself the wrath that was threatening saints so that they might be delivered from the final wrath to come. This meant that the devil no longer had any basis for his accusations against the saints, since the penalty that they deserved and for which he pleaded had at last been exacted in Christ’s death (see also Rom. 3:21-26). G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (217)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Your Busy Life and The Mission of the Church

I’m endeavoring to do a series on membership right now. It’s challenging. While one of the challenges for me as pastor is in the formation of the series, a greater challenge is what this series confronts in the heart of every evangelical Christian living in Western culture. One of those challenges I addressed at the beginning of my sermon last week. I quoted Paul David Tripp to highlight this concern. Take a few minutes to listen to this quote in Tripp's own words, and ask God to search your heart. I would also encourage you to listen to last week’s sermon if you were absent. It’s vital we at new3c are all on the same page during this series.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Difficult Seasons of Providence

Have you ever gone through a season of life wherein you know God’s in control, but His providence feels cruel? You want answers, but none seem to come. You know what the Bible says, but your emotions quickly interpret your suffering as a cruel joke – making it hard not to pray in human angst and even anger, “God, why are You doing this to me? Why are you letting this happen?”

To be a Christ-follower means to have this experience multiple times in our journey to the Celestial City. For those in such a place now – and for future moments of this testing of your faith – I offer wisdom from a great pastor and reformer from church history.

“Sometimes the causes of the events [of life] are hidden. So the thought creeps in that human affairs turn and whirl at the blind urge of fortune; or the flesh incites us to contradiction, as if God were making sport of men by throwing them about like balls. It is, indeed, true that if we had quiet and composed minds ready to learn, the final outcome would show that God always has the best reason for his plan: either to instruct his own people in patience, or to correct their wicked affections and tame their lust, or to subjugate them to self-denial, or to arouse them from sluggishness; again, to bring low the proud, to shatter the cunning of the impious and to overthrow their devices. Yet however hidden and fugitive from our point of view the causes may be, we must hold that they are surely laid up with him, and hence we must exclaim with David: ‘Great, O God, are they wondrous deeds that thou hast done, and thy thoughts toward us cannot be reckoned; if I try to speak, they would be more than can be told’ [Ps. 40:5].”

He continues a short time later along these same lines…

“When dense clouds darken the sky, and a violent tempest arises, because a gloomy mist is caste over our eyes, thunder strikes our ears and all our senses are benumbed with fright, everything seems to us to be confused and mixed up; but all the while a constant quiet and serenity ever remain in heaven. So we must infer that, while the disturbances in the world deprive us of judgment, God out of the pure light of his justice and wisdom tempers and directs these very moments in the best-conceived order to a right end.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion: Volume 1 (211)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Last Battleground

During a great and encouraging conversation recently with my wife, Rachel, she said something about marriage that jumped out at me. In the flow of our dialogue, she said – almost anecdotally – three words that my ears heard with bold italics: the last battleground. When I asked her what she meant by that, she said, “It’s easier to humble yourself before God and others outside your home than it is before your spouse. That’s why marriage is the last battleground of humility.” So true.

Whether you get along naturally in your marriage, or it's a lot of work – or you’re somewhere in between those two extremes – you’ve come to see that marriage is the most vulnerable of all human relationships. As a godly older man recently told me, in his younger days he used to think that being “one flesh” referred exclusively to the sexual relationship in marriage. Over time he’s come to see it means more than just that. We both agreed by laughing together about this insight. No further theoretical pontification about the topic was necessary.

To be married is to be vulnerable. To be in a marriage – a healthy one – is to continually make yourself vulnerable. We stand “naked” before our spouse emotionally, mentally, habitually, attitudinally, vocationally, socially, and spiritually. And if humility – the humility of Christ – is not the chief ingredient of the recipe of your life as man and wife, the aroma of your home won’t smell pleasant. If consistent and true confession and repentance are not the practical harmony of your marriage, the daily melody will always feel “off.” If the gospel of grace you shout “Amen!” to at church and read about and receive in your “quiet time” is not being extended to your spouse, walls will inevitably form and sinful hiddenness (= pride and guilt) will become the default and defining nature of your matrimony. This is why we need the Holy Spirit daily challenging us in and through His Word. And this is why we need – and must have – people in our local church who are agents of the Spirit, challenging us to live what we know in that Word. Lives and marriages survive – even thrive! – only when they are regularly connecting with other believers in our community of faith who are pursuing Jesus daily. Such are the practical implications of marriages and lives that are passionately gripped by the gospel.