Christianity has thus passed through many stages of its earthly life, and yet has hardly reached the period of full manhood in Christ Jesus. During this long succession of centuries it has outlived the destruction of Jerusalem, the dissolution of the Roman empire, fierce persecutions from without, and heretical corruptions from within, the barbarian invasion, the confusion of the dark ages, the papal tyranny, the shock of infidelity, the ravages of revolution, the attacks of enemies and the errors of friends, the rise and fall of proud kingdoms, empires, and republics, philosophical systems, and social organizations without number. And, behold, it still lives, and lives in greater strength and wider extent than ever; controlling the progress of civilization, and the destinies of the world; marching over the ruins of human wisdom and folly, ever forward and onward; spreading silently its heavenly blessings from generation to generation, and from country to country, to the ends of the earth.
It can never die; it will never see the decrepitude of old age; but, like its divine founder, it will live in the unfading freshness of self-renewing youth and the unbroken vigor of manhood to the end of time, and will outlive time itself. Single denominations and sects, human forms of doctrine, government, and worship, after having served their purpose, may disappear and go the way of all flesh; but the Church Universal of Christ, in her divine life and substance, is too strong for the gates of hell. She will only exchange her earthly garments for the festal dress of the Lamb’s Bride, and rise from the state of humiliation to the state of exaltation and glory. Then at the coming of Christ she will reap the final harvest of history, and as the church triumphant in heaven celebrate and enjoy the eternal sabbath of holiness and peace. This will be the endless end of history, as it was foreshadowed already at the beginning of its course in the holy rest of God after the completion of his work of creation.
Here is the latest video class I taught through the Gospel Project. In this lesson, we look at Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue in Nazareth. We will look at why the people loved the teaching initially and why they wanted to kill him a few minutes later.
We will also seek to understand a couple key phrases. -“Physician, heal yourself.” -Luke 4:23 -“No prophet is acceptable in his hometown.” -Luke 4:24
David thought it was over. His sin had been exposed, he had sought the Lord’s forgiveness, and it had been granted. A right spirit had been renewed, and a clean heart had been created. Then came the news that his child was gravely ill. As David was thrown to the floor in anguish, thoughts of his sin filled his mind. Months had passed, but now his sin had come out from hiding to remind him of his treachery against the God of the universe.
Years later another son of his rebels, and once again David is reminded of the sword that has been driven into his family because of what he had done. Another brutal reminder that he, at one point, thought he knew better than Lord of all creation. In his sinfulness, he desired something that the Lord had forbidden, but David ignored the law because he thought it would be better if things were done his way. Oh, but how that sin has haunted him. How many times he thought he was done with it. He had repented, he had been forgiven, but regardless, it seemed to pursue him. Though it had no hold on his life, and there was no possibility that his sin could exact its wages from him, due to the redemptive plan and work of God, it was not going to let him forget.
It seemed to sit in silence for extended periods of time just to make David comfortable. Then as he would be going about his day, there would be those moments when something, whether it was something he saw or something he heard, gave his sin an opportunity to spring upon him and cloak his day with darkness by taunting him of his failures and reminding him of his foolishness.
You see, one or two moments of sin do not simply last for a season. Many times, they have a way of coming back in little reminders which sink your spirits every now and again, and the fact that it comes on when you least expect it is what makes it all the more difficult. After it happens a few times, it can cause you to begin to look over your shoulder in preparation for it to happen again, until you feel it trying to stifle you in your Christian walk. It can even cause a hesitancy to desire spiritual growth because of what it might do when you reach new territory.
As it did with David, sin has a way of robbing us of peace and joy. It can weaken, embarrass, and grieve us years after the indiscretion. On top of all that, as the enemies of God hear about it, they begin to rejoice, mocking the God we love because of what we have done. If you are toying with sin or considering spurning God’s loving standards to feed your flesh, you might want to think twice because what you do could linger for years to come.
Now if this warning comes a bit too late and you already know from experience that all of this is true, you must remember that the haunting cannot ultimately hurt you. Bear in mind that our sovereign God, who has taken your sin and bore its wages on the cross, has promised never to lose His child, and has promised that all things will work together for the good of those who love Him: even the haunting effects of sin. Though they can be troubling and painful, He is using all things to accomplish His purposes in your life. He will finish the work he has started in you, and with a little wrestling, He can change your name from Jacob, the heel-catcher, and deceiver, to Israel, the prince of God.
Ultimately, David never forgot his sin, but that did not stop God from calling him “a man after His own heart.” As king of Israel, the Lord has used his example to show the world His love and forgiveness, and that the Lord can use anyone in a powerful way, even those with serious failures in their past. Sin can haunt the repentant believer all it wants, but ultimately it cannot separate them from God’s love. Even though the enemy naively believes that he is going to stifle them by it, the sovereign God is using it to conform them to the image of His Son. Let us never forget that it was the haunting effects of sin that God used in David life, which caused him to draw up under the wing of his Lord, and through it birthed several of his Psalms which were inspired by the Holy Spirit and considered the very Words of God.
In an extraordinary way, the Lord uses the haunting effects of sin to bring his child to the point where we will no longer be able to be haunted by them. By using them to conform us to His image, not only will we avoid sin in the future, but when the accuser rears his head, we will understand that all his work is in vain, and the more he tries to afflict us, the more we will grow. Then, before long, Satan will be looking over his shoulder, because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.
Let it be considered, to what the Father gave His only begotten Son: even to death, and that of the cross; to be made a curse for us; to be the scorn and contempt of vile men; to the most unparalleled sufferings that were ever inflicted or borne by any!
It melts our affections, it breaks our heart, to behold our children striving in the pangs of death. But the Lord beheld His Son struggling under such incomparable agonies. He saw Him falling to the ground, groveling in the dust, sweating blood, and amidst those agonies turning Himself to His Father, and, with a heart-rending cry, beseeching Him, “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me (Luke 22:42)!
To wrath, to the wrath of an infinite God without mixture; to the very torments of Hell was Christ delivered, and that by the hand of His own Father! What kind of love is this, which made the Father of mercies deliver His only Son to such miseries for us! In giving Christ to die for poor sinners, God gave the richest jewel in His cabinet! This is a mercy of the greatest worth and most inestimable value.
Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ is! Ten thousand thousand worlds, as many worlds as angels can number, would not outweigh Christ’s love, excellency and sweetness! O what a lovely One! What an excellent, beautiful, ravishing One is Christ!
Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, like the garden of Eden, into one; put all flowers, all pleasing fragrances, all colors, all delicious tastes, all joys, all sweetnesses, all lovelinesses into one; O what a lovely and excellent thing would that be! And yet it would be less compared to that loveliest and dearest well-beloved Christ than one drop of rain compared to all the seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths!
Now, for God to bestow this mercy of mercies, the most precious thing in Heaven or earth, upon poor sinners; and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as His Son was; what astonishing love is this!
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16
These are not words that describe a mere principle that worked within me; they described me. Though life coursed through my veins, I was spiritually dead, and death was to be the only wage I would merit. Not simply physical death, but eternal death. Flesh was the only word that could describe me. As in death, my eyes were closed and lifeless; I allowed no light to enter because I loved the darkness. Blackness permeated everything I was. Though my physical eyes could see, in rebellion they would not look upon light and life. All my actions, though I boasted of virtue, were done in darkness, and because of this I was harmful. I dangerous to myself and those around me, and none of it was accidental. In all of it, I was culpable for I had gone astray.
Broken, Injured. Restless. Fearful.
Of no merit of my own and entirely for His name’s sake, He called this wandering sheep and blotted out my iniquities with the blood of His sacrifice on the cross. I heard His voice, it gave me life, and light began to penetrate my soul. Though still somewhat harmful something had changed. Something old had passed away, and all things were becoming new. Yet, in it all, I was still broken. I had injured myself and those around me, and in restlessness and fear, I began to wonder if He would fulfill all He promised.
Guided. Nourished. Protected. Loved.
From a distance, I followed His voice learning that He would only lead me to places that would be to my advantage. In His leading, He began to feed my wounded soul with nourishment that could not be found in any other source. In my ignorance, I would wander from time to time, but He never failed to fend off the enemies of my soul with His rod. If necessary, He would even use His staff to chasten me. When my foolish legs began to wander, He did not hesitate to wound them. Then in my weakness, He would gather me up into His arms and keep me close to protect me from myself and my enemies while I would mend. In those times, I began to know Him better, and as He spoke to me using a name that was all my own, I knew I was loved.
Peace. Comfort. Fearless. Endless.
My Shepherd’s name is Jesus, and He restores my soul. I now lay down in peace wherever He leads me, and I shall not be in want. I am comforted by His rod and staff and long to be at my Shepherd’s side. No longer do I fear evil, for He is with me. His goodness and mercy will be with me all the days of my life, and my dwelling in the house of the Lord will be endless.
I am one of the teachers at our church where we are going through the Gospel Project. Since we are unable to meet for class, I have been uploading these videos so everyone can keep up with the curriculum. If you are interested in following along, you can do so below.
The temptation of Jesus is a pivotal moment in the gospels. To fully understand it, it is important to compare and contrast Jesus’ temptation with what Adam faced in the garden. We will also see relevance to our dealings with temptation as well.
I was part of a Good Friday in real-time series for our church on Facebook live. My portion was the death of Jesus and his final statement, “It is finished.” What was in the cup that Jesus so much dreaded to drink that it caused him to sweat drops of blood. The video is below.
Is Coronavirus God’s judgment on us for our wicked ways, is it something he intends for our good, is it a mixture of both, or none of the above? Scripture tells us, “the secret things belong to the Lord our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). What this verse means is that God does not always tell us why he is doing what he is doing. We may do our best to try to figure it out, but, often, his ways are inscrutable (Romans 11:33). In the end, he is always accomplishing more than we could ever think or imagine.
What do we do when we are unsure of what God is doing? How do we know how to respond when that is the case? If we do not fully know his intentions, how can we see his mercy? In the same way that the hidden things belong to the Lord, the revealed things belong to his people (Deuteronomy 29:29). There are several things that the Lord has told us in his word, and his word is the rock upon which we should build our lives. That way, when the storms come, we are not washed away (Matthew 7:24-27). He has not asked us to build our life on what he has not told us, but what he has revealed. Considering Coronavirus, we are helped when we think about in light of the following three biblical truths.
1. God is in Control
The first truth we need to bring to mind is that God is sovereign. He is the Lord Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. He reigns on high, and who can stay his hand (Daniel 4:35)? If we do not believe that God is in control over Coronavirus, either we have a God who is too weak, or lacks the knowledge, to remedy the situation. These are our only options if we deny his sovereignty, and these options are horrific and contradict what God has revealed to us in the Bible. To think this way about God is to trade the the truth of God for a lie and lay the foundation of our lives on sinking sand, and we might as well give up hope. God is sovereign. He could end covid-19 in an instant if he desired, but he has not chosen to do so as of yet. The decision to end Coronavirus or have it continue to play out is in his hands (Isaiah 45:7), and his decisions are never hasty or without good reason.
2. The Wages of Sin is Death
The second truth we need to remember during this time is that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6.23). Death is what sin deserves, and that is not only physical death, it is also spiritual death. Scripture calls this “the second death.’ This involves God consigning those who reject him to the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). Jesus called it “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46), and the apostle Paul called it “everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9). To be clear, this is not annihilation; we will not cease to exist. Jesus said, this is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:50). Those who go there will experience this for all eternity. An infinite punishment is the only suitable penalty for a finite being who sins against an infinite God.
Before we think God’s wrath for sin applies only to people worse than us, we need to remember that God’s word also says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23). We have all transgressed the Lord of the universe. His law, since we have been created in his image, is written on our hearts, and we have violated it. Every one of us, every person living on this planet right now deserves hell for our sins. There are no exceptions, and we should never try to understand the difficulties we are facing without remembering what we deserve.
3. Everything Short of Hell is Mercy
The final truth we then need to apply flows logically from the first two. Everything short of hell is mercy. If we do not see that God is merciful to us even in this, we are operating from a false premise that says we deserve better. If we are not in hell at this moment, no matter what we are facing, God is being gracious. He is being patient with us (2 Peter 3:9). No matter how bad things could get with covid-19, it is better than we deserve. His mercy is abundant even during this pandemic.
What should we do with the mercy that he is extending to us? We should embrace it and humble ourselves before him as a nation and as individuals. We should draw near to our savior who has promised, if we do so, he will draw near to us (James 4:8).
Many have died from Covid-19, and their time has come to meet their Maker. Some of them received their just reward; the wages of their sin. As painful as that is to write, it would be unloving to conceal this truth. Others who have died from the virus had found forgiveness in Christ Jesus, and they were ushered into his glorious presence as his children. Instead of wrath, they found grace. The question is, what will happen when our time comes. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through faith in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
Jesus Christ was the only person ever to live a sinless life. He is the Son of God; fully God and yet fully man. He came to do for us, what we can not do for ourselves. He is the only one who does not deserve sin’s wages, yet he went to the cross willingly to take our punishment (2 Corinthians 5:21). “God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He was given over to death because of our transgressions and He was raised for the sake of our justification (Romans 4:25). This is what Good Friday and Easter are all about.
Though our sins have alienated us from him, “all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children” (John 1:2). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13). For those who believe Jesus, the wrath of God for our sins is satisfied.
Even in Coronavirus, God’s mercy is abundant. If this pandemic does not touch us, we need to remember, we will die someday. “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). It will happen eventually. Come to Jesus today, he is our only hope and refuge. Not only that, it is where our true joy will be found. We were created to be in relationship with him, but we have traded his glory for corruptible things. We pursue riches, power, fame, and a host of other worldly trinkets, but he is calling us to something better. In drawing us to himself, God is calling us to the most glorious life possible, not only in heaven, but even now in the midsts of hardships.
Come drink of the living water and never thirst again (John 4:14). Come to know the friend who will stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Begin walking with your creator who will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6) and will work all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), Yes, even the fallout of Coronavirus will be for the good of his children. My prayer is that we will all draw up under the wing of our Savior where we belong.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
It is quite certain that those whom Christ has washed in his precious blood need not make a confession of sin, as culprits or criminals, before God the Judge, for Christ has forever taken away all their sins in a legal sense, so that they no longer stand where they can be condemned, but are once for all accepted in the Beloved; but having become children, and offending as children, ought they not every day to go before their heavenly Father and confess their sin, and acknowledge their iniquity in that character? Nature teaches that it is the duty of erring children to make a confession to their earthly father, and the grace of God in the heart teaches us that we, as Christians, owe the same duty to our heavenly Father. We daily offend, and ought not to rest without daily pardon.
For, supposing that my trespasses against my Father are not at once taken to him to be washed away by the cleansing power of the Lord Jesus, what will be the consequence? If I have not sought forgiveness and been washed from these offences against my Father, I shall feel at a distance from him; I shall doubt his love to me; I shall tremble at him; I shall be afraid to pray to him: I shall grow like the prodigal, who, although still a child, was yet far off from his father. But if, with a child’s sorrow at offending so gracious and loving a Parent, I go to him and tell him all, and rest not till I realize that I am forgiven, then I shall feel a holy love to my Father, and shall go through my Christian career, not only as saved, but as one enjoying present peace in God through Jesus Christ my Lord.
There is a wide distinction between confessing sin as a culprit, and confessing sin as a child. The Father’s bosom is the place for penitent confessions. We have been cleansed once for all, but our feet still need to be washed from the defilement of our daily walk as children of God.
There is something about me that always wants to be in control. If I am sick, I want to outlearn the disease and overcome it. If relationships start to fail, I want to be able to charm them back to life. We all desire control. I think this is why we buy into so many fad diets promising snake-oil results. I do not say this as a judgment on eating right; it is a wise thing to do, but how much of it stems from the desire to bend reality to fit our ideals. If there is something I can do, then it is something I can control. “I am the master of my ship.” This desire to govern this world has even found its way into Christian circles. “If you can muster enough faith, all will go right. Positive thoughts create positive results.” The problem is, it is not true. We could do all of this, and it could still fall apart. We are not the masters our destinies.
The storm around me reminds me of this. I realize, with every peal of thunder, that I am not the center of the universe. When it comes to orchestrating the master plan for creation, I am no more special than the other 7 billion people on the planet. We all tend to live as if we are, but it is a delusion. You and I could come into contact with something in this fallen world that could end our lives within a matter of days, and there is nothing we could do about it.
Once we are gone, our co-workers would remember us and then replace us. Sure, they may even put up a picture for a few years to commemorate our contribution, but they would be able to continue without us. Our demise would most likely hit our family the hardest, but our children would move on with their lives just like we would want them to. Even the one we love, if the Lord wills, would find someone else to love and with whom to share the rest of their life.
I do not like to think about these things, but it is good. It reminds me that the world is not yet the way it should be, so I should not put my trust and hope in it. There is something eternal that deserves my devotion and attention. Something else should be my refuge.
Though the storm swells around me, I have found salvation in the cleft of the rock: Christ Jesus. All the sins that caused me to be fearful of God have been forgiven. The great and righteous judge of the universe has reconciled me to Himself through the cross. Yes, I, a sinner, am a friend of God. In fact, He calls me His child.
One of the problems is that we often interpret being a child of God to mean that we are now co-sovereigns with Him, but that is not the case. When the omnipotent God makes us His child, He does not stop being God. He does not hand us the reigns of the universe. Instead, He continues right on with His plan, and we should be grateful.
What tends to bother us, is that He still keeps much of his plan hidden. The hidden things belong to the Lord (Deuteronomy 29:29). His judgments and ways are past finding out, and none of us have been his counselor (Romans 11:34). He has not told us everything He is doing. He is operating in a fallen world in a multitude of ways that are unseen and unknown to us, but He has given us some revelation. One of the things revealed is that he will return and set all things right. We sometimes complain that He has not done it yet, but it is His patience that causes Him tarry (2 Peter 3:9). If it were not for His patience, none of us would be saved. The day He returns in glory will be a day of great trembling and delight for His child, but it will be a day of terror for those who do not know Him. Though we should desire His return, it is not something we should rush because he is still gathering his people.
Our salvation involves so much more than what we are currently experiencing, and even creation groans waiting for the sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8:19-23). Though we are to strive to give people a glimpse of glory in this life, it is only a dim reflection. We cannot place all our hope in what we are experiencing now. He has given us the Holy Spirit, and we know this is a guarantee of what is to come, but what we are experiencing now, in this life, is not the consummation of our salvation.
Everything could fall apart. The darkest things imaginable could happen, except one: that He would lose one of us who have been saved by faith and fail to complete the work He has begun in us. We will see Jesus face to face in all of His glory. One day, all believers will inhabit a place without sickness, without tears, and without death. A place where it can no longer come undone, but this is not it.
If we think that everything must fall into place right now for our salvation to be real and our faith to be true, we have a short-sighted view of both salvation and faith, and our understanding of God is too small. True faith will trust God even if He does not do what we want Him to do immediately. What He is doing is bigger and better than what we could ever imagine, even if we don’t fully understand it. One day the hidden things will be revealed, and we will stand in awestruck wonder at the wisdom of His plan. No matter how dark and painful it gets, children of God win in the end because we will stand in the presence of Jesus. It could all fall apart, and that’s OK. Deep and abiding faith in God has the ability to look at the worst possible scenario and still see our Lord’s goodness. From there, nothing we face can cause us to fear. God has not ceased being God, and he will be faithful to His promises. He is conforming us to his image and he will bring us home.
For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10