Monday, September 24, 2007

Fountain of never-ceasing grace,

I was reading some articles and poems at ReformationInk and came across this poem by Augustus Toplady. It's an amazing poetic articulation of the grace, imputation, justification, Christ's suffering, man's sin, and forgiveness.

Thanksgiving for the Righteousness of Christ
Fountain of never-ceasing grace,
Thy saints' eexhaustless theme,
Great object of immortal praise,
Essentially supreme;
We bless the for the glorious fruits
Thy incarnation gives;
The righteousness which grace imputes,
And faith alone receives.

Whom heaven's angelic host adores,
Was slaughter'd for our sin;
The guilt, O Lord was wholly ours,
The punishment was thine:
Our God in the flesh, to set us free,
Was manifested here;
And meekly bare are sins, that we
His righteousness might wear.

Imputatively guitly then
Our substitute was made,
That we the blessings might obtain
For which his blood was shed:
Himself he offer'd on the cross,
Our sorrows to remove;
And all he suffer'd was for us,
And all he did was love.

In him we have a righteousness,
By God himself approv'd
Our rock, our sure foundation this,
Which never can be mov'd.
Our ransom by his death he paid,
For all his people giv'n,
The law he perfectly obey'd,
That they might enter heav'n.

As all, when Adam sinn'd alone,
In his transgression died,
So by the righteousness of one,
Are sinners justify'd,
We to thy merit, gracious Lord,
With humblest joy submit,
Again to Paradise restor'd,
In thee alone complete

Our souls his watchful love retrieves,
Nor lets them go astray,
His righteousness to us he gives,
And takes our sins away:
We claim salvation in his right,
Adopted and forgiv'n,
His merit is our robe of light,
His death the gate of heav'n.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Captive to the Word of God

An excerpt of chapter five "Scripture" from Desiring God by John Piper
"But are we to pursue this joy like Christian Hedonists? Are we to throw the kindling of God's Word every day on the fire of joy? Indeed, we are! Not only every day, but day and night: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1: 1-2). This delight is the very design of our Lord in speaking to us: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full"(John 15: 11) . Not to pursue our joy every day in the Word of God is an abandonment of the revealed will of God. It is sin."
If this is true, that not pursuing joy every day in the Word of God and thereby abandoning the revealed will of God is sin, many of us need to repent. I think we need to take the Word of God more seriously. The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith does a great job of describing the necessity of the Word of God and gives reason for us to praise God for the written record of God's revelation of Himself to man.
"The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation." - From the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures
We must see as believers the importance of spending time in the scriptures, every day. That we may grow in our knowledge of God and also that we might delight in the Lord as He has commanded us to do. Let us not see the scriptures of little importance, if we do we find no value in the labors and suffering of saints who esteemed the scriptures and were willing to give their life for the scriptures.

Let us not forget men like Martin Luther, who said

"Since, then, Your Majesty and Your Lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason-I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other-my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me."
Luther knew the scriptures and that they were of high importance. He translated the Word of God and made it possible for the common man at that time to have. We have the scriptures available to us, let's praise God that He's revealed himself, his promises, and the work of Christ in the scriptures and for the saints who have labored to make scripture available to people in their own language.

Let's pursue our joy in God through reading the Word and not see the Bible as unimportant and insignificant. Let's not abandon the Word, but continue as the saints did reading and studying scripture and making it available to those who do not have the Word of God in their own language.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sovereignty of God over the not so dull moments

As I often remind myself that there is never a dull moment around Lakeshore, today proved to be a day full of not so dull moments. Things began this morning when a semi with 10 pallets of food came from the Bay Area Food Bank to deliver some food that we had ordered for the distribution center. Since we just recently lost the school gym we don't have a lot of room to put a lot of things. But we took the delivery man to the new warehouse and we worked out a way that I would be able to pick up the pallets with the fork lift and get them into the warehouse. That was all good, except I seemed to be good at ruining things while I got the food into the ware house. Somehow I managed to put a hole in the concrete with the weight of the forklift but worse than that I tore of a small piece of siding that bordered the edge of the door. Though not to make myself look like I am a terrible forklift operator, there is literally 1/4 to 1/2 inch clearance between the fork lift and the header of the garage door. So you have to have things just right in order to make it in, but with a full pallet of Macaroni O's and beef it's hard to get things just perfect.

Later in the day Kristy, Pastor Don, and I were driving down the road and things were not feeling right as I drove the van. When we arrived at our destination we checked the tires and made sure the lug nuts were not loose. After dinner Kristy and I decided to hit the road before it got dark and I'm glad we did. About 20 minutes down the road we heard a hideous noise - scared me half to death. I wasn't sure what it was but the van seemed to drive ok after that so we slowly drove to the next exit and called for help. It ended up being the tire - it didn't blow but all the tread came off. James came to rescue us and brought us back to Lakeshore safe and sound.

While it proved to be a destructive day for me, there was nothing that happened that the Lord didn't know about or was in control of. With the delivery of the food, the Lord continues to provide for the folks in the community of Lakeshore that come through the distribution center. Over 2,000 families each month flow through the distribution center and food is place on their FEMA camper trailers or clothes cover their bodies. The man made destructiveness was really insignificant.

Tonight the Lord kept Kristy and I safe as we travel down I-12. There are many different scenarios that have run through may head of things that could have happen. I am grateful the Lord kept us safe, kept the van on the road, and kept the other vehicles on the road out of danger. He brought us safely back to Lakeshore to continue ministering to the folks of this community that I've grown to love. Praise God for his sovereignty.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

sin - an opportunity for praise

I was speaking with a friend a few days ago on the topic of sin. It is not a surprise, I'm a sinner - saved by grace. But as I struggle with sin, the thing I struggle with the most is forgiveness. I know in my mind that as a believer if I sin and then repent, I am forgiven. I think the best way to describe what I am thinking and feeling is that I don't always fully believe that I am forgiven. The advice I was given was to turn to the scriptures. Expanding on this I was to focus on the forgiveness, focus on praising God that He would forgive even that sin.

The past few days I've been considering the opportunity to praise God after I sin and turn to him in repentance. How can I praise him and what specifically should I praise him for. Here's a few of those things, I'm sure I could list all his divine attributes and reasons why I am thankful he is divine and possesses those attributes, I could list all he's done for me and times I've been forgiven – his attributes and times I've experience his forgiveness are great and important to praise and be thankful for. But as a part of the advice I was given to turn to the scriptures, I've done just that. Here several reasons (though not an exhaustive list) that I am thankful and praise God that are specifically noted in scripture. I figure this gives me a great place to start giving God the glory.

Praise him for the fact that God even grants us forgiveness.
1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Praise God for sending His Son as a propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Praise Christ who left his place in heaven to come to earth to die for sinners who would believe, for the only way one is saved is by the shedding of blood and a sacrifice.
Heb 9:22 - Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Praise God for He canceled out debt against him that we could never repay, through the death of Christ.
Col 2:13-15 - And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him

Praise Him that we can come to him when we fail.
Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Praise Him that he continues to sanctify us.
1 Thess 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise Him that when we are tempted it is not beyond what we can bear and that he provides a way out.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Praise Him that He is sovereign. He knows what we will do, the choices we will make and yet he grants us forgiveness, grace, mercy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Speechless, I Thy mercy trust

God, Be Merciful to Me
(Psalm 51)

God, be merciful to me;
On Thy grace I rest my plea
Plenteous in compassion Thou,
Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within;
Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.

My transgressions I confess;
Grief and guilt my soul oppress.
I have sinned against Thy grace,
And provoked Thee to Thy face.
I confess Thy judgement just;
Speechless, I Thy mercy trust.

I am evil, born in sin;
Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art,
Teach Thy wisdom to my heart;
Make me pure, Thy grace bestow,
Wash me whiter than the snow.

Broken, humbled to the dust
By Thy wrath and judgment just,
Let my contrite heart rejoice,
And in gladness hear Thy voice;
From my sins O hide Thy face,
Blot them out in boundless grace.

Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true.
Cast me not away from Thee,
Let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation's joy impart,
Steadfast make my willing heart.

Sinners then shall learn from me,
And return, O God, to Thee
Savior all my guilt remove,
And my tongue shall sing Thy love
Touch my silent lips, O Lord,
And my mouth shall praise accord

©1997 Christopher Miner Music.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Almost like I've heard this before

I am currently reading and enjoying the book All of Grace by C.H. Spurgeon. These are a few quotes from the book - though there is so much more - that have jumped out at me. Some things to remember...

"The salvation of God is for those who do not deserve it and have no preparation for it." - pg 13

"The grandest fact in heaven is this: Christ by His precious blood does actually put away sin. And God, for Christ's sake dealing with men on terms of divine mercy, forgives the guilty and justifies them - not according to anything that He sees in them or foresees will be in them, but according to the riches of His mercy which lie in His own heart." - pg 24-25

"This method of atonement is only known among men because it is a fact. Fiction could not have devised it. God Himself ordained it; it is not a matter which could have been imagined." - pg. 30

"Remember this or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much on the faith which is the channel of salvation that you will forget the grace which is the fountain and source of faith itself. Faith is the work of God's grace in us." - pg. 44

"Jesus did not die for our righteousness, but He died for our sins. He did not come to save us because we were worth saving, but because we were utterly worthless, ruined, and undone." pg. 72

"The doctrine of the cross can be used to slay sin like the old warriors used their huge two-handed swords and mowed down their foes at every stroke." - pg 81

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Truth of the Cross

I just finished reading The Truth of the Cross by RC Sproul. This is probably one of the best books on the atonement that I've ever read. Sproul's book is dense, but easy to read and understand. He spells out the doctrines of grace and preaches the gospel very clearly throughout the book.

He begins the book with the fact that the atonement is necessary now, because it is such a debated issue. Sproul explains that God is just and would be right in punishing us for all of eternity. We are criminals, debtors, and enemies of God. But God having a plan sent his son in the person Jesus Christ to die upon the cross to be a ransom for those who would believe. The ransom Christ paid purchased his Bride and released us from the bondage of sin.

Sproul covers atonement, redemption, substitution, expiation, propitiation, and salvation. Helping the reader understand each of these theological words in a way they'd be able to explain it on their own.

One of the areas in this book that really put things into perspective for me was when Sproul writes that Christ was forsaken on the cross. The idea that Christ while on earth had intimate communion with the Father, then at the time of his death he was forsaken by the Father. This was in order that anyone could be redeemed and saved....

“The hard reality is this: if Jesus was not forsaken on the cross, we are still in our sins. We have no redemption, no salvation. The whole point of the cross was for Jesus to bear our sins and bear the sanctions of the covenant. In order to do that, He had to be forsaken. Jesus submitted Himself to His Father’s will and endured the curse, that we, His people, might experience the ultimate blessedness.”

This book will center your attention to the cross, Christ, and the atonement. It's available from Reformation Trust.