Down, But Not Out

Opportunity

How many times have you disobeyed the Lord and not received what you deserved? I am sure that if we all think long and hard, we will be amazed that we are still here! Why is that? God is merciful and gracious. There are many things that we have done that removed us from the pathway of obedience. We know what His Word says, but we selfishly reject it. Such acts of rebellion (both private or public) against God’s Word are damaging and can cause great devastation. When we deviate from God’s will it robs us of joy in the Lord and opportunity to be faithful and glorify His magnificence.

If we have miserably failed in living according to God’s will, what should our next steps be? Instead of becoming despondent or moving in a direction of deeper depravity, as children of God we must confess our sin to the Lord, seek His forgiveness and repent from our sin. It is then we will know the joy and freedom that repentance brings (cf. ). The fact that the Lord has provided you an opportunity to know the seriousness of your sin and the occasion to seek His forgiveness reveals His wondrous grace and mercy toward you! He would be just in simply punishing us on the spot if he so desired.

This reminds me of Jonah. In an earlier post we learnt that due to his reluctance, Jonah ran away from God’s will. Despite his selfish and rebellious act of running away from God, the Lord chased him and got his attention. The Lord sovereignly prepared a great fish to swallow him up (). It was in the depths of the sea creature’s belly that Jonah saw the error of his way. He confessed his sin and repented.Despite his disobedience, in a merciful and miraculous way “the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land” (). God then provided Jonah with another opportunity to obey Him (cf. ). This says a lot concerning the character of God. What mercy and grace on display!

Perhaps you are down and despondent as a result of your sin. Don’t despair, instead look unto the Lord God and seek His forgiveness. Be thankful to Him that He has provided you with an opportunity to do this! As He grants you occasion, seek His grace to be faithful and fervent in your service to Him. You may be down, but by His grace you don’t have to be out.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

17  And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

3:1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”

Running Away from God

Running Away

A game many children are good at is “Hide and Seek”. The thrill of running away while the person who is seeking has their eyes closed. You look for a safe haven in which you will be able to remain while the seeker is searching hard. Sometimes a child thinks they are in great hiding spot, but the reality is they aren’t. Other times, they are and the seeker will never find them. Continue reading Running Away from God

Getting the Gospel Right

Gospel copy

Getting the gospel right is critical.  The word “gospel” comes from the Greek word euangelion, which literally means “good news”. It is good news because it contains the message of God’s salvation to sinful man. It contains the declaration of deliverance from sin. If we are going to get the gospel right, it is essential that we understand the necessary components of the gospel message.

A Right Understanding of God

Who is God? God is the creator of the “heavens and the earth” (), He makes everything in the universe work (), and He rules over the entire universe (). The Bible says that there is one God (Is. 44:6). Though there is only one God, He exists in three Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (). God is holy in all His perfections () and all humanity owes Him their complete love and obedience.

A Right Understanding of Sin

Sin is any thought or act that does not conform to the Word of God. To sin is to miss the mark of God’s standard and it is the committing of an actual transgression. Every person is a sinner () and every person must be judged and punished by God ().

A Right Understanding of Man

All people are made in the likeness of God (), however this similitude has been marred by sin. All people are sinful () and dead in their trespasses and sins (). For this reason, we are estranged from God (; ) and in need of reconciliation. In our sinful condition we are unable in and of ourselves to earn or obtain salvation. We are in need of a righteousness outside of ourselves ().

A Right Understanding of Christ

Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God (; ). At the Divinely appointed time in history, He was sent into the world “born of woman, born under the law” () so as to save sinners (). Jesus Christ is without sin and was a substitute for sinners ().

A Right Understanding of the Cross

The cross has become a religious symbol for many. Sadly, this is only a symbol and a religious add-on to their lives. We need to know and remember that there is a deep and profound meaning when we think of the cross of Christ. In the first century the cross was the place where painful and gruesome public execution occurred. The horrific event of the Lord Jesus Christ being crucified on the cross was not an event that captured the Lord by surprise (Acts 2:23). At the cross the Lord Jesus Christ suffered for sins as a substitute for sinners (1 Pet. 3:18). This is how salvation for sinners was secured.

A Right Understanding of Grace

On what basis does God save sinners? The glorious gift of salvation comes to the sinner by grace (). Grace is the undeserved gift of God’s favour and goodness in providing salvation. Such grace is truly amazing.

A Right Understanding of Repentance

Repentance is something that is ignored or redefined by many when it comes to preaching the gospel. Despite such practices, the Word of God remains clear. Repentance was a part of Christ’s preaching (; ) and the apostolic preaching (). Repentance refers to the God given ability to recognise our sin, to detest it and turn from it as we embrace Christ in faith.

A Right Understanding of Faith

Saving faith does not trust in or rely on one’s own achievements; instead, the object of trust and reliance is the Lord Jesus Christ. Genuine saving faith is the recognition that we have nothing to offer God in-order to be forgiven of our sin and be saved. Faith is God’s appointed means in-order for us to receive salvation. Therefore, faith is coming to God on the grounds of grace – having nothing to offer – and trusting and adhering to Christ as Lord.

A Right Understanding of Works

We cannot be saved by means of our works. In fact, our best works in the sight of God are filthy rags (cf. Is. 64:6). The only works that save a sinner are the works of Jesus Christ. But once an individual embraces the gospel (by faith in Jesus Christ) their life will be followed by works (). These works are the natural outflow of the child of God. In the words of Martin Luther, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Ephesians 4:18

18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

5:1  Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 8:58

58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,

Acts 17:30

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The Five Solas

Five_Solas

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses (written in Latin) to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. This historical event was not the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, but was a means that started discussions and debates about the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church’s indulgences. After a series of events, Luther’s discussion intensified to a declaration of a defence of the gospel.

Continue reading The Five Solas

Christ our Advocate

father advocate3

The people of God have much to rejoice over. The more one reads the Scriptures and studies the doctrine of salvation, they are reminded how much the Lord has done and how grateful we ought to be. One of the blessings of the gospel is that Christ is our Advocate. Continue reading Christ our Advocate

The Manner of Prayer

Prayer2

How should we pray? In we have what is most famously known as the Lord’s Prayer. Though it was not a prayer that He prayed, it is His prayer in the sense that He created it. This prayer provides us with a model of how to pray.

Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil'” ()

The Lord Jesus begins this prayer by saying, “Our Father in heaven“. In all of His prayers, Jesus used the term Father with the exception of (). This manner of address reminds us that we are His children (; ), He provides for us (; ), and that He loves us (). Furthermore, the recognition of Him being in Heaven is also significant. Firstly, it reveals His omnipotence (; ; ). Second, it reveals His omniscience ( ff.). And finally, it reveals His ability to help ().

After the opening words, this model prayer contains six petitions. The first three are concerning God whereas the final three are concerning us. This pattern is rather instructive and useful to remember. A tendency in many prayers is to offer up a wish list. Many prayers can be very self-centered. This prayer, however, teaches the believer to place their attention on God making it a God-centered prayer. Recognizing that the purpose of this prayer is to simply be repeated word for word (though that is not necessarily wrong), it provides God’s people with a pattern and model on how to pray.

Continue reading The Manner of Prayer

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

Psalm 102:19

19 that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,

123:1 To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

A Life of Freedom

  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

    “For you have been called to live in freedom – not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love.”

What does it mean to be free? In having faith in Jesus, what freedom has He promised us? Continue reading A Life of Freedom

5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

High Octane Calvinism

Speaking of Calvinism, I like what Douglas Wilson has to say about the grace & works dilemma and how “High Octane Calvinism” is the only solution. How can we balance our focus on God’s grace, and also our focus on obedience and discipleship? Watch here for his answer.

Some more thoughts on Predestination


In a previous blog I wrote about “Predestination and Free Will”.  I believe that Christians who don’t accept the Bible’s teaching on predestination are forfeiting the great assurance and comfort that this doctrine affords. On the one hand, I think they may misunderstand God’s sovereignty, and on the other hand, human free will.  If God is sovereign, surely salvation is 100% all of God.  If we are utterly sinful, surely we will not use our free will to turn to God.

In our current series on Revelation there is a fascinating verse that speaks to this topic.  speaks about non-Christians, those who worship the beast, as those “whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain”.

I hope you’ll excuse some technical discussion, but the verse has some complications in translation regarding the Greek.  A perusal of different English Continue reading Some more thoughts on Predestination

and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.