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The Wednesday Word: Righteous Grace (Part 2)

February 12, 2014 1 comment

The Wednesday Word: Righteous Grace (Part 2)

It’s one thing to feel good about the gospel, but quite a different matter to grasp its ramifications. I have met many professing Christians who, for example, are ‘martyrs’ to a bad conscience. They know the words, “saved by grace,” but suspect that grace means, ‘God’s lackadaisical kindness’. Not having understood that the grace which saves is righteous grace, they have no peace. The ‘gospel’ that they know ministers calm to neither their mind nor their conscience (Jeremiah 6:14).

For true peace we, as gospel believers, continually find ourselves going back to the cross. When your conscience tells you that you are a rat, then asks you if you are sure that God is merciful?” … What do you do? And just as you are thinking about the question, your conscience pipes up again saying “What if God grows weary of you and forgets to be gracious?” What can you say? The only answer to these accusations is the cross for it boldly declares that, “Christ Jesus was set forth as a substitutionary wrath offering for sin.” At the cross, we learn that He saves by both love and justice. At the cross, we learn that we are saved as a matter of righteousness grace (Romans 3:24-26).

He saves us justly. This is good news for we easily could imagine a scenario where God could cease to be merciful, but we could never envision Him ceasing to be just.

Righteous grace is no new concept. In the Old Testament, the blood of the sin offering was sprinkled on the mercy seat. Justice and mercy combined. The sinner was, consequently, saved, not only by grace, but also saved righteously. Likewise, in the New Covenant, the God of the gospel graciously justified the ungodly by ruthlessly punishing our sins in the person of our substitute Jesus Christ. Although we are saved by grace alone, saving grace is never alone for it is inseparably joined to righteousness. Our salvation and right standing with God now rest on the righteous and gracious work which God has already accomplished for us, outside of us, in the Person of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24).

Two thousand years ago there was an objective, actual, historical event when God Himself broke into human history as one of us. He became our representative and was so identified with us that all which He did was, not only done for us, but was exactly the same as if we had done it ourselves. When He graciously bore the punishment for our sin, we were righteously punished in Him. When He arose, we arose. When He was exalted to the right hand of the majesty on high so were we (Ephesians 2:6)! It is finished! We can now be at peace.

Have you ever had a troubled conscience? I have! The following are some scriptures (in personalized form) that I have frequently used to defeat the accusations of a bad conscience. Take these wonderful truths and confess them.

 

“Christ died for my sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

“He was wounded for my transgressions; he was bruised for my iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).

“Christ was once offered to bear my sins” (Hebrews 9:28).

“Who gave himself for me, that he might redeem me” (Titus 2:14).

“He was “delivered for my offences and was raised for my justification” (Romans 4:25).

“He “gave himself for my sins” (Galatians 1:4)

“Christ died for me” (Romans 5:6).

“He has appeared to put away my sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).

 

See also 1 Peter 4:1, 1Peter 3:18, 1 Peter 2:24.

Notice how the words, ‘Himself’ and ‘He’ appear frequently in the preceding verses. This is because the gracious and righteous Lord Himself is our salvation. He is our robe of righteousness.

Someone once asked Irenaeus, the 2nd Century, iconic champion of the faith, “Irenaeus, what has Christ brought that other religious leaders have not brought?” He answered, “He brought Himself.”

That’s what makes our gospel different. God came here Himself to righteously and gracious deal with sin and sinners. This is good news for the troubled conscience.

And that’s the Gospel Truth

Miles McKee

 

Minister of the Gospel

6 Quay Street, New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland,

www.milesmckee.com

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The Wednesday Word: Righteous Grace Part 1

The Wednesday Word: Righteous Grace Part 1

God is the God of all Grace (1 Peter 5:10). He is also the God of righteousness (Ezra 9:15). It is as we see that God saves us, not only by grace, but also through righteousness that we enjoy His full and perfect peace (Isaiah 45:21, Romans 4:5; Isaiah 26:3).

At the heart of the gospel, we discover that grace is, as Horatius Bonar terms it, “Righteous Grace.” Unless we understand this, we will continually struggle with assurance and peace. God justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5) and does so as a matter, not solely of love, but also of righteousness. At the cross, the justice of God punished Christ as though He were the worst of sinners (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because God refused to gloss over the sin problem, Christ was condemned as though He were us. Justice has, therefore, been satisfied.

Luther, at first, struggled to understand this very thing. One day he read David’s prayer in Psalm 71:2: “Save me in thy righteousness” and cried out, “What does this mean? I can understand how God can damn me in His righteousness, but if he would save me it must surely be in His mercy.” Through time, however, He came to understand that gospel grace is righteous grace.

In the Gospel, we are not confronted with a vague forgiveness, arising out of some sort of paternal love on the part of a bemused God. That would be far from righteous grace. We’ve got to get to grips with this! We need to know both the righteous and gracious basis of our acceptance before God. Indeed, if we are not clear on this, we have no gospel! If we take away either righteousness or grace from the gospel, we have eliminated its very life-blood, and there is, as Spurgeon says, “Nothing left worth preaching, worth believing, or worth contending for.”

Righteous grace is at the heart and soul of the gospel: without it, the gospel is dead. Without righteous grace, there is no comfort for the troubled conscience. From first to last, everything in salvation is of grace and that grace comes to us righteously.

Additionally, to help us understand this we need to ask:

1) Did God recognize our absolute guilt, but chose to ignore it since He is our Father?

2) Or, did God acquit us because He loves us and, at the back of it all, He is very good-natured?

3) Or, is God indifferent to sin?

4) Or, was it that because God’s absolute holiness demanded He took action against our sin, He punished Christ Jesus at the cross of Calvary?

So, how say you? On what basis does God acquit us? Are we declared not-guilty because God is kind and tender? Or, does God forgive us in a righteous, just and gracious manner? We must be clear on this. We must be clear that, at the cross, our sins were paid for by our substitute. Christ was legally cursed on our behalf (Galatians 3:13). Our gracious acquittal is, therefore, based on the work of righteousness. It was righteousness that had condemned us in the first place. It was righteousness that had barred us from heaven and if ever we were to be saved it had to be done righteously.

Now that Christ has been righteously punished in our place, our condemnation has been righteously and graciously removed (Romans 8:1). Christ has died in place of the ungodly and has been righteously condemned. Believers have now been declared righteous, not because the Lord is nice, but because of righteous grace. Christ died and intercepted our well-earned wrath as He purged and took our sin away (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 1:3, John 1:29).

Since the perfect righteousness of Christ has now been graciously reckoned to us, it would be, therefore, an unrighteous thing for God to condemn anyone for whom Christ died (Romans 4:22-25, Romans 8:34).

And that’s the Gospel Truth

Miles McKee

 

Minister of the Gospel

6 Quay Street, New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland,

www.milesmckee.com

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The Communion of the Blood-Part 2

December 25, 2013 1 comment

The Wednesday Word: The Communion of the Blood-Part 2

 

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 1 Corinthians 10:16

 

The Father, in choosing the method of putting away our sins, chose the very best He had, the blood of His own Son. It is by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus that we are cleansed from our complete catalogue of sins. By the blood of Christ, our spiritual sin stain is taken away and its tortured recollection destroyed. That’s why we read in Hebrews 9:13, “How much more shall the blood of Christ … purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Jesus really died at Calvary. In John 19:34 we read that one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and immediately blood and water came out. Christ Jesus really was dead! There, at the cross, Christ Jesus died that we might live. In addition, by His blood, we come, not only into life, but into communion with God. In the Greek, the word communion is “Koinonia”. It is a beautiful word that means, among other things, fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation and intimacy. And this communion, this ‘Koinonia’ comes through the blood.

But how do we come into contact with the blood? How do we obtain the benefits of His death? Romans 6:3 gives us the answer. It says, “…. that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into His death?” When a person is baptized into the Lord’s death, it is there that he meets with the benefits and blessings purchased by the blood of Christ.

Some groups erroneously teach that Water Baptism is the means of obtaining the benefits and communion of His death. It is only by their baptism, they say, that we can obtain forgiveness of sins. They cite the instruction given to Paul in Acts 22:16, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins.” However, they totally ignore that Paul had already, by this stage, given evidence of his conversion and regeneration by calling Jesus the Lord (Acts 22:10), by spending his time in prayer (Acts 9:11) and by having been filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 9:17-18). They claim that, although it is the blood of Christ that washes away sins, the only way to access the effects of the blood is by their baptism. If these rascals are to be believed, then we need to stop singing, “There’s power in the blood” and start singing, “There’s power in the tub!”

But how then are the benefits of Christ’s death to become ours? How are we baptized into Christ? Here’s the answer. It is by faith alone! And where do we get this faith? It is the free gift of God. We can’t earn it or deserve it, we simply receive it!

Have you trusted Christ alone to have your sins washed away? If you have, you are already baptized into Christ. If you haven’t, then you still are carrying every sin that you have ever committed. That means that when you die, there’s nothing left for you but the Lake of Fire. You may have been baptized in a church building, but if you are not trusting in Christ alone you are not baptized into Christ. If you are not trusting in Christ alone, you are still in your sins. The shed blood of Christ is of no benefit to you! Why don’t you, right now, call on the Lord and ask him to save you? Why don’t you trust Him, right now, and receive Him and His salvation for yourself? Our God is wonderfully gracious. He will welcome you. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

And that is the Gospel Truth

Miles

 

Miles McKee

Minister of the Gospel

6 Quay Street, New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland,

www.milesmckee.com

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The Communion of His Blood

December 18, 2013 2 comments

The Wednesday Word: The Communion of His Blood

 

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 1 Corinthians 10:16.

 

It is marvellous to be acquitted, accepted and adopted into the family of God, but quite another matter to be continually conscious of these gospel benefits. Unfortunately, we often live our Christian lives as though the blood had not been shed. We remain fearful of God and continue to be bound and intent on securing His favour by our performance. It’s no wonder then that we lack joy. It’s no wonder then that we need confidence. It’s no wonder then that we are often weak and ineffective in our Christian service.

In His thoughtfulness, however, the Lord has left us the ordinance of Communion (The Breaking of Bread). This marvellous memorial can be a wonderful help to us. It informs our conscience that the Shepherd has already laid down His life for the sheep. It is as we break the bread, the emblem of His body, and drink the wine, the emblem of the blood, that we declare our union and loyalty to Him. As we, by faith, grasp that which the blood has accomplished, we enter into renewed communion (koinonia) with the Master. We are not merely commanded to gaze upon the emblems, but to eat the bread and drink the wine. He has set us apart unto Himself, and each time we break bread we see this afresh and declare the same.

No one has ever been as loyal to His people as has Jesus. He loved his own and loved them unto the end (John 13:1). He has rescued us and paid for us with His own blood. He has cared and provided for us out of His abundance. What immense loyalty!

Throughout history, certain leaders have inspired great loyalty amongst their followers. For example, in Scotland, in 1745, after the battle of Culloden in Scotland, the defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie went on the run, trusting his life to eight of his followers. Although there was a large reward out for his capture, these eight men loyally protected their young champion. When the Prince finally left from the west coast towards the Hebrides and exile, Hugh Chisholm, one of the eight, shook hands in farewell. From that day forward he never once shook hands with his right hand, but always with his left. He explained that he would never give the hand he had given to his King to another man.

So it is with us and King Jesus. We will never give our hand to another. As we come to remember Him at the Table, we remember that which He has accomplished on our behalf. We remember how he was wounded and chastised for us. We remember that He identified with us and our guilt. We remember that He came to seek and to save that which was lost and, in His majestic faithfulness, we remember that He finds all whom He seeks. May we never give our hand, loyalty or allegiance to another King.

As we come to the Table, we come, not as holy men and women. We come, rather, to remember, the One who bled and died for wretches such as we. As believers, met together in the name of Jesus, we have all things in common. We share a common guilt, a common ruination, a common rescue and a common redemption through the same blood. We have all been common recipients of the glorious deliverance accomplished by the blood.

As we take the bread and wine, we by faith remember that His blood has cleansed us, His righteousness has covered us, His strength defends us, His love comforts us and His Spirit energizes us.

And that’s the Gospel Truth

Miles

 

Miles McKee

Minister of the Gospel

6 Quay Street, New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland,

http://www.milesmckee.com

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Confession statement 28

Published in 1646

The Text used: There has been some updating of Old English words but otherwise no changes have been made to the original texts.

CONFESSION OF FAITH of seven congregations or churches of Christ in London. which are commonly, but unjustly, called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed in London, Anno 1646.

XXVIII THOSE that have union with Christ, are justified from all their sins by the blood of Christ, which justification is a gracious and full acquittance of a guilty sinner from all sin, by God, through the satisfaction that Christ hath made by His death for all their sins, and this applied (in manifestation of it) through faith.

1 John 1:7; Heb.l0:14, 9:26; 2 Cor.5:19; Rom.3:23; Acts 13:38,39; Rom.5:1, 3:25,30.

The First London Baptist Confession 1644/46