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The Wednesday Word: Grace not Debt

“Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5).

Good gracious, that is an audacious statement, but it is perfectly correct and accurate.

God justifies the ungodly!

Why the ungodly? Because there is no other kind of people for Him to justify. All outside of Christ are ungodly. As Romans 3 explained, “There is none righteous and none that doeth good.” NONE! That’s comprehensive if you ask me.

So, let’s say it again, if God did not justify the ungodly, no one would be justified (acquitted). All are ungodly, some are very ungodly; but none are too ungodly to be justified. Why so? Because justification, (acquittal) is by grace— sheer unbounded grace, and not because of merit (what we deserve or earn).

At Calvary, infinite grace met unbounded demerit and grace triumphed.

Notice, we are not even told to believe that God justifies the ungodly. No, we are called to believe on Him,—on God Himself,—who justifies the ungodly (see our text).

Faith in God for justification implies the abandonment of any confidence we have in justification by our own good works. The old gospel Hymn by James Proctor deals so well with this. It says,

“When He, from His lofty throne,

Stooped to do and die,

Ev’rything was fully done;

Hearken to His cry!

Refrain

It is finished! yes, indeed,

Finished, ev’ry jot;

Sinner, this is all you need,

Tell me, is it not?

2) Weary, working, burdened one,

Wherefore toil you so?

Cease your doing; all was done

Long, long ago.

Refrain

3) Till to Jesus’ work you cling

By a simple faith,

“Doing” is a deadly thing-

“Doing” ends in death.

Refrain

4) Cast your deadly “doing” down-

Down at Jesus’ feet;

Stand in Him, in Him alone,

Gloriously complete.”

Our only hope of heaven is Jesus Himself. Our good works cannot bring us eternal life. As the scripture says, “To him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” Now that is a plain, well-known matter. If we work for a wage, we’ve earned it. It is not grace, therefore, on the part of our employer to, at the end of the week, give us our wages. We’ve earned them.

But grace gives us what we haven’t earned or deserved.

Supposing you met a homeless stranger and you bought him a meal, that would be grace,—but only in a small measure. Gospel grace is much greater than that. Gospel grace is more akin to the following. Suppose a stranger plundered your home and robbed you and you, knowing who he was and what he had done, unbegrudgingly and gladly bought him a meal, that’s more like the grace of God.

We are saved by grace!

There is no question of working for wages to gain eternal life.

Salvation is “to him that works not— but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly,”—Gospel truth makes us repudiate our works as our hope of salvation. In grace, the Lord justifies the ungodly, the stranger, the destitute and the enemy. He is “the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.”

The blood of the Lamb is the basis on which He can righteously justify. That is why He “is just, and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26). God justifies the ungodly—but some people would rather do anything other than simply trust themselves to Him. They would rather work than believe. They want their own righteousness and refuse to surrender themselves to the righteousness of God. They won’t submit, they won’t repent.

But, thank God, the most ungodly who trusts in Him is declared not guilty.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Wednesday Word: Repentance or Reformation?

Opinions are like noses…everyone has one. That’s why, when it comes to doctrine, we so often hear “I think this,” or “I think that,” and “Mr So-and-So thinks the other.” There are many varied and colourful opinions out there but to establish the veracity of a matter we need to ask what God thinks? What are His thoughts?

In Matthew 22:29 the Lord rebuked the Sadducees saying, “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures.” That’s a sombre reprimand for many of us.

God has spoken and His word endures for ever (1 Peter 1:25). What then does His Word say, for example, about repentance? Is it the same as reformation? Let’s then, for just a moment, look at this important truth.

In Acts 17:30-31 we discover that, “God now commands all men everywhere to repent: Because he has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.” Let’s unpack this;

Who commands repentance? God!

When does He command it? Now!

Whom does He command to repent? All men!

Where does He command this? Everywhere!

Why does He command repentance? To escape the coming judgment.

What assurance have we that there is a coming judgment? Christ has been raised from the dead!

Through the years, many have considered their responsibility to repent, and yet they still lack salvation.

Why?

Because they confuse reformation with repentance. They realise, to a point, their sinful condition, and unfitness for God’s holy presence, so they turn over a new leaf. They give up their obvious and visible sinful habits and try to lead a good and religious life. By doing so, they hope to make amends for their ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’. Oh, and yes, they believe that Christ died on the cross, but they seem to have no idea that they are to trust Him for their salvation. They do not see Him as their sin-bearer and substitute. However, by their upright behavior and sincerely trying to be good they believe they will reach heaven someday.

But is this repentance? Far from it! Repentance is seeing ourselves as poor, helpless, vile, lost sinner whose only hope is Jesus. What we are looking at with the ¨new leaf adherents¨ is the evidence of the deeply rooted self-righteousness of a deceived mind. These folks have gone through reformation not repentance. But God commands repentance, not reformation. Reformation will probably be appreciated by their neighbours but repentance towards God and repentance unto life are other things altogether.

If a person trusts in their reformation to gain eternal life, they are trusting in what they have done. But we are not saved by works. We are not called upon to trust what we have done (see Ephesians 2:8-9). A saved person does not justify themselves, but they look to Christ alone for their right standing before God. What a vast difference there is between reformation and repentance! Repentance is a change of mind about sin, our lostness and about Jesus. Real salvation is by grace. By the work of the Spirit we see that we are guilty and lost (see Luke 19:10). We comprehend that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (see 1 Timothy 1:15). We understand that Jesus, the appointed Judge, is also the Saviour.

Those hoping in their reformation must realise the following: God is “just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). They must, ‘Believe on (trust on) the Lord Jesus Christ, and they shall be saved,’ (Acts 16:31).

We are not called to believe about Him as merely an historical fact, but to trust the Person and finished work of the risen One. We cannot do a single thing to please God before we believe, for ” in all your doings your sins do appear ” (Ezekiel. 21:24). Reforming our ways is not the ground of salvation. We must believe and trust on Him first, and then follow Him.”

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

The Wednesday Word: THE RIGHT WAY

“He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation “Psalm 107: 7.

There is only one way to heaven … the right way. Unfortunately, the ways that lead to destruction are many (Matthew 7:13). The way to heaven is narrow, but the numerous ways that lead to damnation are broad and thronged with people. Since all of us will die, it would be a smart thing to ask then if we are on the right way to heaven, or on the downward road to hell?

Unfortunately, no question is more irritating to the unbeliever than that one. The unsaved usually shrink from such a query. Perhaps, they do not want to disturb their conscience! They are content with the thought that they are no worse than their neighbours, and shall stand as good a chance as any of them. Poor misguided people! It will give them no comfort in the Lake of Fire to discover they were right, … indeed they were no worse than their neighbours.

So, what does the Lord Jesus Christ say on this subject? He says, “Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction¨ (Matthew 7: 13-14). I fear that multiplied thousands, deceived by Satan, are on the road to eternal ruin, being fully satisfied in their own minds that they are safe.

Again we read, “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12).

But how shall we find “the right way?”

The Lord Jesus Christ answers this with full authority when He declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). Christ alone is the way to heaven. No church, no sacrament, “no Guru, no method no teacher.” Christ alone!

Jesus also announces, “I am the door: by Me, if any man enters in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9). Christ is the helpless sinner’s only hope. He is the only refuge from the wrath to come.

Again, we read, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The Lord Jesus Christ is the right and the only way to eternal glory. We, believers, know that God, by an act of sovereign grace and mercy, enabled us to see our utterly lost condition. By grace, we saw the urgent necessity of fleeing for refuge to Jesus the sinner’s only shelter and hiding place from the wrath to come.

By grace, we have been shown that,”All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” and that our best good works need washing in the precious blood of Jesus? We realise that, of ourselves, we are absolutely bankrupt of all power, will, or ability to take a single step towards heaven. We know that, if left to our own strength and guidance, we should be hopelessly lost and ruined forever. But as believers, the Holy Spirit has given us a glimpse of the unutterable value of the Saviour’s love and blood. He has created in our souls a burning thirst after our Saviour, a longing which can never be satisfied until we see Jesus as He is.

“Just to see Jesus, once scarred as Redeemer!

Jesus my Lord, from all suffering free;

Just to see Jesus transfigured forever,

That will be glory, be glory for me.”

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: The Heart of Jesus

In my young days in Northern Ireland, I often saw pictures of what was called, ‘The Sacred Heart of Jesus’ hanging on kitchen walls. Without wishing to be offensive to my Roman Catholic friends, I have to admit that I found those wall hangings quite goulish and oftentimes frightening. Apparently, if a home was to display this chilling picture, the family would earn favour from God. What a terrible doctrine!

The truth is, Jesus´heart is discovered in the gospel, not in framed pictures. For example, we find Jesus depicted in Luke 10:30-35 as the Good Samaritan. After the priest and the Levite had passed by the poor, half-murdered man, the Good Samaritan came where he was, bound up his wounds, poured in oil and wine, set him on his own beast, brought him to an inn, took care of him, paid all his expenses, and promised to return. What a glimpse of the heart of Jesus.

He is the one who comes where we are, binds up our wounds, takes care of us, pays our debt of sin and promises to return for us. Isn’t He lovely?

We find the same heart of Jesus in John 4:4 when He purposed to travel into the unwelcoming Samaritan territory to bring salvation to the worst woman in the district. Remember how it was said of Him, “He must needs go through Samaria.” He must needs—He was impelled and propelled by the love in His heart. He had been walking under the glare of a hot Eastern sun, where a man couldn’t find his own shadow. But look at Him, warily trudging all those hard miles, to rescue that poor, profligate, Samaritan woman.

What a revelation of the heart of Jesus and thus a revelation of the heart of God! Isn’t He lovely?

This is the same Jesus who at later time came down the right street and stopped at the right place and looked up into the right tree and spoke to Zacchaeus (Luke 19:5). Yes, Jesus showed us His heart when He came looking for that crooked little money- grubber. He came, however, not to punish him or beat him, but to go home and dine with him. Isn’t He lovely?

This again is the same Jesus who, by His love, melted the heart of the woman, who was a sinner (see Luke 7:36-48). Jesus was invited to the right house on the right night so that the woman, who was a sinner, could wash His feet with her tears of repentance.

Go where you will through the gospels and look at Jesus. He´s seeking to save the lost, the last, the least and the left behind. (Luke 19:10), and He´s still doing it. The Lord is not passively waiting for people to come to Him. He is seeking sinners. That´s why, as we walk with Him, we learn how to bring the gospel to our friends and family and those He brings into our path.

“He left the radiant throne above,

Stooped down to bleed and die,

To meet the need of ruined man,

What love with this can vie?”

The Pharisees mockingly said of Him, “This man receives sinners”(Luke 15:2), … and they were right. ” This man [Jesus] receives sinners.” He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”(Luke 5:32).

He, out of deep love and pity, left heaven’s glory, and came to seek and to save that which was lost. That´s the heart of God! He came searching for His people, His lost sheep. That´s the heart of God! Nothing turned Him aside and nothing daunted Him.

That´s the heart of Jesus for us.

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Wednesday Word: “Getting in!”

“Behold, thy days approach that thou must die” Deuteronomy 31:14

Many years ago, a preacher, Dr Charles H. Berry, had, at a young age received the highest honours his denomination could confer. His fame as a preacher was as wide as the English-speaking world. But he was a theological liberal. He, at that stage of his life, didn’t believe in the fundamentals of grace, the blood and substitutionary atonement. He told the following story of his conversion to his friend, Dr J. H. Jowett.

“One night there came to me, a Lancashire girl, with her shawl over her head, and with clogs on her feet.”

“‘Are you the minister?’ she said.

“‘Yes.’

“‘Then I want you to come and get my mother in’

“Thinking it was some drunken brawl, I said, ‘You must get a policeman.’

“Oh, no,’ said the girl, ‘my mother is dying, and I want you to get her into salvation.’

“‘Where do you live?’

“‘I live at so and so, a mile and a half from here.’

“‘Is there no minister nearer than I?’

“‘Oh, yes, but I want you, and you will have to come.’

“I was in my slippers, and I did all I could to get out of it, but it was of no use. That girl was determined, and I had to dress and go. I found the house, and upstairs I found the poor woman dying. I sat down and talked about Jesus as the beautiful example and extolled Him as a Leader and Teacher. I talked about His kindness and how we ought to be kind. She looked at me out of her eyes of death, and said:

“‘Mister, that’s no good for the likes of me. I don’t want an example. I’m a sinner.’

“Jowett, there I was face to face with a poor soul dying and had nothing to tell her. I had no gospel; but I thought of what my mother had taught me, and I told her the old, old story of God’s love in Christ’s dying for sinful people, whether I believed it or not.

“‘Now you are getting at it’ said the woman. ‘That’s the story for me.’

“And so I got her in, and….. I got myself in. From that night,” added Dr. Berry, “I have always had a full gospel of salvation for lost sinners.”

What a marvelous little story. The preacher and listener saved by the same message!

Dr. Berry discovered that theological liberalism is not for the sick, the dying and the desperate. It can’t “get people in.”

Theological liberalism is very ensnaring as it subtly whittles away at the cross. In its teaching, the atonement becomes nothing other than a sublime example of selflessness. Christ is reduced to the status of only a man. There is no saving blood sacrifice. There is no gospel. In theological liberalism, the Bible is torn to shreds! There is no life in that—death, only death.

Let me ask you a personal question. If you were called to a death bed and the dying person was urgently concerned about their salvation, humanly speaking, could you “get them in”?

Do you know that although death is like a giant scorpion, for the believer its sting is removed? As William Romaine rightly observed, ‘Death stung himself to death when he stung Christ!’

To help those who are dying we need to know that Christ has settled the sin and death problem. Do you know this? Could you tell a dying person this as you urge them to trust in Christ? We need to ask ourselves, therefore, do we believe the gospel or is it just a theory. Or, do we from the depth of our being trust that Christ Jesus is the One who has already, thoroughly and finally dealt with sin and death? (see Hebrews. 1:3; 9:26; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

Christ Jesus alone is the One who is to be trusted and relied upon for salvation.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Wednesday Word: The Satisfactory Sacrifice

When Jesus called out, “It is finished” (John 19:30) it was a declaration that His redeeming work had been accomplished. Because redemption happened in the past, in history, redemption cannot be undone or added to. Nothing more is needed. It is finished.

At the cross, there was a once-and-for-all completed sacrifice for sin. We were purchased, bought and paid for by the shedding of Christ’s precious blood.

Since the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was completed at Calvary it is incorrect to say that redemption was finalised when Christ sprinkled His blood upon the heavenly mercy seat. There are those who incorrectly teach that the blood of Jesus had to be applied to the heavenly mercy seat to redeem us. They say that if Jesus’ blood had soaked into the ground at Calvary, then sins could not have been taken away.

Wrong!

Christ ascended into heaven because His work of atonement was finished, not in order to complete it. Of course, He sprinkled His blood on the mercy seat but that was not to achieve redemption. He had already accomplished redemption at the cross. This is made clear when we read, “But by His own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12).

Notice how eternal redemption had already been obtained before Christ came to the mercy seat.

So, let’s say it again. To complete redemption, Jesus did not need to present His blood in heaven.

Why not?

Because our redemption was, by that stage, already un fait accompli (an accomplished fact: a done deal). See Hebrews 9:7-12, 24-25; 10:19; 13:12, 20; 1 John 2:2.

Before we continue with this thought, here’s another gospel truth about Jesus! He, unlike the Old Testament high priest, did not have to make a sin-offering for Himself

Why Not?

Because He was already perfect, sinless and flawless. He was without sin (Hebrews 7:26). There was no need, therefore, for Christ to shed blood for His own redemption. He was the only man who has ever lived who didn’t need a saviour.

But, back to what we were saying. Christ entered heaven having secured our eternal redemption at the cross—He is now enthroned in heaven as the High Priest who completed the work of redemption (Hebrews 1:3; 8:1).

Nothing else needed to be added to the work of atonement.

Nothing!

Redemption was not a partially completed work.

He did not leave things half-done.

Our salvation does not depend upon something we need to do to complete it.

Christ did not have to do some atoning act in heaven. Redemption was finished, done, complete! The mission was accomplished! (John 19:30).

The sacrifice of Christ was made once for all on the cross. Any theory of atonement, therefore, which teaches that Jesus Christ needed to take His blood with Him into heaven (or hell) to complete our salvation, denies the finished work of the cross.

We do not need another sacrifice. We do not need the mythical bloodless sacrifice of the Roman Catholic Mass in order to be made right with God.

We Do not need another sacrifice. The one we have will do just fine.

We do not need another sacrifice. Jesus Christ willingly offered Himself in our place by shedding His blood as the price of our redemption (Matthew 20:28).

We do not need another sacrifice. Every person who trusts on Jesus Christ for salvation is eternally secure in Him (John 10:28-29). We have been redeemed out of slavery forever (Galatians 3:13; 4:4-5). He purchased us with His blood and took us out of the marketplace. We are no longer available; we are off limits. We are now owned by God….and He refuses to re-sell His precious possessions which He bought with His blood (Acts 20:28).

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

The Wednesday Word: God Gave Us His Best!

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God…” 1 Peter 3:18.

Anglican Bishop, Taylor Smith, was sitting one day in a barber’s shop having a shave. He spoke to the barber about being right with God, the barber replied, “I do my best and that’s good enough for me!” When the bishop’s shave was completed, and the next man had taken his place, he asked, “May I shave this customer?” “Oh, no!” replied the barber firmly. “But I would do my best,” said the Bishop. “So you might,” replied the barber, “but your best would not be good enough for this customer.” “No, and neither is yours good enough for God,” was the bishop’s reply.

In Christ, God gave us His best. Trust Him and have eternal life. Reject Him and perish!

At the cross, God’s Lamb, Jesus Christ, took the sins of His people and suffered as an innocent substitute—the just for the unjust—that He might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). Since repetition is the price of learning, let’s say again that, as our substitute, He died not merely for us, He died instead of us and as though He were us.

In Christ, God gave us His best!

Nothing can accurately and fully describe the suffering of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit must reveal it to us. But this we know; when the scripture says that Christ, “Once” suffered, it doesn’t mean “once upon a time.” There’s no fairy tale here folks! It means “once and for all.” He suffered, never to suffer again. He died, never to die again. In Christ, God gave us His best!

Spurgeon said, “No soul ever ate a morsel more dainty than this one—substitution. I do think that this is the grandest truth in heaven and earth—Jesus Christ the just one died for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. It is meat to my soul. I can feed on it every day, and all the day.”

When Jesus bowed His head and cried out, “tetelestai!” (it is finished) it was not a strange word to those who heard Him.

In Jesus’ day, when a man was placed in prison, a Certificate of Debt was nailed to his prison door with his crime on one side and the penalty on the other. When he had served his time, written on his Certificate of Debt was tetelestai, “Finished … Paid in Full.” It became his proof positive that the demands of justice had been met. He had suffered, never to be brought into double jeopardy for those crimes again.

The believer, as it were, now has a Certificate of Debt stamped in the crimson blood of Jesus. It reads, “Paid in Full!” You can’t add to it. You can’t take from it. In Christ, God gave us His best!

It has been said many times, “Without Christ, we can do nothing.” That’s true, and the flip side is also accurate, “With Christ, there’s nothing we need to do!” Jesus has done and paid all to redeem us. It is Finished!

“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” Hebrews 10:12.

One sacrifice for sins forever! If we really understood what our substitute went through for us, we would never stop praising the Father for giving us His best …Jesus.

One sacrifice for sins forever! Hallelujah for the blood of Jesus Christ that paid for us in full,

No condemnation now I dread:

Jesus, and all in him, is mine!

Alive in him, my living Head,

And clothed in righteousness divine,

Bold I approach the eternal throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

In Christ, God has given us His best!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Wednesday Word: The Man Who Took our Place

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God…” 1 Peter 3:18.

We have just read a verse crammed with gospel dynamite. Have you ever wondered how a holy God can righteously bring sinners to Himself? This verse helps us unpack the answer.

Suppose someone punches you in the face. Fortunately for your attacker, you are a magnanimous kind of a person, not much given to aggression and you say to your accoster “I forgive you.” But, to your astonishment, he says, “You don’t need to forgive me. I’ve already forgiven myself.”

Wait a minute! The one who did the punching cannot extend forgiveness to himself. If there is to be proper forgiveness, it is you, the attacked one, who should do the forgiving, not the attacker. You are the wronged party! The aggressor is not the forgiver.

Now here’s a thought! We are all sinners. We have, as it were, all punched the Lord in the face. That means, He is the one who gets to extend forgiveness. Remember, all sin is against God. But sin is much worse than punching God one time in the face. It is a continual railing against, battering of, and disobedience to the precious Saviour. It is an offence to His majesty and holiness … and God hates it! As Isaac Watts said,

‘Twere you, my sins, my cruel sins,

His chief tormentors were;

Each of my crimes became a nail,

And unbelief the spear.

David said in Psalm 51, “Against Thee, and Thee only, have I sinned.” It is God who has been offended by our sin and if ever we are to be forgiven, God must forgive us.

But, how does an offended God righteously forgive sin? Our verse explains the matter.

Let’s re-read our verse!

“…Christ has also once suffered for sins, the just for (gk HYPER) the unjust…” Here, the word ‘for’ means “in place of.” Christ took our place. He was the Just; we were the unjust. He was the righteous; we were the unrighteous. He was our substitutionary Saviour. We are sinners—by birth, by nature, by choice, by practice and God, because He is just and holy, must punish sin.

Yet at the same time as being just, God loves His people. Now, if God could have a problem, this would present Him with one, …a divine dilemma, as it were. How can He love the elect sinners and at the same time punish their sins?

The answer is, with a substitutionary sacrifice. We needed someone who could take that punishment on our behalf. We needed a substitute who had known no sin. We needed a perfectly righteous, sinless, holy and good person. This means that the only person qualified to become our substitute was and is the Lord Jesus.

If a man has no sin, he does not need a Saviour to become his Substitute. But, as for me and my house, we needed a Substitute, someone who, in grace, could be punished in our place. And, the only one who could substitute for us was the Lord Jesus. As our Substitute, He died not merely for us, but instead of us and as us.

In Genesis 22, we see how the Lord provided a Substitute for Isaac. This pointed to Christ our Substitute who was sacrificed on Mount Calvary. By the way Calvary is the same mountain where God had told Abraham, centuries before, “God will provide Himself a lamb.” What a prophesy! And God did provide Himself a lamb, the Lord Jesus, who finished the work of redemption!

Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, is the one who died the just for the unjust.

Trust Him and you shall yet live!

He was the only one who could die the just for the unjust. He was the qualified Substitute. God did not simply excuse sin, He who was God died in our place and was punished. He’s a Just and loving God!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Wednesday Word: The Marked Sheep

Being raised in rural Northern Ireland, I had occasion to notice how shepherds took care of their sheep. One of the things they did was to mark them with various coloured dyes. When I asked the reason for this, I was informed that the sheep were marked to show to whom they belonged. Apparently, a good shepherd marked His sheep.

The Lord Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd, and in John 10:28, He puts three marks upon us.

The First mark is: He gives us eternal life.

The Second is: We shall never perish.

The Third is: No one shall pluck us out of His hand.

Jesus is the Shepherd, who, in love and compassion, came to seek and to save His lost sheep (see Luke 19:10; Ezekiel 34:12). We, like sheep, had gone astray. We had all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There was none of us righteous, no, not one (see Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10-19). But the Great Shepherd stepped in and saved us. It is the precious blood of Christ, the Great Shepherd, that alone cleanses from all sin and shelters us from all judgment.

Here’s a personal question, “Have you been found by the Great Shepherd? Have you been rescued and marked by Him?” No? Then listen carefully, He is still seeking, and saving the lost. He is still saying, ” Come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). You will be safe in His hands. He will never lose you (Philippians 1:6).

The ” Great Shepherd” gave His life for His sheep and we may depend upon it, He values and cares for us accordingly. Do we really think He will ever give us up or let us go? No, never! We have cost Him too much for that! He died and rose again for us. We have been marked.

We have “ETERNAL LIFE: “

We “SHALL NEVER PERISH: “

“NEITHER SHALL ANY MAN PLUCK US OUT OF HIS HAND.”

In this life, we are either under the power of Satan, the wolf, who came to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), or we are safe in the hands of the heavenly Shepherd who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Revelation 1:5).

As sheep, we enjoy being saved. Jesus says to us, “I am the door; by me if any man enters in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9). As His sheep, we can say with the Psalmist, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:1-2); and we can say with hymnwriter Thomas Kelly,

“We’ll sing of the Shepherd that died,

That died for the sake of the flock;

His love to the utmost was tried,

But firmly endured as a rock.”

Jesus is seeking for His lost sheep. And here’s more good news, He always finds the ones He seeks, and saves them to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

He always finds,

He always saves, and

He always keeps.

An old-time preacher, John Brown of Haddington, Scotland visited a godly old woman who was on her deathbed. As they talked, the pastor asked, “Janet, what would you say if, after all He has done for you, God should let you drop into Hell?”

“Even as He wills,” was the answer. “But, if He does” she continued, “He’ll lose more than I will. I would lose my soul, but He would lose His character and faithfulness to His Word.”

Our Lord’s promise stands unchanged: “I give unto my sheep eternal life and they shall never perish neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” We have been marked.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Wednesday Word: Two Men, Two Offerings and Two Verdicts

April 29, 2020 2 comments

In Genesis 4, two men, Cain and Abel, the children of fallen Adam and Eve, each bring an offering to the Lord. Cain, the farmer, came with the labour of his hands; Abel, instead, brought the firstlings of his flock. Here we see two men and two offerings; two men standing before God waiting for a verdict.

Both Cain and Abel were sinners, but both were religious. They each knew that they needed to sacrifice to God. However, what a difference there was between their offerings. Cain’s offering was one of works. He brought the produce of his toil and sweat. Can good hard work rid him of the fact that he and his sin have insulted God?

Abel’s offering was different. From it we see that Abel understood the necessity of a substitutionary atonement. Abel, by faith, apprehended and bowed to this truth. He knew that, as a sinner, the only way of approach to the Lord was by a substitutionary blood atonement. That’s why he slew a guiltless lamb of his flock and offered it to God. The Lamb hadn’t sinned. It was innocent. Yet Abel offered it as his substitute.

Abel had no right to life; as a sinner he had earned and inherited both death and judgment. However, the lamb he offered, as his substitute, suffered both on his behalf. This of course pointed to, the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who would go to the Cross, and there, through the eternal Spirit, offer Himself without spot to God (Hebrews 9:14). There the mighty work of redemption would be accomplished, through the shed blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Cain, on the other hand, ignored the fact that he had insulted God by his sins! He came before God with a gift, the product of his own labour. But it was a bloodless sacrifice. It was non-substitutionary. Would it be accepted? After all, it was a good offering … a lot of hard work had gone into it.

Two men, two offerings, two men standing before God waiting for a verdict. Which will God accept? To our surprise, we read that “Unto Cain, and his offering, He (God) had not respect” (Genesis 4:5). God is true to His nature and character and refuses to look at sin without a blood atonement. In the eyes of God, our works cannot remove the insult and offence of sin.

In this passage, we see the great principle that “without shedding of blood is no remission” (see Hebrews 9:19-22). We also understand “.. it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (see Leviticus 17:11-14).

Cain was angry that God had not accepted his scheme. He despised the blood atonement, murdered his brother and went out as a fugitive and vagabond from the presence of the Lord.

His sin was unpurged. He had rejected the blood of a substitute… the only shelter from the righteous wrath of God.

Centuries afterwards, God, in grace, came down from glory, became one of us, and dwelt among His people. His name was Jesus. He was the true substitutionary Lamb. All other sacrificial Lambs had, in fact, pointed to Him. At the awful cross of Calvary, the wrath of God fell upon Him as He poured out His blood and substituted for His people. A new and living way was opened for the sinner, through his death, a living way which led right to the presence and glory of God (see Hebrews 10:19-25). The Good Shepherd, our Saviour and Lamb, died as our substitute. In Him, peace is proclaimed to the guilty. ” Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.”

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com