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The Wednesday Word: Abounding, Astounding Grace!

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24

When we are said to be justified, it doesn’t mean we have been made righteous, it means we have been declared righteous. Even though we are sinners, the all-holy and righteous God has given us righteous standing before Him. This is astonishing! The very righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ is reckoned to us, and it is in this imputed righteousness alone that we are safe to approach the all-holy One.

We are justified and according to our text, FREELY so. To be freely justified means not only are we acquitted, but also this verdict of acquittal is not because of any reason in us. It is free. Lenski, the Lutheran commentator, calls this aspect of salvation pure, abounding, astounding grace.

The legally binding verdict of the all-knowing Judge is that we are not guilty. It is worth pausing and thinking about that. What a profound truth… May it liberate our hearts and free us from condemnation!

Zinzendorf said it well;

“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress;

’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;

For who aught to my charge shall lay?

Fully absolved through these I am

From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

When from the dust of death I rise

To claim my mansion in the skies,

Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,

Jesus has lived, and died, for me.”

We are justified freely by grace. It has often been said that justification can be summed up with the phrase, “Just as if I’d never sinned.” It does indeed mean that, but it means much more. It means, “Just as if I had lived the same life as Jesus lived!” When we are justified, we have the very life of Christ imputed to us. When justified, we are much more than pardoned. When a person is pardoned, their punishment is remitted, but the grounds for their condemnation are not removed. This is far from Justification.

Sometimes, I am accused of making too much of the distinction of the basis of Justification being righteousness imputed to us and not infused into us. “It’s all semantics,” my critics say, “You are too technical.” This kind of comment, however, puts me in memory of the story of the man who sought some advice from a governmental agency about using a particular chemical in his business. The agency wrote back, but the letter was couched in such technical language that he couldn’t understand it. So he assumed it was alright to use the chemical and he wrote back thanking the agency for informing him and that he would go ahead and use it. When the department saw his letter, they, realizing what had happened, wrote back immediately and said just these simple words, “Don’t use that chemical, it will rust the heck out of your pipes.”

The man got the message!

Likewise, we need to be clear on the message that Gospel Justification has nothing to do with righteousness being infused into us. Great spiritual harm has come when people are not clear that we have been acquitted, not because of any reason in us but because salvation has been accomplished outside of us, in history, by Grace Alone.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: Have you met Brother Earnest Effort?

Have you ever met Brother Earnest Effort? He’s a decent soul, but alas, he has not been established in the Gospel Truth. All he knows to do is ‘to do’! He makes his efforts and his heart condition the centre of his Christian life.

Without knowing it, he is brewing a lethal cocktail for himself! After continually taking stock of himself, he sees the ongoing rottenness of his very being. After all, he lives with himself. Everywhere he goes — there he is. He has tried rededicating himself to God so often that his re-dedicator has just about worn out.

He still sees his secret thoughts, and they are not good (Romans 7:18). He knows the cesspool of filth that bubbles up at the most inopportune moments (Romans 3:10). He gets deeply troubled by the continual plague of lusts and wicked thoughts that bombard him, but instead of looking to Christ for deliverance he looks for comfort and aid everywhere else.

He tries more discipline and gets up earlier to have his quiet time. He volunteers to help with the feeding program for the homeless. But still, everywhere he goes, there he is!

And Brother Earnest Effort is a member of a church. He sometimes hands out the bulletins and is on the greeting committee. His church is full of nice decent people who talk about the Christian life, but it’s a dangerous church….. in fact, it’s lethal…it does not have the Gospel on centre stage.

Brother E. Effort takes his seat each Sunday and week after week Pastor Practical Preacher gets up and teaches the folks how they can have a better life. He shares how they can be debt free; how to succeed in life; how to have a better marriage; why they should not gossip; five steps to victory, how to overcome a bad temper and the like. But Brother Earnest Effort, while he appreciates all the new information he gets each week, remains deeply anguished, troubled and untouched.

Brother Effort agrees with Pastor Preacher. He looks again at his heart and is overcomewith guilt. He says to himself, “Pastor Preacher is quite right, I shouldn’t gossip and judge; I shouldn’t get annoyed and angry with people the way I do, but after all this time I still keep falling into these things. There’s only one thing that must be the matter, I must not be saved!”

After several years of this, Brother Earnest Effort feels so condemned that he eventually drops out of Church life, separates himself from the church assembly and joins the ranks of the casualties and spiritual cripples! One of the ironies of the whole thing is, after wounding him with legalistic subjectivism, the church then condemns him because he dropped out. Pastor Preacher then says with pious voice, “He went out from us, but he was not of us; if he had been of us he would surely have remained with us.” Thus Brother E. Effort is discarded and left to wonder why it is that the Church is the only army on earth that buries their wounded!

What Brother Effort was not taught, however, was that actual guilt free victorious living can only be realized through continual exposure to the Gospel. That’s one of the reasons why the Gospel is the essential message for believers. But Brother Earnest Effort never really got to hear the Gospel because Pastor Practical Preacher pandered to the subjective cravings of his congregation.

Brother Effort, therefore, never grasped the good news that the big issue wasn’t him, but rather the Lamb!

Is the Lamb, a suitable sacrifice, —that’s the issue!

Was Jesus qualified to die?

Was He sinlessly perfect?

In the Old Testament, the High Priest examined the lamb. If the sacrificial lamb was found to be without blemish or impediment, it was reckoned as a fitting sacrifice, and the guilty party went free. The priest examined the Lamb, not the one who brought the lamb. If the lamb was accepted, then the one who brought the lamb was accepted and reckoned as innocent in virtue of the fact that the lamb would die as his substitute.

So it is with us today. Our Lamb, The Lord Jesus, has been slain and because of His shed blood, all charges against us have been dropped. The Father has examined His Son and is satisfied. His sacrifice has been accepted, and as proof of this, Christ has been raised from the dead. This is the basis of the guilt-free life! God sees your lamb, the Lord Jesus, without flaw, spot or imperfection and that, therefore, is the way He sees you. Your sins have been utterly purged by the perfect blood of your perfect High Priest and by that same perfect offering you have been perfected and sanctified.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckkee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: The Unlikely Gospel!

I am so thankful for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Gospel. He gives us faith (Ephesians 2:8) and then persuades us of impossible things, the most unlikely of these being the Gospel itself!

Have you ever considered the unlikeliness of the whole Gospel story? Here we are on a tiny, insignificant speck of a planet, un-noticeable in the vast array of galaxies and yet God, the Creator of all things, has a particular interest in us.

And the skeptic says, “What a far-fetched idea!”

Well, it may be far-fetched to some, but the truth is He came here and became one of us!

And the doubter says, “Wait a minute, I don’t believe in fairy stories!”

But this is no fairy story; not only did He become one of us, but He also died the cruelest of deaths for us as He took responsibility for our sins and failures. And not only did He die for us, but He also became a curse for us and at the cross became the greatest reject in the universe.

And the cynic says, “That’s impossible.”

Impossible to believe? Yes indeed, the whole thing is impossible to believe unless the Holy Spirit possesses us and, in grace, opens our spiritual eyes. It’s all impossible to grasp unless He gives us faith to believe. He lets us see that the baby born in the stable was the Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6). He births faith that we might see that our redemption and security are in the Lamb of God alone (John 1:29). He convinces us that our righteousness is in Christ alone (Jeremiah 23:6). He shows us that, because of the blood, our conscience can be at peace (Hebrews 9:14). He guarantees us that we are fully accepted in heaven, right now and forever, because of Jesus (Ephesians 1:6). He assures us that our adversary, Satan, has been judged and defeated at the cross (Colossians 2:15). He persuades us that there is a fierce judgment to come and yet witnesses to us that as His blood washed people, we have nothing to fear (Romans 3:25).

The Holy Spirit continually takes us to the Lord Jesus whom we have never seen and does the impossible by making Him exceedingly precious to our hearts. He magnifies the Lord Jesus and causes our desires to go after Him. We could see nothing in Christ Jesus to desire were it not for the ministry of the Spirit. The great English preacher, William Romaine said it this way;

“This is the way in which the Holy Ghost glorifies Jesus: He gives the believer such views of the infinite fullness and everlasting sufficiency of Emmanuel, that he is quite satisfied with Him. William Romaine: Letter 11 (Dec. 29th, 1764).

Without the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the whole Gospel record and its ensuing mercies are impossible to grasp. It is far-fetched. It is foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18). Someone says, “I see what you mean, when I think about it I find it’s almost impossible to believe that one simple act of faith on my part can wipe out the entire record of sin and the accumulated filth of a lifetime of wickedness.”

Well no, that’s not what I mean. You talk about the impossibility of faith wiping out your sin—– well I agree with you. No amount of believing on your part can erase the horror and depth of your sin—that is indeed impossible! But, here’s the reality; Jesus Christ has already purged our sin. He has already redeemed (paid for) us. Because of Him, we are out of spiritual debt; we are free and clear. Our believing does not purge our sins; our believing does not redeem us. Our believing doesn’t pay our debt to God. And it doesn’t have to because Christ has already finished and accomplished our redemption at Calvary. The Holy Spirit gives faith to believe this—He gives faith to rest on this. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Rest on Him and the impossible will become a reality—you will be saved!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: Worry or Worship

“Be careful for nothing (don’t worry about anything), but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Does this mean that the act of saying our prayers brings peace? No! There is a big difference between prayers and praying.

What we do learn from this scripture, however, is that believing, thankful, earnest praying is the antidote to worry. This kind of praying will slay worry while it releases the peace of God in the depth of our beings.

Listen to me, worry will circumvent the peace of God in our lives. But, believing, earnest, thankful prayer will destroy all anxiety.

One old time preacher observed, “Worry, is like a rocking chair; it will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” That’s so true! We as Gospel believers, however, are to be “careful for nothing, prayerful for everything and thankful for anything.”

In our praying, we draw near to the God who is never subject to worry. He is the sovereign, omnipotent, creator and Lord of the universe. He has nothing to worry about. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He’s not wondering how things will turn out. He is at peace! He has bought and paid for us so we also need not worry. We are now, as we grow in grace, learning to thank Him for all that He is and all that He has done for us. We are worshippers not worriers.

Lest we misunderstand, as believers, we already have peace. Earnest praying does not create it. Jesus has already given the gift of peace to every believer. In John 14:27 He promised, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

All Gospel believers have this peace…..our problem is that we often allow many things to disrupt it.

Our Christian life begins with peace. By faith, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). The war is over. We have been brought near by the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 2:13).

Then comes the peace of God. It is humanly inexplicable (Philippians 4:7). It passes understanding. It garrisons our hearts and minds. We are kept! The word “keep” means “to stand guard over.” It’s interesting to note that when Paul wrote these very words, he had a Roman guard on either side of him. They were “standing guard” over the great apostle. It’s no wonder that Paul says that God’s peace is like a guard that protects the heart from anxiety and worry!

Because of the blood, we are already- in intimate, permanent union with Christ (Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 10:19.)

Oh, that we would learn not to worry. Worry destroys our peace. Yet, as believers, we so often willingly and readily enter into the disobedience of worry.

However, God’s promise is that His peace will “keep” our “hearts and our minds.”

Oh that we would learn by heart and live in Isaiah 26:3 which says;

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee.”

We are faced with 2 choices today… Worry or Worship

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: The Wonderful Number 7

There is something magnificent about the number seven in Scripture.

It is the number of completeness, perfection and rest.

Consider these sevens:

There were 7 days of creation.

There are 7 days of the week.

It was the 7th animal that was sacrificed at Noah’s sacrifice.

Joshua marched around Jericho 7 times.

7 priests with 7 trumpets also marched around Jericho.

On the 7th day, they trooped around the walls 7 times.

Naaman washed 7 times in the Jordan.

Elijah prayed 7 times.

Every 7th day was a Sabbath.

Every 7th year was a Sabbath year.

Every 7 times 7 years was a year of Jubilee.

Three of the feasts of Israel lasted 7 days.

Between the first and second feasts, there were 7 days.

There were 7 days of the feast of Passover.

Jesus is the seven-fold “I AM.”

There are 7 petitions in the Lord’s Prayer.

7 loaves were multiplied into 7 basketfuls.

Jesus performed 7 miracles on the Sabbath.

The term “First and the Last” is used 7 times.

There are 7 seals in the Book of Revelation.

There were 7 churches,

7 candlesticks,

7 stars,

7 spirits before the throne of God.

Before His crucifixion, Christ passed through 7 trials.

There were 7 accusations against Him.

There were 7 questions from Pilate to Christ, and there were 7 sayings from the cross.

In the book of Hebrews, seven titles refer to Christ.

1) He is the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2),

2) The Captain of our salvation (2:10),

3) The Apostle (3:1),

4) The ‘Author of salvation (5:9),

5) The Forerunner (6:20),

6) The High Priest (10:21)

7) The Author and finisher of our faith (12:2).

What a seven-fold declaration of His perfection.

Then in Revelation 5:6 “…, lo, in the midst of the throne …stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”

Again, note the number 7. Observe how the Lamb had seven horns. The horn was a symbol of authority and strength and being that there are seven horns, we are being pointed to the perfect power and omnipotence of the Lord Jesus. Christ is omnipotent and is, therefore, God! Only He who is omnipotent can exert supremacy.

The seven eyes present a picture of the Lamb’s perfect Omniscience. This language corresponds directly with Zechariah 3:9 and 4:10, where we encounter God’s omniscience displayed by the seven eyes. God knows everything; He is Omniscient! Let’s face it; if He didn’t know everything, He wouldn’t be much of a God! He would be a very limited sort of a fellow and certainly no one to whom we could bring our deepest concerns and questions. If indeed God does not know all things I, for one, would be in a panic for who then could shepherd me?

Spurgeon tells the story of how a great Grecian artist was fashioning an image for a temple and was diligently carving the back part of the goddess. Someone said to him, “You need not finish that part of the statue because it is to be built into the wall.”

He replied, “The gods can see in the wall.”

The artist had the wrong God but the right idea of omniscience. The Lord Christ sees everything; He’s Omniscient.

The Seven Spirits sent forth are a declaration of Christ’s Omnipresence!

As you know, Omnipresence is one of the mighty attributes of God (Isaiah 66:1). Although God is not referred to directly in scripture as being Omnipresent, we know that His omnipresence is related to His omnipotence and omniscience. All three of these attributes work in concert. The fact that He is everywhere (omnipresent) means He knows everything (omniscience) and that He is everywhere (omnipresent) establishes that there is nowhere from which His power is excluded (omnipotence).

We are saved by He who is perfect.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: The Perfect Pastor

Alexander Whyte, the powerful Scottish preacher of another generation, famously said; “Only once did God chose a completely sinless preacher. There hasn’t been one since!”

Yes indeed…there has been only one perfect preacher, His name was and is Jesus. He has been and will be the only Perfect One. He is the perfect preacher; He is the perfect pastor. All mortal men of God are flawed and frail. If you haven’t noticed that, just wait long enough and you’ll get to see the picture.

Through the years, I’ve listened to people ‘shred’ their pastors because of ministerial imperfections. ‘Roast Pastor’ can often become the staple for Sunday lunch. Oh, may God deliver us from too high an expectation of any other human being.

Surprise, surprise, pastors and preachers can fall into sin. Yes, and it is shocking when they do. And yes, we do hold leaders to a higher standard. But, some people drop out because their Pastor or leader failed morally. Unfortunately, these people have had their eyes on the wrong pastor. If their eyes had been on Jesus, they would have seen that He was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He is the Perfect Pastor. He has never failed us.

Yes, we preachers can be a sorry lot. I’ve known preachers who at the drop of a hat could spin an inventive pack of lies without blinking an eye. One man I was witnessing to said that he had no time for preachers. He explained that, as a pastime, he watched Christian TV and counted the numbers of people that evangelists claimed to have saved in the Philippines. To date, the evangelists had saved 3 times the entire population of those Islands.

But, there was no deceit with Jesus. He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth (1 Peter 2:22). He is the Perfect Pastor!

Some people get mad at ministers because, at times, they just don’t seem to care enough. They are too busy to listen. But, in Jesus, we have a Pastor who can and is actually touched with the very feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15).

Before we begin condemning everyone, we would do well to remember that we all are sinners. No one but Christ is perfect. We all need Grace.

Just in case you don’t see how sinful we are, here’s a bit of Biblical commentary about our condition;

“What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, he puts no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinks iniquity like water? (Job 15:14-16).

That is talking about you and me. We are in no position to set ourselves up as condemners.

In the New Testament, the apostle John cautioned, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8, 10). The apostle Paul summed it all up when he said, “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

So why is it then that we expect everyone around us, especially our pastors to be perfect? There has only ever been one perfect man, one perfect Preacher; one perfect Pastor

Speaking of Christ, Nicholas Batzig says;

“In a life that spanned three decades, our Lord never entertained a thought, never uttered a word, and never carried out an action that was defiled by impure motives. He always honoured His Father in heaven, always honoured His earthly father and mother, never lusted, never uttered a word in sinful anger, never gossiped about or slandered His neighbour. He never stole, never lied, and never coveted. In short, He submitted to every commandment of the law of God without wavering. He loved the Lord with all His heart, soul, mind and strength, and He loved His neighbour as Himself. The Scriptures bear manifold witness to this truth, and it is one of the most profitable truths upon which we ought to meditate.”

What a Perfect Saviour!

What a Perfect Pastor!

What a Perfect Hope

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: Gossiping the Gospel Part 2

Last time we observed how in Acts 8:4, the early church left Jerusalem and went everywhere spreading the Good News. Indeed, it could be said that they went everywhere gossiping the Gospel. Let’s continue where we left off.

Origen, the 3rd-century theologian, inadvertently told how the church in his day embraced the practice of gossiping the Gospel. According to him, a lack of education and diminished social standing did not make the believers feel unqualified to spread the Good News. He said: “We see in private homes workers in wool and leather, laundry workers and the most illiterate and bucolic yokels who would not dare to say anything at all in front of the elders and more intelligent masters. But they get hold of the children… and (others) who are as ignorant as themselves. Then they pour out wonderful statements…”

In Part 1 we discovered that to gossip the Gospel, we learn to talk about Christ’s Person, Name, Life and Righteousness. Here, then, are some other matters about which we gossip.

When we spread the Gospel,

We gossip about (5) Christ’s blood.

By His Blood-Shedding and death, Jesus has accomplished redemption for His people (Ephesians 1:7).

Our death sentence has been reversed.

Blood has been shed …it’s the blood of sanctification (Hebrews 13:12).

Blood has been shed …it’s the blood of the everlasting covenant (Hebrews13:20).

Blood has been shed …it’s the blood of cleansing (1 John 1:7).

Blood has been shed…it’s precious blood; the blood of the Lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19).

Blood has been shed…it’s the blood shed for many for the remission of sins (Mark 14:24).

Blood has been shed…it’s this blood which purges the conscience (Hebrews 9:14).

Reconciliation, Redemption, Atonement, Cleansing, Sacrifice. Remission,…what excellent matters to gossip about!

Not only do we talk about Christ’s blood, but we also gossip about (6) His resurrection.

He died, was buried, but rose again. He is now the risen One. He is not the dying one. Nor is He the dead one. He is the ever-living one!

His grave is empty, for His work is done. The work is accomplished; the seal of the tomb is broken, the stone rolled away. He is risen! His resurrection is the pledge and guarantee of ours!

Not only do we talk about Christ’s person, but we also gossip about (7). His Ascension.

After having shown Himself alive for 40 days among His disciples (Acts1:3), He was taken up both physically and visibly into the heavens (Acts 1:9). His last physical act was to bless His people (Acts 24:50-51), and in the midst of doing this, He returned to Glory. His work on earth was done. As our substitute and final word of God to man, He successfully discharged His mission. He has ascended and is now exalted, a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31).

Not only do we talk about Christ’s Ascension but we also gossip about (8) His intercession.

He ever lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25). He is the High Priest above all priests (Hebrews 4:14). He is our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). He appears for us (Hebrews 9:24). The Father hears Him always (John 11:42). His intercession cannot fail—it is a mighty intercession; an intercession in which the Father delights. It’s an intercession which delivers further assurance of our present and eternal security.

Not only do we talk about Christ’s intercession, but we also gossip about (9) His second coming.

“Behold, He cometh with clouds” (Revelation 1:7). “Behold, I come quickly” (Revelation 22:12). “Behold, the Lord cometh, with ten thousand of His saints” (Jude 1:14). As it says in the hymn ‘It is well with my Soul’;

“But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,

The sky, not the grave, is our goal;

Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!

Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!”

The early Christians were full of the message of the return of the Lord. Indeed, the Church of the first century delighted in it. And, if we are to gossip the Gospel and the results of the Gospel we must gossip about a coming Christ as well as a Christ who has come.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com