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The Wednesday Word: Is Jesus Enough When We Sin?

January 23, 2019 3 comments

God has never forced us to sin. To our shame, we sin willingly and gladly. If the truth were known, there’s a part of us that quietly loves depravity. We may hate its consequences, but if left to our own devices we gravitate away from God. All of us have been smitten with the sin virus (Romans 6:6); it is, so to speak, lurking in our blood, continually spawning its foul children (sins) (Romans 5:12).

The awful problem with sin, however, is that it brings separation from God (Isaiah 59:2). God is holy and because He is holy, He hates sins and hates all workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5). It may seem like a foreign concept to our ears to associate ‘hatred’ with the God of love but before objecting to this picture, let me warn against the subtle sin of idolatry.

Idolatry?

Yes, idolatry! When we reject God’s self-declaration and substitute Him for the God we’d like Him to be, we have become idolaters (see Romans 1:21,25). Much as we would like God to be simply the God of love who is never angry at sin or sinners, we must not project this false picture onto Him.

Here’s a word of warning that comes from antiquity; “If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you dislike, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself” (Augustine).

God refuses to fit our concept of who we want Him to be, … in fact, He won’t even try. He’s got better things to do! As for us, the best thing we can do is bow before, worship and enjoy Him as He is and for who He is.

God is Holy, and we are not. This knowledge is where false religion finds a natural breeding ground as it germinates in the fears and guilt of sinful man. We really are laughable; we cannot create ourselves but think that by practicing some religion or other, we can save ourselves. Yet, no matter how involved we become in our religion, no matter how zealous we are, we are impotent to stop the tendency towards sinning … and sins separate us from God.

Religion cannot remove the virus of sin. Although for the follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will limit and restrain the production of sins, we remain sinners until the day we die. Remember this, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).

The good news for sinners (us), however, is that God is not only holy, He is also just. But how is this Good News? I can take some comfort knowing that He is loving, but surely there is no comfort in knowing that, in His unswerving justice, He will punish us and our sins?  A just God will surely mete out punishment. This is far from good news. So then, how can God be just, and yet save me a ruined sinner?

Which brings us back to the Gospel, the best news, the old news and the ever-new news—Jesus!

Only in Jesus is God discovered to be both loving and just. Between the all-holy God and sin-filled believer, there stands the remarkable sinless person of the God/Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is enough for both the sinner, and the Father. God punished our sins on Him, the beloved son (Isaiah 53:10). In grace, He became accountable for us and poured out His blood for our redemption (Ephesians 1:7).

Jesus, the Lord of glory, became a surety (Hebrews7:22) and substitute for His people (1 Peter 2:24). He took our place in his doing, dying and rising again.  He then ascended to the right hand of the Father (the place of cosmic authority) for us. And now, because of Jesus and His accomplishments, not only love but also justice endorses our acquittal.

Jesus is Enough.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!
Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

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The Wednesday Word: A Substitute Found

There is an ancient saying, “The Judge is condemned when the guilty is acquitted.” Alas, guilty people are sometimes set free in our judicial system, but this never happens in God’s Courtroom. If a person is justified (acquitted, found not guilty), it is because God is just (Deuteronomy 32:4). God has declared the person not guilty and has done so in strict harmony with His rule of Law and Justice.

But, how, is this possible?

How can a sinful person be accepted in the sight of a God who will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:7)?

Man is a sinner and the penalty upon sin, as announced by God, is death (Romans 6:23). And that will be his lot unless a sinless substitute can be found to die in his place.

A certain man on the Malabar Coast of Southern India had enquired of various Hindu Holy men how he might make atonement for his sins. He was directed to drive iron spikes, sufficiently blunted, through his sandals and walk about 480 miles to a place of pilgrimage wearing the spiked shoes. He undertook the journey but found no peace … just painful feet. One day, resting beside a large banyan tree, he heard a Christian preach that the blood of the sinner’s substitute, Jesus Christ, cleanses from all sin. He got up, threw off the torturing sandals, and cried aloud, `That is what I want .. that’s what I need!’ There is substance in that’ From that day forward he became a dedicated follower of the Lord Christ.

Every sinner needs a substitute. But there is only one substitute and He is none other than God manifest in the flesh. He went to Calvary’s cross as a substitute for His people. The Indian gentleman in our story discovered that self-torture could not take away sins. It is sad to say that there are many today who, like those Hindu priests, are deceitfully offering false hope. For example,Spiritualism says; “Man becomes his own savior. He is made better in this life by intercourse with spirits.”

Theosophy says: “An ordinary being must pass through hundreds of incarnations before he can complete his purification from sin.”

Mormonism says; “To get rid of our sins, we must work out our own salvation through the teachings and forms of the Mormon church.”

Roman Catholicism says; “The instrumental cause of justification is the sacrament of baptism and the grace purchased by Christ’s death can flow only through the hands of the Catholic priests.”

Nonsense! Baloney! Balderdash! Twaddle!

In the Gospel, we have the One true Substitute, Jesus Christ. “He bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24). Since He is our substitute, we are secure. If Jesus has been condemned in our place, how then can we be condemned? To claim that the believer can be eventually lost is to say that Jesus was an unacceptable substitute. Away with such drivel.

O Christ, what burdens bowed Thy head!

Our load was laid on Thee;

Thou stoodest in the sinner’s stead,

Didst bear all ill for me.

A Victim led, Thy blood was shed;

Now there’s no load for me.

Death and the curse were in our cup:

O Christ, ’twas full for Thee;

But Thou hast drained the last dark drop,

’Tis empty now for me.

That bitter cup, love drank it up;

Now blessing’s draught for me.

Jehovah lifted up His rod;

O Christ, it fell on Thee!

Thou wast sore stricken of Thy God;

There’s not one stroke for me.

Thy tears, Thy blood, beneath it flowed;

Thy bruising healeth me.

The tempest’s awful voice was heard,

O Christ, it broke on Thee!

Thy open bosom was my ward,

It braved the storm for me.

Thy form was scarred, Thy visage marred;

Now cloudless peace for me.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: Barabbas and the Gospel

December 5, 2018 6 comments

And so Pilate, … released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, … to be crucified (Mark 15:6-15).

Pilate freed Barabbas, the felon, and sent Jesus to the cross.

Pilate, as you remember, had no love for Barabbas, but wanted to save Jesus. So, he hit on the idea of offering the people a choice between the two men. It was customary to free a prisoner at the time of the Feast of Passover; so, Pilate asked the crowd, “Which of the two do you want me to release?” (Matthew 27:21-22).

He was astonished when the people enthusiastically called out, “Barabbas!”

Who was Barabbas?

To the Romans, Barabbas was a terrorist who had committed murder during a rebellion (Mark 15:7). John adds that Barabbas was also a robber (John 18:40).

The name Barabbas is interesting. It means “son of the father.” Some suggest that it means son of a Rabbi. If so, Barabbas was a preacher’s kid! … and so was John Wesley Hardin…one of the most notorious killers of the Wild West.

Barabbas had been condemned to die. He was a rebel against the law, a robber and a murderer. And now the outraged law had apprehended him and he’s on Death Row.

BTW,…everyone reading this who has not come to Christ as a hell-deserving sinner looking for mercy is sitting on death row. You are not on probation but under damnation.

Suddenly, people were calling his name, “Barabbas! Barabbas!” The next thing he heard was a crowd yelling, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Perhaps, he thinks it’s a lynch mob. He’s terrified. Then, he hears the prison door slowly opening and a bewildered guard said, “Barabbas! There’s a man named Jesus who is going to die in your place. He is going to be nailed to your cross. You are free to go.

As Barabbas emerged from the jail, the crowd was surging toward Calvary. And legend has it that Barabbas followed them. Think of it, he hears the hammer and knows that the blows that are fastening Jesus to the cross were meant for him. He knows that, quite literally, he, Barabbas, is the one who should be executed.

Barabbas, as he looked at Jesus on the cross, must have received a clear understanding of the Gospel. He must have thought,

“That man took my place.

I am the one who should have died.

I am the condemned murderer.

That man did nothing wrong.

He is dying instead of me.”

Barabbas sees Christ upon his cross. After that, he had no need to go to seminary to understand the Doctrine of Substitution.

Barabbas knew that he was a guilty, worthless wretch, under the condemnation of the law.

Barabbas saw the meaning of the cross. Jesus was actually dying in his place. Barabbas would have known that he had done nothing whatever to deserve Christ dying in his place. He knew that Christ’s death for Him was an act of pure, undeserved grace.

Because of the cross, Barabbas was free from the penalty of the Law. Suppose a soldier had recognized Barabbas and tried to arrest him. He legally could not have done it! Barabbas was a free man. The substitute had died in his place.

All Barabbas would have needed to say was ‘Jesus has died for me.’ Likewise, when the Law points its condemning finger and says we’re guilty…we point toward Jesus and say…He died for me….and I am free!

Remember this, if sin speaks louder in our conscience than Christ, it is because we have taken our eyes off the Gospel.

To be frank, I’ve never liked Barabbas. I wanted the crowd to yell,

“Release Jesus!”

“Crucify Barabbas!”

But instead, they roared for the opposite.

Barabbas, a villain, was set free and Jesus took his place. I hate that.

But, when I look inside myself I realize I am Barabbas. I’m in the same shoes. And you are Barabbas, too. We’re the guilty ones. We’re the scoundrels, but we go free because Jesus died in our place.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: Thank you Jesus for the Blood

Many people continually worry about whether or not they are doing okay spiritually. They ask themselves,

“Have I been good enough?”

“Have I read the Bible enough?”

“Have I witnessed enough?”

“Have I prayed enough?”

“Have I given enough?”

Let’s be honest; the answer to these questions is probably ‘no.’

But here’s the Good News. When Jesus Christ died on the Cross, His Blood took care of all our sins. Not just the bad sins but the Father put all our sins on Christ, the God/Man. We don’t, therefore, need to always be ducking and diving away from God. Our accounts are fully and finally settled.

The Blood of the cross has completely blotted out and cleansed our sins. As the prophet Micah said, they have been cast into the depth of the sea (Micah 7:19). The Father has already blessed us in Christ for “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Romans 4:7-8).

The Father doesn’t see the sins that we commit. Why? Because of the Blood. We are in Christ. He sees only the Finished Work.

But what happens if we sin? And we do sin … so, what happens? What happens is this, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1-2). But what if a person knows that God will not impute sin to them yet they stubbornly continue in known sin?

The first consequence is that he grieves His friend, the Holy Spirit.

The second consequence is that he breaks his fellowship with God. However, because of the blood, although the sin breaks fellowship with, it doesn’t change his relationship to the Father. Willful, deliberate sin brings chastisement, but it is a loving and gracious chastisement. There is no wrath in the Father’s discipline. His wrath was exhausted on Calvary for the Elect.

Nevertheless, let’s never forget that God hates sin. He is of purer eyes than to look upon iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13). This is a shocking truth which exposes our lostness outside of Christ. There is no way for us to be accepted in heaven unless the Father sees us as completely perfect. But here’s the genius of the matter, when Jesus Christ went to heaven, He took us with Him, and seated us there with Himself as justified, righteous and perfect believers (Ephesians 2:6).

Now, as we begin to apply Gospel truth, we realize that the Father can never again see us in sin. We are cleansed by the blood and seated (perfect tense) with Christ in heavenly places. It is a finished work, and we are hidden with Christ in God in heaven. Never again will He impute sin to us. We are ransomed by the Blood and saved for time and eternity.

The Blood has redeemed us. The blood has bought and purchased us (Titus 2:14; Mark 10:45). The blood has paid for us in full (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Now, the Father only sees the Son, and as He sees the Son, He beholds every believer. Why is this?

It’s because the Lord Jesus, the God/Man, has graciously hidden us in Himself (Colossians 3:3).

Because of redemption, we are now members of His body (Ephesians 5:30). He, therefore, sees no flaw in us (Song of Solomon 4:7).

Because of righteous grace, He sees us without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27).

Because of the Finished Work, we are in Him by the purchase of the Blood.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The poor man who lay on my dunghill, and the dogs licked his sores; there he is in heaven, while I am cast down

But to conclude. Methinks I see thee in some place in hell, tied to a rock, the vulture of remorse knowing thy heart; and up there is Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, You lift up your eyes and you see who it is. “That is the poor man who lay on my dunghill, and the dogs licked his sores; there he is in heaven, while I am cast down. Lazarus-yes, it is Lazarus; and I who was rich in the world of time am here in hell. Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue.” But no! It cannot be; it cannot be. And whilst you lie there if there be one thing in hell worse than another, it will be seeing the saints in heaven. Oh, to think of seeing my mother in heaven while I am cast out! Oh, sinner, only think, to see thy brother in heaven-he who was rocked in the selfsame cradle, and played beneath the same roof-tree-yet thou art cast out. And, husband, there is thy wife in heaven, and thou art amongst the damned, And seest thou, father! thy child is before the throne; and thou! accursed of God and accursed of man, art in hell. Oh, the hell of hells will be to see our friends in heaven, and ourselves lost. I beseech you, my hearers, by the death of Christ- by his agony and bloody sweat-by his cross and passion-by all that is holy- by all that is sacred in heaven and earth-by all that is solemn in time or eternity -by all that is horrible in hell, or glorious in heaven-by that awful thought, “for ever,”-I beseech you lay these things to heart, and remember that if you are damned, it will be unbelief that damns you. If you are lost, it will be because ye believed not on Christ; and if you perish, this shall be the bitterest drop of gall-that ye did not trust in the Savior.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “The Sin of Unbelief” A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 14, 1855

It is not the wrath now you have to fear, but the wrath to come- and there shall be a doom to come

But, sirs, the worst fulfillment of this doom is to come! Good Whitfield used sometimes to lift up both his hands and shout, as I wish I could shout, but my voice fails me. “The wrath to come! the wrath to come!” It is not the wrath now you have to fear, but the wrath to come- and there shall be a doom to come, when “ye shall see it with your eyes, but shall not eat thereof.” Methinks I see the last great day. The last hour of time has struck. I heard the bell toll its death knell-time was, eternity is ushered in; the sea is boiling; the waves are lit up with supernatural splendor. I see a rainbow-a flying cloud, and on it there is a throne, and on that throne sits one like unto the Son of Man. I know him. In his hand he holds a pair of balances; just before him the books,-the book of life, the book of death, the book of remembrance. I see his splendor and I rejoice at it; I behold his pompous appearance, and I smile with gladness that he is come to be “admired of all his saints.” But there stands a throng of miserable wretches, crouching in horror to conceal themselves, and yet looking for their eyes must look on him whom they have pierced; but when they look they cry, “Hide me from the face.” What face? “Rocks, hide me from the face.” What face? “The face of Jesus, the man who died, but now is come to judgment.” But ye cannot be hidden from his face; ye must see it with your eyes: but ye will not sit on the right hand, dressed in robes of grandeurand when the triumphal procession of Jesus in the clouds shall come, ye shall not march in it; ye shall see it, but ye shall not be there. Oh! Methinks I see it now, the mighty Savior in his chariot, riding on the rainbow to heaven, See how his mighty coursers make the sky rattle while he drives them up heaven’s hill. A train girt in white follow behind him, and at his chariot wheels he drags the devil, death, and hell. Hark, how they clap their hands. Hark, how they shout. “Thou hast ascended up on high- thou hast led captivity captive.” Hark, how they chaunt the solemn lay, “Hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” See the splendor of their appearance; mark the crown upon their brows; see their snow-white garments; mark the rapture of their countenances; hear how their song swells up to heaven while the Eternal joins therein, saying, “I will rejoice over them with joy, I will rejoice over them with singing, for I have betrothed thee unto me in everlasting lovingkindness.” But where are you all the while? Ye can see them up there but where are you? Looking at it with your eyes, but you cannot eat thereof. The marriage banquet is spread; the good old wines of eternity are broached; they sit down to the feast of the king; but there are you, miserable, and famishing, and ye cannot eat thereof. Oh! how ye wring your hands. Might ye but have one morsel from the table-might ye but be dogs beneath the table. You shall be a dog in hell, but not a dog in heaven.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “The Sin of Unbelief” A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 14, 1855

Let me apply this chiefly to the unconverted

But, let me apply this chiefly to the unconverted. They often see great works of God done with their eyes, but they do not eat thereof. A crowd of people have come here this morning to see with their eyes, but I doubt whether all of them eat. Men cannot eat with their eyes, for if they could, most would be well fed. And, spiritually, persons cannot feed simply with their ears, nor simply with looking at the preacher; and so we find the majority of our congregations come just to see; “Ah, let us hear what this babbler would say, this reed shaken in the wind.” But they have no faith; they come, and they see, and see, and see, and never eat. There is someone in the front there, who gets converted; and some one down below, who is called by sovereign grace- some poor sinner is weeping under a sense of his blood guiltiness, another is crying for mercy to God: and another is saying, “Have mercy upon me, a sinner.” A great work is going on in this chapel, but some of you do not know anything about it; you have no work going on in your hearts, and why? Because ye think it is impossible; ye think God is not at work. He has not promised to work for you who do not honor him. Unbelief makes you sit here in times of revival and of the outpouring of God’s grace, unmoved, uncalled, unsaved.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “The Sin of Unbelief” A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 14, 1855