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The Wednesday Word: The Unspeakable Christ

“And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;). How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12: 3-4).

I am going to attempt to do the impossible. I will in these next few lines endeavour to speak about the unspeakable One, the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul had been transported to paradise and there he heard unspeakable words. He was overwhelmed with the reality of the invisible God made visible in the Lord Jesus. I have some friends who think that the pinnacle of spirituality is to speak in tongues, but when Paul was confronted with the exalted Christ in His majestic splendour, he couldn’t speak at all.

And yet there are some thrilling things which we can yet say about our Saviour for he has left his imprint and record in the scriptures. May we yet become speechless as we take time to meditate on the glory of God in the person of Christ. May we yet rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8). Let’s then, for a few moments, consider God’s unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9: 15).

The Lord Jesus came that we who were dead in trespasses and sins might have life. He is the beginning of life. He is the source of life. He is the giver of life. He is the bread of life. He is the water of life. He is the light of life, the resurrection and the life and the way, the truth, the life. He that believeth on him shall not perish but have everlasting life. This leaves me speechless! What about you?

Jesus is the promised seed. He is the seed who bruised the serpent’s head. He is Abraham’s seed in whom all the nations are blessed. He is David’s seed, the Righteous Branch who reigns wisely. He is the true Israel and the elect of God. He is the new covenant and the salvation of his people. He is the rock of our salvation. This leaves me speechless. What about you?

He is the Second Man, the eternal word made flesh, the Last Adam, the Faithful and True Witness, the Almighty who was and is and is to come. This leaves me speechless! What about you?

He gives healing to the sick, sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and life to the dead. He is the deliverer of those in bondage, the healer of the broken heart and the one who gives rest to the weary. This leaves me speechless! What about you?

He is the general who never lost a battle, the lawyer who never lost a case and the shepherd who never lost a sheep. He is the author and finisher of our faith. This leaves me speechless! What about you?

He is the true Temple, the altar, the offerer and the offered.

He is the slain lamb, the lamb without blemish and without spot. He is the one who, by himself, purged our sins, destroyed the devil, conquered death, rose from the grave and ascended into glory. He is our surety, our ransom, our apostle and High Priest. He is the God/Man, the exegesis of the Father, the brightness of the Father’s glory, the one whom angels worship. He is the crown of glory, the king of kings, the Lord of Lords, God manifest in the flesh and the fullness of the godhead bodily.

It is no wonder that the hymn writer wrote;

 

“I stand amazed in the presence

Of Jesus the Nazarene,

And wonder how he could love me,

A sinner, condemned, unclean.”

 

May we yet become more and more astonished and amazed by the Lord Jesus. May we yet become speechless in His presence.

And that is the Gospel Truth.

Miles McKee

 

Minister of the Gospel

The Grace Centre

6 Quay Street, New Ross,

County Wexford, Ireland.

www.milesmckee.com 

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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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Salvation brings deliverance from sins

November 4, 2013 1 comment

Spurgeon 1“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” that is, he shall have salvation from his old sins. He shall no longer be the slave of drunkenness; he shall get the love of swearing by the throat; he shall have his lying, his anger, his passion, under his feet. “He that believeth and is baptized” shall see all his old adversaries put to the rout; and what he could not do, through the weakness of his flesh, shall be done for him by the power of the Spirit of God; and by divine grace he shall master his sins. He shall begin to live unto God, under new impulses, strengthened with a new power, and so he shall be delivered from his old sins.

Charles H. Spurgeon-Baptism Essential to Obedience-Metropolitan Tabernacle-Lord’s Evening-Oct. 13, 1889

Confession statement 24

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.

XXIV FAITH is ordinarily begotten by the preaching of the gospel, or word of Christ, without respect to any power or agency in the creature; but it being wholly passive, and dead in trespasses and sins, doth believe and is converted by no less power than that which raised Christ from the dead.

Rom.10:17; 1 Cor.1:28; Rom.9:16; Ezek.16:16; Rom. 3:12,1:16; Eph.1:19; Col.1.2:12.

The First London Baptist Confession 1644/46

Can Christians fall and be lost?

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

But our first parents also fell from their original state of holiness. If so, may not christians under similar influences, fall and be lost?

This proposition demands our serious investigation. I observe, that between their primitive condition, and that of truly regenerated men of subsequent ages, no such similarity exists, as will admit of conclusive reasoning from the one to the other. Let several facts, evincive of the truth of this statement, be considered. You will, in the first place, remember that the covenant of God with them was wholly different from that upon which you now stand. To Adam Jehovah said―”Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not ear of it; for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”

The obligation of this covenant was a simple negative, upon a single point. How easy would have been compliance. The conditions were explicit―obey, and live; disobey, and die. The result need not be repeated.

With this, contrast the Gospel Covenant―”I will put my laws into their mind, (saith Jehovah) and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people; and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest; for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins, and their iniquities will I remember no more.”

Well may this be distinguished as “the covenant of grace!” How utterly unlike the Adamic. With our first parents all was unbending justice; with you all is favor, mercy, boundless forbearance. In the covenant with them, no provision was made for the pardon of sin; in the Gospel covenant, this is one of the strongest features. Besides all this, they were, until they sinned, utter strangers to pain, and sorrow, and wasting wretchedness. They had not experience of evil. You have known all its bitterness. And further, They disposed of their own life, and alas! incurred its dreadful forfeiture! “Ye are lead (to sin) and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also, appear with his in glory.”

Their condition was wholly different from yours. Almost its antipodes. The reasoning from analogy therefore―is here clearly out of place―it is not legitimate. Neither, as you now see, from the fall of angels nor of our first parents, from their original state of holiness, can any valid arguments be adduced, proving that regenerated men, once depraved and sinful, but now redeemed and sanctified, are liable to “loose their faith, and regeneration, or to continue in apostasy, and so eternally perish.” The objection is without relevancy, or force.

R. B. C. Howell—Perseverance of the Saints

God’s Permissive Providence

The permissive providence of God. The permissive providence of God is simply God’s not putting forth His preventive force; that is all. We sometimes see that God permits a man to sin who has been hindered a week, a year, two years, five years. He has tried hard hitherto to do this mean, devilish thing and God has withheld opportunity. God has brought in somebody or something to interrupt him.

Some force visible or occult has stayed his hand. But he incorrigibly followed after that sin until at last God said, “Now I will just remove my prevention, I will not incite him, but I will break down my hedge of thorns.”

God never tempts to sin. That is what is called “letting a man alone,” “leaving him to his own devices.” God says to His Spirit, “Let him alone. You have been preventing. You have been guarding. You have been hedging. And he fights against the restraint and bruises himself against the hedge, and manifests an incorrigible spirit to go on and commit this offense. Now, if he will, let him go his way. I will call him no more. I will visit him neither by day nor by night. So far as that providence is concerned which has hovered over him and kept him back from presumptuous sin, I will take it away. Now, sinner, commit thy sin.” That is permissive providence.

B. H. Carroll—The Providence of God

Christ Faith was Active on the Cross

On the Cross the suffering Saviour’s faith was active. Wondrously is this brought out in Isaiah 50:8, 9, “He is near that justifieth Me….Behold, the Lord God will help Me; who is he that shall condemn Me?” The ineffably Holy One had been made the Sinbearer. Jehovah had laid on Christ the iniquity of all His people (Isa. 53:6). Though personally sinless, all the sins of God’s elect were imputed to Christ, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body to the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). Yet even while enduring the curse, and the wrath of God was hard upon Him, our Surety had implicit faith that He would be exonerated—“He is near that justifieth Me.”

Arthur Pink Studies in the Scriptures Volume XI. No10 Oct. 1932

Pardon and Justification

I think it is not needful that I should say that the, pardon of sin must always be the effect of grace. That statement is self-evident. It cannot be due to any man that he should have his sins pardoned, for sin that deserves a pardon is no sin; it cannot be due to any man that God should make him righteous, he being himself unrighteous; that must be a spontaneous action on God’s part, flowing from his pure bounty and love. No man can claim forgiveness, it were sacrilege to suggest that he could. Pardon and justification, then, must be freely given us by God’s grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

Charles H. Spurgeon–Sermon No. 958 “Dei Gratia”

All of Grace—Just and the Justifier

Chapter four:

Just and the Justifier

WE HAVE SEEN the ungodly justified, and have considered the great truth, that only God can justify any man; we now come a step further and make the inquiry — How can a just God justify guilty men? Here we are met with a full answer in the words of Paul, in Romans3:21-26. We will read six verses from the chapter so as to get the run of the passage:

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Here suffer me to give you a bit of personal experience. When I was under the hand of the Holy Spirit, under conviction of sin, I had a clear and sharp sense of the justice of God. Sin, whatever it might be to other people, became to me an intolerable burden. It was not so much that I feared hell, but that I feared sin. I knew myself to be so horribly guilty that I remember feeling that if God did not punish me for sin He ought to do so. I felt that the Judge of all the earth ought to condemn such sin as mine. I sat on the judgment seat, and I condemned myself to perish; for I confessed that had I been God I could have done no other than send such a guilty creature as I was down to the lowest hell. All the while, I had upon my mind a deep concern for the honor of God’s name, and the integrity of His moral government. I felt that it would not satisfy my conscience if I could be forgiven unjustly. The sin I had committed must be punished. But then there was the question how God could be just, and yet justify me who had been so guilty. I asked my heart: “How can He be just and yet the justifier?” I was worried and wearied with this question; neither could I see any answer to it. Certainly, I could never have invented an answer which would have satisfied my conscience.

The doctrine of the atonement is to my mind one of the surest proofs of the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture. Who would or could have thought of the just Ruler dying for the unjust rebel? This is no teaching of human mythology, or dream of poetical imagination. This method of expiation is only known among men because it is a fact; fiction could not have devised it. God Himself ordained it; it is not a matter which could have been imagined.

I had heard the plan of salvation by the sacrifice of Jesus from my youth up; but I did not know any more about it in my innermost soul than if I had been born and bred a Hottentot. The light was there, but I was blind; it was of necessity that the Lord himself should make the matter plain to me. It came to me as a new revelation, as fresh as if I had never read in Scripture that Jesus was declared to be the propitiation for sins that God might be just. I believe it will have to come as a revelation to every newborn child of God whenever he sees it; I mean that glorious doctrine of the substitution of the Lord Jesus. I came to understand that salvation was possible through vicarious sacrifice; and that provision had been made in the first constitution and arrangement of things for such a substitution. I was made to see that He who is the Son of God, co-equal, and co-eternal with the Father, had of old been made the covenant Head of a chosen people that He might in that capacity suffer for them and save them. Inasmuch as our fall was not at the first a personal one, for we fell in our federal representative, the first Adam, it became possible for us to be recovered by a second representative, even by Him who has undertaken to be the covenant head of His people, so as to be their second Adam. I saw that ere I actually sinned I had fallen by my first father’s sin; and I rejoiced that therefore it became possible in point of law for me to rise by a second head and representative. The fall by Adam left a loophole of escape; another Adam can undo the ruin made by the first. When I was anxious about the possibility of a just God pardoning me, I understood and saw by faith that He who is the Son of God became man, and in His own blessed person bore my sin in His own body on the tree. I saw the chastisement of my peace was laid on Him, and that with His stripes I was healed. Dear friend, have you ever seen that? Have you ever understood how God can be just to the full, not remitting penalty nor blunting the edge of the sword, and yet can be infinitely merciful, and can justify the ungodly who turn to Him? It was because the Son of God, supremely glorious in His matchless person, undertook to vindicate the law by bearing the sentence due to me, that therefore God is able to pass by my sin. The law of God was more vindicated by the death of Christ than it would have been had all transgressors been sent to Hell. For the Son of God to suffer for sin was a more glorious establishment of the government of God, than for the whole race to suffer.

Jesus has borne the death penalty on our behalf. Behold the wonder! There He hangs upon the cross! This is the greatest sight you will ever see. Son of God and Son of Man, there He hangs, bearing pains unutterable, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. Oh, the glory of that sight! The innocent punished! The Holy One condemned! The Ever-blessed made a curse! The infinitely glorious put to a shameful death! The more I look at the sufferings of the Son of God, the more sure I am that they must meet my case. Why did He suffer, if not to turn aside the penalty from us? If, then, He turned it aside by His death, it is turned aside, and those who believe in Him need not fear it. It must be so, that since expiation is made, God is able to forgive without shaking the basis of His throne, or in the least degree blotting the statute book. Conscience gets a full answer to her tremendous question. The wrath of God against iniquity, whatever that may be, must be beyond all conception terrible. Well did Moses say, “Who knoweth the power of thine anger?” Yet when we hear the Lord of glory cry, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” and see Him yielding up the ghost, we feel that the justice of God has received abundant vindication by obedience so perfect and death so terrible, rendered by so divine a person. If God himself bows before His own law, what more can be done? There is more in the atonement by way of merit, than there is in all human sin by way of demerit.

The great gulf of  Jesus’ loving self-sacrifice can swallow up the mountains of our sins, all of them. For the sake of the infinite good of this one representative man, the Lord may well look with favor upon other men, however unworthy they may be in and of themselves. It was a miracle of miracles that the Lord Jesus Christ should stand in our stead and

Bear that we might never bear

His Father’s righteous ire.

But he has done so. “It is finished.” God will spare the sinner because He did not spare His Son. God can pass by your transgressions because He laid those transgressions upon His only begotten Son nearly two thousand years ago. If you believe in Jesus (that is the point), then your sins were carried away by Him who was the scapegoat for His people.

What is it to believe in Him? It is not merely to say, “He is God and the Savior,” but to trust Him wholly and entirely, and take Him for all your salvation from this time forth and forever — your Lord, your Master, your all. If you will have Jesus, He has you already. If you believe on Him, I tell you cannot go to hell; for that were to make the sacrifice of Christ of none effect. It cannot be that a sacrifice should be accepted, and yet the soul should die for whom that sacrifice has been received. If the believing soul could be condemned, then why a sacrifice? If Jesus died in my stead, why should I die also? Every believer can claim that the sacrifice was actually made for him: by faith he has laid his hands on it, and made it his own, and therefore he may rest assured that he can never perish. The Lord would not receive this offering on our behalf, and then condemn us to die. The Lord cannot read our pardon written in the blood of His own Son, and then smite us. That were impossible. Oh that you may have grace given you at once to look away to Jesus and to begin at the beginning, even at Jesus, who is the Fountain-head of mercy to guilty man!

“He justifieth the ungodly.” “It is God that justifieth,” therefore, and for that reason only it can be done, and He does it through the atoning sacrifice of His divine Son. Therefore it can be justly done — so justly done that none will ever question it — so thoroughly done that in the last tremendous day, when heaven and earth shall pass away, there shall be none that shall deny the validity of the justification. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”

Now, poor soul! will you come into this lifeboat, just as you are? Here is safety from the wreck! Accept the sure deliverance. “I have nothing with me,” say you. You are not asked to bring anything with you. Men who escape for their lives will leave even their clothes behind. Leap for it, just as you are.

I will tell you this thing about myself to encourage you. My sole hope for heaven lies in the full atonement made uponCalvary’s cross for the ungodly. On that I firmly rely. I have not the shadow of a hope anywhere else. You are in the same condition as I am; for we neither of us have anything of our own worth as a ground of trust. Let us join hands and stand together at the foot of the cross, and trust our souls once for all to Him who shed His blood for the guilty. We will be saved by one and the same Savior. If you perish trusting Him, I must perish too. What can I do more to prove my own confidence in the gospel which I set before you?

 Charles H. Spurgeon—All of Grace

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