The Essence of Sin & The Essence of the Gospel

For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. – John Stott, The Cross of Christ.

September 12 2012 | Blog | Comments Off on The Essence of Sin & The Essence of the Gospel

How Does the Cross Address Marital Issues?

CopyofThe_Cross_16Paul Tripp has a great post over at the biblical counseling coalition’s blog about how the cross addresses marital issues. Tripp reminds us that 1) The cross tells us what’s wrong wit us, 2) The cross tells us how what’s wrong will get fixed, 3) The cross tells us our role in the work of personal change. Here’s one section that I found especially helpful:

As I sat in that restaurant that evening with my friends, I felt incredibly helpless, but not hopeless at all. The cross tells me that I have no power whatsoever to work the internal change of heart that is the key to lasting personal change. In other words, I have no ability at all to deliver people from their deepest problem; sin.

As I sat across from my friends, I knew that I didn’t bear the burden of being their redeemer. If I was to help them, it was profoundly important for me to know my place. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, the Apostle Paul uses the best possible word to define our place in God’s work of change. We are called to be nothing less than and surely nothing more than “ambassadors” of the One who suffered, died, and rose again so that change, real lasting personal change, would not just be a distant hope, but a realistic expectation of all who are bold enough to step into the arena of human difficulty and offer help. The cross reminds us that we are not the change agents, but representatives of the One who holds the power of real internal and interpersonal change in his hands.

May 11 2011 | Blog | Comments Off on How Does the Cross Address Marital Issues?

Alas and Did My Savior Bleed

This is Nathan Clark George’s version of “Alas and Did My Savior Bleed”.  What a beautiful opportunity to refocus our attention to the cross.

November 05 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on Alas and Did My Savior Bleed

The Passover Lamb

lamb

The other day I was reading through Leviticus when I came across an interesting section.  In Leviticus 3 there is a set of commandments about making peace offerings, verse two records exactly what the worshiper is to do at the moment he makes the sacrifice,

“And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and kill it at the entrance of the tent of meeting…”

Part of the drama of this sacrifice was for the worshiper to actually rest his hand and his weight upon the head of his sacrificial lamb and than to kill it.  As I kept reading, I noticed that this formula is repeated for multiple sacrifices (Leviticus 4:4; 16:21).  There was obviously something significant about the resting of one’s hand upon the animal as the animal was slain.

Doug Bookman has said that the entire sacrificial system was designed to assault one’s senses at every turn.  Whether it be the smell of the temple itself as thousands upon thousands of animals were sacrificed every day during Passover season, or the sight of the rivers of blood flowing from those sacrifices, or the sound of bleating lambs waiting beside their owners, the whole system would have been a shocking assault on one’s senses.

As the Jewish worshiper brought his sacrifice forward, placed his hand and rested his weight on the head of his lamb he would have felt the lamb buckle and give out it’s last bleating cries as the blood flowed from its body.  It seems as if the point of this practice was so that when you killed that animal you experienced its death through touch and knew that it had died because of your sin.  It wasn’t just something that you watched, but rather it was something that you participated in.

As I thought about what it must have felt like to make this kind of sacrifice, I was reminded of a poem by Horatius Bonar about the sacrifice of Christ:

Twas I that shed the sacred blood;

I nailed him to the tree;

I crucified the Christ of God;

I joined the mockery

Of all that shouting multitude

I feel that I am one;

And in that din of voices rude

I recognize my own

Around the cross the throng I see,

Mocking the Sufferer’s groan;

Yet still my voice it seems to be

As if I mocked alone.

With today being Easter, I am reminded that I participated in Christ’s death and yet He willingly took the cross upon Himself.  Isaiah 53:7 says, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”

April 04 2010 | Devotional | Comments Off on The Passover Lamb

Facing the Cross with Integrity

erebus-cross “It is impossible for us to face Christ’s cross with integrity and not to feel ashamed of ourselves.  Apathy, selfishness and complacency blossom everywhere in the world except at the cross.  There these noxious weeds shrivel and die.  They are seen for the tatty, poisonous things they are.  For if there was no way by which the righteous God could righteously forgive our unrighteousness, except that he should bear it himself in Christ, it must be serious indeed.  It is only when we see this that, stripped of our self-righteousness and self-satisfaction, we are ready to put our trust in Jesus Christ as the Savior we urgently need.” – John Stott, The Cross of Christ

February 10 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on Facing the Cross with Integrity

Twas I that shed the sacred blood…

Twas I that shed the sacred blood;

I nailed him to the tree;

I crucified the Christ of God;

I joined the mockery

Of all that shouting multitude

I feel that I am one;

And in that din of voices rude

I recognize my own

Around the cross the throng I see,

Mocking the Sufferer’s groan;

Yet still my voice it seems to be

As if I mocked alone.

     – Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

February 03 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on Twas I that shed the sacred blood…

Sacrificing Jesus

We too sacrifice Jesus to our greed like Judas, to our envy like the priests, to our ambition like Pilate. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” the old spiritual asks. And we must answer, “yes, we were there.” Not as spectators only; but as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining and handing him over to be crucified. We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate. But our attempt will be as futile as his. For there is blood on our hands. Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance). Indeed, “only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross,” wrote Canon Peter Green, “may claim his share in its grace.” – The Cross of Christ, John R.W. Stott

January 27 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on Sacrificing Jesus

Foundations of the Faith #12

Here’s the video from this week’s Foundations of the Faith class on the Cross.  I’ve pasted a short excerpt from the class below.

January 25 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on Foundations of the Faith #12

To Live Without Me…

The other night Amy sent me out to Dairy Queen to pick up a couple of ice cream cones for us to eat while we watch The Biggest Looser (one of the many blessings of living with a pregnant wife).  As I was driving back home with cones in hand I had the radio tuned into our local Christian radio station (Praise 106.5) when a song came on that caught my attention.  The name of the song is “To Ever Live Without Me” by Jody McBrayer.  What caught my attention was not the stellar vocals, because they weren’t really stellar.  Nor was it the outstanding musical quality, because it was pretty bland for my taste.  What caught my attention was the pure, unadulterated pride implicit in the song along with the depreciation of the cross.  Here is the chorus:

Heaven knew the reason you were there

It was all about a man

It was all about a cross

It was all about the blood that was shed so I would not be lost

It was all about a love that was bigger than a life

It was all about the freedom that was given through your sacrifice

‘Cause you would rather die than to ever live without me

The pinnacle of the message of this song is the very last line which says that Jesus would rather die than “to ever live without me.”  Now on one level that is kind of true.  Jesus did die a substitutionary death on the cross in order to purchase my salvation and adopt me into His family.  However, the motivation for that sacrifice was not my inherit goodness, nor was it the sheer joy of being with someone as great as I am for eternity (note my sarcasm here).  The cross was about God the Father crushing His Son in order to glorify Himself.  This is one of the principle differences between man-centered worship and God-centered worship.  Man-centered worship tends to make everything that God has done somehow about me, whereas God-centered worship understands that man is simply the happy beneficiary of God’s passion for His own glory.

While the chorus was somewhat irritating, what really bothered me about this song was a single line where she said, “Selfless, you could have called ten thousand angels down to take your place.”  I can’t think of a single line of music in recent memory that is more disrespectful to the cross than this one.  The entire concept makes a mockery of Hebrews 1.

Hebrews 1:1-4 “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”

The point is that no one else could have made the sacrifice that Christ made, because only the death of God is sufficient to atone for my sins.  It didn’t matter if it was 10,000 angels or 10,000,000 angels giving their lives.  There is nothing that can wash away my sin but the blood of Jesus and I am so humbled by the fact that He did give His life and that I get to live with Him for eternity.

October 08 2009 | Devotional | 2 Comments »

Spurgeon on Christ’s Scars

“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne!” Revelation 5:6

Why should our exalted Lord appear in heaven–with His wounds? The wounds of Jesus are–His glories, His jewels, His sacred ornaments. To the eye of the believer, Jesus is lovely, because He is “white and ruddy”; white with innocence, and ruddy with His own blood. We see Him as the Lily of matchless purity–and as the Rose crimsoned with His own gore. Christ is lovely in His life and His teaching–but oh! there never was such a matchless Christ as He who hung upon the cross! There we behold all His beauties in perfection, all His attributes developed, all His love drawn out, all His character expressed!Beloved, the wounds of Jesus are far more lovely in our eyes–than all the splendor and pomp of kings! The thorny crown is more attractive than any imperial diadem. Jesus wears the appearance of a slain Lamb–as His court dress in which He wooed our souls, and redeemed them by His complete atonement. Nor are these only the ornaments of Christ–they are the trophies of His love and of His victory! He has redeemed for Himself a great multitude whom no man can number–and these scars are the memorials of the fight! Ah! if Christ delights to retain the thought of His sufferings for His people–how precious should His wounds be to us!

“Behold how every wound of His,
A precious balm distills,
Which heals the scars that sin had made,
And cures all mortal ills.

Those wounds are mouths that preach His grace;
The ensigns of His love;
The seals of our expected bliss,
In paradise above!”

April 09 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on Spurgeon on Christ’s Scars

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