Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Check out this blog

Ben Witherington has a very moving parable about the weight and joy of helping people see Jesus. Check it out!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Testimony: True pleasure is only found in the sovereign, gracious Lord Jesus Christ

Have you ever experienced the power of God? Trust in Christ, turning from your sins, and you will! I've had the joy of experiencing the life-transforming power of God. The sovereign grace of God is no mere theory; it's reality. I know; I've savored the sweetness of his real power. Let me tell you about my experience.

By God’s sovereign grace, I realize now that pornographic images are poor, sick substitutes for the breath-taking beauty of God; premarital sex cannot replace an intimate relationship with the Lord; the high of drugs is a pitiful kick when compared to the inexpressible joy of peering into God’s incomparable Word to behold never-before-seen vistas in God and mysterious clouds shrouding the infinite heights of Almighty God; and the rush of being made much of is a delusion in the light of the glory of God alone consuming hearts and minds! Oh how good is the Lord who saves us from the weak, temporary, and destructive titillations of sin for the everlasting satisfaction at His right hand! Like John Newton, the author of the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” has said, I am a great sinner, but I’ve experienced the reality that Jesus is an infinitely great Savior.

I remember the morning. My mom, while she was doing laundry, found a note in my jeans’ pocket that incriminated me and my girlfriend. The note said, “Don’t worry. Your mom doesn’t know you’re stoned.” It was a note I had written to my girlfriend because, when I wrote it, she was on the phone with her mom. You see, when you’re stoned on marijuana, you get paranoid. So I wanted to soothe her paranoia with a note while she talked to her mom, for the last thing she wanted was her mom to find out what she had been doing.

But the note that I had intended to keeping my girlfriend’s mom in the dark with had an opposite effect; it shined the light of the sad truth of my life for my mom to see. So my mom and dad confronted me on that Saturday morning about my sinful lifestyle. I had tried to keep my parents well-deceived. But now they knew the truth. And I was so glad and so ashamed that they knew.

You know why I was ashamed. I had nowhere to hide. They could see me for who I really was. But I was also so glad! I was glad that I didn’t have to play this duplicitous charade anymore. It gets really tiresome being a hypocrite. Yet this relief was just the hem of the Lord’s robe.

At the heart of my joy was my knowledge that I rested on the chest of my sovereign Savior. I mean I experienced the reality that He is in control! For – get this – the very night before my mom and dad confronted me, the Lord had granted me repentance! I did not plan on being confronted about the sin I'd just turned from; but God did. My parents knew something had been wrong with me; they just couldn’t put their finger on it. So they’d been praying for me. And the Lord orchestrated a marvelous answer to their prayers by compelling me to repent the night before the morning they confronted me of my sin. It’s like the Lord was saying to me, “Yes! You’ve turned from your sins to Me! And now I’ll ordain that your parents hold you accountable. Now you have a merciful support team to help you come back to Me.”

When my parents confronted me, there was a part of me that feared condemnation. But I was won over by their God-wrought mercy! They were so tender with me. They, wonder of wonders, actually believed the truth that I really did repent the night before they confronted me.

It’s marvelous to look back and see how powerfully the Lord was working so early into my repentance. In conversation, that Saturday morning, with my parents, my mom asked me if I would try hard to walk the path of obedience. “I can’t” was my reply. I said, “I can’t. But God can.” And looking back to those words, several years back, I've found that to be the case, and more. I can't live right before God by my own determination. No one can. But God can and does and will empower you to live a righteous life if you trust in Christ!

Friend, you can't do it. But God can. You can't live a righteous life that pleases God so that he accepts you forever. But God can; and God did. God the Son, came in flesh as a man like any other man – just like you. But he was not like any other man. He never sinned. He always lived to please God and love mankind. “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8, ESV)1 Even as his flesh was like your flesh, his death, where he suffered and died under the righteous indignation and fury and wrath of God, will be counted as your death if you trust him.

Jesus died for you. He died for sins. He did not die for any sins of his own – he never sinned – his death was the penalty for the sins of all sinners who would ever believe in him.

You have sinned. You have lied and coveted and been arrogant and lusted. And these are all sins against God! You have lied because you've not trusted the truth of God. You've coveted because you've not been content in God's provision. You've been arrogant because you've not looked up to the infinite grandeur of God. And you've lusted because you've “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man...” you've “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Romans 1:23,25, ESV). And your sins deserve an eternal punishment since the God you've angered is eternal and holy.

So you have two options. Either continue in your sin and suffer an eternity of torment away from God's presence, or repent of your sins and begin trusting in Christ. If you trust in Christ, the eternal punishment that should fall on you for your sins will have already fallen on Christ! “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, ESV). So trust in Christ! When he suffered under God's wrath on the cross, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:47, ESV). Such pain-filled words will come overflowing from your agony in hell unless you repent. So please repent, for your own soul's everlasting salvation. Repent: Turn from your sins to Christ. Call on him and trust him to hear your call and save you, because “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:7, ESV).

And when you trust in Christ, you will be saved—saved not only from God's wrath, but for God's glory! Do you have any clue as to what that means? You will be saved to enjoy the most beautiful splendor ever, forever and ever, namely, Jesus Christ, who is God himself!

So trust in Christ who died and rose again and reigns on high and will soon return. The weak and puny, stale and temporary and deadly pleasures of sin as as nothing compared to the ever-increasing satisfaction that only God provides and magnifies himself with. With Christ alone “there is fullness of joy” and “at [his] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, ESV). So, dear friend, turn from your sins to Christ. Trust in Christ to be your Master and Savior and Treasure and God forever.

1 All Scripture quotations are from: The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Teach us, dear Savior

"Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long." (Psalm 25:5, ESV) [1]

If God has given His only begotten Son to save us from our sins and his wrath for our joy and His glory, then surely He will guide us in His truth and teach us. As Charles Spurgeon says:

Reader, is he the God of your salvation? Do you find in the Father’s election, in the Son’s atonement, and in the Spirit’s quickening, all the grounds of your eternal hopes? If so, you may use this as an argument for obtaining further blessings; if the Lord has ordained to save you, surely he will not refuse to instruct you in his ways. [2]

Nevertheless, I must add, that this argument (that God will teach those he saves) does not exclude our taking the time to learn from him, because the psalmist finishes this verse, "for you I wait all the day long."

So we should take time to learn from our Savior because since he has saved us, surely he will teach us. And it should not be overlooked that this is all phrased in the form of a prayer. We should pray, knowing that God will answer our prayers to teach us since the ground of his instructing us is his saving us. And we should, therefore, wait for him to do so.

God will teach us, for he has chosen to save us. Therefore we should ask him to teach us about his mercy and love expressed in our salvation. David continues to pray:

"Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!" (Psalm 25:6-7, ESV)

God, please think about your mercy in saving me, not of my sins to condemn me!

"Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions"

Amen, Lord. Please forget the plethora of sins I've committed against you in my foolish rebellion. But how shall an omniscient God forget anything? For surely you know EVERYTHING! It must be that David was pleading with you to not remember his sins against him, that is, in judgment. For he appeals to "your steadfast love."

"according to your steadfast love remember me"

Yes, do the same for me, O, Lord, please! Don't hold my sins against me in judgment; but forgive me because of your "steadfast love." Don't think of me apart from "your steadfast love"! I never want to be separated from "your steadfast love"! And I praise you that nothing "in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39, ESV). I want to find my identity in, be all wrapped up in, immersed in, permeated with, enraptured by, captivated with, controlled by, and satisfied with "your steadfast love" forever and ever! Remember, Lord, the greatest expression of "your steadfast love" in your one and only Son's propitiatory death for my sake! For it is written, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8, ESV). So while you look upon me with your holy gaze that penetrates to my deepest part and heart and thoughts and motivations, as you see with perfect clarity the horror of all of my sins, clearly also see that your ferocious wrath has already been perfectly unloaded on Christ for all my sin. Your judgment has fallen on Christ in perfect justice for the way this sinner has profaned your glory. So "remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me"

"for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!"

Yes, Lord, think of me in accord with your steadfast love, harmonizing with your covenant love "for the sake of your goodness." David goes down to the deepest foundation of his salvation in "your steadfast love" and goes up to the highest purpose of your redemption which is "the sake of your goodness," or as he says a few verses later: "For your name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great" (v. 11, ESV). Make your goodness known through redeeming me, Lord! Display your glory in forgiving sinners like me, God! Let your holy name be honored and marveled at because of "your steadfast love"!

[1] All Scripture quotations are from: The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.
[2] Spurgeon, C. H. (1995). Morning and evening : Daily readings (July 8 PM). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.