Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sinners Into Saints

by Andy Muxlow

So, let me ask you a question. Are you a sinner or a saint? 

As Christians, we often battle with the frustration that comes from sin’s remaining presence in our lives.  Sometimes we get so entrenched into fighting this battle against sin that we begin to rely more upon our own self will than on the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t get me wrong, obedience to our Lord takes work and self-sacrifice, but we know from Philippians 2:13 that ultimately God is the one who wills and works in us. 

In Romans 6, Paul answers the believer’s skewed view of sin with the powerful truth of what took place at the moment of salvation.  Rather than focus on the “how to” of ridding sin in our life, he takes us to a core question.  Who are we in Christ?  “We were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”  We are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus because God saved us from sin’s dominion.  We are God’s people, set free from sin and set apart for God’s righteousness and His glory.   

The same miracle that saved us is the same miracle that causes growth in sanctification.  Let us live by the power of the gospel with a clear understanding of our identity in Christ.  We were sinners that are saved by the grace of God.  Our sinful position has been eradicated and replaced with the imputed righteousness of Christ.  We do not have two natures.  One was buried and is dead, and one has been made alive in the likeness of His resurrection.  We continue to battle against our  flesh but sin is no longer what defines us. 

God has forgiven us and has cleaned us from the inside out.  May we shed our old dirty clothes, and put on Christ, longing for the day when we are wholly sanctified in the eternal presence of our master.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Theme of God's Sovereignty

by Garth Gaddy

“I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” –Is. 43:15

We believe that God created and owns everything (Gen. 1:1; Ps. 24:1), yet this verse still struck me. The psalmist explicitly says that God is the Creator of Israel. Consider the theme of His sovereignty throughout the Word:

Abram was chosen from among all the peoples of the world to receive a blessing (Gen. 12) and be the father of offspring numbered as the stars (Gen. 15). Abram was chosen not on the basis of anything he had to offer but rather chosen by God. Abraham’s son of the promise, Isaac, was conceived by parents of an impossible old age (Gen. 21). Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. The elder served the younger by God’s choice (Gen. 25). Before they were born, Jacob was chosen and Esau was rejected (Mal. 1:2, 3). Jacob was the father of the sons who became the tribes of Israel. One of his sons was Joseph who was sold by his brothers, enslaved, but later positioned by God for good (Gen. 50:19-21). Prior to death Jacob gave a blessing to his sons. Judah, one of those sons, received a blessing that pointed directly to Jesus (Gen. 49:10). Judah was an ancestor of Jesus.

In the book of Job, God chose to allow Satan to wreak havoc with Job’s life. Job questioned God, who responded in chapter 38, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”. Job finally realizes the folly of his questioning in chapter 42; “I know that you can do all things,” “I uttered what I did not understand,” “I had heard of you…but now my eye sees you…I despise myself, and repent.”

In the New Testament we see God in the flesh sovereignly choosing His twelve disciples; healing some people but not all; choosing a zealous Pharisee who persecuted Christians–all to spread the Gospel. In Romans 9, we learn that God is the potter, and we are the clay. He chooses some as vessels of wrath and some as vessels of mercy. “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” (Rom. 9:19).

The theme of God’s sovereignty extends throughout His Word. God chooses believers not because of greatness, righteousness, or anything else we have to offer (Titus 3:5). He is God, He is sovereign and He chooses for His glory. Our response must be humility, gratitude and submission.
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rejoice in the Lord

by Ken Harvey

Do you find the endless demands of life pressing in on you and robbing you of your joy?  D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, in his book Spiritual Depression, comments, “Christian people too often seem to be perpetually in the doldrums and too often give this appearance of unhappiness and of lack of freedom and absence of joy.”  Herein lies a great test of our faith.  It is one thing to say that we believe proper doctrine; it is another thing to find complete joy, peace, contentment, and victory when life’s circumstances seem to weigh down on us.

In Philippians 4:4-7, God gives an answer. Continually “rejoice in the Lord.”  This is more than happy optimism. It is deep-seated joy that is rooted in the person and work of Christ. Recount what God has done for those who are united with Christ. Remember the cross. Remember that God is our Father and that He loves His own children. Remember the grace in which we stand (Romans 5:1, 10; 8).

While remembering that the Sovereign King reigns and is coming again, put off anxious thoughts. Paul’s charge is not to merely grunt it out and pull yourself together. The solution is not to tell yourself that worrying does not accomplish anything or that “worrying does not change anything.”  Lack of joy and peace is a spiritual issue with a spiritual solution. Through supplication and thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Be practical in your thanksgiving. Make a list of all the things you can be thankful for in your present circumstances. Go back and thank God for each item. Trust that God will be faithful to change your heart. This gracious transformation of heart and mind is a work of God. Through Christ Jesus, God’s peace will keep and guard our hearts and minds, the battleground of anxiety. Peace is a promise from Christ for His own (John 14:27).  The inverse is also true: there is no promise of peace for the wicked (Is. 48:44; 57:21).  Colossians 3:15b-17 provides similar instruction.  Finally, another promise of peace from Is. 26:3-4: You [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.
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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Recommendation: A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent

by Adam Bailie

Over the course of my Christian life I have read many influential books, been given many more influential books, and had countless books recommended to me for my growth in Christ. As pastors, our desire is to point you in the direction of the best resources for your growth in Christ and your understanding of His Word. This morning I would like to highlight one such resource: A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent. If there are only a few books that you read thoroughly and repeatedly in your life, this one should be counted worthy of the list!

There is nothing more foundational to the Christian life than the power of God in the Gospel (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18). It is our source of life, foundation of hope, focus of worship and motivation for obedience. This is the Christian life...it is all about the Gospel! I am indebted to A Gospel Primer for its clear and concise help in preaching the Gospel daily to my own heart.

You may wonder why such self-preaching is so necessary and beneficial to your Christian growth in grace. Please consider Milton’s first of thirty-one answers to such a question: “The gospel is so foolish (according to my natural wisdom), so scandalous (according to my timid heart), that it is a daily battle to believe the full scope of it as I should. There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemning of my heart, and the lies of the world and Devil than to overwhelm such things with the daily rehearsal of the gospel” (pg. 14). The Gospel is our daily need, it must be our daily meditation, for it alone is our truth claim in the face of so many lies.
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