devotional · Personal · Theology

Glorying only in the Cross of Christ

Eternal life is promised to us, but it is promised to the dead; we are told

of the resurrection of the blessed, but meantime we are involved in corruption; we are declared to be just, and sin dwells within us; we hear that we are blessed, but meantime we are overwhelmed by untold miseries;

we are promised an abundance of good things, but we are often hungry

and thirsty; God proclaims that He will come to us immediately, but

seems deaf to our cries. . . . Faith is therefore rightly called the substance

of things which are still the objects of hope. (John Calvin)

Hope…….blessed hope, I do not know about you, friend, but I have to side with Calvin here. I cannot fathom the grace of God, because I know myself so thoroughly to be undeserving of it. I know only of spiritual and emotional and physical struggles. Imminent catastrophe as the world goes mad around me, what shall a man put his hope in? If not in God I do not know of anything else, if not in that Christ died in my stead, taking the blow for me, taking the hell I deserved and opened heaven for me, I would have no hope.

I don’t know about you friend, but I hate the sin I find in my life, the little foxes that ruin life and make living a painful affair. Yet I hope, and believe in God who has chosen to be gracious to me. Do you never wonder that Christ has a care for you friend? Has the thought crossed your mind that you are really a hell deserving man, and not deserving of any divine favor?

Or are you still insistent that somehow God is still owing you something? Look to the Cross I tell you, look to the Cross. There is no hope for any wretched soul other than in the cross. Leave your life sin and religious piety and look to the cross. It is Christ Jesus who Justifies, yet if you let this fact pass you by, you will answer to the Law of Moses, and its punishments.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved, be saved from the wrath of God, that is coming on the face of the earth. More surely than the sunrise and sunset, is the wrath that is to come. Come then, before then, and welcome to Jesus Christ!

Apologetics · Personal · Research · Theology

The Apostle Paul’s Grand Theme of Redemption

To attempt to summarize the apostle Paul’s doctrine of salvation in the compass of a short essay might seem an act of folly. Yet try we must.

Paul’s preaching of the Gospel proceeds from the conviction that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised “Messiah” and Son of God, whom God sent into the world in “the fullness of time” to fulfill His promises to His people, Israel (2 Cor. 1:18–22; 6:2; Gal. 4:4). The great message of Paul’s preaching is the “mystery” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:26; Rom. 16:26; 2 Tim. 1:10). Though previously hidden, this mystery was now entrusted to him and the other apostles as “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1; Eph. 3:2ff.).

This Pauline conviction helps to clarify the relation between his teaching regarding salvation and the teaching of Jesus Christ in the Gospels. Just as Christ emphasized the coming of the kingdom of God, which introduces the blessings of the “age to come” into “this age,” so Paul emphasizes the coming of Jesus Christ as the One through whom the saving blessings of God are now being granted to His people. The teaching of Jesus in the Gospels is similar to a musical overture that announces the theme of the whole New Testament: the kingdom of God is “at hand.” Paul’s preaching develops this theme by offering a comprehensive explanation of the saving blessings of the kingdom.

But how does the apostle explain the salvation that Christ brings? What has Christ accomplished by His death and resurrection that provides redemption for those who belong to Him?

Paul summarizes his answer to this question in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” This summary is similar to others in Paul’s epistles (see 1 Cor. 2:2; Gal. 6:14). In these passages, Paul declares that the Gospel he preaches focuses upon the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Paul’s epistles, several biblical themes are used to designate distinct aspects of the salvation Christ has procured for believers. The principal themes that Paul uses to describe Christ’s work of atonement include: First, “sacrifice” for or “expiation” of the guilt of human sin; Second, “propitiation” of God’s holy wrath against his sinful creatures; Third, “reconciliation” or peace with God; Fourth, “redemption” from the curse and condemnation of the Law; and Fifth, “victory” over sin, death, and all powers that oppose God’s kingdom.

That Paul understands Christ’s death as a sacrifice for sin is indisputable. In 1 Corinthians 15:3, Paul declares that Christ died “for our sins.” In another passage, he says that God sent His own Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin” (Rom. 8:3). Paul also teaches that Christ’s death was a propitiation of the wrath of God. In His holiness, God can only abhor sin. However, the marvel of the Gospel is that God has lovingly propitiated His wrath through the death of His own Son (Rom. 3:25; 5:9−10; 2 Cor. 5:21). Christ’s atoning work is also a work of reconciliation. By His death, Christ has removed every obstacle to the sinner’s peace with God.

This work of reconciliation includes a God-ward and a human-ward aspect. It not only removes the obstacle of God’s wrath (Rom. 5:9–10), but it also summons the sinner to “be reconciled” to God (2 Cor. 5:20). The theme of redemption also figures prominently in Paul’s understanding of Christ’s atonement. The biblical idea of redemption emphasizes the payment of a price that secures the deliverance of the sinner from bondage (1 Tim. 2:5–6). In one of the clearest statements of Christ’s atonement as a work of redemption, the apostle Paul declares that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). Finally, an overlooked feature of Christ’s work of atonement is the victory that it achieves over the power of sin, death, and indeed every form of opposition to God’s kingly rule (1 Cor. 15:54–57). By His death and resurrection, Christ disarmed the powers that oppose God’s kingdom (Col. 2:13–15).

Undoubtedly, the central message of Paul’s preaching is that God has entered history in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, whose atoning death and resurrection have brought salvation. However, the Gospel according to Saint Paul also includes the application of salvation in Christ to believers who are united to Christ by the ministry of His Spirit. Even though Paul does not explicitly articulate an “order of salvation” (ordo salutis), the rudiments of such an order are evident in his epistles (see Rom. 8:30; 1 Cor. 1:30; 6:11).

The most inclusive way in which Paul describes the application of salvation is in terms of the believer’s union with Christ. When believers are joined to Christ through the ministry of His Spirit, they participate fully in all the benefits of His atoning work on their behalf (Rom. 8:2,11; 1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 4:30).

For the purpose of our brief summary, three benefits of union with Christ are of particular importance to Paul’s understanding of the application of salvation: free justification, Spirit-authored sanctification, and glorification.

Free justification. We noted in our introduction that it has become popular in some circles to oppose Paul’s emphasis upon union with Christ to his teaching about forensic justification. This is a profound mistake, however. The Reformation was certainly correct to assert that a principal feature of Paul’s teaching was the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone. Moreover, contrary to the more recent claims of authors of the “new perspective” on Paul, Paul clearly views justification as a “soteriological” theme. Justification doesn’t simply answer the question whether Gentiles as well as Jews belong to the covenant people of God, as many new perspective authors maintain. It primarily answers the question how any sinner, Jew or Gentile, can find acceptance with God in spite of his sin and guilt.

According to Paul, justification is a gracious act of God whereby He forgives the sins of believers and declares them righteous on the basis of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 4:1–5; 5:15–17; 10:3; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9). Though all have sinned, Christ was put to death for the sins of His people and raised for their justification (Rom. 4:25). Apart from any “works” performed in obedience to the Law, God justifies those who receive Christ by faith (Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16). This benefit of justification is a thoroughly eschatological blessing of salvation, which declares that there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Spirit-authored sanctification. All those who are united to Christ are indwelt by His life-giving Spirit (Rom. 8:4–11). Believers are not only declared righteous in free justification, but they are also being renewed after the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:17–18). The power and reign of sin are broken. Through their union with Christ in His death and resurrection, believers are now to consider themselves dead to sin and alive to righteousness (Rom. 6:12–14). The new status that believers enjoy (justification) is always accompanied by a renewed life of obedience, which is worked in believers by the Spirit of Christ (sanctification).

Glorification. Though it is customary to think of glorification as the future consummation of the believer’s salvation, Paul speaks of glorification as a present and a future reality (Rom. 8:18ff., 30). Due to the intimate union of believers with Christ, the glorification of Christ in His resurrection and ascension is also the glorification of believers. Already now believers are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6). However, there remains the expectation of a still-future glorification of believers (2 Thess. 1:10). So long as they live in this world, believers wait eagerly for the day when their “bodies of humiliation” will be transformed to be like Christ’s glorious body (Phil. 3:21).

The Gospel according to Saint Paul can be summed up as the glorious message of God’s fulfillment of all His promises of salvation for His people in Christ. The central message of all Paul’s preaching is salvation through the crucified and risen Christ. Christ has provided an atonement for the sins of His people that answers to every aspect of their sinful condition. Through faith-union with Christ, believers enjoy all the benefits of this atoning work. In the remarkable words of 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” Those who are in Christ enjoy a new status of free acceptance with God, in spite of their unworthiness as sinners. They also experience the grace of a new life of obedience to the “law of Christ” by the working of the Holy Spirit. And they know the grace of present as well as future glorification, when the “first fruits” of salvation in Christ will issue in the eschatological harvest of complete participation in Christ’s resurrection victory.

 

Apologetics · Personal · Theology

Keeping the End in Mind

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If there is one thing I know, its that one die, I like the rest of mankind, will die. Dreadful thought that this incredibly handsome frame, will be nothing but wormfood. But there it is, Jonathan Edwards who has changed the mortal for immortality himself some centuries ago, said in his “resolutions” It is a good thing to ponder the day of your death, to think upon the day you will die. And to live in the light of that.

Most people I know do not consider that “all flesh is like grass” here today and gone tomorrow, so we toy with death, everything from Harry Potter to the new Vampire fad, and the like. Its almost like modern writers and storytellers have romanticized the thought of death. For the thought of it is fearful. We do not like to consider the unknown, yet those who have embraced Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, do not have to be mystified by this at all. Christ has plainly told us, “I have gone to prepare a place for you, and where I am you shall be also”

Movies like “the Bucket List” make light of what mans last aspirations should be, one final fling with the world, one last ditch party. And that is all it will be. There is no fellowship for those outside of Christ, for those there will only be a hell of neverending isolation and separation from God and from life. All for what? For a mere indulgence. C. S Lewis had it right when hen he said we are too easy to please, we aim for the passing indulgences of money, sex and power when we have heaven held out to us. It is indeed the evil of evils to shun the love of God for a mere trifle. What higher pleasure is there but pleasure in God?

I have considered much the prospect of my own death, and the very thought of it is like an out of body experience. I cannot imagine it, it is beyond the grasp of my intellect and emotions. I can not more grasp it than I can grasp how an infinitely Holy God can love a vile sinner like me. Yet I may have this hope. I am an image bearer of my creator, He knows why he made me. And to what end , there is mystery in living. But in the words of Luther, “it is no mistake to trust an unknown future to a known God”

I am well aware that I am my youth has slipped quietly by and I seem to have more gray hair than I used to. I see a whole new generation of young people doing some amazing things that were not even thought of when I was a boy. A hard drive was something you did when you got in the car and drove a long way, so things have changed a little, or is it that they have just become more accessible. Never before has entertaining evil become easier, with the television and internet so ready on hand, you can pretty much watch what you want from the comfort of your hand held cell phone. And download whatever you want to read onto your e-reader.

Not that I have any of these new fangled toys. But I can see where they can be handy. Yet to have them also puts many in harms way. Just by virtue of the accessibility of all kinds of evils which could and would have been avoided in earlier days.

The point I want to make is that we have an expiry date, an appointment with our God, who will judge us and either pardon us by the merits of Jesus, or send us to an eternal hell where there is nothing but an eternal death.

I consider these things, for I see many don’t, in the book of Amos, the prophet tells Israel, “prepare to meet your God” yes prepare to meet Him. This is not play time it is prep time. There is a glorious world to come and a hell to pay for those who carry on in unbelief.

It will be glorious to set aside this mortality for the immortality Christ has promised. May do not consider that they sell themselves short by indulging in a world that is sick to the core and passing away day by day. Do not defraud yourself of this Eternal Life Jesus offers Look around you, consider everyone around you. In less than 100 years from now they will either be in glory with Jesus or in eternal hell.

A very telling inscription on a graves tone read.

As I am, you also shall be, I was lively just like you, yet you shall follow me too. – Scratched on the headstone was this quip. “ I will not follow you until I know, which way you did go”

Maybe the venerable Edwards had a good point there.” Live with one eye on the glory of eternity with Jesus, and the other eye the groans form those who misspent their lives and went to hell. “

Mind your step friend. You too have an expiry date, and an appointment to keep.

devotional · Theology

A Knowing your Need For God

Let not conscience make you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream; All the fitness He requireth; Is to feel your need of Him.

This quote from a Hymn,” All the fitness He requireth; Is to feel your need of Him.” I like that, the human tendency is to first when drawn to the throne of grace and to Come to Christ, receive His gift, and then promptly try to earn it. John Piper has put a name to this tendency, he calls it the Debtors ethic.

We have been given grace so now we think we “owe” It is such a deeply ingrained thing, in our human nature, and to be sure, gratitude is a good thing. Can a man repay for anything? It seems a considerable impossibility. Luther put it this way.

Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at [Romans 1:17], most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted. At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.'” There I began to understand [that] the righteousness of God is . . . righteousness with which [the] merciful God justifies us by faith. . . . Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. (Martin Luther: Selections, pp. 11-12)

That is the heart of the matter, “feeling our need of Him, the more we feel our need of Him, the more we are inclined to obey. Suffering has never ceased to be the school of the Spirit, and the sons of the world don’t seem to be harassed by their talk or actions. Yet those who fear the Lord can know this, those whom He loves he disciplines.

Yet we cannot linger over matters of conscience for the accuser of the brethren uses tender consciences to accuse, those who would fear the Lord and obey His decrees. It was as Luther said for me too, when I saw that the righteousness God requires is the righteousness He gives to those who but receive it by faith my aching conscience could find peace.

This puts me in the place of feeling my need of Him daily, running to God when all we feel is shame for sin, is never easy, but it is the only thing to do. The invitation still is, “Come ye who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest….” Jesus know better than we do that we can out of ourselves do nothing. The righteousness given to those who receive it by faith is the logic of heaven. And today again I feel my need of it. Do you?

 

Personal · Philosophical

It would be heaven

What time is this, the wise man said

when all around you seems to lose its head.

When will the madness cease, the crimes

and Sin will begin to decrease.

It is that we all must know, time is short

and we must be prepared.

prepared for what you might ask ? If

you have not discerned it you wear a mask.

So much falseness in all I see, from Politics to Religion too.

It takes a hypocrite to be happy,

in the  times we live in. No one can turn a blind eye

To what is laid bare and open in front of them anymore.

Its at the door, our time is now, bend your know

and ask God how. You need to live in a time like this

For there is o peace and there is no bliss.

It is the best of times, and also the worst,

so much to be grateful for yet ….

We are not home yet. Home would think is

where heaven is. And where a Righteous King will

graciously reign. No sin, no crime no punishment no pain, no

death no illness no discord.

That would be heaven.

 

 

Theology

The call to be separate- Some thoughts on what it means in the South African Context

Revelation 18:3 …..And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, a…

Source: The call to be separate- Some thoughts on what it means in the South African Context

Personal · Random Interest

The call to be separate- Some thoughts on what it means in the South African Context

Revelation 18:3 …..And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

For a long time I have been very perplexed about how a Christian, specifically a Christian in South Africa, should treat the topic of what it means to separate oneself from the world system around us.

First of all let me highlight some issues that as part of a white minority, in South Africa, especially part of the not “privileged” class. I often find myself often face to face with ant-white rhetoric and hate speech against whites. Then there is the often ignored problem of the farm murders in South Africa, over 3000 racially motivated farm murders since 1994. But you won’t read about that in the popular news media either.

I firmly in the Biblical call to be separate, but for the most part I see the church married to culture. People will vote for the ruling communist elite but go to church on Sunday. How does that make sense? And then there is the issue of forced integration. How can that possibly be any less evil than the old apartheid system of government was. Forced segregation, and then now forced integration. No difference.

Then there is the very touchy issue of race, off course any Biblical Christian will tell you that God only made one race, the human race. And that is how we should all see it. But see our country has thrown God out of the constitution and made His Name a term of derision. May God confound them!

I am in pains for my country, Liberals would criminalize our scriptures too if they could, current legislation is aimed at censoring certain portions of Scripture. But most Christians have not even heard of that law being on the table.

All the more I find the political scene in South Africa, rather vulgar, currently the  leaders of the Black Majority often incite violence against white minorities. Should that not be cause for concern?

Personally I associate gladly and freely with all who share in my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and quite frankly anyone who will treat me with equal respect even on a human level I will and often do get along with just fine.

But there is this thing where it seems most South Africans idolize their political darlings, they seem to be able to do anything they want, say anything they want and get away with it.

So this post for what it is, is not about race, because in the Biblical view there is only one race. Its not about politics, because politicians in my view are expendable and for the most part corrupt. Its not about political affiliations, since I do not favor any current South African party. I vote according to conscience, and my conscience tell me the party you vote for should at least be Pro Life and  have the Biblical view of marriage ( if you don’t know what that is go and read your Bible)

I am not writing to antagonize anyone, but who in this country of South Africa, will stand in the gap? Who will call out unrighteousness for what it is, and speak out against the current government’s tyrannical and dictatorial polices? Shall we let the godless just go unchecked?

May its time for Christians to extricate themselves from this world’s system of thought, to free ourselves from the bondage of the slave masters of our day would impose on us. May its time to be different, to be Christian to cease from associating with ungodliness and ungodly practices. To cease and desist from all forms idolatry. To turn to God and to turn from evil.

As I see it only a true revival of the Christian religion will save South Africa. We are a divided nation filled with hurt and pain.

By no means am I at the end of this matter, this is not a rant, it is a purposeful look at the circumstance of the country I live in, and how I am to live in it.

There are many who advocate the right to self-determination, and tend to side with them these days, one after all has the right to freedom of association and if that seems racist to you, well that is to bad, that right is enshrined in our rather leftist very liberal constitution. I am for it because I feel for those like myself who are part of the white minority in South Africa, who have been marginalized and made victims of hate crimes and are constantly lambasted by liberal media.

The Biblical call in revelation however is a clear one. “ Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. “

This world and its systems political and otherwise are slowly being shown up for they are, and so will every one individually. Either you are for righteousness only found in Christ of you are for the darkness of this current world system. Your call.