No Condemnation

January 27, 2011 at 11:04 am | Posted in God's Love, Security and Assurance | 4 Comments

I am often asked questions about security and doubt, and I usually answer by pointing people to the tenses in the New Testament.  I have referenced many of these in the past; a check of the security and assurance tab on the right will show some of those articles.  I’ve been reading Romans in my devotions this week and have found numerous verses that assure our salvation by the tenses Paul used.  Those in Christ already have the benefits of salvation, because God has already declared it or done it.  I will keep my comments here to the eighth chapter.  If you are a follower of Christ who struggles with doubts, meditate on these passages with special focus on the tenses.

The key verse is Romans 8:1.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Notice that this is true – it is not just a possibility; and notice that is true now – it is not for some indefinite time in the future.  The reason is given in the next verse, “for the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”  Notice, that if you are in Christ, you are already set free from the law of sin and death.  Your sin does not result in death because that law no longer applies to you.  Now Christ righteousness applies to you instead!  God has already done what the Law could not do (v.3).  “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” (v.4)  He already did it; it’s a done deal.

If some try to argue that these things can be undone, they haven’t read the rest of the eighth chapter, where Paul, anticipating such an argument, asks numerous questions:  If God is for us who can be against us?  Who can bring a charge against God’s elect?  If God justifies, who can condemn?  What can separate us from the love of God?  The answer to all of these is an emphatic no one or nothing.  In fact, in all these things, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” – it doesn’t say we will be or can be but that we are.  (Read vv, 28-39)

May the assurance offered in God’s Word penetrate your mind and spirit so that you may fully trust in his truth.  I pray that you will know the amazing grace of God in Christ.

 

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A Profound Quote from Calvin

January 20, 2011 at 11:13 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love | 3 Comments

John Calvin said that most of our problems stem from the fact we don’t know God well enough.  Either we don’t know how holy he is and thus how sinful we are, or we don’t know how gracious he is and how much he loves us in spite of our sin.  Most our spiritual and psychological problems come from this misunderstanding.  In his pastoral counseling, Calvin would direct people in his congregation to the Psalms.  There they could learn more of both his holiness and love.

I have found in my pastoral experiences that his statement is true.  This isn’t meant to be simplistic; I know some people have trouble believing what they read about God because of the baggage of past experiences, but I still believe the more his word penetrates our minds and spirits, the more his character will become real to us.

In that light, I read a profound comment from Calvin in my studies this week and just had to post it.  This comes from his commentary on Psalm 145:8, 9, which reads, “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”

Calvin comments:  “No small part of the grace of God is seen in his alluring us to himself by such titles as these (gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, rich in love, and good to all). Accordingly, the more nearly that a person feels himself drawn to God, the more he has advanced in the knowledge of him.”

God’s great compassion is such that if we know him, we are drawn to him.  There is great healing in that thought!

 

Best Books of 2010

January 13, 2011 at 10:56 am | Posted in Books and Movies | 1 Comment

Because I was stuck on one book for so long this past year, I didn’t read as much as I normally would, but going through my list this morning, I found I’d read more than I thought I had.  Here are the best things I read in 2010.  Those which show up as links go to my earlier review or comments on the book.

Big Truths for Young Hearts, Bruce Ware.  No doubt that this would be the best of the year.  Bruce Ware writes great theology for young people – aimed at younger teenagers – and older people who need a beginning course.  I wrote two comments on the book in this blog; the second is here.

Heaven,  Randy Alcorn.  This is the one that took me all year to finish, but the truths presented were worth it.  The only reason I place it second is its wordiness.  Over the long haul, the content will impact my thinking way more than the book above.

J.I. Packer’s introduction to John Owen’s Death of Death.  Not a book per se, but long enough to be a small one and significant enough to list here.  Heavy duty reading, but well worth working through.  If the intro is this deep, I’m sure the book itself is . . . well . . . you get the idea.  I now have the actual book, but haven’t been brave enough to start it yet.

Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett Harris.  A must read for anyone under 25 and anyone who has kids or grandkids in that age group.

Through Gates of Splendor,  Elizabeth Elliot.  One of the most influential books I’ve ever read.  We read it outloud as a family this year.  Still a great read these many decades later.

The best novels I read were Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and the fantasy series 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson.  The genre of these two is so different, it would be hard to pick which is better, the latter is more exciting, the former more touching.

Happy reading in 2011, Pastor Glenn

More Joy than when the Grain and Wine Abound

January 9, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts | Leave a comment

I haven’t written much lately as this past week has been full of major schedule shakeups including sickness and a death in the congregation and sickness in my own family.  All too often our reactions to those things rob us of the joy God would have for us.  That joy came to my mind a few times in my own devotions this week.

How often do we Christians envy the unrighteous because they seem to have more fun?  I’m sure it’s true of youth and young adults in particular, but even we middle-agers sometimes feel it ourselves.  The unrighteous have no constraints on their celebrations, so they celebrate with abandon, even when what they celebrate is empty and temporal.  As followers of Jesus, we tend to be stiff and formal in our rules, and that is not a lot of fun.  Two verses related to this idea struck me in my ponderings this week.  The first is Psalm 4:7, “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.”  And shortly after that, Psalm 5:11, “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.”  The kind of life God has in store for his people is a life of joy – even more joy than the unrighteous when they party with food and wine!  The best joy in life is the joy that comes from the Lord.  Part of the evidence of God’s Spirit in our lives is joy.  May we sense his joy in our lives as we call to him, seek him, trust him, take refuge in him, and daily walk with him.

 

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