Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Month: November 2008 Page 1 of 2

The Porpoise-Driven Life: A Little Cynical But Not Untruthful

Even our Catholic friends see through much of the marketed, profit-driven nonsense that drives so much of Evangelicalism now, which is now a far cry from the faith recovered during the Reformation:

A Promise of God’s Effective Grace to His People

“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land.” – Ezekiel 34:11-13

Our God is not just a God who sits and waits for sinners to return to Him of themselves, but is One who goes out to find them, seeks them in power, who turns their hearts and their wills (being that they are dead in trespasses and sins), and brings them to Himself. Our God is not a God who just longs and desires for His people to be saved, but who actively goes out and saves them, through and through, from beginning to end, knowing they can do nothing of themselves, being utterly lost and ruined in sin.

In the New Testament, we then have the fulfillment of the verses from Ezekiel in Jesus when he says in John 6:39: “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” Jesus has saved His people on the cross, sealed in the resurrection, and it was an effective work, not a potential one. He Saved His people, He didn’t just make them savable. And Jesus shall lose none of those people given to Him by the Father from before the foundation of the world. What a hope!

It is promises like these and the assured hope within them which give those of us believing in Christ the power to live in holiness, lives pleasing to Him. And it is promises like these in which the Lord gives us grace when we turn from Him in sin. He is the source of our salvation, but also the source of our sanctification, or progressive holiness, that is, being made closer into His image and likeness. Apart from His working in us to will and to work for His good pleasure, we can do nothing correctly in any way that pleases Him.

This promise is our hope in evangelism and missions of all kinds. We preach the Gospel through truth and actions, through Scripture and changed lives reflecting the image of God out to the world; and then God, in power, uses that as He sees fit to bring those He’s chosen to save to faith, creating in them that which was not there: belief. God is the One who works to change people’s hearts to believe the Gospel and He will save His people. And our hope in evangelism is that He will use our witnessing, teaching and preaching to save His lost sheep, whom He’s appointed us to gather from among the nations, and down the street. Praise God for His effective grace! As a result, I can only echo with Paul, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36) That is the message of God’s effective grace, that it comes from Him alone, it is through Him alone in Christ, and it is all for His glory alone.

Unconditional Election – What Does It Mean? – Dr. James White

The Unreachable Demands of the Law of God

“For whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law.” – James 2:10-11

Our culture is strongly opposed to any idea of eternal judgment, wrath, torment, and separation from God because of wrong deeds we have done. Most people would say, “Sure I’ve done wrong things. But I’m no Hitler. I’ve raised my family well, I’ve provided for them, I’ve helped the homeless, helped orphans even; I’ve given to charities, I’ve given to church. Sure I’ve done wrong things in my life, haven’t we all? But surely those good things in my life will outweigh the bad, right? Surely the Lord or Saint Peter or whoever will let me through the pearly gates because I’m basically a good person.”

When weighing our worthiness to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it is natural for all of us to instantly begin comparing and sizing ourselves up to others around us or in history. We then deceive ourselves into thinking that since we personally don’t see anything possibly worthy of eternal condemnation and punishment, then it must not be so in reality, objectively, outside of us. Yet, when weighing our worthiness or unworthiness, the Scriptures say nothing of the comparison of ourselves to others, but rather it compares us in relation to God and Him alone. Do you want to truly weigh your holiness (or lack thereof)? Then weigh it against the infinite holiness and majesty of God. Here is the place where you will see how far you fall short.

Now the unfortunate thing is that we have no ability naturally of ourselves to see the holiness and righteousness of God with which to compare ourselves to begin with, because we are spiritually blind and in fact we are, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). But that is why the Lord gave us the Scriptures, so that He can sovereignly reveal Himself, by His Spirit alone. We must wait on Him and His illumination though.

But, by the grace of God, He has given us Scriptures that show us our lost condition and we have this verse in James that comes along and says, “For whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” How in the world is seeing our lost condition good news you say? Let’s continue, we’ll get to that.

Let’s just say for arguments’ sake you keep the Ten Commandments, except that you break one. According to this verse in James, you are now accountable for the whole thing, for you have become a transgressor of the Law. One sin, one falling short of the Law of God, and you are done for. And being “done for” means the Lord punishes you for eternity, because the One offended is infinitely and eternally holy.

But why is this so with the Law? Why is it breaking one Law constitutes breaking the entire thing? James explains why when he says, “For [God] who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law.” Whereas we want to cut each commandment up into little pieces (originally given to us in that way so the Lord could give us specifics and no wiggle room), to the Lord, the entire Law, the summing up of God’s revealed decrees, is a whole unit. It isn’t segmented, it is one organic piece, like a window. If you break one part of the window, the window is broken. So it is with the Law of God.

Then, Jesus came along and summed up the whole Law when He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30) If we can say with Jesus that this is the summing up of the whole Law (Ten Commandments and otherwise), then it is right to say that breaking any one of the commandments of God is ultimately failing to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” So if you commit murder, you have failed to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and you are thus subject to the judgment of God for all eternity. If you commit adultery, the same stands. And so it is with all the commands of God.

Here’s where the news just gets worse for humanity, though. All of us can attest that we probably have not broken just one single commandment. If we can say that, we’re probably deceiving ourselves. But how many of us would say we’ve broken all Ten Commandments?

Many deceitful teachers of all kinds love to preach from the Sermon on the Mount. “Ah,” they say, “I just love those passages because the instructions are just so simple. I teach these things to myself daily … along with Buddha’s wise teachings. Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t give false testimony … yes, what great passages of teaching us to do what is right.” Really? It is obvious to me when someone says they love the Sermon on the Mount in the way stated above that they have absolutely no idea what Jesus is actually saying in it. It is a hard sermon.

Let me quote you just one passage: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5:21-22).

Here’s my question: just going on the text above as the definitive rule of whether or not you will go to hell based upon just one day’s worth of deeds, how many of us have broken this Law? How many of us have been unjustly angry at someone? All of us, in some form or fashion have committed this and do so daily. I myself do this all the time and am desperately wicked as a result.

So is Jesus merely giving instruction on how to live? Or is He doing something else? Could it be Jesus is showing that performing external deeds and adhering to the Law in that manner totally neglects our hearts’ disposition in obeying it in the first place? If you have been angry with anyone, ever, Jesus is calling you a murderer and you are thus liable to judgment. Let that sink in. I am a murderer. And that is just one Law that Jesus refines. Theft? Adultery? Go through and read what Jesus is saying. It is quite radical and shines a spotlight upon our ruined natures. We are desperately wicked.

All of this shows that the Sermon on the Mount was not meant to just give us more instruction to follow, because based on Jesus’ principle, it is absolutely impossible for fallen man to adhere to the Law in order that he can be saved. The Sermon on the Mount raised the bar of the Law to a level that shows us we are lost, ruined and unable to do that which God commands.

Where is there hope in all of this? What a bleak picture for humanity! And with the current cultural climate so obsessed with positive thinking therapy/salvation, it is no wonder no one wants to hear these things. The truth is very difficult to believe, which is exactly why we need the Spirit’s working in us to show us its truth and validity.

Praise God He sent Jesus to do that which we could never do, so that by trusting in Him alone, we gain all that He merited in His morally perfect life. Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, right before he starts going through the refining of the Law of God, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18). Until what is accomplished? The fulfilling of the Law of God by Christ Himself.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law of God because He is the last Adam, the perfect Savior who accomplished all that we infinitely couldn’t. Whereas Adam, as humanities representative, failed in the task given to him by God, Jesus as the last Adam succeeded as the representative of all those who trust in Him alone (and not their works!) to bear their deserved wrath on the cross and credit to them all the rights and privileges earned during His earthly life.

God’s Law stands and we are required to uphold it for the glory of God, but also for own eternal futures’ sake. However, as shown above, we are incapable of upholding it ourselves and are thus thoroughly lost. Therefore Christ came and did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves, that by trusting in Him and His work, you will be saved from the coming day of judgment upon all people for all time.

The message of the Law is not one merely of giving us instruction on how to live. It is primarily about Christ and His bearing the demands of the Law on behalf of His people. The Law is a mirror we hold up to expose how far we fall short of the glory of God, and yet at the same time it points to a great Law-bearer, who came and suffered wrath in our place for all the laws we have broken and then credits us with His perfect life and righteousness. There could be nothing better!

Calvin: Man’s Spiritual Blindness Shown From John 1:4-5

“But we are drunk with the false opinion of our own insight and are thus extremely reluctant to admit that it is utterly blind and stupid in divine matters. Hence, it will be more effective, I believe, to prove this fact by Scriptural testimonies than by reasons. John very beautifully teaches it in a passage that I have previously quoted; he writes that: “Life was in God from the beginning and that life was the light of men; this light shines in the darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not” [John 1:4-5]. He shows that man’s soul is so illumined by the brightness of God’s light as never to be without some slight flame or at least a spark of it; but that even with this illumination it does comprehend God. Why is this? Because man’s keenness of mind is mere blindness as far as the knowledge of God is concerned. For when the Spirit calls men “darkness,” he at once denies them any ability of spiritual understanding. Therefore he declares that those believers who embrace Christ are “born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” [John 1:13]. This means: Flesh is not capable of such lofty wisdom as to conceive God and what is God’s, unless it be illumined by the Spirit of God. As Christ testified, the fact that Peter recognized him was a special revelation of the Father [Matt. 16:17].”

John Calvin, Book 2, Chapter 2 of the Institutes, pgs. 278

All that to say: Regeneration precedes Faith and any understanding of spiritual things at all. God must open our eyes, our ears, open our minds and hearts if we are to ascend to the demands for understanding, true spiritual illumination, faith, and repentance in the Scriptures. What God commands of us He gives in Jesus Christ, including the very faith and knowledge to believe in Him. Therefore, anyone attempting to ascend to understand God of himself and his own devices will completely fail in this endeavor, for knowledge about God is revealed by God Himself. Darkness cannot reveal and ascent to the light. Rather the light illumines the darkness and causes it to flee from its presence. So it is with the Lord.

Calvin: Science as God’s Gift

“Whenever we come upon these matters in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts. If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn and reproach the Spirit himself. What then? Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity? Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those men were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably? Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labor to our benefit? What shall we say of all the mathematical sciences? Shall we consider them the ravings of madmen? No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how preeminent they are. But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God? Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws, and all useful arts. Those men whom Scripture, calls ‘natural men’ were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things. Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled if its true [spiritual] good.”

John Calvin, Book 2, Chapter 2 of the Institutes, pgs. 273-74

Isn’t it amazing how something granted to man as a gracious and merciful gift (to sinners even) could be taken and used in the service of defaming and ruining His name and honor nowadays? One more example of the total depravity of man.

Quotes from Calvin’s Institutes

I’ve been reading through John Calvin’s magnum opus on the Christian faith lately, a piece of writing (whether people realize it or not nowadays) that has been one the biggest influences on the theological thinking of the evangelical Protestant church. I just wanted to share some choice quotes I have found recently and thought they might be encouraging to you.

“Whoever then heeds such teachers as hold us back with thought only of our good traits will not advance in self-knowledge, but will be plunged into the worst ignorance.”

“Here then is what God requires us to seek in examining ourselves: it requires the kind of knowledge that will strip us of all confidence in our own ability, deprive us of all occasion for boasting, and lead us to submission.”

“Nothing pleases man more than the sort of alluring talk that tickles the pride that itches in his very marrow. Therefore in nearly every age when anyone publicly extolled human nature in most favorable terms, he was listened to with applause.”

“… But it does nothing but delight in its own sweetness; indeed, it so deceives as to drive those who assent to it into utter ruin.”

John Calvin, Book 2, Chapter 1 of the Institutes, pgs. 242-43

“If there is no good in us, if man is wholly sin from head to foot, if he is not even allowed to test how far the power of the will can be effective – how could anyone possibly parcel out the credit for good works between God and man?”

“Whoever is utterly cast down and overwhelmed by the awareness of his calamity, poverty, nakedness, and disgrace has thus advanced farthest in knowledge of himself.”

“If it is the devil’s word that exalts man in himself, let us give no place to it unless we want to take advice from our enemy.”

“We should not rely on any opinion of our own strength, however small it is, if we want God to be favorable toward us, Who ‘opposes the proud but gives grace to the meek.’ [James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5]”

“These [passages] testify that no one is permitted to receive God’s blessings unless he is consumed with the aware of his own poverty [before Him].” (My insertions for clarification)

John Calvin, Book 2, Chapter 2 of the Institutes, pgs. 267-68

If you want to get this, the best version is the one edited by John T. McNeill which you can buy here: http://www.monergismbooks.com/Institute … 16211.html . An amazing gift to the church!

An Example of the Nonsense Plaguing Evangelicalism – Pyromarketing

(Original): http://www.challies.com/archives/articl … ting-a.php
(Archived): http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/chri … en%20Life/

A friend of mine posted this link under an item I posted recently on Facebook and so I thought it was pertinent to read in itself. It seems secular marketers have moved more and more into the Christian publishing market, and as a result, we are receiving what we “want” to read based on statistical analysis, not necessarily what we need to be reading as believers. We need to take it back for the glory of God, not the glory of profit. www.monergismbooks.com is a great place to start.

It’s not wrong to make money off of a venture in the Christian publishing industry. However, is that the driving motivation for your business? Or is it getting good literature into people’s hands so they will grow in the faith? Pyromarketing techniques in evangelicalism are watering down the Gospel to where there is really no Gospel left at all that resembles anything of what the Scriptures say, or at the very least a three deep reiteration.

I would also like to add as a disclaimer that I do not believe Warren’s book has done no good at all, because it is very likely some people read it who never would have read anything even remotely Christian who then later had a better explanation of the Gospel than Warren’s at their local church (hopefully). So we have no idea what individuals may have been affected. To presume to know so is nonsense.

Now I would also say, along with Paul Washer, that those who say, “But I was saved through that method,” that you weren’t saved through it but probably in spite of it, because many of these methods have so butchered and skewed the Gospel that is beyond recognition of what the Scriptures actually say.

Regardless, this article exposes an area in our Christian culture that possesses an increasingly worldly modus operandi that really is anything but Christian if the Christian publishing companies are all about profit instead of growing people in Christ.

Lord, Have Your Way in Me

This is the last line in the chorus of a song we sing at church entitled, Lord, I Give You My Heart, by Reuben Morgan. I enjoy the song (though I typically have a hard time worshiping the Lord in singing about what I’m going to do for Him instead of what He has already done on my behalf at the cross, but I digress). Many times, it is very easy to just say the phrase “Lord, have Your way in me,” without meditating upon its implications in our lives.

When we ask the Lord to have His way in us, it may be that He sovereignly decides to allow that which happened to Job to happen to us, or at least something comparable. Youch. Are we preparing now spiritually for this, before it happens, through Scripture studying, prayer, communion with God, and fellowship with other believers, which should all spill over into the unbelieving world around us through love and good works? And trust me, at some point trials will come, if they haven’t already.

The lyrics right before this line, at least to me, can tend to soften this implication when they say, “Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake … Have your way in me.” In no way am I criticizing the intention of the artist, Reuben Morgan, for I believe the intention in this lyric is good, and is a decent literary way of displaying our relationship with Christ. But it’s just so nice and fluffy to sing about the air we breathe, the moment by moment nature of our relationship with God in Christ and what we’re going to do for Him (you know, the whole WWJD/WHJD distinction – “What Would Jesus Do?” versus “What Has Jesus Done?” as a motivator for holiness?). Yet that last phrase in the chorus has vast implications in our lives. And these implications are thoroughly talked about in Scripture.

Here are just a couple of examples amongst many (including the whole book of Job):

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5

In contradistinction to an understanding I recently read on a forum pertaining to this verse, in no way do I believe this is talking about the mundane, day to day, light-weight trials we pampered Americans go through on a daily basis, like work, traffic, school, etc. Please.

We American Christians are in the minority of total Christians in the rest of the world. And a majority of the rest of these Christians are being persecuted in ways we cannot even dream of in America. There is pure hatred for the people of God in the world and I do believe there is a time coming when it will be here as well. I highly doubt those persecuted Christians, as well as the history of the whole church’s understanding of this text, would come to this same, “three inch deep” conclusion.

It’s so easy to read a text of Scripture through the filter of our own experience, our own cultural point of view and our own socio-economic vantage point. This text is talking about Trials with a capital T, because Paul’s audience was a group of believers who were experiencing exile, imprisonment, beatings, torture, death, and financial distress of a kind we have not even seen in our life time, let alone in America. It can definitely mean trials such as family-related issues, natural disasters, all kinds of other things that we do experience here in America. But in context, Paul had a specific intention to his readers.

And not only this, but it says to rejoice in those very sufferings! Rejoice! How? Only by God’s Spirit working in us is this possible. We need Him desperately to supernaturally work this kind of divine affection and love into us, for it is foreign to our sinful natures and our flesh. When we consider that as the people of God we are like gold that is refined through fire, it is only in this mindset and perspective that we can rejoice in trials, for they are God’s work in us to make us like Himself.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” – James 1:2-3

The result of these trials and the reason we should rejoice in that which the Lord has sovereignly ordained for our lives, is that in them, the Lord produces in us steadfastness. And as those verses in Romans say above, in sequential order, we know “that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

“Because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” The reason we can rejoice is that in the trials God mercifully brings (being that they are making us into the image of Christ) we see God’s faithfulness to sustain and stoke our faith (in the same way you stoke fire with more wood and blowing air into it) when everything else gives way around us. And this in itself is confirmation that we are chosen of God, elect, the predestined people of the Lord, whom He has unconditionally set His loving favor and affection upon, made effective through the cross of Christ, sealed in His resurrection.

We can be assured of our salvation and His choosing of us for it when trials come and we continue trusting in and holding onto God’s promises in the midst of them, for this itself is the working of God in us and the visible evidence of our conversion, started by God in our spiritual birth, who will then bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). And in this we greatly rejoice, for our final hope and the ultimate goal of all this is sharing in the glory of God forever with all of His people!

My whole point in all of this is that the words we sing to the Lord carry weight and should not be taken lightly. And many times, I fear they are in many evangelical congregations. Sometimes the words carry more weight than we’re willing to admit and it is so easy to glibly gloss over their real meaning. This line is just one example.

If we really ponder the sustaining power the Lord has over our lives, for both blessings and trials, I believe we would fear the Lord properly, not a fear that shrinks away from Him, but that reveres Him for His awesome sovereign might and find peace and solace in His grace alone that sustains us in the midst of blessings as well as trials.

It is perfectly within His power to lift His hand and allow us to undergo suffering of all kinds and I believe we need to keep this in mind when singing these kinds of songs in particular. It should humble us and make us stop to think about what we’re really asking of the Lord.

Our Judgment Landing on Christ

Tonight, I was reading through chapters three through five of Lamentations and Hebrews eight and I noticed a giant correlation between these chapters in both the Old and New Testaments. The lesson of Lamentations, or at least one lesson amongst many, is that God is serious about sin and its resultant judgment. If you test Him with your unrepentant sin, He will bring you to nothing, mercifully emptying you in hopes that you will see His faithfulness to keep you from pursuing that which injures the glory of God and thus you. Yet if you continue in it, He may be done mercifully intervening with trials that He means to move you toward repentance and faith and trust in Him and thus leave you to your sin. This is a frightening prospect and is in itself judgment.

This should give us great pause and reflection upon our own lives and the wickedness therein. We are depraved sinners, who, even in good things transgress His holy law with motives that are not set on exalting Christ and the glory of His grace in every way. We infinitely fall short of the glory of God. Praise Him there is mercy in Christ! But may we not be evil and abuse it to our detriment! We must be on our guard.

So the overall theme of Lamentations is that God does judge sin (being that the book was written in the aftermath of God’s punishment against Jerusalem), even in those He had made a covenant with. Yet He is faithful to those who mourn their sin and seek Him, who wait on Him to act in their hearts and thus turn from those things which displease Him, only by His power. He is faithful to forgive us our debts, yet He is a just judge who rightfully acts for His own glory and name (for what in the universe is there that is better to stand up for than the glory of God and His honor?).

In Hebrews, we have an excellent picture of Christ fulfilling the old covenant within the new. But before I get to that, we must understand the old covenant first. The old covenant, the very covenant that the people of Jerusalem had broken prior to God judging them, which happened right before the context of Lamentations, is where God said, “If you are faithful and perform all that I have commanded according to this covenant, things will go well with you; if you don’t, they won’t go well with you and I will inflict my wrath upon you (my paraphrase if you can’t tell).” And that is exactly what God does.

Prior to Lamentations, Jerusalem had done what was evil in the sight of the Lord and their hearts were far from Him, disbelieving Him and turning to worthless idols and wickedness. Therefore, in anger that the Lord slowly and patiently held back, not desiring to inflict wrath on them from His heart because He loved them, He waited no longer and punished them to defend the honor of His name. And this wasn’t just a quick deal. He inflicted wrath on them worse than that of Sodom! With Sodom at least the Lord consumed them with fire and that was it. But with Jerusalem, their pain and misery lasted a long time. And it was ugly. People died of starvation and even ate their own children, amongst other things. Yeah, it was bad. People that had lived in luxury were now begging on the streets and their children were starved with no where to turn. The Lord had brought them to nothing and they were the scorn of the nations.

The Lord takes His glory, honor and name seriously. He is just. This is little studied attribute of God these days, yet it is vital to get this before we can get His amazing grace. If we defile His glory and honor with our words, thoughts, actions, and deeds, He will consume us with His burning anger. Even now, in the time after Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, is this the case. He is the same now as He was then. This is very sobering and should display to us the unfathomable justice of His character and the utter wickedness and proneness to sin of our own hearts.

Yet, the whole reason Christ came was precisely because the old covenant with all of its regulations and stipulations, could never be upheld by mankind in order to attain salvation. We are a doomed people if we attempt to win favor with God through our religious working and toiling. Just look at Jerusalem in Lamentations!

But why is this so? Because by our works, even the best that we can offer for a lifetime of good deeds, cannot make us right with this just and holy God presented to us in Lamentations (who is the same God today). Our offense against God is infinite, so even one transgression is punishable forever. Yet how many sins do we commit every minute? “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). So without faith, even our good deeds are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

But Christ came and fulfilled the covenant from our side precisely because we were unable to. All religions, in some measure, say the exact same thing, just in different ways. “Do this to get right with God, or to become (a) god,” or some other variation. And in fact, the first covenant said something to this effect. Regardless, the message is the same. But in the Gospel that God had unraveled over the course of history, by the work of Christ, the Son of God becoming a man, He did everything perfectly on our behalf and even took the punishment that we deserve in Himself at the cross, and rose from the grave proclaiming victory over death – all this for those who believe and trust in Him alone.

Without Christ we are hopeless, just as Jerusalem was in Lamentations, save God’s mercy toward them. As Hebrews 8:7 says, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” Indeed. Then as it says right before this verse in Hebrews 8:6, “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” And that promise is the hope of the glory of God for all eternity. Nothing can satisfy the human soul more. It is what we were made for!

The new and final covenant is a covenant in which instead of God telling us to do this and do that to get right with Him (as in the first covenant, the old one), Christ Himself fulfills and does it all perfectly on behalf of those who trust Him for salvation! And not only so, but He also takes the punishment that we earned for our wrong-doing against God in Himself on the cross, removing all obstacles between us and Him forever. And you think the picture in Lamentations of God’s judgment is dreadfully awful? We have absolutely no idea how infinitely and dreadfully awful the cross was for Jesus who experienced the wrath of God for us who believe in Him. And He did all this in love toward us, that we might glorify and enjoy Him forever, the very hope of heaven itself.

Christ is our only hope of salvation, for it is He who attained it for us. And this very grace in the Gospel is the only way to change from the heart and grow in His grace. May we turn to the Lord and seek His infinite grace to save and deliver us, both those who have yet to trust Him, as well as those who have.

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