“If the heart be chiefly and directly fixed on God, and the soul engaged to glorify him, some degree of religious affection will be the effect and attendant of it. But to seek after affection directly and chiefly; to have the heart principally set upon that; is to place it in the room of God and his glory. If it be sought, that others may take notice of it, and admire us for our spirituality and forwardness in religion, it is then damnable pride; if for the sake of feeling the pleasure of being affected, it is then idolatry and self-gratification.” – Jonathan Edwards
Tag: God Page 1 of 2
OT background text: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”‘” (Exodus 3:14 ESV) … and then, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So [the Jewish people listening] picked up stones to throw at him…” (John 8:58-59 ESV).
This is a great list of promises from God for believers, written up by Ken Miller at Christ Chapel Bible Church. There are certainly many others, but this is a great summation. Reciting the promises of God, from Scripture, is a sure way to stoke and kindle your faith. It is these promises that motivate the heart unto obedience and faith. Gospel-motivated obedience is sure to last if we return to these truths, and more, daily. Just trying harder is not the answer, because you rely upon your strength to maintain your own righteousness, which is sure to fail. When your perspective is changed to see you are completely accepted by God through the finished work of His Son, regardless of your moral record, “good” or bad, because of His works and promises, you are freed from the heart to obey. Meditate on these things, let them soak into your heart. In Christ alone, and His perfect work in His life, death and resurrection are these established for us, and by them we know that God is for us, when circumstances are excellent or terrible. This is solid ground to stand upon. What a sure, true and faithful word! You can hover over each of the verses to read these great truths!
- Promises guaranteeing the safety and security of the true believer: John 5:24; 6:37-40; 6:47; 10:27-30; Rom. 8:1; 8:28-29; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30; Phil. 1:6; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 Pet. 1:5; Jude 24-25
- God’s constant care – 1 Pet. 5:7
- God’s great faithfulness – Lam. 3:21-23; 1 Cor. 1:9; Heb. 11:11
- God’s sufficient grace – 2 Cor. 9:8; 12:9; John 1:16-17
- God’s eternal love – Jer. 31:3; John 31:1 ; Rom. 8:35-39
- God’s unfailing promise – Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18; Num. 23:19; 2 Cor. 1:20; Rom. 4:20-21; Heb. 11:11
- God’s abiding presence – Heb. 13:5; Deut. 31:6,8; Matt. 28:20
- God’s mighty working – Phil. 2:12-13; Eph. 3:20-21; Heb. 13:20-21
- God’s adequate supply – Matt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:19; Psalm 23:1; 34:10
- The promise of God’s peace – Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:6-7; 4:9; John 14:27; 16:33
- The promise of God’s joy – John 15:11; Gal. 5:22
- The promise of God’s rest – Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 4:1-11
- The promise of forgiveness and cleansing from sins – 1 John 1:9; Psalm 32:5; Prov. 28:13
- The promise of answered prayer – John 14:13-14; 15:7; 1 John 3:22; 5:14-15; Matt. 7:7-11
- Promises for new strength – 2 Cor. 12:9-10; Phil 4:13; Isa. 40:28-31; 41:10
- Promises for needed wisdom – James 1:5-7
- Promises for needed help – Heb. 13:6; Isa. 41:10,13
- Promises for needed comfort – 2 Cor. 1:3-5; John 14:16-18; 2 Thess. 2:16-17
- Promises for needed guidance – Prov. 3:5-6; Psalm 23:2-3
- Promises for needed faith – Rom. 10:17; Hebrews 11
- Promises for victory over sin – Romans 6; John 8:31-36
- Promises for victory over temptation – 1 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 2:17-18; 4:15-16
- Promises for victory in the midst of trials – Heb. 12:5-11; James 1:2-12; 1 Pet. 1:6-8; 4:19
- Promises for victory in the midst of suffering – Rom. 8:18,28; 2 Cor. 1:3-4
- Promises for victory over the world system – 1 John 2:17; 5:4-5
- Promises for victory over Satan – James 4:7; 1 John 4:4
- The promise of reward for keeping God’s commandments – John 14:21,23; Psalm 19:11
- The promise of reward for seeking God – Heb. 11:6; Matt. 7:7; Jer. 29:13; Deut. 4:29
- The promise of reward for faithful living – 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 4:2-5; Luke 16:9-10
- The promise of a future heavenly home – 1 Pet. 1:4; Rev. 21:3-5; John 14:1-3; Heb. 11:10
- The promise of the return of Christ – John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 John 2:28-3:3; Tit. 2:13
Reading Psalm 40 today, I came across a verse that really spoke to me. Psalm 40:11 says, “As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me.”
This has been a joyful thought ringing in my heart today after I read it. Notice it isn’t our love, our faithfulness, our toiling, and our working that acquires the faithfulness of God for us, His people. Rather it is the Lord loving and being faithful to us, despite us. This is pure gospel. His love and faithfulness will ever preserve me, for eternity. He is committed to me, demonstrated and effected on the cross. He will preserve me and all of His people in the wake of His resurrection, never to perish, but always to live for His glory.
What a thought that He will ever preserve us and always remain faithful. This is solid ground and food for weary souls worn out from sin.
Aroused consciences, when they have to do with God, feel this [free justification in Christ alone] to be the only asylum in which they can breathe safely. For if the stars which shine most brightly by night lose their brightness on the appearance of the sun, what do we think will be the case with the highest purity of man when contrasted with the purity of God? For the scrutiny will be most strict, penetrating to the most hidden thoughts of the heart.
As this makes clear, Clement’s view of God’s involvement in His creation is not the one the Deists have set forth (the view many of our Founding Fathers in America held including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin), that God is a watchmaker who created the universe, sat back and let things take their course. No, rather, God is intimately involved in all that takes place. Clement’s main point here is the peace and harmony with which God created and sustains His universe, not so much a discussion about God’s control over the negative things that take place. That’s for another discussion. What is clear here is Clement’s assumption of God’s meticulous, providential involvement in creation, from the largest thing to the smallest, including and especially with people, and even more importantly, His own people.
What a picture! This is a snapshot from a guy who climbed a mountain overlooking the eruption in Iceland that is wreaking havoc on all kinds of travel plans and logistical shipments of goods. The impact has been worse than the chaos of 9/11 even, one news report said. I have some friends who are going overseas to be missionaries who are currently stuck in Europe, waiting to travel on.
But aside from all of that, I couldn’t help but think this image looked similar to the depictions of God’s glory and His visibly-manifested presence in Exodus 19:16-20; Ezekiel 1:4-28; Isaiah 6:1-7; and several places in Revelation.
On a related note, I find it interesting how all of these descriptions parallel that of the description given of Christ in His risen, ascended, interceding glory in Revelation 1:12-20. In all of these instances where God makes Himself known in power, either through visible expressions or by the Person of Christ Himself, the people being spoken to fall on their faces in terror at His holiness.
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” – Romans 8:33
Recently, I have been in great need of repeating Gospel promises to myself, almost continually, otherwise my heart has seemed to slip very quickly into bitterness, misery, spiritual depression, anger, and the like. I’m not sure why, but it has been so. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Not me. Knowing Romans 8 to be chock full of promises from God, fulfilled in Christ, I read it and came across this one headline truth that I need pounded into my head and my heart. Romans 8:33 above.
This one statement sums up what the Gospel is about, namely it is God who justifies. The whole Bible itself can be summed up in that one central truth. I don’t justify my existence, or my works, or my interactions with others; God does, more precisely Christ does, and even more precisely in the cross and resurrection. Of course the Bible goes much further than just this simple statement that it is God who justifies. But if you could sum it up, I don’t know how much better you can get. This is what distinguishes the Gospel from all other truth claims of various religions, for each one is all about justifying yourself through what you do. And it is the one central truth I need headlined in my heart when the weight of sin and my own unbelief clouds my vision.
For most people, when the word sin is spoken, it is used either in a metaphorical sense or applied to people like Bernie Madoff, Hitler or Stalin, or used for exaggeration purposes, depending on the situation. When we consider our bad behavior or even the intentional harm we’ve caused others, we think of these things mainly in terms of mistakes, accidents or wrongs toward other people in particular … but sin? No, we’re not that bad! (Being facetious of course).
In our time, when we apply the word sin to ourselves in a serious manner, you will sometimes get a funny look. For instance, tell the average person you’re a sinner and it’s probable they will start wondering what major wrong you committed, or in other situations they will just say, “Oh, we’ve all made mistakes,” which is to say, it’s okay to sweep it under the rug, what’s past is past, no need to rehash something that can be left dead. Just move on!
All of the aforementioned situations presume a specific relationship in which the “mistake” plays out: between other people. But the question we must ask that is of the utmost importance is, what is sin as God defines it in His Word? Man has a definition of sin many times, and particularly in our society it is just a mistake or accident or it is very grave, depending on how you use it. But is man’s definition of sin Biblical? Is the relationship of offenses simply limited to other people? Paul lays out clearly what sin is in the book of Romans. Of course sins are committed against other people. But is that where it stops and is that the heart of what sin really is?
On the cross, Jesus bore the sins of any who would believe in Him. He atoned for their sin and wickedness, having become a perfect sin sacrifice, He turned away the wrath of God, He then died, and rose from the grave, conquering sin, death, and hell, that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life in Him. Within the work of the cross though, there is a giant, eternal, judicial act that occurs where the Father declares the believing sinner righteous in His sight, having the very righteousness of Christ imputed to him or made the sinners’ own. We are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and on our worst day or our best day (morally speaking) we can do no better than what Christ has already done at Calvary. This is justification. It is finished. I cannot make this any clearer.
A problem that I see amongst many of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is the problem of sinning (which we all do), but then feeling totally unworthy to even approach the throne of God to confess those sins for fear of His wrath or disapproval. And in not approaching Him they then fall into more sin and thus the cycle continues, turning into a works-based approach to God. At the heart of this though is a misunderstanding or a lack of understanding (and believing with their hearts) in the justification that occurred at Calvary. At the cross, Christ became the believer’s sin substitute, he literally turned away the wrath of God, and the righteousness Christ earned has now become our own. At the cross, the Father declares the sinner to be righteous, because of Christ. So when we sin, that sin is covered by the blood of Christ. And not only so, but God couldn’t be more pleased with you, even in the midst of that sin, at that very moment! When the Father looks at you, even in the midst of your sin, He sees Christ! That is absolutely remarkable! You couldn’t have done any better than Calvary. It is through the lens of the cross of Christ that we view ourselves in relation to God now. As Romans 8:1 says firmly and confidently, “There is therefore now no condemnation in Christ.” Justification lies at the heart of the Gospel and is something we must grow in our knowledge of and belief in (by God’s grace) to even defeat the very sin that hinders us in approaching God.
Now, so that people reading this don’t go and take this to mean something it doesn’t, I want to clarify this point. Though the believing sinner is declared righteous in the sight of the Father based upon the free grace that comes from the cross of Christ, this does not mean that we continue the pursuit of sinning just because the Father declares us to be righteous. It means the opposite in fact. Because Christ has done this for us, how can we not but turn from our sin in great thanks? We are to never say in our hearts, “Well, because God sees me as He sees Christ, I can do whatever I want. I’m saved right? And my sin is covered … so why not?” I want to warn those of you who think this at some level: you may be in danger of having never possessed authentic, God-wrought faith to begin with. Why is this? If you claim faith in Christ, believing Him to be the only Son of God who became your sin substitute (the Gospel), and then continue living your life in a sinful, rebellious way, showing no real change, you may still be under the condemnation of God, not possessing true faith that saves. It is like saying, “I’m going to turn to the right,” but instead you continue straight ahead as if your words mean nothing. Your words don’t line up with your actions. It’s not about perfection though, because we all know, based on personal experience, that we all sin, every day, and fall short of the glory of God continually. It’s not about perfection, but it’s about direction. Do you struggle with your sin? Or do you pursue sin, unrighteousness and rebellion as if you were an unbeliever? Does your life look any different than that of the unbelieving world? You may need to check your faith for authenticity. It is a very dangerous thing to acknowledge salvation in Christ and yet show no change in your life from before your alledged salvation experience. You and those around you can have no confidence that you are saved if you live your life as if an unbeliever. It may be that you are one. The mark of the believer is one of change, but not perfection. It has been said many times, “Once saved, always saved.” But I prefer the phrasing I read off one of the articles on Monergism.com, “Once Saved, Always Changed.”
However, as believer’s, when we do sin, as a great friend of mine (Jon Dansby) put it, “We have the best theological view of ourselves in the midst of our sin.” When you are sinning, what do you have to offer God? Absolutely nothing. You are morally bankrupt. You’re a sinner through and through, and you know it. We are morally corrupt and defiled in our natural state, and this sinning could not make that any clearer. We trample on the glory of God every day with our sinning and our wicked hearts. And we deserve the hottest corner in hell for our actions against an infinitely glorious Creator, with whom there is no sin or unrighteousness. He would have been perfectly just to send us there for eternity with no mercy. Romans 3:9-18 comes alive in the midst of our sinning and is made to ring true of all of us. If we were to just leave it there, without any hope of being saved from this plight, then yes, we should all fear the eternal wrath and condemnation of God, and recoil in anguish at what befalls us, and we should mourn our eternal souls. But the doctrine of Justification comes in with mighty power and states that you the believer, a mere unworthy worm of a sinner, are declared by the great Judge, that could have poured out His wrath rightfully on you, to be righteous, because of the work of Christ on the cross. Because of His work, He has now, even in the midst of that sinning, imputed the righteousness He earned to you. What a great and glorious thing! What a great exchange! He took your sin from you, nailing it to the cross, and then gave you His righteousness! How glorious! What a great and wonderful, loving, merciful, kind, just God!
This is the hope that we exult in in the midst of sinning: that God declares sinners to be righteous through the cross of Christ. Understanding the judicial act that occurred at the cross and applying it to our lives is a life-long process of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I pray for all of you, even those who don’t believe, that God would grant to you repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and in His wondrous work at Calvary.