Category Archives: The Gospel

You’ve got mail. . .

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In Galatians Paul is addressing some issues. The issues are not trivial becasue the subject matter of the issues revolves around the gospel. For Paul this is life and death. It is massive and it is signigicant enough that he is eager to take the time to write the letter and to send it. That may not seem like much to us, after all, we have the USPS, UPS, Fedex (am I missing anyone?), but in Paul’s day sending a letter involved greater expense and effort. The paper alone and the cost of a scribe if needed . . . Well, you get the picture by now. Paul was not about to waste time on the trivial, nor was he going to squander his resources over petty disputes. But Paul does send this letter so the subject matter at hand must be important.

What can prompt Paul, a very busy Apostle, to take the time, expense and effort? Nothing less than the Gospel itself! But notice how Paul begins his letter, “Paul,  an apostle—not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father  who raised Him from the dead — and all the brothers who are with me: To the churches of Galatia.” Starting out with his name is not jsut a formality of the day in which he lieved. His name was known to them (as he himself was personally known to many of them). This is not a stranger, it is a friend, a teacher, a father, AND an apostle. Not just an apostle, but an APOSTLE! An apostle appointed “by Jesus Messiah and the Father who raised Him from the dead” Paul can’t get a single sentence into the letter without speaking of Jesus.  But more than that Paul is also establishing that he is not simply self appointed or an apostle by popular vote. He is an apostle because Jesus trained Him and God ordained him. This is not a boast! This is plain simple fact. And the fact is if you question Paul you are questioning the God who made him an apostle.  

But Paul does not stop there. Notice that last phrase, “and all the brothers who are with me.” Paul is not simply establishing his authority and tacking on “a bunch of other people want in on this too.” And Paul is not trying to establish a mob rule here either. Paul is conveying that the issues about to be discussed are not the rantings of a disgruntled teacher being ignored. The inclusion of the “Brothers who are with me” is about agreement. These Brothers are not merely co-greeters. They are co-correctors. They are part of the broader church who have a vested interest in the issues at hand. These brothers are not merely present with Paul, they are in agreement with what Paul is about to write and they not only add their own weight and authority to Paul’s, but also add a solemnity to the proceeding. It is one thing to dismiss a single voice, it is quite another to dismiss a whole group of voices in unison.  

And so, “Paul, an apostle — not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead– and all the brothers who are with me: To the churches of Galatia.”  

Paul is not writing to a single group of people but rather to all the churches in a geographic region. And we will see what he says next time.  

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Filed under Galatians, General Thoughts, The Gospel

Death? No such thing.

On that hour the sun darkened, the clouds loomed, the rocks split, and the whole of creation groaned.  

WHY?  

Becuase the Creator died.  

On that day, men knew regret, mothers knew grief, children saw cruelty, and no one saw hope.  

WHY?  

Because Jesus was being murdered.  

In that moment, true loneliness took on form, unrivalled pain was known, and eternal fellowship was broken.  

WHY?  

Because the sinless became sin, and the Holy One could not bear to look on Him.  

On that day all hope seemed lost, all joy placed beyond reach, all courage drained out of the hearts of men.  

WHY?  

Because, it seemed it had all been a lie.  

On that day, in that hour, it could not possibly have gotten worse. It was the darkest day in history. The cruelest hour of humanity. The most hopeless moment of all time.

Friday.  

Sin, when it has born its fruit brings forth death.

DEATH.  

But on Sunday . . .  

On Sunday Jesus, maker of all things, defated death.  

On Sunday, death died.

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Filed under Doxology, Easter, General Thoughts, SIN, The Gospel

Corruption

Corruption. It  is not a word that just applies to politicians and bad cops. The old King James Bible uses the word to talk about our mortal bodies ( 1 Corinthians 15:35-58). I love that it uses that word because it describes our current condition perfectly.

God created us to be perfect. No flaws no sin. But sin we did. We became corrupted. We were drawn in by the darkside, sucked in by pride, overcome by evil. This problem is so pervasive that only One has escaped its curse. The problem cannot be solved by modification. It cannot be solved by regulation. Only the power of almighty God can overcome our corrupt nature. By grace we have the means of resisting temptation and overcoming the corruption in our bodies.
But God has a far more extensive solution planned. God’s plan is to give us new bodies altogether. Not just modified bodies, new ones! Bodies devoid of pain? Yes! Bodies devoid of sin? Halelujah, yes! But more than that. God has planned for us bodies that are not simply missing corruption, but incorruptible.

Did you catch the difference?

Not just without corruption, but unable to be corrupted. Only Jesus, in the power of the Spirit of God, was able to live in these mortal bodies without succumbing to their innate corruption. But there is coming a day when those who believe in Jesus will be like Him because we shall see Him as He is. We will no longer struggle to believe fully enough so that we don’t sin, but instead our faith will be made sight and this old body will cease to be. Instead we will have bodies that will allow us to behold His glory as He truly is.  I cannot wait for THAT body.  How about you?

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Filed under General Thoughts, GRACE, SIN, The Gospel

Rejoice! A King is Born!

God throughout history has issued many commands.  He has demanded obedience, worship, faith, and fear.  But on this night He commands men to rejoice!  He tells us to give Him glory.  In the silence of a field populated by sheep and shepherds God sends His angels to proclaim the greatest announcement — EVER!

God became a man!  The eternal became time-bound, the perfect became like us.  Not like the rich and powerful, but like the poor and the lonely.  He was born in a barn.  Not a clean, neat, picturesque Norman Rockwell-like barn, but a filthy, smelly, manure filled place where animals live.

And He was BORN.  The sovereign King of all the universe had His umbilical chord cut and His diapers changed.  He learned to walk and talk.  He fell and scraped His knees.  He who had never felt pain or discomfort came to know and take on all of ours.  And when He was born he was put in an animal’s feeding trough.

He was frail, and weak.  He was a baby.  He who had spoken galaxies into existence now had to cry to be fed.  The one who designed the seasons now suffered from the heat and the cold.

The one who had eternally existed in the glory of the throne room now shared space with sheep and oxen.

There had never been a stranger event in all of History.  God had become a man.  So when the angels said rejoice they were not talking about a simple minute of awe and wonder.  The angels were talking about a new and incredible event that would forever cause men everywhere to sing!  The angels announced the birth of the Son of God.  And His birth is what we still celebrate.

God became flesh.  God came to be with us so that we might one day be able to be with Him.

Word of God become flesh.  God with us, Emmanuel!

He also became sin for us that we might become His righteousness.  It was not just the birth of God incarnate the angels announced.  It was the birth of a Savior!

So as you worship the Christ today remember He is not a babe in a manger.  He is the King of Glory come to redeem us from sin.  He is God in the flesh.  He is the Messiah.  He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World.  He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  He is the Wonderful Counselor, and the Prince of Peace.  He is our propitiation, and our atoning sacrifice.  He is Jesus!

Glory to God in the Highest!

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Filed under Christmas, Doxology, General Thoughts, The Gospel

The Babe and The Lamb

Sorrow.  It is an emotion we feel too little of.  Why sorrow?  Because there is blood on our hands.  Blood?  Yeah, blood.  Innocent blood at that.  I am a murderer.  I killed the Son of God.  I am guilty.

 

There is no sugar coating it.  There is no downplaying possible.  The Holy One,  Jesus, the Righteous.  That is who I killed.  I pointed my finger at God and cursed Him.  I drove nails through the hands and feet of His son and I mocked His death.

 

And then God spoke.

 

He did not speak words of wrath or condemnation.  He spoke words of love, and forgiveness.  He spoke of reconciliation.  He spoke of adoption.  He spoke of peace.

 

You see I live in the 21st century.  Jesus lived in the 1st century.  But God knew me (the real, evil, wicked, wretched me) before He spoke the universe into existence.  And still He decided that He would send Jesus, His only Son, to be born of a woman and to live upon the earth He Himself cursed because of my sin.

 

He did nothing wrong!  Not a single solitary thing.

 

But we killed Him anyway.  Because if we didn’t we would have to admit that we were sinners.  We would have to look Him in the eye and see reflected there the sad truth.  The truth that His very presence was evidence that we were (and are) in desperate need of a Savior.  Maybe if we silenced Him we could stop hearing the silent accusation of our conscience — GUILTY.

 

But even at His execution we condemned ourselves.  We drove the nails and with each blow we proved our depravity.

 

The amazing part is that God knew what we would do.  Jesus knew that to be born was to ultimately be tortured and executed in the most horrendous way we could possibly imagine.  And yet He chose to come!  He chose to die.  And today He chooses to forgive.

 

You see, just as Christmas proves our guilt, it also provides hope.  Jesus came to earth because we needed a Savior, and that is why His birth is to be celebrated!  But His birth would give little hope if it were not for His death.  And His death would have nothing but terror for us if not for His grace and mercy.

 

We are, all of us, guilty.  Yet in spite of our guilt God chooses to love and forgive us.  We cannot forget, especially at this time of year, that we should look to the manger with hope and joy, but with sorrow too.  For if in the stall we do not see both a babe and a lamb we have missed the point.  He who brings us life and joy and peace bought it with His blood.  We, the guilty, are made righteous.  He the innocent is made The Passover Lamb.

 

So, please, this season worship the babe in the manger, but don’t forget He is also the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, and that He was slain for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Christmas, GRACE, Joy, SIN, The Gospel, Worship

Now about that Grinch!

I have often been accused of being the Grinch.  People think I don’t like Christmas.  To be honest I can understand where they get that impression.  So let me take a moment and set the record straight.  I don’t hate Christmas.

I do however get frustrated by all the baggage people  bring to Christmas.  I am not a fan of how people add to Christmas.  Christmas is about remembering  the birth of the Son of God.   It is about God stepping into time .  It is about the beginning of hope.  Christmas is about God being faithful to His promise.

I get frustrated because we talk about Jesus being “the reason for the season” and then act as if Jesus came for us to have a reason to act happy eat too much and then give Jesus a brief nod on Christmas day or Christmas eve.  We may even read the accounts in Luke or Matthew and pray.  But is that truly making “Jesus the reason for the season?”

Many a person hangs lights and decorates a tree that has no clue about the Savior whose birth gives them a reason to make merry.  But the angels whom the Lord sent to announce the birth of Jesus did not talk about parties and cookies.  The angels did not talk about trees and lights.  The angels declared the birth of a Savior!

We all live in a world torn apart by hate and fear.  We live in a world ravaged by the effects of sin.  Christmas is the first gleam of light that will one day drive all darkness away.  It is about the hope that one day all that is wrong will be made right, that all the pain will be soothed, and all the tears will be wiped away.

Christmas is a yearly reminder that this world is not as it should be.  It is a reminder that Christ came so that one day this world may be a thing of the past to make room for a new heaven and a new earth.

I love Christmas!  I love the Savior whose birth we celebrate.  And I love the hope that Christmas brings with it.  I may not get all excited about lights and tress and cookies etc.  But I am not a Grinch either.  I am just trying to look at Christmas in a way that is consistent with my beliefs.   I believe that Christmas must have a very specific focus.  I believe the angels said it best, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)

There is no greater cause to celebrate than this!  God with us.  Emmanuel!

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Filed under Christmas, Joy, Thankfullness, The Gospel, Worship

A little dose of reality!

For those of you who know me well you know that I have one sin in my life that pretty much kicks my tail on a consistent basis.

 

What is it?

 

Fear.

 

Wait a minute!  Fear is a sin?  Yep, fear is a sin.

 

For me it is not fear of physical safety.  I love dangerous activities.  I have free climbed 1000 foot cliffs, I have taken dives from rock cliffs, and done many stupid and dangerous things.  But I actually thrive on these kinds of activities.

 

So, what scares me?  Failure.  Yep just one simple thing.  But it is more than that too.  You see failure is only possible when you have something to lose.

 

I fear failing as a father because I want my children to know that they are loved, not just by me, but ultimately by God.  I fear failing as a husband because I know that my heart is sinful and wicked.  I know I am not above failure in my relationship with my wife, and it scares me to death.

 

But there is a bigger fear that hounds me.  I fear that at the end of my days, when I stand before God, that I will not hear what I would like to from my Savior.  I am afraid that when I stand before the Judge of all men that I will have fallen short.  I fear that I will have kept too much from Him.  I fear that I will have been timid where I should have been bold.  In short, I fear failing the One who died for me.

 

But this fear is not rational.  This fear is part of the spiritual warfare I am in.  My fear leads me to paralysis.  It leads me to inaction, to uselessness.  My enemies (the flesh, the world and the devil) know that if they can make me afraid then they can make me insignificant for the Kingdom of God.

 

Fear is a sin for me because it blinds me to the power of Grace.  It distracts me from the purpose of the cross.  Fear prevents me from living a life filled with faith.  It is a struggle that I face daily.  But it is a struggle that can be won!

 

I share this with you because I think we need to be reminded that sin is a part of this life.  It is a fact of this world.  But it CAN be overcome.  I fight fear daily.  What do you fight?

 

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Filed under General Thoughts, God's Faithfulness, GRACE, SIN, The Gospel