Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Okay, so I'm reading a book called Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul Tripp. Below is an extended quote from pages 214-217 that is worth pondering. I'm going to bold a few parts for emphasis. Here it is...

In Romans 8:1-17, Paul presents the gospel as a comfort and a call. [Read Romans 8:1-17].

Paul begins by encouraging us with the comfort of the gospel (vv. 1-11). This comfort is rooted in two powerful realities. First, the work of Christ has removed the sentence of condemnation that was on our heads because of our sin. Jesus fully paid the penalty for our sin--past, present, and future. This comfort deals with the guilt of sin and should draw us out of the darkness of hiding and into the light of his grace. We do not need to give in to fear, denial, blame-shifting, self-righteousness, or rewriting our own history. These are all attempts at self-atonement, which is no longer needed because Christ has made full atonement for our sin. ...

... People often live with huge gaps in their understanding of the gospel. One gap is in understanding how the comfort of the gospel radically changes our approach to life in the here and now. Daily confession of sin is essential to a gospel-driven lifestyle. It makes no sense to rationalize, blame-shift, or rewrite history to make myself look better. This is a denial of the gospel. Self-examination and confession flow out of a deep confidence that Christ's work is effective for me today. I come to him confident that he forgives me.

The second comfort of the gospel is the Holy Spirit, who lives within every believer to combat the way sin renders us incapable of doing good. Before our salvation, we were controlled by our sinful nature. We were unable to think, choose, desire, act, or speak as God ordains. But now things are different because God lives inside us! We are no longer under the control of the sinful nature. God knew that our condition was so desperate that it was not enough to forgive us. He needed to live within us in all his power, grace, and glory, so that we no longer have to live as slaves to sin's passions and desires. Because the Spirit controls our hearts, we can say "no" to sin and turn in another direction.

Paul puts it this way: "The Spirit gives life to your mortal bodies." We are now dead to the controlling power of sin and alive for the purpose of obedience. We can follow God because the Spirit gives us the life, power, and desire to obey. It is our job, as Christ's ambassadors, to take these truths to people, lest they be controlled by the fear that God requires them to do what they cannot do. Sometimes God does call people to massive life change. As one man said, "You are saying that I can no longer be me!" In a real sense, he was right. God was calling him to turn almost every area of his life in a new direction. This can be terribly intimidating unless we help people look at God's call through a gospel lens.

But this is not all that Paul wants us to understand about the gospel. The gospel is not only a comfort, it is also a call, as summarized in verses 12 through 17. Paul reminds us that the work of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit leave us with an obligation to get serious about sin and see it as God does--as a life and death matter. We have no right to say that, because we have been given a blanket of forgiveness, it doesn't matter how we live. To Paul, grace leaves us obligated to deal rigorously with the sin that grace addresses. If God was so serious about sin that he sacrificed his own Son and filled us with his own Spirit, how can we be any less serious about our sins of heart and behavior?

The ongoing work of God in the believer's life is to eradicate sin ("put to death the misdeeds of the body"). As a believer, I am obligated to participate in the Holy Spirit's search-and-destroy mission. I have no right to live "according to the sinful nature" any longer. This denies the gospel and my identity as a child of God. I can never say, "I don't want to;" "I would if I could;" "It is too hard;" or "It is okay, because I am forgiven." The only proper response to the comfort of the gospel is to accept its call and follow Christ in obedience. I am called to accept my sonship, realizing that true sons of God are those who are "led by the Spirit" and not the sinful nature.

... In the push and pull of personal ministry, it is easy to emphasize one side of the gospel over the other. For example, if you were talking to a husband who had verbally abused his wife for years, it would be tempting to emphasize the call of the gospel over the comfort. However, it is the comfort of the gospel that gives this man the courage to step out from behind his denials and rationalizations to confess his sin.

On the other hand, if you were talking with his wife, you might be tempted to emphasize the comfort of the gospel to the exclusion of the call. Yet it is the call of the gospel that exposes the bitterness, self-righteousness, and vengeance that are powerful temptations for those who have been sinned against. Everyone needs both sides of the gospel--all the time!

What a concise way to describe the comfort and the call of the gospel! In Christ, we really do have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). What glorious truth, great comfort, and help we can find in the Word as we live out our lives!!!!! Amen!

On another note, have you all seen Facing the Giants? What an encouraging movie! I highly recommend it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

What Color is Jesus' Horse?

Several people have made comments to me regarding Ladan's funny statements about Jesus riding a horse. So I thought I'd outline our conversation a little bit further...

Ladan: "Jesus is riding on a black (pronounced "back") horsey."

Me: "I think Jesus' horse is probably white."

Ladan: "A white horsey? No, a brown (pronounced "bown") horsey."

Me: "Jesus has a white horse because He is pure and perfect."

Ladan: "Jesus is riding on a horsey." (I guess he decided it didn't matter at this point to him. We'll discuss it again later.)

So, what color IS Jesus' horsey? See Revelation chapter 19 (printed here in the English Standard Version):

ESV Revelation 19:1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants." 3 Once more they cried out, "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever." 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, "Amen. Hallelujah!" 5 And from the throne came a voice saying, "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great." 6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God." 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God." For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. 11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, "Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great." 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
What an AMAZING chapter of scripture! If you are a believer, can you hardly wait?!!!! I was going to make bold my favorite part, but then I realized that I don't have a favorite part. It's all worth meditating on and soaking in. What a GLORIOUS God and Savior we have!!!