April 26, 2010

Grace Gems: Why Salvation by Grace is so important

This is the 'hell' of hell

(Samuel Davies, "The Resurrection of Damnation")

"Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out; those who have done good--unto the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil--unto the resurrection of damnation!" John 5:28-29

Alas! Multitudes shall come forth from their graves, not to the resurrection of life--but to the resurrection of damnation! What terror is in the words!

See them bursting into life from their subterranean dungeons! Horror throbs through every vein--and glares wildly and furiously in their eyes. Every joint trembles and every countenance looks downcast and gloomy! Now they see that tremendous Day of which they were warned in vain--and shudder at those terrors of which they once made light. They now experientially know the grand business of the Day and the dreadful purpose for which they are roused from their slumbers in the grave:
to be tried,
to be convicted,
to be condemned, and
to be dragged away to execution!

"And they will go away into eternal punishment!" (Matthew 25:46) They must go away into the bottomless pit! There they are confined in chains of darkness, and cast into the burning lake of fire and brimstone forever and ever!

In that dreadful word "forever" lies the epitome of torment! This is the 'hell' of hell. If they might be but released from suffering, though it were by annihilation after they have wept away ten thousand millions of ages in extremity of pain--it would be some mitigation, some encouragement. But, alas! When as many millions of ages are passed as the stars of heaven, or the sands on the seashore, or the atoms of dust in this huge earthly globe--their punishment is as far from an end--as when the sentence was first pronounced upon them!

FOREVER! There is no exhausting of that word! When it is affixed to the highest degree of misery--the terror of the sound is utterly insupportable!

April 23, 2010

Meditating on the gentle compassion of Christ, who did not come to break bruised reeds

The following quote is by Richard Sibbes, from his little book The Bruised Reed (I added the color subtitles to divide the quote into sections):

Christ Jesus came to prophetically bless those who are weary:
See the gracious way he executes his offices. As a prophet, he came with blessing in his mouth, `Blessed are the poor in spirit' (Matt. 5:3), and invited those to come to him whose hearts suggested most exceptions against themselves, `Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden' (Matt. 11:28).

Christ is a gracious Shepherd caring for all of His sheep:
How did his heart yearn when he saw the people `as sheep having no shepherd' (Matt. 9:36)! He never turned any back again that came to him, though some went away of themselves. He came to die as a priest for his enemies. In the days of his flesh he dictated a form of prayer unto his disciples, and put petitions unto God into their mouths, and his Spirit to intercede in their hearts. He shed tears for those that shed his blood, and now he makes intercession in heaven for weak Christians, standing between them and God's anger.

Christ is the humble King of the poor in spirit:
He is a meek king; he will admit mourners into his presence, a king of poor and afflicted persons. As he has beams of majesty, so he has a heart of mercy and compassion. He is the prince of peace (Isa. 9:6). Why was he tempted, but that he might `succor them that are tempted' (Heb. 2:18)? What mercy may we not expect from so gracious a Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) who took our nature upon him that he might be gracious?

Christ is a Doctor for the brokenhearted:
He is a physician good at all diseases, especially at the binding up of a broken heart. He died that he might heal our souls with a plaster of his own blood, and by that death save us, which we were the procurers of ourselves, by our own sins. And has he not the same heart in heaven? 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?' cried the Head in heaven, when the foot on earth was trodden on (Acts 9:4).

Christ is the Judge who is compassionate toward those who repent:
His advancement has not made him forget his own flesh. Though it has freed him from passion, yet not from compassion towards us. The lion of the tribe of Judah will only tear in pieces those that `will not have him rule over them' (Luke 19:14). He will not show his strength against those who prostrate themselves before him.

Christ will not fail to help us if we obey Him:
FOR OURSELVES: 1. What should we learn from this, but to `come boldly to the throne of grace' (Heb. 4:16) in all our grievances? Shall our sins discourage us, when he appears there only for sinners? Are you bruised? Be of good comfort, he calls you. Conceal not your wounds, open all before him and take not Satan's counsel. Go to Christ, although trembling, as the poor woman who said, `If I may but touch his garment' (Matt. 9:21). We shall be healed and have a gracious answer.

(Taken from Chapter 2 of The Bruised Reed)

April 21, 2010

Grace Abounding: Who Says They Won't Listen?

Who says that kids these days just won't listen?

Well, I'm sure we have all probably said, or thought, that they don't a few times before. However, last evening in York, I was walking down the street with Matt and we were handing out gospel tracts, and we talked to around 9 or 10 people, mostly young.

York streets are not very busy in the evenings, but there is usually a few people walking or sitting around who are willing to talk about God. We stopped a number of young people who were walking together, to ask them questions. About half of those we talked to listened intently to what I was telling them about repentance, sin, judgment and faith in Jesus Christ. Most of them said they would read their Bibles to learn more. Not all of them accepted what I was preaching, because one felt offended, since he professed to believe in paganism. Others said what I was telling them about repentance was new to them and they seemed to understand it.

Now, there was no cries of "What must I do to be saved!" But there was a genuine interest and maybe some real conviction in some of those we met last night.

May God bring salvation to many young people here in York Pennsylvania, as well as to the old.

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"
However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?"
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ."

(Romans 10:11-17, NAS).

"For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard"
Hebrews 2:1-3, NAS).

April 10, 2010

Grace Abounding: My Speech Audio from last Sunday

I spoke briefly last Sunday (Easter) at my church on Jesus: God in flesh, Rejected, Resurrected and Accepted. My goal is to learn from the Bible how Scripture presents Christ to us as the object of our faith and hope, in order that we may also take what Scripture says and share it boldly but graciously in a world that rejects Him. (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-2,3-4,5-6).

Here is the audio recording

April 1, 2010


And finally, here is the third part of my little speech I hope to share (in order to help us look to Christ and glorify Him more) this Sunday:


But the story doesn't end at the cross. The promise in the last half of Isaiah 53:10 was that "he would prolong his days", that is, Christ would come back to life. According to the Scriptures then, after three days in the tomb, Jesus came back from the dead.

He appeared first to the women at the tomb (Matt. 28:9; John 20:18), then to Peter, and then to the rest of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:5). He ate with them, spending time with them, proving that he was physically alive and not a ghost (Luke 24:36-43). Although some doubted, Thomas repented calling Jesus, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). After that, it was stated by Paul that he also appeared to more than 500 believers at one time (1 Cor. 15:6).

This was to fulfill what was written in Psalm 16, "For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol (i.e., the place of the dead), or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life" (Psalm 16:10-11).

After Jesus ascended back to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit, as He promised, and filled the apostles with power from on high to preach and to baptize and to teach believers in the Way. Everyone who believed received the Holy Spirit and were baptized and continued in the apostle's teaching and fellowship.

The apostles all taught that it is not through works according to the Law that we can be justified, but only through the work of Jesus Christ when He lived, died and rose again for us who trust in Him.

Paul wrote in Romans 5, that while we were helplessly weak (to be righteous in ourselves), Christ died for the ungodly. He said God showed his love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He also said that being now justified by His blood, we shall much more be saved from the wrath of God through Him. And that having been enemies of God, we are now reconciled, much more shall we live through Christ. (Romans 5:8-10).

"More than that," Paul wrote, "we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" (Romans 5:11).


This is the heart of the gospel, the good news of God. This is what makes it possible for a poor man in Peru to weep over the fact that God reconciled Him through Christ after he heard Scripture being read in his native language. This is what makes it possible for a wealthy American to give up pursuing his own glory and in turn seek the glory and joy of God in Christ. This is what makes it possible for us to be both bold and loving, strong and gentle, firm and gracious as we go and share it in a world that rejects the Son of God. We know through the cross that God is Sovereign over all people. We also know now that He kept His promises to send the Messiah, and He will keep His promise to send Him again at the end of the world to save all of those in His Kingdom, and to condemn all those who without it.

After the verse I read where John said Jesus came to His own, and His own did not receive Him, the next verse says, "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). It follows by saying that this was God's decision to give them a new birth, "who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).

As children of God, those who receive Christ and all that He is according to the Bible, also have eternal life. Jesus said that a son remains in the house forever (John 8:36), and that He came to give eternal life to those the Father has given Him (John 10:28).

The cross of Christ is the answer to so many of our problems.

Maybe you think God is mean to let all kinds of evil happen? But look how He graciously took the punishment of our evil upon Himself at the cross.

Maybe you think you are too sinful to be forgiven and justified by God? Then look How God completely satisfied His judgment on the cross for you, if you will believe.

Maybe you think you don't have enough faith to trust Him? Then look How it is God who works through the cross to make you acceptable by faith. He gave His Son, will He not also give you faith if you want it?

Maybe you think you are not good enough? Then look at the cross, where the righteousness of Jesus Christ was exchanged for your sinfulness, so that you could have His righteousness.

Maybe you think you cannot be holy? Then look at the cross, where Jesus Christ sealed the guarantee that will make you holy by His Spirit.

If you haven't received Him, then receive Him by simple trust right now. If you have received Him already, then keep on walking before Him in the same way that you received Him, by faith, trusting His love for you through the cross!

Don't be like the people who rejected Jesus at the cross, but rather, let us follow those who believed in Him when He rose from the dead.

Let His steadfast love and grace through the cross always be our motivation for faithful obedience to Jesus, our Lord and King.



Here is the second part of my little speech I'm preparing for church this upcoming Easter Sunday:


But although He created the world, and He came to His own chosen people, Israel, through whom all the promises of Scripture were given, He was not known nor received by them (John 1:10-11).

This is how the Son of God was treated when God came as a man to earth:

• He was sought after to be killed by Herod and became a fugitive in Egypt as an infant.
• He was disbelieved by His own home town, and when His words offended them, they tried to throw Him over a cliff.
• He was disbelieved by His own brothers.
• He was hated by the religious leaders of His time, who repeatedly plotted to have Him arrested and put to death.
• He was accused of being demon possessed.
• While many believed in Him during the time He was healing and doing miracles, everyone forsook Him when He was arrested.
• A man who had followed Him, heard His teaching, saw Him heal thousands and perform countless miracles, betrayed Him for money and afterward, Judas committed suicide.
• Peter, who was one of Jesus' three closest followers, swore with curses that he did not know Him after the betrayal.
• Only false witnesses spoke at His trial, nobody defended Him.
• The high priest and all the Sanhedrin accused God's Son of blasphemy.
• He was punched, spit on, mocked and condemned.
• Pilate wanted to let Him go as innocent, but the Jews insisted that He die in place of a murderer.
• The Romans beat Him and mocked Him and crucified the Son of God.
• Jesus was rejected and hated all His life, from His birth to His death.
• When God came into the world, the world quickly got rid of Him.

The words of Jesus came true when He said, "And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their works were evil" (John 3:19). And Isaiah had written long before that, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3).

Jesus taught that each one of us are in the same sinful condition apart from His saving grace. He said we are slaves to our sin if we do not continue in His Word, because only the truth will set us free (John 8:31-32, 34). Jesus also described our hearts as the source of all kinds of evil in Mark 7:21. No one is guiltless, because Jesus said in Mark 10:18 that "No one is good but God alone." Jesus clearly taught that all human beings, including you and me, are sinfully wicked by nature and need to be born again and cleansed from our sins. Therefore, we should not think that we are somehow morally better than those who rejected Christ, since we have the same sinful nature as they did.

Nevertheless, His rejection and murder, Jesus had said, happened to fulfill what was written in Scripture (Matthew 26:24,31; Luke 20:17; 22:37; 24:46; John 15:25). Isaiah 53:10 said, "Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand."

It was God who sent His Son to die. It was God who worked through the events of the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus, by crushing him under the wrath and judgment that our sins deserved.

But of course, the story doesn't end here at the cross...


OK, so I've been making some edits to my little speech for Sunday. Here's the first part, "JESUS: GOD IN FLESH", and following will be two more, "JESUS: REJECTED" and "JESUS: RESURRECTED & ACCEPTED".


Jesus is God Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth.

We read in John 1:1-3, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into existence that has come to exist."

Isaiah said the royal child who was to be born would be called, "Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

Micah wrote that the Judge of Israel from Bethlehem, who would be struck with a rod on the cheek, had His origin from of old, from the days of eternity (Micah 5:1-2).

The gospel of John presents Jesus from beginning to end as completely and 100% Divine, God revealed in human flesh.

So also Jesus is the "One like the son of man" spoken of in Daniel 7:13.

John 1:14 says, "And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. And we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

So while Jesus is God, He is also 100% human. A flesh and blood man who ate food, fasted, became hungry, worked, rested, felt physical and emotional pain, was tempted just like we are (but without sin), wept with sorrow, rejoiced and sang hymns. The Scripture was fulfilled which said, "the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14), which means "God with us" (Matthew 1:23).

He is the fulfillment of God's Word in Genesis 3:15, where God promises a man who will defeat Satan, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you will bruise His heel."

The next post will be on the REJECTION that God experienced when He came in His Son to our world.