Worth Repeating

“…if the death of Christ on the cross is the true meaning of the Incarnation, then there is no gospel without the cross. Christmas by itself is no gospel. The life of Christ is no gospel. Even the resurrection, important as it is in the total scheme of things, is no gospel by itself. For the good news is not just that God became man, nor that God has spoken to reveal a proper way of life for us, or even that death, the great enemy, is conquered. Rather, the good news is that sin has been dealt with (of which the resurrection is a proof); that Jesus has suffered its penalty for us as our representative, so that we might never have to suffer it; and that therefore all who believe in him can look forward to heaven. …Emulation of Christ’s life and teaching is possible only to those who enter into a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus as their substitute. The resurrection is not merely a victory over death (though it is that) but a proof that the atonement was a satisfactory atonement in the sight of the Father; and that death, the result of sin, is abolished on that basis.

Any gospel that talks merely of the Christ-event, meaning the Incarnation without the atonement, is a false gospel. Any gospel that talks about the love of God without pointing out that his love led him to pay the ultimate price for sin in the person of his Son on the cross is a false gospel. The only true gospel is of the ‘one mediator’, who gave himself for us.”

James Montgomery Boice, The Centrality of the Cross

Worth Repeating

“The truth of God’s Word is always countercultural, and the notion of becoming a slave is certainly no exception. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a concept more distasteful to modern sensibilities than that of slavery. Western society, in particular, places a high premium on personal liberty and freedom of choice. So, to present the good news in terms of a slave/master relationship runs contrary to everything our culture holds dear. Such an approach is controversial, confrontational, and politically incorrect. Yet that is precisely the way the Bible speaks about what it means to follow Christ.”

John MacArthur, from his book “Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ”

Not a Milosevic, Manson, or Mengele; but a Sinner Just the Same

Through my years of pastoral ministry, I have had conversations with many people covering  wide array of topics including, but not limited to: family, suffering, service, anger, jealousy, marriage, divorce, children, salvation, and sin. Responses to these conversations have ranged from warm and welcoming to cold and dismissive. Perhaps the most interesting and uncomfortable responses come when the subject of personal sin and responsibility for it are discussed. Sin. Not a topic that many want to acknowledge and deal with. However, an issue that can not be ignored.

One of the responses that I have heard quite a bit is one like this, “I’m not as bad as ________”, or something similar. The problem with that statement is found in the individual’s belief of what “bad” is. We like to think “bad” has a specific face. We like to think we would recognize “bad” walking down the street or sitting beside us in a restaurant. We like to think that we would recognize “bad” sitting in the car next to us at the traffic light or living next door to us in our closed-gate neighborhoods. When we think of “bad” people, certain names come to mind rather quickly. None would doubt that Slobodan Milosevic is a “bad” person. After all, for his part in the ethnic cleansing campaign during the Bosnian War, he was indicted for war crimes and stands as a portrait of hate, violence, and inhumane treatment. That’s bad. None would doubt that Charles Manson is a “bad” person. A convicted murderer, his very name invokes images of hate, depravity, and as some say, is evil incarnate. That’s bad. None would doubt that Josef Mengele was a “bad” person. For his part in the attempted extermination of the Jewish race in a German concentration camp during World War II, his name will always be synonymous with evil, sin, and suffering. That’s bad.

When compared to these three for example, we are tempted to say, “I look pretty good” or “I’m in pretty good shape”. The error here – something I call “comparative righteousness”. This is allowing the conduct and actions of another person to set the standard for how we find approval from and right standing with God. It is easy to lower the bar and look to other sinful humans as our example and try to be one step better. The problem: the example. We are told that “all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God” 1  The problem is further complicated by the fact that not only have we all sinned, but inherently there is nothing within us that would allow us to stand approved before God. In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one”. The prophet Isaiah further reveals our inadequacy, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” 3

 If comparing ourselves with others is the wrong answer, what then is the correct one? If lowering the bar is the wrong answer, what then is the correct one? The answer is to fully understand that all sin, no matter what scale or degree we attach to it, grieves the heart of a holy God. The sin of murder is equally as grievous as lying. The sin of theft is equally grievous as adultery. The sin of lust is as equally grievous as gossip or slander. The sin of pride is as equally grievous as racism. Because we are all sinners, and all sin grieves the heart of a holy God, our only answer is Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, of Jesus, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”. In Him, contentment and peace are found. Paul again wrote, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” So yes, our names may not be Milosevic, Manson, or Mangele, or any other “bad” name. However, we are all “bad” people for whom the Son of God has willingly laid down His life to redeem, save, and rescue. That is good.

1 – Romans 3:23

2 – Romans 3:10

3 – Isaiah 64:6

4 – 2 Corinthians 5:21

5 – Philippains 3:8-9

Worth Repeating

“The great truths which the apostles declared were that Christ had risen from the dead, and that only through repentance from sin, and faith in Him, could men hope for salvation. This doctrine they asserted with one voice, everywhere, not only under the greatest discouragements, but in the face of the most appalling terrors that can be presented to the mind of man.

Their master had recently perished as a malefactor, by the sentence of public tribunal. His religion sought to overthrow the religions of the whole world. The laws of every country were against the teachings of His disciples. The interests and passions of all the rulers and great men in the world were against them. The fashion of the world was against them.

Propagating this new faith, even in the most inoffensive and peaceful manner, they could expect nothing but contempt, opposition, revilings, bitter persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, torments, and cruel deaths. Yet this faith they zealously did propagate; and all these miseries they endured undismayed, nay, rejoicing.

As one after another was put to a miserable death, the survivors only prosecuted their work with increased vigor and resolution. The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience, and unblenching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted and these motives were pressed upon their attention with the most melancholy and terrific frequency. It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.”


Dr. Simon Greenleaf, Harvard Royall Professor of Law from A Treatise on the Law of Evidence

FIFS : Matthew 28:19

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19

One part of the commission that Christ left to the church was the making of disciples. A disciple is one who is intentionally following after a master in order to know more about him. In the context of the Great Commission, a disciple is pursuing after Christ in order to be more like Him.  However, before a person can pursue Christ, he/she must first know Him. So, for someone to know Christ, someone must first share Christ. Sharing Christ is the responsibility of every believer. Jesus said, “go therefore”, literally “as you are going”, make disciples. Our sharing of Jesus with others is to be a lifestyle rather than an activity. But why? Why should we share our faith with others? Why should we take time to tell others about the message of hope through Jesus? Why should we take time to verbalize the heart-change we experienced? Let me suggest a few.

1. Jesus left every believer the command to do so. There is something special about the last words of a person. Jesus told His disciples in Acts 1:8, “ But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

2. Because lostness is real. Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

3. The chosen method of God for the lost to hear the gospel is for the believer to tell them. I don’t know why God left this tremendous task to us, but He did. I am certain God could have come up with at least five other options. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that God, through Jesus Christ, redeemed us. Only the redeemed can testify of redemption.

4.  Someone once cared enough for us to share Christ with us.  They have the right to expect that we will do what they once did for us.