Christ didn’t Just Die for You‏

The urge to pick one aspect of Christ’s life—namely, His death—as more important than the others is understandable. We certainly see in the New Testament how everything seems to turn on the cross. We could accurately say that the cross is the crossroads of history, the moment at which our sin was laid on Christ’s shoulders and His righteousness was transferred to us. It’s easy to see why Christ’s death might overshadow anything else about Him. But to talk about “cross-centeredness” as if the death of Christ (His passive obedience) is more important than the life of Christ (His active obedience) is to miss other incredibly important things about Jesus.

The truth is, our redemption depends not only on Christ’s substitutionary death, but His substitutionary life as well. J. Gresham Machen’s last recorded words (sent by telegram to fellow theologian and friend John Murray) were, “I’m so thankful for [the] active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.” He understood that apart from Christ’s law-fulfilling life, there is no righteousness to impute. We are, therefore, left dressed in our own filthy rags.

Murray wrote: “The real use and purpose of the formula (active and passive obedience) is to emphasize the two distinct aspects of our Lord’s vicarious obedience. The truth expressed rests upon the recognition that the law of God has both penal sanctions and positive demands. It demands not only the full discharge of its precepts but also the infliction of penalty for all infractions and shortcomings. It is this twofold demand of the law of God which is taken into account when we speak of the active and passive obedience of Christ.”

Christ’s life, in other words, is just as central to our rescue as His death. As I’ve said before, we are not saved apart from the law. Rather, we are saved in Christ who perfectly kept the law on our behalf.

So Christ’s death is not the center of the gospel any more than Christ’s life is the center of the gospel. One without the other fails to bring about redemption. It’s much more theologically accurate to say that Christ Himself is the center of the gospel. He didn’t just die for you; He lived for you too.

– taken from Tullian Tchividjian’s book It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News.

Put On…

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts,kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

– Colossians 3:12-17

A Pure Gospel

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

– Galatians 1:6-10

Young People’s Greatest Problem Is…

….Pride.

At least, according to Matthew Henry. In his little book, Sober-Mindedness Pressed Upon Young People, Henry says, “I have seen more young people ruined by pride than perhaps by any one lust whatsoever.”

Henry’s book is based upon the text “Exhort the young men to be sober-minded” (Titus 2:6), but in this section he also expounds Romans 12v3:

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

Henry says that the Greek is literally, “think unto sobriety,” or “think yourself into a sober mind.”

But how do we do that?

Practical as ever, Henry advises:

“Keep up low thoughts of yourselves, of your endowments, both outward and inward; of your attainments and improvements, and all your performances, and all the things you call merits and excellencies.”

Sounds just like Facebook, doesn’t it?

Not.

Henry calls us to make as little of our attainments as most do of their faults, and instead to make much of others’ attainments and little of their faults. He notes how Moses didn’t know that his face shone, and when he realized it, he veiled it.

If Matthew Henry had designed Facebook instead of Mark Zuckerberg, we would be posting status updates on our failings, our faults, and our bad-hair days. And we’d be posting photos of others’ victories, achievements, and successes.

So how about this for a counter-cultural social media strategy:

“Dwell much upon humbling considerations, and those that tend to take down your high opinion of yourselves.” 

But Henry doesn’t end there; he doesn’t see sober-mindedness as an end in itself, but as a means to another wonderful end:

“And keep up a humble sense of your necessary and constant dependence upon Christ and His grace, without which you are nothing, and will soon be worse than nothing.”

– David Murray,
HeadHeartHands Blog

The Rocks Will Cry Out

28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?”34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” – Luke 19:28-40

But could the stones cry out? Assuredly they could if he who opens the mouth of the dumb should bid them lift up their voice. Certainly if they were to speak, they would have much to testify in praise of him who created them by the word of his power; they could extol the wisdom and power of their Maker who called them into being. Shall not we speak well of him who made us anew, and out of stones raised up children unto Abraham? The old rocks could tell of chaos and order, and the handiwork of God in successive stages of creation’s drama; and cannot we talk of God’s decrees, of God’s great work in ancient times, in all that he did for his church in the days of old? If the stones were to speak, they could tell of their breaker, how he took them from the quarry, and made them fit for the temple, and cannot we tell of our glorious Breaker, who broke our hearts with the hammer of his word, that he might build us into his temple? If the stones should cry out they would magnify their builder, who polished them and fashioned them after the similitude of a palace; and shall not we talk of our Architect and Builder, who has put us in our place in the temple of the living God? If the stones could cry out, they might have a long, long story to tell by way of memorial, for many a time hath a great stone been rolled as a memorial before the Lord; and we too can testify of Ebenezers, stones of help, pillars of remembrance. The broken stones of the law cry out against us, but Christ himself, who has rolled away the stone from the door of the sepulchre, speaks for us. Stones might well cry out, but we will not let them: we will hush their noise with ours; we will break forth into sacred song, and bless the majesty of the Most High, all our days glorifying him who is called by Jacob the Shepherd and Stone of Israel.

– Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Embarrassing Situations

Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:1-5

CHECK any of these embarrassing situations that have happened to you:

_____ Tried to bleach your hair and it turned fluorescent orange.

_____ Discovered your jeans had a revealing rip up the backside.

_____ Got a red zit on your forehead that looked like a third eye.

_____ Figured out that your socks didn’t match.

_____ Was told your wardrobe was really lame.

_____ Smelled an awful odor nearby, then discovered it was you.

You wouldn’t like walking down a crowded hallway in school in any of those conditions. You would hear whispers and worse. You definitely wouldn’t feel confi­dence oozing out of your pores.

When you wonder whether you are going to feel accepted or not, you feel inse­cure. When you look at yourself and all you see is shortcomings, you start wonder­ing why anyone would ever want to spend time with you.

But you don’t have to feel that way. Why? You are accepted by the one who matters most-Jesus Christ. He takes you just as you are-fluorescent orange hair, red zit, ripped pants, mismatched socks and all He’s promised never to ditch you be­cause he wants to be with you no matter how you feel about yourself.

If Jesus Christ-Creator of the universe-accepts you, what does it matter if no­body else accepts you? You don’t stop needing people. But you do stop needing their acceptance to make you feel okay. If valuing yourself depended on being accepted, Jesus himself and most of the disciples wouldn’t have done very well. They weren’t exactly popular among their peers.

When you realize that Christ accepts you unconditionally, you don’t have to fo­cus on yourself. You can shift your attention to others. Most all of your friends feel insecure, whether they act that way or not. They need someone to help meet their needs by reaching out to them and pointing them to Jesus. Knowing that Christ ac­cepts you cuts you loose from insecurity and lets you be a confident, accepting friend.

REFLECT: How does knowing that Christ accepts you make you more accepting of others?

PRAY: Tell Jesus now how grateful you are that he accepts you completely.

– Josh McDowell, Today’s Youth Devotional

Five Things You’ll Leave Behind in Heaven

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”   And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:1-5

Popular culture tells us many myths about what Heaven will be like. Much of it isn’t grounded in the Bible. The truth is, describing Heaven is beyond the capacity of the greatest writers. It’s just far more amazing than mere words can describe.

But we do have some clues to what Heaven will be like. I mentioned before five things that will be a part of Heaven. It may be, though, that the most profound part of the Bible’s description of Heaven is what it says won’t be there.

Here are five pieces of our earthly existence that won’t be part of our heavenly one.

  1. Sickness. (1 Corinthians 15:42-43) You’ll have a body in Heaven, but it’ll be a perfect one. No more disease. No more illness. No more hunger. You won’t even have gas in Heaven! Heaven is a perfect place. Your body will be perfect, too.
  2. Sadness. (Revelation 21:4) You’ll never get your heart broken in Heaven. You’ll never be rejected. You’ll never grieve. The Bible actually says God will wipe away every tear from your eyes. You’ll spend billions and trillions of years in Heaven, and you won’t spend a second of that time being sad.
  3. Suffering. (Revelation 7:16) The Bible says, “No more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat.” In Heaven my wife and I won’t need different controls on the thermostat! Every need we have will be satisfied.
  4. Sin. (Jude 1:24) Heaven is a perfect place. That’s what Jesus came to do — die on the cross so that imperfect people, like you and me, can get into Heaven. The Bible says that when we’re face to face with Jesus, our character will be instantly changed to be like his. You’ll have your personality but Jesus’ character.
  5. Death. (Revelation 21:4) You’ll live forever in Heaven, but you won’t live forever with all the sickness, sin, and imperfections that you now struggle through. You’ll get to live forever with a perfect body.

I don’t know about you, but that’s exciting to me! I can live without all five of those things.

– Rick Warren, Daily Hope