Bought by the Blood

July 7, 2011

Casey Anthony and the Cross

Chris Brauns has some great insight on how Christians should respond to the Casey Anthony verdict.  Below are a couple of highlights, but you can read the rest here

  • Point people to the Cross. Situations like this are the opportunity for Christians to point to a balanced view of forgiveness that stresses love, justice, and grace. Casey Anthony is not the only one who will stand before her Creator. We are all sinners, and we will all be there. If we don’t know Christ, then the wrath of God abides on us (John 3:36).
  • Examine yourself. If you find yourself feeling terribly ungracious towards Casey Anthony, then perhaps it is because you haven’t been thinking enough about God’s grace in your life.  Indeed, this is what happened with the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. Do you get more energized about the sin or perceived sin of someone else or your own? Consider 2 Corinthians 13:5.
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February 6, 2011

Redeeming Love

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God…For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
(Deuteronomy 4:24 & 31 ESV)

The fire of Yahweh as a jealous God is the fire of an exclusive commitment to this people that demands an exclusive commitment in return.  It is, in short, the fire of redeeming love that had brought them out of the fires of bondage and would therefore tolerate no rival…It was the fire of God’s jealousy that protected the strength of God’s mercy and covenant faithfulness to this people.  In rebellion and idolatry they would find the God of verse 24.  In return and obedience they would find the God of verse 31.  This is the same unchanged God, responding to a tragically unchangeable people.

– Christ Wright

February 17, 2010

The Cross: Where mercy and justice kissed

On the cross we see sin fully punished and yet fully pardoned. We see justice with her gleaming sword triumphant, and mercy with her silver scepter regnant in sublimest splendor. Glory be to the wondrous wisdom which discovered the way of blending vengeance with love, making a tender heart to be the mirror of unflinching severity, causing the crystal vase of Jesus’ loving nature to be filled with the red wine of righteous wrath.

via The Daily Spurgeon: First, the Cross.

September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement

“Today Jews around the world are celebrating Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is considered the holiest and most solemn day of the year in modern Jewish practice. What relevance does this Jewish celebration have for Christians? Biblically, quite a lot.”  Hop over to the blog for the Resurgence to know more about the Bible and the Day of Atonement

September 13, 2009

God Is Infinite

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” – Exodus 3:14

Q. 7. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.

To ponder the infinite nature of God’s being is truly mind boggling. We are finite humans and cannot fathom what it means for God to not be finite.  I remember before I was a Christian one of the things I struggled with was the infinite nature of God.  Where did he come from, how did he come about to be?  His state of being God has always been and He has never been more or less of the God that He is right now.  There is no way to describe or define the infinite nature of God.  Just like how God is the Father from whom every Father gets its name, He is the being from which every created thing gets it being (Ephesians 3:14-15).

What a blessed thing that we trust in an infinite God.  We don’t trust finite man or any created thing, but our trust is in the infinite One who not only has heaven and earth at his disposal, but is the creator of heaven and earth.  The fact that God is infinite should motivate us in our pursuit of knowledge of Him since we can never exhaust the knowledge of who He is.  God’s infinite nature is summed up by Job’s friend Zophar in Job 11:7-9, “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven —what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.”

We most clearly see the infinite nature of God at the cross. At Calvary the infinite justice and holiness of God is expiated when Jesus lays down His life for his sinners.  From before the foundation of the world God ordained that through His Son Jesus He would show His infinite love by propitiating His infinite wrath by Jesus atoning death.  Infinite grace and mercy is made available to sinners at the cross by the fact that for those that God has adopted they can never sin their way out of God’s covenant with them.  This has only be a brief overview and does not include all of God’s attributes, but for a more thorough analysis please see A.W. Pink’s “Attributes of God” and Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”.

September 10, 2009

The Gospel in Ezekiel

And while they were striking, and I was left alone, I fell upon my face, and cried, “Ah, Lord God! Will you destroy all the remnant of Israel in the outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?” Then he said to me, “The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great. The land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice. For they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see.’ As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; I will bring their deeds upon their heads.”- Ezekiel 9:8-10

I love Chris Wright’s exposition of the above passage.  It shows us who God us in His justice and compassion while pointing us to the cross.  In God’s judgment of Israel we see the true of sinfulness of sin.  Wright also uses the example of Ezekiel for showing us a model of God honoring prayer.  I highlighted some of my favorite parts and was definitely tempted to highlight the whole thing.  All of the last paragraph is highlighted because as I read it this morning during my quiet time I was led to worship and adoration of Christ atoning death for me on the cross and how great the sacrifice was to redeem me from my sins.

Ezekiel’s intercession, then, like that of Abraham and Moses, is based not merely on heart wrenching pity for those who were being slain, but on the ultimate purpose and glory of Yahweh among the nations.  In that respect, also like Abraham and Moses, it stands as a model for what ought to be the primary motivating force behind all our own intercession for the world, and especially for the church when, through hardness, disobedience and apostasy, it puts itself in the path of God’s imminent judgment. It is of course entirely right to pray out of compassion for others.  Jesus and Paul both did.  But Ezekiel models an even deeper foundation for intercession – passion for the glory and purposes of God in the world

It would be easy to, with all the surrounding scenes of armed execution and terrible carnage, to image God’s words being spoken with vicious coldness and implacable malice.  Actually we need to remember that they were being spoken by the God who longed more than anything else to show pity, by the God who had spent centuries with this people withholding the full extent of his wrath, by the God whose very name ‘Yahweh’ is defined as ‘compassionate and gracious.’   If there was steel in the voice, there were tears in the eyes and unbearable pain in the heart…

And yet, he had to do so because of their unchanged rebellion, and the northern kingdom was destroyed in 721 BC.  This is the same God whose mercy long to triumph over justice, whose love outlasts his punishment on a scale of 1,000 to 1, who is ‘slow to anger and rich in love’, and who is ‘good to all’ and ‘has compassion on all he has made’.  For such a God to be brought to the extermity of having to utter the terrifying words we read here speaks more loudly than anything else could of the horrific, detestable, and intolerable nature of human sin, and the moral necessity of its being finally and justly punished.

Rather than merely recoiling from the iciness of the words, we should reflect on what it cost the heart of the God of all love, mercy and pity to have to utter such words at all.  And such reflections will ultimately drive us to the cross, for only there do we find the mystery of the infinite justice of God fully exposed before human gaze.  For there, under the whips, swords, nails and torture of Roman rather than Babylonian enemies, God’s love absorbed God’s justice in God’s own self, and the words’ I will not…pity or spare’ were breathed again by the Father as, for our sake, he turned his eyes away from the agony of his own beloved son.

June 30, 2009

What A Great Salvation

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared. – Psalm 130:3-4

God has a holy standard that He has called all men to live up to.  The words that God wrote to Belshazar are true for all men, “you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; (Daniel 5:27)”  The balances is that of God’s righteousness and when ours is weighed against God’s, we are found wanting, there is no curve on God’s scale.    Our best attempts of having any righteousness of our own are filthy rags when seen in light of God’s holiness.  There is no one sin that is greater than another sin, all sin is equally heinous because it is against a holy God.  You and I are in the same boat as Adolf  Hitler and have no goodness in and of ourselves to make us attractive to God.

If you and I were to stand before God, we would be trembling in fear.  When sinful man comes in contact with a holy God there is an instant realization of our smallness and unworthiness.  The media today has presented a false portrayal of angels, but the Biblical picture of angels is one that is so beyond our imagination.  Angels, are not creatures with wings and harps that belong on hallmark cards, but in Scripture when an angel speaks to man the first thing an angel says is “fear not.”  If our immediate reaction is to fear angel’s which are messengers and servants of God’s, then it is terrifying to think what our reaction would be if we actually saw God.  When Job got a greater revelation into God’s character He was reduced to stating, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further. (Job 40:4-5)”  When we are placed next to God we realize we have no room to stand or speak, we are nothing, if God is the ocean, we are but one drop of rain.

Praise God that this is not our ultimate end, God has made a way for us to be forgiven.  This forgiveness is nothing light, but it came at the price of His Son.  For those who have faith in Christ, He has passed over their sins by the means of diverting God’s wrath away from us and onto Himself.  God’s justice has been satisfied by Christ taking the holy wrath that we deserve (Romans 3:25).  Instead of God seeing us and our sinful state that is deserving of punishment, He sees Christ righteousness.  He has washed our sins away by Christ blood and cleaned us from our unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  My sin is no longer on my record, but instead has been transferred to Christ, so that God may remember my sinfulness no more, although my sin was abounding more and more, grace abounded exceedingly more (Isaiah 43:25 and Romans 5:20).  Since we have such a great salvation, God’s wrath does not need to be feared, but instead we can worship Him and serve Him in loving reverence.

May 25, 2009

Glory

I am currently reading through several books right now.  One that I am highly enjoying is “Death By Love” by Mark Driscoll.  In the chapter where he talks about Chris being our example, he spends a portion of it talking about God’s glory.  That led to me meditating and worshipping God for His glorious character.  Out of that came this poem.

Lord God, Heavenly Father, you are glorious.
The whole Earth is filled with your glory,
But man’s eyes have been darkened to the ruth
And forsaken your glory for worthless idols.

Jesus Christ is the radiance of God’s glory.
He is the image of the invisible God.
His mission is to give sight to the blind
And set the captives free
So that many may live for God’s glory.

Thank you for the cross
Where your glory is on full display.
At the cross justice and mercy kiss,
Jesus paid the price of God’s justice
By receiving the wrath we justly deserved
So that we can be covered in grace and mercy.

February 7, 2009

Tough Questions – Chapter 8

This chapter “The Cross According to the Scriptures.”  Instead of writing my own summary of this chapter, I am going to use the one from the study guide of the book because I do not feel like I can sum it up much better.  This is my favorite quote of this chapter:

On the one hand, at the cross Christ bore the weight of all my sin against him.  All my hatred and rejection of God, all that i have been, or could be capable of, in my sinful rebellion against my creator was part of what Christ suffered.  I stand among the enemies of God as one of those who sin nailed Jesus to the cross…

On the other hand, at the cross, Christ bore the weight of God’s judgment on my sin.  He bore not merely the brunt of my sin against him but the consequences of my sin upon me.  He took not only what my sin could do, but what my sin deserves.

Review from http://www.zondervan.com/media/cms/Lead_Teach/gidu_study_guide_cms.pdf

The cross is simultaneously the moment when Christ takes on the worst of human sin and when he takes on God’s punishment for sin. To understand this we must see Jesus’ death in light of the story of Israel, for Jesus is the fulfilment and climax of that story. In his death Jesus relives the exile, and what is true about the forces behind the exile is also true for the cross. In both, divine judgement is working through human agency. Israel received God’s punishment through the Babylonians, and Jesus through the Roman and Jewish authorities. What makes Jesus different is that he did not deserve it. As we look at the Scriptures and think about the morality of justice, we see that sin does deserve to be punished, and punished by God. On the cross, Jesus assumes on himself the worst we could do to him but also the punishment we deserved. In this there is still great mystery, but mystery that leads to praise.

January 29, 2009

Tough Questions of Faith – Part Two

Tough Questions of Fath – Part Two consist of chapters four and five that I plan on summarizing in one post.  This part of the book probably deals with the one of the most controversial aspects of the Old Testament to wrestle with, the Israelites conquest of the land of Canaan.

Wright focuses chapter four on three wrong view points to take when dealing with this piece of Scripture.  The first false view point is that the it’s an Old Testament story that has no place in the context of the New Testament.  Wright dispels this because the characteristics of God’s love and wrath are the same in the New Testament as in the Old Testament.  God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  His attributes do not change between testaments.  Wright also proves this view point wrong with pointing to how the New Testament validates the Old Testament and never critiques or attempts to show wrong in it.  Another view point that Wright disapproves of for dealing with the Canaanite conquest is that the Israelites were wrong in believing that God wanted them to drive out the Canaanites.  “The main problem with this view is that everywhere else in the Bible the conquest is never explained away as a colossal mistake; on the contrary, it is anticipated, commanded, achieved, and remembered as something that accomplished God’s will.”    The last view point that Wright tells us is unreliable is that of the conquest as being meant as allegory for spiritual warfare.  “We must remember that this kind of spiritual use (the use he is referring to is allegory) of the Old Testament narratives is secondary and derivative.  Their primary form is simply historical narrative.  In other words, we are not really dealing with allegory here at all.”

What then do we do with the conquest of Canaan?  Here is Wright’s conclusion:

I have wrestled with this problem for many years as a teacher of the Old Testament, and I am coming to the view that no such “solution” will be forthcoming.  There is something about this part of our Bible that I have to include in my basket of things I don’t understand about God and his ways…

What we really must do is what we should do with every part of the bible, namely, to put it in the wider framework of our whole Bible.  We must get into the habit of doing that when we read any Bible text, and never more so than here.

So we will look at three frameworks that help to put the conquest in perspective — not in such a way as to make it “nice” or to take away all the nasty questions it raises, but at least in such a way as to help us connect it to the rest of what we know about God and his ways.  We need to see the conquest narrative in the framework of the Old Testament story, in the framework of God’s sovereign justice, and in the framework of God’s whole plan of salvation.

Here are Wright’s three frameworks listed from above that we need to hold in our hands as deal with the conquest of Canaan

The Framework of The Old Testament Story:

There is a culture and a rhetoric of warfare for the Israelites that we are not famaliar with today.  The conquest of Canaan did not include a complete removal of them from the land, but only a subduing of them so that Israel can take the land.  Something else important to consider is that this is a unique and historical event, not something to be a model for a way of life.

The Framework of God’s Sovereign Justice

“The conquest was not human genocide.  It was divine judgment”  This is seen by the fact that it wasn’t an unconditional wiping out of all Canaanites.  For Canaanites who repented and followed Yahweh, like Rahab, they were spared.  This does not imply that Israel is more righteous, we even see God imposing the same judgment on them.

The Framework of God’s Whole Plan of Salvation:

The conquest of Canaan, is not the ultimate end, it is part of God’s plan of having Israel being His special and chosen people from which the Messiah will come.  The mission of Israel is to be a nation from which peace to God is made available and all nations comes to praise Him.  The conquest of Canaan might seem contradictory to this but, Wright states “The overall thrust of the Old Testament is not Israel against the nations, but Israel for the sake of the nations…What we need to see is that the Bible feels no contradiction between the ultimate goal of universal blessing and historical acts of particular judgment.”

In conclusion, this is an episode, like all others, which must be viewed through the eyes of the cross.

And when I do set it in the light of the cross, I see one more perspective.  For the cross too involved the most horrific and evil human violence, which, at the same time, also constitued the outpouring of God’s judgment on human sin.  The crucial difference of course, is that, whereas at the conquest, God poured out his judgment on a wicked society who deserved it, at the cross, God bore on himself the judgment of God on human wickedness, through the person of his own sinless Son – who deserved it not one bit.

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