Bought by the Blood

August 6, 2009

In The Grips of Grace

I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. – Jeremiah 32:40

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. – John 10:28

It’s been a nice two day break and we are back to our series on how a believer cannot lose their salvation.  I am skipping the sixth emphasis that the Westminster Confession of Faith makes because it is abiding by the strength of Spirit and I did several blog posts about this earlier this summer.  You can read those related post on abiding by doing a search for abide on the right hand toolbar of the blog.  This leaves me with two points of emphasis left and today’s is that we “can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace” and this is based off of Jeremiah 32:40 and John 10:28.  If anything, I feel like this point perfectly sums up the beauty of this doctrine.  We are in a state of grace and the grace that justifies and sanctifies is guaranteed to glorify (Romans 8:30).  In this state of grace we will wander from God because our hearts are prone to wander, but God’s grace is greater than our sin, therefore we cannot totally fall away from God’s grace.

God has made an everlasting covenant with you and I.  God is eternal and knows the beginning and end of all things, therefore He is able to ensure that nothing can stop His plan for being in relationship with us for all eternity.  If God didn’t have a foreknowledge that looks into all of time, then there would be reason to doubt our eternal security since there might be something God doesn’t know.  We can also take comfort in the effectiveness of God’s will, when God wills something nothing can deter his will.  If God desires that we not turn from Him, then His giving us a fear of Him will be effectual and sure (Isaiah 46:10 and Daniel 4:35).  Lastly, God is committed to doing good for His children, His ultimate good is our salvation and no amount of sin in our lives can separate us from the Father’s love because His commitment isn’t based on our performance but Christ finished work.

Jesus came to give us life and life to the full (John 10:10).  His mission was accomplished on the cross (John 19:30).  If after receiving new life we can die spiritually then Jesus did not succeed in giving us eternal life, that would have been more like “life with the hope of eternity if we don’t mess up.”  The cross would have only made partial atonement if any amount of sin could outweigh the righteousness that was given to us by Christ death in our place.  The basis of my salvation is not how tight I am holding onto God, but how tight He is holding on to me.  Theologian J.I. Packer said in Knowing God: “Your faith will not fail while God sustains it; you are not strong enough to fall away while God is resolved to hold you.”

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July 29, 2009

Once Saved, Always Saved

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
-Jeremiah 31:3

The first reason that the Westminster Confession of Faith states that we can’t lose our faith is because of the unchangeable love of God.  The proof text for this is Jeremiah 31:3 which proclaims the everlasting love of God that is based on nothing other than God’s faithfulness.  The Jesus Storybook Bible defines God’s everlasting and unchangeable love with these words, “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”  It is because God is love that He is able to love fallen and sinful people like you and I.  God’s love for us is most clearly seen at the cross where His Son’s blood was shed to purchase sinners for Himself so that we can be in relationship with Him.  James Montgomery Boice said on Ephesians 1:7, “Having been purchased at the infinite cost of the blood of God’s own Son, there is no one who can possibly top the price and thus purchase us away from Him.”

An example of this love that God has for us is the metaphor of marriage that the Bible uses to illustrate God’s relationship with us.  This love in all of its extremes and glory is seen in the story of Hosea.  God commands Hosea to marry Gomer a woman he know would be unfaithful so that he could illustrate His love for a people that are spiritually unfaithful.  We all play the role of Gomer because of our hearts that always wander to sin.  God plays the role of Hosea who goes to the auction block and purchases us back from slavery for Himself.  We have done nothing to deserve Him redeeming us from the power of sin and death through Christ blood.  Despite the fact that we were dressed like a whore seeking to continue a life of spiritual adultery, God has bought with Christ blood and clothed us in His righteousness.

In the New Testament there are three words used to convey this idea of redemption.  Two of the words, agorazo and exagorazo respectively mean “to buy in a marketplace” and “to buy out of the marketplace.”  This second word in particular is of great encouragement to all believers because it shows the effective and permanent nature of redemption.  God did not buy us out of slavery to send us back and He is faithful to keep and sustain us.  The other word used for redemption is “luo” which means “to loose, set free or deliver.”  This term denotes the idea that we have bought free from sin to never return, sin and death can never make any claims to us.  If have been redeemed by the lamb then “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).”

July 22, 2009

Only with the cross can we esteem God’s Word rightly

As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments. – Jeremiah 36:23-24

King Jehoiakim had no regard for God’s Word.  For those who live in reverence to God’s Word it is more delightful than all riches (Psalm 119:14).  To king Jehoiakim the Word of God was worthless and he used it to cut it up and as fuel for a fire.  In cutting up the Word of God he was cutting up his own soul and committing suicide of the soul.  He could have used God’s word to burn away the sin in his life, but instead by  neglecting it he made the wrath of God burn hotter towards him.

The proper response to God’s Word would have been one of fear.  Through God’s Word we see ourselves more clearly and also see God more clearly.  By the Word of God we are able to see more clearly His holiness and glory.  Scripture is also a mirror and we see ourselves in light of who God is we are made aware of our sin and our separation from God.  This is a very fearful thing as it shows that no one has lived up to God’s standard and all are worthy of punishment (Romans 3:23 and 6:23).  When we see the debt that we owe God, as it is one that we could never repay, we should have the opposite reaction of Jehoiakim and be humbled.

To be honest, I don’t always prize God’s word as I should approach it with humble gratitude.  It is a fight to esteem God’s Word rightly.  Thankfully this is not a battle that I fight on my own.  I have the Holy Spirit to empower me to deny my self so that I can seek God through His Word.  This is not something that I do to earn God’s favor, but it is because I have God’s favor through Christ death on the cross for my sins that my response is to commune with Him through His Word.  The cross isn’t just the means by which I am saved, but it also is the process of my sanctification.  If the cross is not at the center of my sanctification then I am not seeking to exalt Christ, but to exalt myself.  Not only can I not save myself, but I can’t continue to make progress in my relationship with God unless He is working in me and carrying me along the process.  Therefore, I do not feel condemned when I fail to have the right attitude towards God’s Word, but instead remember it is all of grace and seek Him to pour out more grace because without His undeserved favor I am in the same boat as Jehoiakim.

Josh Harris gave a great message at Covenant Life Church on this passage which you can listen to here.

July 21, 2009

Great is God’s faithfulness

It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” – Jeremiah 36:3

It has been said before that what separates the God of the Bible from the God of other religions is His grace and mercy towards sinners.  When God makes a covenant with sinners it is for His glory and namesake and not on the basis of anything deserving in us.  If God’s relationship with Israel was based on Israel’s merit then He would have left Israel in the wilderness and found a new people.  In the days of Jeremiah the people of Israel had denied God and sought only evil.  Because of their sin, instead of receiving blessing, they got disaster and judgment by means of the exile.

Although God’s people were defeated by the Babylonians, had their city burned and taken captive into a faraway land, all was not lost.  God was still faithful to His people and using judgment to teach them His holy nature, wrath towards sin and the weight of being called to live for His glory.  God’s faithfulness is also seen in the promises that He made to Israel while they are in exile.  Just because they were in exile does not mean that God give up on them or disowned them. Israel was still God’s people and their sin could never change that.  He has a plan and purpose and will protect and preserve His people through judgment (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

God has faultless foreknowledge and knows that Jehoiakim will not listen to the prophecy from Jeremiah, but still He provides warning, so that the people may have a way to repent and receive forgiveness.  Even when Jehoiakim rips up God’s Word He continues to turn the other cheek by having Jeremiah write another scroll.  God’s heart for us does not change even though our hearts are distant from Him (Ephesians 2:8).  When He seals us with the blood of Christ, we are His forever and He cannot deny those who are in Christ (Romans 3:3).  What great encouragement this is for us when we are facing the consequences for sin.  Even when God disciplines us, He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 12:6-11,13:5. When sin abounds, grace abounds even more Romans 5:20).

July 8, 2009

Idol Factories

The Lord once called you ‘a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’ But with the roar of a great tempest he will set fire to it, and its branches will be consumed. The Lord of hosts, who planted you, has decreed disaster against you, because of the evil that the house of Israel and the house of Judah have done, provoking me to anger by making offerings to Baal.” – Jeremiah 11:16-17

One of the greatest sins that we can commit is that of idolatry.  The first two sins listed in the ten commandment speak out against idolatry and the rest of the sins are listings of the overflow of an idolatrous heart. Idolatry is having something else as a functional god in our lives, that something else can be other things, other people, or even ourselves.  In Jeremiah’s time the primary idol of that time was Baal and Israel’s worship of Baal provoked God to anger.  No matter what idol we have in place of God, He views all idolatry as shocking, appalling and a cause for us to be utterly dismayed (Jeremiah 2:12).

Our glory is in having the one true and living God as our God.  If we turn from him to an idol, then we have no source of glory (Jeremiah 2:11).  All of our boasting and joy will be empty without Him.  God has made us beautiful, but because of sin that beauty has been marred and we need Christ imputed righteous to restore us to the beauty that God intends.  Our purpose is to bear good fruit for God, but no one does that without God.  If we are not fruit bearers, but instead weeds then God will set fire to us and we will burn up in the eternal torment of hell.

When we commit idolatry two evils are functioning in our lives.  First, we forsake the fountain of living waters and find no satisfaction in this life.  Idolatry is a slow and steady spiritual death as our souls cannot get the water that will nourish and refresh us.  Secondly, idolatry denies God glory and seeks to brings us to the point of a relentless pursuit after nothing.  The other gods that we worship besides the one true God are nothing, they have no worth and no value.  If you seek an idol, it will only leaving you wanting more and when you get to it you will never be filled up.  Going to an idol is similar to driving a car with an oil leak, it will eventually break and leave you stranded and in despair (Jeremiah 2:13).

July 7, 2009

Knowing God

But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes,
and the nations cannot endure his indignation. – Jeremiah 10:10

The most important question that any person can ask themselves is, “Who is God?”  In Jeremiah we find three essential claims to our understanding of who God is.  The first thing we learn about God is He is the true God, there are other gods that will try to take his place, but they are idols which will one day crumble.  Idols such as money, sex, power, fame and other tools of satan and this world which seek to entice, but they are false gods and have no power or eternal worth.  Secondly, we learn that God is living, He is active and sovereign over this world.  Everything is directed by Him and being guided to an end point predetermined by Him where every knee on earth, above the earth and below the earth will bow down and worship Him (Philippians 2:10).  Lastly, in this verse we see that God is the everlasting King.  He rules over this world and He is majestic in holiness (Exodus 15:11), He is the King from which all kings draw their kingship.

The second most important question we can ask is how we can be made right with this God.  To quote Matthew Henry, “Sinners should be afraid.  They have an angry God above thenm a guilty conscience in them, and a yawning hell below them.”  If we are honest with ourselves we are aware that we do not treat this everlasting King with the reverence and adoration He deserves.  None of us seek Him as we should, we are not good and do not do good (Romans 3:11-12).  Therefore, we are all deserving of His wrath and if the earth quakes under His wrath, imagine the effect that His wrath will have on us.  It is a terrifying thought to think of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that we will endure.  We will not be able to endure the outpouring of His wrath on us, although we will not be able to endure it, we will wish for it to end and for our pitiful existence to end, but Hell is real and eternal. Because sin is an infinite offense against God, the punishment is infinite as well.

The way we are made right with God is not through anything that we can do.  We cannot earn His favor, but it must come by grace or mercy.  If we would be able to earn it, then that means that the offense is not infinite.  Since we cannot earn it that means that it comes to us as a free and undeserved gift (Romans 6:23).  The means of this free and undeserved gift is the cross on which Jesus died to redeem sinners. His work on the cross reconciles and brings us near to God because we can’t come near on our own (Hebrews 9:11-22). If we claim His blood as ours then He gives us robes of righteousness to wear, when God sees us wearing Christ righteousness He passes over our sin and sees us as objects of His love.  His wrath was spent on Christ on the cross so that we may be adopted as children of the everlasting King, the true and living God.

June 19, 2009

Prayer To Walk in the Ancient Paths

Filed under: Jeremiah,obedience,Psalms,Sanctification — cubsfan1980 @ 4:11 pm
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Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ – Jeremiah 6:16

Lord God, Heavenly Father
Who sent your Son to die for me
So that by His blood I can be redeemed
And no longer enslaved by my sinful flesh,
Please pour out your Holy Spirit on my life
So that I may experience more of your grace and mercy
To mortify my sin and walk in a way that pleases you.
Guide me in the old paths so that I may be directed to obedience,
I cannot do this without your aid, I am weak and helpless on my own.
Earnestly I seek your through your Word, so that I may see more of Jesus,
This is the only way to be brought to the road which is the good way
Where my soul may find rest and fulfillment.
You refresh me and revive me over and over again if I seek you,
Faithful is your character and your promise to do this.
Although the journey of obedience is hard my lot is one of blessing
And so I give my life to you to glorify you
Because I know on that day I will be glorified
And the trials and work of walking in the old path will be all worth it.

June 18, 2009

Thank your pastor

Filed under: Jeremiah,John Calvin,Pastors,Word of God — cubsfan1980 @ 10:17 am
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“‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. – Jeremiah 3:15

There are three great gifts that God has given to His church.  The first and obvious one is the cross, without which, there is no church.  The second and third are closely related, Godly men who are led by the Holy Spirit to to shepherd the flock.  The Holy Spirit is essential to every pastor as it brings them to close to God’s heart.  John Calvin says on this verse, “We learn from this that the church cannot continue without having faithful pastors to show the way of salvation.”  Let us never take for granted the Godly men that God has given to care for His people and guide them into greater spiritual maturity.

There are two attributes of a pastor that God mentions in this verse that are key for shepherds.  First, the shepherd must have a heart for others, he can’t be self serving, but must give of himself to feed his flock.  Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve, so to a pastor must give his life away to serve his people by feeding them through practical acts and preaching the word.  The second characteristic of a pastor is to seek to grow in his knowledge and understanding of God’s word to pass onto others.  The church cannot be the blind leading the blind.  It is clear from the verse that a pastor is supposed to be one with wisdom.  This isn’t just head knowledge, but also works itself out in his lifestyle that is informed by God’s Word.

The godly men that God has placed in the church need to know the appreciation of those that are under them.  Charles Spurgeon once said, the greatest kindndess any man can do is to pray for me.  The same is true for your pastor, be vigilant to pray for him.  Your pastor has a very serious role of taking care of your spiritual life, so seek to take care of his wife and kids.  Volunteering to babysit can mean a ton to a pastor with young kids.  Speaking of your spiritual life, take your spiritual growth seriously, nothing encourages a pastor more than seeing fruit in his peple.  Lastly, encourage him when he does a good message, does a great job of leading or counseling.  Encourage him when he doesn’t do these things well and let him know things that you observed.  It is very important that your pastor knows your thankfulness for him.  For a more exhaustive list on how to show care for your pastor, please visit the website of Jollyblogger who gives an excellent treatment of this topic.

June 17, 2009

Do not be deceived

Return, O faithless children,
declares the Lord;
for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
and I will bring you to Zion. – Jeremiah 3:15

Faith is a very personal decision.  We cannot have parents or friends with faith in Christ and believe that is good enough for us.  If we do not make it our own and have ownership of it, then we have no faith of our own.  The physical brothers and mother of Jesus could not claim blood as entry into the spiritual family of God (Matthew 12:46-48).  If we want to adopted into God’s family and chosen by Him, then we need to claim the blood of Christ as our only hope for God to accept us.  God desires a relationship with you and he knows your heart, therefore let your faith be authentic and do not try to cling on the coat tails of another person’s faith.

Not every member of the nation of Israel, was actually a descendant of Israel (Romans 9:6).  Abraham was called God’s friend, but his descendants did not follow in his footsteps.  There were jews in Jesus’ day who were deceived and thought they were doing God’s will, but they were actually doing the will of the devil (John 8:39-47).  In Joshua’s day, one family could not be comfortable with the fact that the leaders followed God.  Instead, each family must choose to worship and serve God, God was a corporate God but saving faith was not a corporate event (Joshua 24:15).

Let the reality of this truth sober you and make the need for obedience sink in.  God has no obligation to save whole families, people who go to church, or those who go through the outward motions.  Do not be deceived, God knows if your faith is your own or if you are hoping to be saved by association.  Salvation comes to those who sow to the Spirit and reap the fruit of righteousness.  Be on guard against false security, there were those in Jeremiah’s day who thought that if they were in a certain town or part of a particular family they would be saved.  God is not mocked and He is saving a people for Himself, those who give their hearts to Him, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life and keep it holy for Him who shed His blood for you.

June 16, 2009

How are the faithless made right with God

“‘Return, faithless Israel,
declares the Lord.
I will not look on you in anger,
for I am merciful,
declares the Lord;
I will not be angry forever. – Jeremiah 3:12

A key question that we all must wrestle with as we come to this text is, “who is faithless Israel?”  If we are being honest, faithless Israel is none other than you and I.  We are the one who have the played the adulteress and worshiped other God’s.  When we examine our hearts we realize that you and I are the one who have placed faith in peoples and things other than the living God.  There is no one who does God or seeks God, we are all deserving of death and God’s wrath (Romans 3:14 and 6:23).

Despite the sad state that we are in, we’re not completely without hope.  Although God has every right to strike us down and make us pay the penalty for our sins, God has called us to return to Him.  Our hope for returning is not on the basis of anything we have done or any goodness in us.  The only way we can return to God is because of Christ completed work on the cross.  On the cross God has offered to exchange my sin for Christ righteousness, but if I am to receive this free gift from God it comes on the one condition that I must confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9)

If we return to God, we will receive mercy.  To receive mercy we must turn from our sins and turn to God, this a process called repentance and it must be done daily.  The puritan Thomas Watson once said, “”Be as speedy in your repentance as you would have God speedy in His mercies.”  We have gained everything through the cross, God has promised to no longer be angry with us.  There is no more fear of condemnation and are viewed as loved in God’s sight forever more.  What greater motivation do we need to live lives of worship that are characterized by putting off sin and putting on holiness (Colossians 3).  Let us be quick to turn from the things of this world, for God’s love is in us and His will is for us to abide in Him by denying our flesh and all forms of worldiness. (1 John 2:15-17).

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