Bought by the Blood

February 8, 2010

Cross Motivated Obedience

Filed under: cross,obedience — cubsfan1980 @ 8:37 am
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“All our obedience, every resolve to do good, and every work of faith is ‘by his power’ and so that the Lord Jesus would be glorified because of the grace he gives. Yes, we must pursue obedience, but that obedience must always be cruciform, formed by Christ’s cross. We must seek to obey because of the cross, find the grace to obey because of the cross, and live free from condemnation whether we succeed or fail in the light of the cross. The cross must be our only story, as Paul boldly proclaimed: ‘For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified’ (1 Cor. 2:2).”

– Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson in Counsel from the Cross (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2009), 171-172.

via Obedience Formed by the Cross « Of First Importance.

December 1, 2009

Prayer for Sanctification

Oh God my Father
You are my rock and salvation.
I run to you as my refuge and stronghold.
You have delivered me from sin and death
And provide a shield against satan’s attacks.
In you I find my life,
So I continually cry to you.
You are strong and might to save.
I praise you for you are faithful
And have never failed me.
You have chosen to delight in me.
This is a mystery of mysteries.
Fill me with your Spirit so I can live blameless and pure.
Enlarge my heart so I can receive your word.
I want to know your word and live by it
Because it is perfect as you are perfect.
Only by your grace am I made strong.
Without your goodness and support I can achieve nothing.
Help me to trust you more,
My desire is to experience more of your nearness.

October 6, 2009

Law and Grace

One of the best books I have read on the topic of grace is “Transforming Grace,” by Jerry Bridges.  Here is an excellent quote from that book on the relationship between works and grace.

Some people believe that, under grace, God’s law no longer has the meaning of requirement but is an expression of His desire.  They would readily say God desires that we be holy, but God does not require that we be holy.  They maintain that we have been freed, not only from the curse and condmenation resulting from breaking the law, but also from the requirements of the law as a rule of life.  They believe that to insist on obedience as a requirement for a Christian is to teach legalism instead of grace.  In other words, to assign the concept of requirement to the will of God is legalism, but to assign the concept of desire to it is grace.

I believe such a view is a misunderstanding of grace.  God’s grace does not change the fundamental character of God’s moral law.  Rather, the grace of God provides forgiveness and acceptance of those who have broken the law.  The good news of the gospel is that God has removed the guilt we incur by breaking His law and has bestowed on us the righteousness of Christ, who perfectly kept His law. Legalism does not consist in yielding obedience to the law.  Rather, it is to seek justification and good standing with God through the merit of works done in obedience to the law  instead of by faith in Christ.

We need to always keep in mind that God is not only our Savior and heavenly Father through Christ, but He is also still God, the supreme Ruler and moral Governor of His creation.  The sons and daughters of a king are still under obligation to obey the laws their father has decreed for his realm, even though they are his children.  They are no more exempt for the laws than any other citizen…

Under a sense of legalism, obedience is done with a view to meriting salvation or God’s blessing on our lives.  Under grace, obedience is a loving response to salvation already provided in Christ, and the assurance that, having provided salvation, God will also through Christ provide all else that we need…
We obey God’s law, not to be loved, but because we are already loved in Christ.

October 5, 2009

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10

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

“What does this mean?  It means that filial fer, the fear of a son for His father, is produced by God’s love for us.  More exactly, it is the result of discovering that the God whom we thought of with slavish, servile fear, the holy righteous, terrifying God of judgment and majesty, is also the God who forgives us through Jesus Christ.  He is just, yet he justifies the ungodly (Romans 3:26; 5:6).  He is righteous, yet he counts sinners as righteous.  One reason why we know so little of such filial fear is that we do not appreciate the Gospel!  If we would grow in grace so that we fear God like this, we must first return to the Gospel, and to the meaning of the cross…Filial fear is always the grateful response of sinners who have become saints.”  Sinclair Ferguson on the above verse.

There are two kinds of fear that we can experience.  The first kind of fear is one that we typically think of when it comes to fear, that of dread and worrying of if we can measure up to God’s approval.  This is servile fear, from servile we get servant or slave, this is a fear for those that are working to pay off someone they are underneath.  The other kind of fear is filial and it means reverence and awe.  The latin of filius is “son” and that is where this type of fear comes from.  It is in reference to how a child fears their father and because we have been forgiven through the blood of Christ, this allows us to experience filial fear with God.  Sinclair Ferguson says about this kind of fear:

“It is that indefinable mixture of reverence and pleasure, joy and awe which fills our hearts when we realize who God is and what he has done for us.  It is a love for God which is so great that we would be ashamed to do anything which would displease or grieve him, and makes us happiest when we are doing what pleases him.”

Yesterday I talked about how our standing with God never changes.  The way we walk in fear of God can change our experience of God.  We were created for intimacy and communion with God, but sin brings a barrier between us and God.  Through Christ death on the cross that relationship has been restored, but it won’t be fully realized until we are in Heaven.  While in this life, our walk with God will have varying degrees of closeness based on how we fear Him and if we choose closeness with God or closeness with the world.  The more I fear God the closer my friendship with Him. “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,” Psalm 25:14

We were not given grace to remain stagnant in it, but we were given grace to grow in it (2 Peter 3:18).  As we grow in grace we will be made more like Christ and our intimacy with God will increase.  Experience is very subjective and not always the best measure of if we are growing in the fear of the Lord.  Some effects of fearing God that we can be on the lookout for that will positively impact our experience of knowing God are as follows:

If I am fearing God I will grow in my desire to live a life of obedience.  “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)”  My life will be characterized by wanting to bring pleasure to God.  Ultimately I will place my hope in finishing the race well and hearing “Well done good and faithful servant.”  The smile of God will be more important to me then the praise of the world.  Children are called to respect and obey their parents and I am called to respect and obey God.  “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13).”

On the flip side of that, fearing God will mean not wanting to displease God or grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).  I will desire to put death to sin as sin blocks my view of God and feeds me lies about God’s love for me and who He is.  If I believe the promise of God and what He has done for me through the cross then I will seek to lay aside everything that hinders me from knowing Him more fully (Hebrews 12:1).  Fearing God means fiercely doing battle with my sin so that I can make my Father proud and give Him no reason to grieve over me.

Fearing God changes how I view the circumstances of this world.  If I fear God then I have nothing to fear in this life.  He is my stronghold and refuge, if He can save me from the hopeless situation that my sin had me in, then I can have hope no matter what I am facing.  “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1).”  When I fear God my perspective is changed and I see that if God is worthy of awe and reverence then He is also worthy of my trust.  Just a child trust their parents for everything, I can trust God for all that I need.  “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. (Proverbs 14:26)”

We have the privilege of being considered sons and daughters of God because of His awesome and unconditional love.  We were orphans with nothing good to contribute to God’s family and no merit of our own, but God freely chose us to be His own.  Our status before God saved us was dead in sin with nothing desirable to offer, but God didn’t bring us to life because of what we could bring to the table, but only by His grace did He regenerate us.  The reality of what God has done for us should transform how we view our blessing of knowing and communing with Him because we are completely undeserving.  His praises should ever be on our lips because He has given us everything.  My fear of God should be evident by how I proclaim His love for sinners because of what He has done for me.  As a child likes to look up to and brag on their parents I should do the same thing with God .

Psalm 111
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8 they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!P
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8 they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!

October 1, 2009

Faith and Works

Filed under: ephesians,Faith,grace,J.C. Ryle,John,obedience — cubsfan1980 @ 8:30 pm
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“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” – John 14:21

We are not to suppose for a moment that “keeping Christ’s commandments” can save us.  Our best works are full of imperfection.  When we have done all we can, we are feeble and unprofitable servants.  “By grace you are saved through faith-, not of works. (Ephesians 2:8)” But while we hold one class of truths, we must not forget another.  Faith in the blood of Christ must always be attended by loving obedience to the will of Christ.  What the Master has joined together, the disciple must not put asunder.  Do we profess to love Christ?  Then let us show it by our lives.  The Apostle who said, “Thou knowest that I love Thee!” received the charge,  “Feed my lambs.”  That meant, “Do something. Be useful: follow my example. (John 21:17)” J.C. Ryle

August 27, 2009

Prayer For Evangelism

Filed under: evangelism,Isaiah,obedience — cubsfan1980 @ 8:23 am
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“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” – Isaiah 6:8

Here am I lord send me.
Light a fire in my heart
So that I may go to the lost.

Give me a heart of compassion
For my coworkers and neighbors,
Make my heart break for their sin.

Remind of how lost I was
Before your grace saved me.
Help me to see that I would
Be the same as them
If my life was not submitted to Christ.

I want to trust you for their salvation
And walk in obedience to plant gospel seeds
Since you are faithful to tend to them rightly.

Use my like you used others in my life.
Your fame and glory is to great
To keep to myself.

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 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 15, 2009

The walls came tumbling down

And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor…So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. – Joshua 6:2 & 20

The story of the fall of Jericho is without a doubt one of the most faith inspiring stories of the Old Testament.  For Joshua to lead the Israelites in conquest over Jericho involved having eyes of faith.  God told Joshua to see that the kings and mighty men of valor of Jericho had been given into Joshua’s hands.  With his physical eyes, Joshua saw a city with large walls that had its inhabitants walled up and safe from attack.  For Joshua to see what God was referring, he needed to walk by faith and not by sight aware that those that were on the Israelites side is greater and more powerful than any earthly army.

It is not enough just to have eyes of faith, if Joshua saw what God was doing, but did not have an obedient heart then the Israelites would have never conquered Jericho.  Eyes of faith must be accompanied by actions that are informed and motivated by faith in the unseen.  Imagine the Israelites and the faith it took to march around the walls for not one, but six days without seeing any results.  Faith did not involve doing anything practical that would appear to give them a chance for victory.  Faith for them probably involved being mocked by the soldiers who stood on the wall and saw them do nothing but fruitless marching.  What reason or hope did they have for shouting, none that they could see, only that God had told them to.  By faithfully obeying they reaped a harvest and had the conquest.

For all of those who have placed their faith in Jesus, God wants to give them hearts that are characterized by faith.  A heart that is characterized by faith is bold in sharing in the Gospel knowing that it isn’t based on outward appearance or eloquence of speech, but it is because of the fact that God is faithful that others will respond to the good news.  When our lives are led by faith then our lives are no longer our own, but we are eager to give away our money and time for the purpose of the kingdom.  A life of faith prioritizes the exaltation of God over self and makes its rallying cry, “He must increase and I must decrease.”  When we have eyes of faith we are blinded to the things of this world because our gaze is set on the world to come.  When we have faith in God as our compass then the fleeting pleasures of sin are nothing compared to the reward of the great wealth of Christ that has been freely offered to us on the cross by His sacrifice that reconciles us to God.

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