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.

June 24, 2011

What I Will Tell My Kids About Gay Marriage

Here I Stand

The problem with the way that many conservatives, including evangelicals, defend marriage is that they’ve dumbed it down to a point where when it is stood up against society’s current redefining of marriage there is hardly any recognizable difference.  Marriage, as God designed it is to be a picture of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32). In a secular society, that is not always the case especially since everyone does not have the same worldview. Marriage, in America is quickly deteriorating from what God intended, with many people living together and having sex outside of marriage, the growing popularity of no-fault divorce and how pornography and infidelity run rampant.

In light of all of this, is it correct to say “anything goes”? Because of the separation of church and state should we just take the mindset that marriage is a state institution and it is up to individual states to decide? My fear is that if I do that, then I won’t be salt and light, which is why it is important to know what I believe and why.

The Bible is the solid ground on which I stand and form my convictions, all else is sinking sand. These convictions may make me sound judgemental and condemning, but my hope is that any judgement or condemnation someone sees me passing is the same judgement and condemnation that I deserve, but because of Christ free grace and rich mercy that all who seek to be crucified with Christ and find their life in Him may be free from any judgement or condemnation.

What’s Love Got To Do With It

Many people believe that marriage should be for two people who love each other and it doesn’t matter their gender.  I am not going to argue with that statement, because it is a great proposition.  Instead, ponder this, what does it matter if a person gains marriage, but loses their soul (Mark 8:36).  If we think that a couple, straight or homosexual, having the right to marry will complete them then we have set the bar far too low.  To quote C.S. Lewis “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”  If someone doesn’t have the opportunity to marry the person they love, then they may be momentarily missing out on something.  Ultimately, marriage is nothing compared to knowing Christ. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).” By promoting any marriage not built on Christ, whether straight or homosexual, it does not matter how much love there is, there will be no eternal value in it.

The Culture Wars

Obviously, I would not stop a non-Christian couple from marrying.  I can imagine your reaction being that if a homosexual is born that way, then it is unfair that I would support laws that would stop them from marrying someone they loved.  In all honesty, I have trouble supporting laws that outlaw same-sex marriage because legislation is not the answer.  The law has no power to bring a person to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and without a relationship with Him how can I expect them to deny their desires?  I have friends that are homosexual and in same-sex relationships and marriages.  I have never told them that what they are doing is wrong.  Also, I have never outright supported their choice.

The media, our society and the political machine wants us to believe that a culture war is going on right now.  I believe that Jesus would scoff at the idea of a culture war.  I am not at war with any homosexuals who choose that lifestyle.  They do not need me telling them that they need to change.  They need to see the love of Jesus and that His grace is greater then all their sin.  If Jesus was walking the earth right now, it would probably be the homosexual couples and not the conservatives that He would spend His time with.

Jesus does not see people as straight or homosexual, but he sees all people as sinners who need a Savior.  Rules and laws will point out that we are sinners.  Rules and laws can go no further then bringing about shame and I fail as an ambassador of Christ if all I do is point to people’s sin without pointing to the Savior.  No one who comes to Jesus has to make a drastic life change before they come and as His representative I do not have to force people to change instantly when they come to Jesus.  The result of coming to Jesus is crucifying the flesh and no longer walking according to its passions and desires, but that always comes after faith and never as a condition (Galatians 5:24-25).  Straight people, homosexuals, all are free to come to Jesus and and find the satisfaction their soul has been longing for.

Does It Really Get Better

Many of you reading this, are probably familiar with the “It Gets Better” campaign.  Part of me wholeheartedly agrees with that campaign, with the ideal that people will grow up and mature so that others don’t have to fear being bullied, have the ability to visit a loved one in the hospital and not be ostracized by family and friends for being who they are.  Even if that day comes, things may temporarily be better, but ultimately there will be a day where we will all have to stand before God and give an account.  Hell is a real place, it is a place of eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9), a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30), and torment (Luke 16:23).  Any human rights that homosexuals gain to make this life better will not compensate for God’s holy wrath that He will pour out on sinners in the life to come.

It isn’t just homosexuals worthy of burning of eternally, but it is everyone. No one does good, no one chooses God (Romans 3). Every single person is born with a heart that is sinful and no one deserves to go to Heaven, except for Jesus who lived a perfect and righteous life and died on the cross to atone for the sins of gays, straights, liars, murderers, thieves, gossips, etc. Yes, that is condescending and judgmental, but it is filled with hope. It is gloriously beautiful because it means that salvation is not up to us and that we don’t go to Heaven because we do good things or live a “right lifestyle” but it is only because of the merits another.

Former homosexual and current evangelist Sy Rogers once said, “People doesn’t go to hell because they’re gay; they go because they’re separated from God.  Heterosexuals don’t automatically go to heaven; they go to hell too.  The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality; it’s devotion to God and a holy lifestyle.”

In the book, “An Arrow Pointing Towards Heaven,” about the life of Rich Mullins, Rich tells the following story and I believe it truly gets to the heart of the matter.

I remember one time Beaker and I were hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and he met some friends of his, so I walked into town.  It was about a five-mile walk from the campsite down the trail…,down into town.  And when I got there I went into a restaurant and I was having a steak, and this guy started talking to me and we had this great conversation.  We were having a good time, and he said, “Hey look, it’s dark and it’s five miles up to your campground. Why I don’t I drive you up there?”
And I said, “Hey, Great!”
And so we got in his car, and just as we pulled out from under the last light in that town, the guy said, “You know what, I should probably tell you that I am gay.”
And I said, “Oh, I should probably tell you that I am a Christian.”
And he said, “Well, if you want out of the car…”
And I said, “Why?”
And he said, “Well, I’m gay and you’re Christian.”
I said, “It’s still five miles and it’s still dark.”
Then he said, “I thought Christians hated gays.”
I said, “That’s funny, I thought Christians were supposed to love. I thought that was our first command.”
He said, “Well, I thought God hated gays.”
And I said, “That’s really funny, because I thought God was love.”
And then he asked me the big one. He said, “Do you think I will go to hell for being a gay?”
Well, I’m a good Hoosier, and I puckered up to say, “Yes, of course you’ll go to hell for being gay.” I got ready to say that, but when I opened up my mouth it came out, “No, of course you won’t go to hell for being gay.” And I thought to myself, Oh my God, I’ve only been in New Hampshire for one week and I’ve already turned into a liberal! What am I going to tell this guy now?
Then I said to him, “No, you won’t go to hell for being gay, any more than I would go to hell for being a liar.  Nobody goes to hell because of what they do.  We go to hell because we reject the grace that God so longs to give to us, regardless of what we do.”

What Will I Say

I titled this post, “What I Will Tell My Kids About Gay Marriage.”  Some time in the future my children will ask me about gay marriage and human rights.  I can’t tell you today what I will say, most likely I won’t repeat all 1,800+ words to them that you just read (if you did read all of this, thank you and I’d love your thoughts). I know that it will be a message of grace because that is what everyone deserves even when we don’t see eye to eye.  It will be a message of acceptance because homosexuals are not second class citizens.  It will be a message of love because “we love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19).” It will be the message of the cross because homosexuals need the cross just as much as I do.

[9] Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, [10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

June 15, 2011

Exceedingly Good News

The following is taken from Chris Wright’s book, “The Missing of God’s People.”

  • Only in the cross is there forgiveness, justification and cleansing for guilty sinner.
  • Only in the cross stands the defeat of evil powers.
  • Only in the cross is there release from the fear of death and its ultimate destruction altogether.
  • Only in the cross are even the most intractable of enemies reconciled.
  • Only in the cross will we finally witness the healing of all creation.

The fact is that sin and evil constitute bad news in every area of life on this planet. The redemptive work of God through the cross of Chris t is good news for every area of life on earth that has been touched by sin – which means every area of life. Bluntly, we need a holistic gospel because the world is in a holistic mess. And by God’s incredible grace we have a gospel big enough to redeem all that sin and evil have touched. And every dimension of that good news is good news utterly and only because of the blood of Christ on the cross.

Ultimately all that will  be in there in the new, redeemed creation will be there because of the cross. And conversely, all that will not  be there (suffering, tears, sin, Satan, sickness, oppression, corruption, decay and death), will not be there because they will have been defeated and destroyed by the cross. That is the length, breadth, height and depth of God’s idea of redemption. It is exceedingly good news…There is no other power, no other resource, no other name, through which we can offer the whole Gospel to the whole person and the whole word, than Jesus Christ crucified and risen.

October 28, 2010

Where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more. (Romans 5:20)

While our sin reaches far, God’s amazing grace reaches farther, and God’s willingness to forgive is infinitely bigger then our willingness to sin. – Tullian Tchividjian

April 14, 2010

Reflections on Jennifer Knapp And The Sin Of Homosexuality

Filed under: Homosexuality,Isaiah,jennifer knapp,John,Repentance,sin — cubsfan1980 @ 8:32 am
Tags: ,

Christianity Today recently posted an interview they did with Jennifer Knapp.  In the interview Knapp comes out about her homosexual lifestyle and also talks about her first studio recording in seven years.  You can read the interview here.  Below are some reflections from Denny Burk on the interview that I would highly recommend.

I don’t know Jennifer Knapp apart from her music. I’m just one of her fans from ten years ago. I’m also someone who believes that the Bible unambiguously marks homosexuality as sin. Nevertheless, I would never say that she is worthless. In fact, I would speak to her this way: You are not worthless. You are a sinner, but you are not worthless. The gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners is still for you if you will have Him. If you will repent of your sin and trust in Christ, He will not cast you out—ever John 6:37.

Pray for Jennifer Knapp. She’s been walking away from Christ for a long time, but we nevertheless believe the Lord’s arm is not too short to save Isaiah 59:1. I pray that it will reach her soon.

via » Jennifer Knapp is NOT worthless | Denny Burk.

December 3, 2009

Tiger Woods

Filed under: C.J. Mahaney,Media,sin,sports,Tiger Woods — cubsfan1980 @ 9:22 pm
Tags: , ,

C.J. Mahaney has a great reflection on Tiger Woods being hunted by the media and sin at the Sovereign Grace blog.

This is a big story with a big audience and it’s a story that will not disappear soon. Tiger Woods is being hunted by the media.

But let us make sure we do not join the hunt. A Christian’s response to this story should be distinctly different. We should not be entertained by the news. We should not have a morbid interest in all the details. We should be saddened and sobered. We should pray for this man and even more for his wife.

And we can be sure that in the coming days we will be in conversations with friends and family where this topic will emerge. And when it does, we can avoid simply listening to the latest details and speculations, and avoid speaking self-righteously, but instead we can humbly draw attention to the grace of God in the gospel.

You can read the rest here: Hunting Tiger Woods.

November 30, 2009

Boice On The Church Today

Filed under: Boice,Repentance,salvation,sin — cubsfan1980 @ 9:29 pm
Tags: ,

Image courtesy of tenth.org

“The problem is that the evangelical movement in America today is shallow. It speaks of salvation, but it does not grapple with sin. And since it does not grapple with sin, there can be no true repentance.” James Montgomery Boice

 

October 25, 2009

My Monday Morning Need of the Gospel – The Gospel Coalition Blog

This is a prayer by Scotty Smith which I read on the Gospel Coalition blog. I definitely find this to be an echo of my heart’s cry recently.

Dear Lord Jesus,

While I still believe, with all my heart, you are the only Savior, I now see how more of my heart needs more of you and more of the gospel.

There is nobody on the face of the earth that needs the gospel today, and its transforming resources, more than me, and I am SO glad to be able to acknowledge this reality. I need you today, Jesus, as much as I did in March of 1968 when you washed away all my sins and covered me with the robe of your righteousness.

You have saved me in the past, when I was justified by grace alone through faith alone; you are saving me in the present, as the Holy Spirit applies more and more of your finished work to my whole being; and you will save me in the future, when you return to finish making all things new, including ME!

Lord Jesus, though I’m never tempted to look to any other name for my justification, I am very tempted to look to other names and means for my transformation—worse of all, is when I look to me to be my own savior. But only you, Jesus, are able to save completely those who come to God through you, for you are always living to pray for us and to advocate for us (Heb 7:25). You are my righteousness, holiness and redemption, and that’s why I only boast in you today! (1 Cor. 1:30-31)

So I come to you today, Jesus, right now! Save me more fully from my fear of man, my need to be in control, my ticky-tacky pettiness. Save me from trying to be anybody’s savior. I want to get irritated far less often and to be spontaneous much more often. I want to “light up” more quickly when I hear your name, Jesus, and not be downcast, when I don’t hear my name.

That’s more than enough confession for one day… Indeed, Jesus, I must be saved, I am being saved, through your name alone. Hallelujah!

via My Monday Morning Need of the Gospel – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

October 23, 2009

Double Dose of Fridays Are For Fathers

If there was a parenting manual this would be in chapter one.  This is only an excerpt, but I’d highly recommend the rest, especially if you’ve ever been discouraged in your inability to fulfill your role as a parent.

I have a confession to make. Parenting is the hardest, most humbling task I have to do. If ever I think I have already obtained the goal of the upward call in Christ Jesus, parenting helps me realize how far I have yet to go. While parenting our daughters, my shortcomings are magnified and my sins exposed. However, I want to suggest that parenting can and should be a means of our sanctification. Allow me to share some thoughts on why the humility of parenting is of great benefit to us.

Parenting exposes the progress of our sanctification. Before we ever teach our children the truth of who God is for us in Christ, we will be declaring our faith as we live it out before them. Our children are watching us, noticing our hypocrisies, lies, abuses, speech and conduct. Parenting is so hard and humbling because our family observes us when we respond to the difficulties of life, when we have conflict with our spouse and when we have conflict with one another. It is at home where living in light of the gospel counts the most, but for too many this is where it matters the least. Let us make it a priority to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ so that we may live holy lives before our family. May we as parents provide a picture of the gospel at home.

Parenting helps us better understand and apply the gospel. Unfortunately, much parenting has behavior modification as its ultimate goal. If this is the case with our parenting, we will necessarily be instilling in our children a works-righteousness mentality – “do this, and/or you’ll get this.” I do not mean to imply that we should not hold our children to a biblical standard or that we should not discipline our children when they transgress God’s standard. My point is simply that keeping commandments is not the ultimate goal of parenting. The ultimate aim of parenting is that our children would “set their hope in God” (Psalm 78:7) or as Paul says, that our children would become “wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 3:15).

You can read the rest at The Humility of Parenting – The Gospel Coalition Blog.

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!
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