Tag Archives: salvation

High-Def Sins – Hebrews 4:13-16

A few months ago while I was in Seoul, I noticed a peculiar form of censorship on the Korean TV programs. All cigarette smoking was blurred out. You could see a person move their hand up to their mouth. You could see the smoke when they exhaled. The only thing you could not see was a clear image of the actual cigarette held between their fingers. I would imagine that every Korean child over the age of 5 can tell you what the person on TV is doing despite the blurred image. I failed to see the benefit in altering the television programs in this way.

blurred_cigaretteIt did get me to thinking that how we try to hide our personal sins is probably akin to Korean TV censorship of cigarette smoking. We like to think that we are successfully hiding our sins. And, sometimes we are able to hide them—but only from other people.

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13).

God sees past our vain attempts to hide our sins. Our attempts at hiding them are far less effective than even the ridiculous pixelating of Korean TV. Our sins are not hidden or even slightly blurred. Rather we are left naked and exposed to the judge of the universe in all of our ultra-high definition wretchedness. In the book of Revelation, those who do not have their sins forgiven are described as calling on the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the all-knowing God.

Thankfully, for those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, our sins are not merely blurred out, but removed as far as the east is from the west. The very next verses in Hebrews chapter 4 provide the comfort we so desperately need after reading verse 13.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

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Salvation in no one else – Acts 4:11-12

crossMost Christians are familiar with the passage in Acts 4:11-12 in which we are told that Jesus is the only way we can be saved:

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12).

It is interesting that the Old Testament records a passage written about 700 years prior to Jesus in which we are taught that the LORD (literally Yahweh) is our only Savior:

You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior (Isaiah 43:10-11).

Sine we know that Jesus is also fully God, these passages are easy to harmonize. It is also a great reminder that God’s ultimate plan of redemption for his people has never changed. The depth of the revelation culminated in the coming of Christ Jesus, but the plan was clear from the beginning.

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Filed under God, Salvation

The wrath of God – John 3:36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him (John 3:36).

One of my favorite modern hymns is In Christ Alone. The second verse concludes with the lines:

‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

Recently, the liberal Presbyterian Church USA decided including the “wrath of God” was unacceptable and wanted to change the lyrics before including it in a new hymnal they are publishing. Thankfully, the song writers, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, refused.

If there is no wrath, why did Jesus have to die? It would have just been unnecessary bloodshed. And, if that wrath has not satisfied by Jesus’ death on the cross, our situation is hopeless. The Bible makes it clear that we have been saved from God’s wrath:

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9).

It is unfortunate that these pseudo-Christian groups find the clear teachings of the Bible to be offensive and embarrassing. Praise God for the song’s authors who not only write wonderful, God-honoring, doctrinally sound songs, but also stand behind the convictions of their faith.

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I wish my brain would just ignore my heart

What I believe with my mind and with my heart often seem to be two different things. I know from Scripture that God can save absolutely anyone he chooses to save. No one’s sin is so great that they cannot be forgiven through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah wrote:

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save (Isaiah 59:1).

Yet, my heart often tries to convince me that the sinful world I live in cannot experience revival. That God cannot reach this nation. That this God-hating, sin worshiping, immoral world is beyond the reach of the Gospel. That there is no hope of revival in America any longer.

But these thoughts of mine are sinful. Wickedly sinful! It is a reminder that my “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). That I could doubt, even for second, the ability of God to move in the hearts of people and save them is wickedly sinful…and arrogant.

Yes, this nation is truly full of God-hating, sin worshiping, immoral people—like I once was. And if God can save me, then he can save them too.

This past weekend at church, we had an uplifting report given by missionaries who serve primarily Iranian refugees living in Turkey. The missionaries reported on the miraculous work the Holy Spirit is doing among the Muslim world in bringing people to saving faith in Christ Jesus through the preaching of the Gospel. This report was both encouraging and convicting. Encouraging to see what great things God continues to do in this world. Convicting because I regularly doubt his ability to do so.

Forgive me Lord God for thinking that your arm is too short to save. Thank you Lord God for continuing to work despite my unbelief. “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

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The ditch on the left and the right – Ephesians 2:8-10

As humans, we have a tendency to go to extremes in either one direction or the other. And, as I seem to recall reading in a quote from Jonathan Edwards, Satan likes to push us hard toward those extremes. Satan does not care which ditch we end up in, just that we end up in a ditch.

We can see this problem when looking at two sets of Scripture versus. In the first passage we have:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Awesome, excellent, reassuring words. The danger here is that we can fall on the side of cheap grace and think we can go on sinning so that God’s grace can abound. By no means! (Romans 6:1-2).

On the other side we have this passage:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We can focus on this verse and zero in on the good works we are doing and believe they are at least a part of the reason God loves us and saves us. Crash! Now we are in the opposite ditch and Satan can again rejoice.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit put these 2 passages right next to each other AND in the perfect order. As many of you likely noticed, these verses are taken from one continuous passage:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).

What comes first? Saved by grace through faith. What does it deny? Being saved by your works. What comes last and after you are saved? The reminder that you were created to go do the good works God has prepared. Perfect balance and perfect order. If we can can keep the whole passage in focus, we can avoid those nasty ditches on both sides no matter which way Satan tries to push.

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Recognizing our spiritual poverty, beggary, and slavery

A man must feel himself in misery, before he will go about to find a remedy; be sick before he will seek a physician; be in prison before he will seek a pardon. A sinner must be weary of his former wicked ways before he will recourse to Jesus Christ for refreshing. He must be sensible of his spiritual poverty, beggary and slavery under the devil, before he thirst kindly for heavenly righteousness, and willingly take up Christ’s sweet and easy yoke. He must be cast down, confounded, condemned, cast away, and lost in himself before he will look about for a Savior (Robert Bolton, Instructions for a Right Comforting Afflicted Consciences, 1640).

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The abundance of his steadfast love – Psalm 5:7

 I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you (Psalm 5:7).

And only through the abundance of God’s steadfast love will I be able to enter his house. A love so great that he died on my behalf. Psalm 5 speaks about the evil, wickedness and deceit of men. Men like me. Psalm 5 also speaks about God’s hatred for the evil, the wicked, and the deceitful. All I can do is bow down before the holy God and pray, “God, in the abundance of your steadfast love, forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.”

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