Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Andrew Blank: Growing in Grace

Here's a great post from a friend of mine [via]. 

"Do you ever find yourself getting excited when someone starts talking about God and his inexhaustible love for you? If not, I would encourage you to keep reading. Honestly, I can’t say that I always have. The journey that God has brought me through has taken a lifetime and He is still working on me, even now. I would like to share a few thoughts that hopefully might make Jesus Christ, His Love, and His Grace more real to you.

I was recently reading Romans 8 and came across a couple of incredible truths. To put this in context, at the end of chapter 7, Paul is talking about his struggle with sin. He mentions how he desires very strongly to do good, yet, at the same time, his flesh fights against his desire to do good. It is easy to see that there is an ongoing battle between the flesh and the mind (Romans 7:21-25). I find this to be true in my life as well. One of the worst feelings for me is the feeling after I sin. It usually happens when I start thinking that I have fought long enough and hard enough, and without even noticing evil creeps in very subtly and puts me flat on my face. Sad to say, my first instinct is usually to want to run away from God and hide from him. I know what I have done is wrong, and even though God already knows my sin, I still feel the need to hide my face from Him.

However, it is at these times in my life when I find God to show Himself more powerful, and more marvelous than I could ever imagine. As we move from chapter 7 to chapter 8, we discover a heartwarming truth that displays God’s power in an amazing way. Romans 8 starts off in verse one by saying this,“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Isn’t this a wonderful affirmation of the love that God in Christ has for us? But it doesn’t stop there. The next few verses read, 

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:2-4 ESV)

I think that what Paul says here is such a breath of fresh air, especially for a sinner like myself. It is incredible to think that my God loves me unconditionally, even when I fail Him miserably. When I run to God, not only in the times when I am obedient, but even in my worst moments of sin and disappointment, He comes through in an amazing way by reminding me of His promise to me through His Son; that we are no longer condemned for our sin, and that we now have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. Another thing it does is grow my love and appreciation for Christ. I love Jesus. I don't say that lightly. When I think about what Christ has accomplished for me by living a perfectly sinless life, and by freely laying down His life all the while suffering horribly on a cross, something that I could never do myself, I can't help but want to shout for joy and praise His wonderful name! Pat Sczebel wrote a song that describes my feelings perfectly. Read what the first verse and chorus of the song has to say and think about the words' meaning as you read them: 

"Jesus, Thank You"

The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect Holy One crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me

By Your perfect sacrifice I've been brought near
Your enemy You've made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end

Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank you
The Father's wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank you
Once Your enemy 
Now seated at your table
Jesus, thank you

The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news that tells us that He has died on the cross for our sins, yet he conquered the grave and rose again 3 days later (1 Corinthians 15:4). He offers this gift freely to all if you will place your faith in Him as your Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9). I strongly desire that others may come to know Him and His inexhaustible grace! It doesn't get any better than this!"

Monday, September 9, 2013

Brennan Manning: Vulgar Grace

"My life is a witness to vulgar grace–a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages as the grinning drunk who shows up a ten till five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying theif’s request–”Please, remember me”–and assures him, “You bet!” A grace that is the pleasure of the Father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus the Christ, who left His Father’s side not for heaven’s sake but for our sakes, yours and mind. 

This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot cover. Grace is enough. He is enough. Jesus is enough."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

What is Justification?


"Justification is an act of God's free grace unto sinners, in which he pardons all their sins, accepts and accounts their persons righteous in his sight; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone." ~ Westminster Larger Catechism

Friday, August 16, 2013

John Stott: The Cross Cuts Us Down to Size

"Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size."


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Horatius Bonar: Only the Certainty of Love

“Terror accomplishes no real obedience. Suspense brings forth no fruit unto holiness. No gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor can subdue one lust, or correct our crookedness of will. But the free pardon of the cross uproots sin, and withers all its branches. Only the certainty of love, forgiving love, can do this.” 


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sinclair Ferguson: Grace is Jesus

"Grace is not some appendage to Christ’s being. All there is is the Lord Jesus Himself. And so when Jesus speaks about us abiding in Him and He abiding in us – however mysterious it may be, mystical in that sense – it is a personal union.

Christianity is Christ because there isn’t anything else. There is no atonement that somehow can be detached from who the Lord Jesus is. There is no grace that can be attached to you transferred from Him. All there is is Christ and your soul.” 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tim Brister: Where the Problem Lies

"The worldly culture tells us that the center of our problems are out there, but the gospel tells us that the problem lies in our hearts. Only the gospel can bring transformation from within, and as long as wrongly diagnose the location of the disease, we will fail to access the cure.

Only a true grasp of the gospel can liberate us from the lies we have told ourselves. Not only are we  dishonest about our sin and neediness, but we are not fearful or closed off from inviting others to being honest with themselves and ourselves as well. Tripp is right. We participate in “the blind leading the blind” when we refuse to see sin rightly and live as a community that makes self-atonement by pretending and performing in attempts to circumvent the power of the gospel to change our lives. How blind are we? We would rather live in the chains of self-deception through the lens of pride than the freedom of self-discovery through the lens of Scripture.
A gospel-centered community is counter-cultural because it identifies the real problem (our hearts) and has the only, lasting cure to solve it (the gospel). Instead of pretending to be self-righteous, we give permission and invite others to help us change by exposing self-deception and blind spots in a community radically shaped by grace and governed by truth. I am not who I am in my pride and self-deception. I am who I am in Christ and my acceptance through his imputed righteousness and substitutionary death on the cross. The challenge is to live in latter through repenting of the former, and the counter-cultural community changed by the gospel will serve as the canvas upon which the sunrise of God’s Word illuminates our lives.
When I know my Sin-bearer drank the bitter cup and atoned for ever last one of my sins, why should I hide? What could be known about me that is not already covered in the blood? When I know that God’s righteous judgment of my sin was carried out on His Son in my place on that cursed tree, I live in the fact that there is no condemnation for me, and no accusation of the enemy can silence the Advocate whose precious blood speaks for me. If these truths are ruling the affections of our hearts, then we can live as a people who invite truth in the place of deception, believing that the truth will set us free."


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Zach Hunter: Grace on the Ground

"The truth is, it’s much easier to feel compassion and show grace to people half a world away than it is to be kind to the people we live with, the jerk who took our parking space or the “idiot” who disagrees with our political views."


Friday, July 5, 2013

Matt Patrick: The Gospel According to Hoosiers

Here's a strong illustration of grace from the movie Hoosiers starring Gene Hackman:
"...Things are going downhill, and according to the Hickory community, it’s all due to Coach Dale’s unconventional coaching methods (e.g. playing with only 4 players in an awesome scene).  Eventually, a town meeting is demanded by the angry Hickory community in order to decide, once and for all, whether Coach Dale is to remain the coach of Hickory High.
With a very court room kind of aura, the scene begins with Coach Dale spilling his heart out—confessing that he coached the team in an honest and diligent manner.  When the gentleman officiating the meeting opens the floor for comments concerning Coach Dale, Mrs. Law herself, Ms. Fleener, volunteers to speak.  I still remember the first time I saw the film, I cringed watching her walk up to the podium, anticipating the hammer of Myra Fleener to finish him off, to kick him while he’s good and vulnerable.
The moment is here. Everyone is expecting the hammer, BUT (Ephesians 2:4) as she arrives to the podium, Ms. Fleener opens a piece of paper (with tears in her eyes) and reads with a shaky voice:
“I think, in order to be fair… I think it would be a big mistake to let Coach Dale go.Give him a chance.”
This is the last thing you expect from Ms. Fleener, who hasn’t shown an ounce of sympathy for Coach Dale the entire film. Fleener is the ultimate t-crosser and i-dotter, yet, she vouches for the hothead coach—therefore being an agent of grace. “Giv[ing] him a chance” for Fleener translates as, “I know he doesn’t deserve it…I know he has a past, but give him a break.”  This is huge.  The lawgiver of the narrative proves to be the agent of compassion.
Mrs. Fleener, like all lawgivers (i.e. everyone) has the potential to squash its subject with our ample demands and expectations.  Lawgivers stalk their subject, or at least that’s what Fleener did to Coach Dale. One might expect, at any moment of the film, for Coach Dale to cry out:
Think of how wonderful it would be to settle down and live a comfortable life and not think about somebody chasing you down all the time.–Flannery O’Connor
That’s it. Grace means the chase is over. Throwing her hands up in submission, Ms. Fleener stopped chasing Coach Dale. Grace is the end of chasing."

Monday, July 1, 2013

Paul Tripp: Law & Grace

"When I hear a sermon that is essentially law-driven, that is, asking the law to do what only the grace of Jesus Christ can accomplish, I am immediately concerned about the preacher. I immediately wonder about his view of himself, because if he had any self-consciousness about his own weakness and sin, he would find little hope and comfort for himself and his hearers in that kind of sermon. 

You see this dynamic in the Pharisees. Because they thought of themselves as righteous, perfect law givers, they had no problem laying unbearable law burdens on others. Their misuse of the law had its roots not only in bad theology but also in ugly human pride. They saw law keeping as possible, because they thought they were keeping it. And they thought that others should get up and keep it as well as they did. They were the religious leaders of their day, but they were arrogant, insensitive, uncompassionate, and judgmental. They were not part of what God was doing at the moment; no, they were in the way of it."


Thursday, June 27, 2013

C.S. Lewis: Forgiveness

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Good News For Sinners Like Us

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

Look at how Paul describes us in this passage: “weak” “ungodly” and “sinners.” These are certainly not flattering descriptions. But, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that, apart from God’s grace, these are indeed accurate descriptions.

Contrary to what Western culture and our narcissism might tell us, we aren't awesome. But there is a sweet freedom in discovering that we no longer have to try to pretend that we are. 

The scandalous gospel of grace says that, in Christ, God loves us anyway. He sees us as we truly are. He sees our pride, lust, greed, and apathy. We are perfectly and piercingly known, yet loved in Christ. That is liberating news! That tells us that we are free from having to impress God or anyone else and can simply rest in the finished work of Christ on our behalf.

While we were sinners, Christ died for us. It doesn't get much better than that.

He didn't come for those who had already cleaned up their act. He didn't come for perfect people. He came for the sick, the wicked, the desperate, and the poor in spirit. He came for real people with messy issues. He came and died for real sinners like us. That’s good news.

Friday, June 14, 2013

J. Gresham Machen: Christ Will Do Everything or Nothing

"If Christ provides only a part of our salvation, leaving us to provide the rest, then we are still hopeless under the load of sin. For no matter how small the gap which must be bridged before salvation can be attained, the awakened conscience sees clearly that our wretched attempt at goodness is insufficient even to bridge that gap. 

The guilty soul enters again into the hopeless reckoning with God, to determine whether we have really done our part. And thus we groan again under the old bondage of the law. 

Such an attempt to piece out the work of Christ by our own merit, Paul saw clearly, is the very essence of unbelief; Christ will do everything or nothing, and the only hope is to throw ourselves unreservedly on His mercy and trust Him for all."


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Picture of Grace

Now this is a testimony worth sharing. Christ is exalted, man is minimized, and grace is proclaimed.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Richard Ganz: The Holiness of God

This is good stuff. It's a much-needed message. 

I'm convinced that the more we understand of God's holiness, the more we will begin to comprehend the depth of our sin and our subsequent need for his grace. Which, in turn, will lead us to deeper and sweeter worship.

Scotty Smith: Redemptive Discontent

Here's a beautiful prayer from Scotty Smith:

"Lord Jesus, We ask you to renew and intensify our inner craving for you. Make us so faint that unless you hydrate our hearts with the gospel, and feed us with the bread of grace we will surely perish...

Give us redemptive discontent until our hearts rest again in you. Give us the gift of unrelenting gospel desperation."


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Jared Wilson: Joy Amidst Pain

“Because the gospel is true, then, even when we aren’t happy we can know the deeper joy because of the circumstances of God’s goodness and love” 


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Reminder

Jack Miller once said: "Cheer up; you’re a lot worse off than you think you are, but in Jesus you’re far more loved than you ever could have imagined."

The bad news is bad (we aren't awesome and we have stirred the wrath of a holy God); but the good news of grace is really good. It's so good that we can never, in this life, fully comprehend it.

God knows who we really are. He sees past our fake smiles and knows our deepest secrets, insecurities, shame, remorse, guilt, pride, and idolatry. Yet, in Christ, he loves us anyway.

He loves us not because of who we are or what we have done, but because of who he is and what he has done.

Jesus lived a sinless life, died in our place bearing our sins, credited to us his righteousness, and adopted us into his family. We are now, in Christ, beloved sons and daughters of God - despite our brokenness and mess.

This is the scandalous gospel of grace. This is truly good news.

Our sin runs deep, but God’s grace runs deeper.
Our love for God ebbs and flows, but his love for us, in Christ, never fails. 
It is unwavering.
It is sure. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Explicit Gospel (Free Audio Book This Month)

This month's free download is Matt Chandler's the Explicit Gospel.

Here's the link. Enjoy!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Jerry Bridges: Living By Works, Not By Grace

"My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well—whatever “‘well”‘ is in our opinion—then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. 

In this sense, we live by works, rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the “‘sweat”‘ of our own performance. Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to ‘”try harder’.” 

We seem to believe success in the Christian life is basically up to us; our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is a very freeing and joyous experience. But it is not meant to be a one-time experience; the truth needs to be reaffirmed daily."


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Michael Horton: Our Best Just Isn't Good Enough

"The bad news is far worse than making mistakes or failing to live up to the legalistic standards of fundamentalism. It is that the best efforts of the best Christians, on the best days, in the best frame of heart and mind, with the best motives fall short of that true righteousness and holiness that God requires.
Our best efforts cannot satisfy God’s justice. Yet the good news is that God has satisfied his own justice and reconciled us to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son. God’s holy law can no longer condemn us because we are in Christ."

Monday, May 27, 2013

David Powlison: Better than Unconditional Love

“Unconditional love says, ‘I love you just as you are.’ But the Gospel is better than unconditional love. The Gospel says, ‘God accepts you just as Christ is.'"


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Jerry Bridges: Guilt & Grace

Here is some gold from Jerry Bridges:

"Our need is not to be measured by our own sense of need, but by what God had to do to meet that need. Our situation was so desperate that only the death of his own Son on a cruel and shameful cross was sufficient to resolve the problem.

Many people erroneously think that God can just forgive our sins because he is a loving God. Nothing could be further from the truth. The cross speaks to us not only about our sin but about God’s holiness…

The cross…is an expression of God’s wrath toward sin as well as his love to us. It expresses his holiness in his determination to punish sin, even at the cost of his Son. And it expresses his love in sending his son to bear the punishment we so justly deserved...

We cannot begin to understand the true significance of the cross unless we understand something of the holiness of God and the depth of our sin.”


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Brennan Manning: It's Not Cheap, It's Free

"My life is a witness to vulgar grace—a grace that amazes as it offends. . . . A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party, no ifs, ands, or buts. . . . 

It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility."