Thursday, July 30, 2009

He came forward.

They came with lanterns.  Certain He was hiding himself in the darkest corners of the garden on this blackest of nights.  He had to know they were after His life.

They came with weapons.  Expecting inevitable resistance from His followers if not from Him. Their fingers itched to have Him bound and taken to trial.  Then He would see who was really in charge.

But how wonderfully they were mistaken.  They stopped dead in their tracks.

He did not hide. Even though He fully and perfectly knew all that was about to happen to Him.  Even though He had just moments before been near death itself as He stared into the cup He was about to drink.  Even though He cried to the Father two times for an alternative and heard nothing but silence from heaven.  The most agonizing night.  And the greatest agony to come in merely hours.

He did not flee.  He came forward.  Though He staggered in His soul, contemplating the work He had to do.  He perfectly obeyed His Father.  He loved Him.  He was faithful to do what He had to do in order to fulfill the plan of redemption They had made together before time began. He knew His hour had come. 

He came forward. Because He loved sinners.

He did not resist.  The obedient Son asked the soldiers who they were seeking.  When they shouted His name, He came forward and said He was the One they were looking for. They did not even have to search. 

Before the men could even seize Him, they fell to the ground.  Astonished.  What? Who IS this man?  His very words made them tremble.  They could not even remain standing.

Again, He asked them who they sought. Again told them that He was the One they were after.  Once the soldiers made it to their feet again, they bound Him and led Him to face it.  Man's greatest act of injustice in all of history.  Yet God's greatest display of justice and mercy for all the world for all of time.   The cross.

Who was this Man that willingly handed Himself over to certain death? Certain wrath? The greatest human suffering possible?  Unimaginable pain and separation?  The horror and shame of the cross?

Who was He?

The only Man who was stronger than death.  The Man who was God himself in the flesh. 

The Man who saw our need. And gave Himself to be our Savior. Died in weakness, rose again in power. To be our peace. Our righteousness. Our HOPE.

And the only One who can save me.  The only One who can save you.

He is Jesus Christ.

Let us worship and be amazed.
He was willing to go to the cross.  He is willing to save sinners still!
What a Savior!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

knowing? or being known?

"What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it --

the fact that He knows me.

I am graven on the palms of His hands.

I am never out of His mind.

All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me.

I know Him, because He first knew me, and continues to know me.

He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when His care falters.

This is a momentous knowledge.

There is unspeakable comfort -- that sort of comfort that energises, be it said, not enervates -- in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love, and watching over me for my good.

There is tremendous relief in knowing that His love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion Him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench His determination to bless me.

There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that He sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow-men do not see (and I am glad!), and that He sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough).

There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, He wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His Son to die for me in order to realise this purpose."

-J. I. Packer Knowing God

Monday, July 6, 2009

repent of my repentance

Do you realize that our very acts of sorrow over sin and repentance before God are often in need of repenting of?  It can be very easy to find ourselves listening to the lie that we are doing what God desires when we repent - which is true in and of itself.  God does clearly command us all to repent of our sins, and it pleases Him when we come to Him seeking pardon.  But far too often, our motives for repenting are themselves ungodly.  

Examine your prayers of confession for a moment.  Do you have an overwhelming sense of the vileness and danger of sin, as John Owen puts it "as represented in the blood and cross of Christ", always abiding with you?  Is your motive a godly grief over sins that the Savior has spilt His blood to pardon - sins that He has already buried in the ocean of His mercy?

Or do you repent because you fear what God will do to you if you don't?  Fear what the consequences of your sins will be? Do you repent out of some sense of necessity, as if the work of repentance must be done continually in order to maintain your state of salvation? Or merely out of a desire to ease your bothered conscience, with little or no concern for Christ and the way your sins have slighted and grieved Him?  I think Tim Keller puts it best:

"Repentance out of mere fear is really sorrow for the consequences of sin, sorrow over the danger of sin — it bends the will away from sin, but the heart still clings. But repentance out of conviction over mercy is really sorrow over sin, sorrow over the grievousness of sin — it melts the heart away from sin. It makes the sin itself disgusting to us, so it loses its attractive power over us. We say, ‘this disgusting thing is an affront to the one who died for me. I'm continuing to stab him with it!"

You see what is being said here?  If our repentance is not done for the simple fact that we have seen what our Savior has done in His rich mercy, and are continually and humbly beholding our sins in the horror and offensiveness of the cross, we have not really repented!  "The heart still clings" to sin if we are merely sorry for our sin for any other reason.

So let us fix our eyes upon Jesus Christ - and leave them there.  Let us be in continual awareness of our sin and His grace as displayed on Calvary.  For how can there be any drop of arrogance, any self-centered prayer, any love for another, when we truly and rightly behold the beautiful Savior who died there for us?

And let us also behold this same Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father.  For He did not stay on the cross. He rose again. And "ever lives above, for me to intercede"!  His perfect righteousness covers my every sin - yes, even those polluted prayers.  His blood speaks a better word.

May this be our prayer today:  (taken from the Valley of Vision)

O God of Grace,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
and hast imputed His righteousness to my soul,
clothing me with a bridegroom's robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so many impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.
I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of raiment.
for Thou dost always justify the ungodly.
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal.
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and Thou art always bringing forth the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day's work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.