The Need To Strive for Holiness

(Originally posted October 10, 2006). 

Maurice Roberts writes:

It is of great importance to every believer that he should understand how to think of his own sins. Many of the mistakes which we make are miseries of mine which we suffer are closely connected to our ignorance about our present relation as Christians to our sins both past and present.

We assume that all well-instructed and experienced believers are agreed on the following points: that every sin, however small in our eyes, is most hateful to God; that the best actions of the best Christians are all defiled with sin; that sin in the Christian is still sin; that all the sins of the believer are pardoned for Christ’s sake; and that a believer’s lifelong duty is to strive towards unisnning perfection.

Puting these points another way, we may say that the following is our starting point as we review our relationship as Christians to our sins. First, sin in itself, in whomsoever it exists, is highly displeasing to God. Second, the best Christians have not in this life got beyond the commission of sin. Third, sin is not less sinful when committed by Christians. Fourth, no sins committed by a Christian can ever bring him condemnation. Fifth, a Christian must not rest satisfied in his mere forgiveness but should daily strive after complete and sinless obedience to God, even though he knows it to be impossible in this life.

Of course, this is why the Bible speaks to us to press on, and to persevere after the things of God. So many want to get the stamp of approval by being saved, but they do not want to walk in holiness. They want to cease from striving, instead of cease from sinning as Peter calls us to do. If we are truly in Christ, then we know that the power of sin has been broken, but the existence of it still remains and we must pursue holiness because He has called us to that way of life.


“I Don’t Feel Saved.”

Have you ever heard anyone ever say those words? “I don’t feel saved.” Or a variation of that, such as, “I don’t feel like a Christian.”

These are words that true Christians will utter from time-to-time because they truly do not feel like a Christian, or feel saved, at least, not what people expect to feel when they are believers. I know there have been times in my own Christian walk where I have felt these things. The weight of sin in my heart, life, church, and the country are such that the joy of Christ seems to be extinguished.

So, lacking a sense of “feeling” like a Christian is quite normal.

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Dying to Dreams: Living For Christ

When Christ calls us to follow Him, He really does have us die to everything we hold dear, every expectation, every dream, every desire. He will not leave any room for our own idolatries, no matter how noble they seem to us.

It matters not what the dream or desire may be, even when those dreams or desires are within the scope of biblical Christianity. This is because we have a tendency to take even noble callings, noble desires, and noble responsibilities and turn them into idolatries.

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Walk By the Spirit

 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

Paul tells us in Galatians 5, to walk by the Spirit. He is instructing us how it is that we are to conduct our lives, and the simple solution, as a Christian, is to walk by the Spirit.

He then contrasts that with those who walk by the flesh. He gives a list of all manner of sin that these people engage in when they walk by the flesh (see below). In other words, Paul shows us what to do by showing us what not to do. We are not to live by the flesh and its evil desires.

But here is a danger that many miss in his instructions: many believe that when walking by the Spirit, we are walking by our emotions, our inclinations, or the gentle desires of our hearts. That is not walking by the Spirit. That is what people do who walk by the flesh. To walk by the Spirit means to die to the flesh and its desires, and live according to the word of God.

As anyone who has walked by the Spirit can attest, following the word of God doesn’t always feel good. It means we have to take stands against sin that are uncomfortable. Dying to sin is never easy, nor comfortable. But that is how the Spirit would lead us if we are walking with Him.

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Samuel Bolton on the Law and Gospel

We cry down the law in respect of justification, but we set it up as a rule of sanctification. The law sends us to the Gospel that we may be justified; and the Gospel sends us to the law again to inquire what is our duty as those who are justified.

Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds Of Christian Freedom

He Causes It to Happen

I think the key to understanding the book of Job is looking to Elihu. I recently went looking for my favorite Psalm of late, 35, and came to Job 35 and started reading. Elihu’s statements immediately caught my attention and gave me some insight into this difficult book that I have not had before. I had to turn back a few pages to the beginning of his monologue to Job and his three companions.

We find that Elihu has been very patient with these four elderly men. He has listened waiting for them to declare the truth of the situation and all four have fallen dreadfully short. The three friends of Job, acting on behalf of Satan accusing him of all manner of sin, lack any substance in their attack upon Job. It is amazing how prominent this sin is in the body of Christ. Just point to someone, declare them a sinner, and people come out of the woodwork to join in the chorus. I’m not alluding to false doctrine here, which should always be declared in comparison to sound doctrine, but declaring someone has fallen without a shred of evidence is clearly a sin.

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Enjoying the Lord’s Day

As many of you know, I’m a strong advocate for observing the LORD’s day as our Sabbath Worship of the LORD. I have written here before about the topic and always enjoy when others do the same. The latest installment comes from Benjamin Shaw, an Associate Professor of Old Testament at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He writes to help clarify the Sabbath rest that is spoken of in Hebrews  4:10-11. Many used this verse to claim that we no longer have to keep the Sabbath/LORD’s Day since we have entered that rest upon our belief and conversion in Christ.

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The Arrogance of Radical Christianity

I really appreciate Pastor Peter Jones entitled How Ephesians Killed My “Radical” Christianity. He is showing through the book of Ephesians all that has taken place in our lives in becoming Christians, therefore we don’t need calls to become radical in our Christianity or ministries to others. Jones starts by giving a definition for “radical.”

Definitions matter. So before proceeding I wanted to define the term “radical.” By “radical,” I mean that strain of Christian thinking that says living a normal Christian life, getting married, having children, raising them in Christ, loving your spouse, being faithful at your job, attending worship, reading your Bible, praying, loving the saints, and then dying is not enough. It is that strain of Christianity that says, “There must be something more that I must do to be a good Christian.” The radical thinks and preaches that, “Good Christians do amazing things for Jesus.” This type of thinking is found in all branches of Christianity. There are mission weeks, revival meetings, monks who abandon all, elusive second blessings, pilgrimages to Rome, women who leave marriage and children far behind, men who leave jobs to enter the ministry, young men who believe that memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism is a means of grace, preachers who imply that Word and Sacraments are not enough, and conference speakers who demand that we pray more and more. The halls of faith echo with phrases like: Be radical. Give it all up for Jesus. Sacrifice everything.

In my 25 years as a believer, I’ve seen many manifestations of these radical Christians. They fall into every camp of Christianity that there is and spread the idea that we all need to be doing “great” things for Jesus.

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Self Control in Golf and the Christian Life

2013-03-13 18.30.34I noted on my Facebook page the other day that golf is a great metaphor for the Christian life in that the more self-control you maintain during the game, the better it goes for you. In other words, playing golf well will not come about when you give yourself over to the flesh. The flesh screams at you every time you stand over the ball for the next shot. What does your flesh scream? “Hit the hell out of it!” But any golfer knows that hitting the hell out of it will lead to a hell of shot… out of bounds, into the woods, into the river, or even into the unknown. Very few good things ever come from hitting the hell out of the ball.

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The World Hates You!

This was originally published on September 20, 2010.  Please note that I was preaching at Grace Pres in Jackson, TN. I’m no longer preaching there.

How would you like the responsibility of preaching those words to your congregation? I had the opportunity and privilege to do so yesterday. I say privilege and opportunity because it is always a privilege to preach God’s word to His people. But yesterday’s message was difficult. Who likes to say, “Hey, guess what? As a Christian, know that the world will hate you.”

I couched it in terms of an ad agency. How the ad agency reveal that truth? How would it go over if our church ran ads “Come to Grace Pres, where you will be taught about the world’s hatred for you.

This is the truth of the gospel. When we become Christians, we are plucked out of the world by Christ and made His disciples. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

As a Christian, we must realize that we are no longer members of the realm called: the world. We have become members of the Kingdom of Heaven, and that means we are automatically at odds with the world. This is a wonderful reality for us in the long run, but in the short run, it means that we will suffer persecution and hatred from the world.


Because the world first hated Christ. If we just look at the number of times that John talks about how Jesus was not received, or rejected or hated or threatened with death, we see that the world absolutely despises our Savior. The rejection is complete. I know that there are those who like to say things like, “Well, I love Jesus Christ but cannot stand Christians.”

This is an out and out lie. Jesus said that if we love Him, then we will keep His commandments, and His commandments are that we love one another, i.e., fellow believers. So to reject Christians, is to reject Christ. To reject Christ, is to reject the Father. Welcome to the realm of the world.

However if we are of Christ, then we to love one another because the world will hate us. We need to stick together as believers and encourage one another. I believe this is one of the reasons that Jesus said three times in His upper-room discourse: “These things I command you, that you love one another.” He knew that the world would hate us as well and we not only need His Spirit in us, but also one another. This is why we are to remain together as a body. To separate ourselves, is to distance ourselves from Christ and His Kingdom. This also opens us up to the attack of Satan. Remember, he prowls around like a roaring lion. Roaring lions never go after the pack, but after the sick and the young and those who are alone. So we are to stay together.

We must also realize that when the world does display its hatred for us, we are to rejoice. Listen to Christ’s words from the sermon on the mount:

Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

If we did not have the future promises given to us by Christ, the warnings of the world’s hatred for us would be sorely depressing. But we are given a wonderful promise: great is your reward in heaven. When we suffer for His name, then we should rejoice and be glad because we have a future hope that far exceeds anything we may have on this side of glory.

There is nothing here in this world that will last, or compare to the infinite joy and beauty we will have in glory with the Lord. When we remember this reality, we can endure the hatred of the world. For the love of Christ far surpasses any love that the world has to offer for us, for Christ’s love is enduring and far more fulfilling. The world’s love for its own is passing and in the end, a lie. It’s not true love in the sense that it does not seek the best interests of those who experience it. It cannot truly satisfy or fulfill those who yearn for it.

When Jesus tells us that the world hates us, we should rejoice because we really do not want the world’s love in the end. His love is far better. The sufferings and the hatred we may endure are only temporary. But not His love, or His Kingdom, or His promises. In view of all that, rejoice that the world does hate us. It means that we are standing for righteousness’ sake and suffering for His name. That is a blessing.

Yesterday, in my sermon, I mentioned this video. This woman is standing for righteousness’ sake. She is standing against killing the unborn especially black children. Watch the response to her. One man, white and liberal, tries to bring up adopting babies, as in, if you are really pro-life, you will adopt babies. Guess what? There are plenty of people wanting to adopt children in the U.S. If we would stop aborting all these children, then there would not be waiting lists for adoption.

The point is that you see the world’s hatred against this woman as she stands for righteousness’ sake. Please watch the video and support the movie if you can. It’s from The Runaway Slave movie.

You can see more about this movie here. It’s put together by C.L. Bryant, a black pastor who is conservative and is trying to show the dangers of socialism, progressivism, etc.

Hattip to Neil for the video.

Tender Mercies

I love Paul’s words to the Colossians and our need to put on tender mercies:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

This is a clear reminder of who we are to be “in Christ.” We are to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness and longsuffering. These do not come to us by nature, since our nature is contrary to the things of God. But they do come to us after we have become born again in Christ. We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone, but not a faith that is alone and these are fruits of the Spirit that we are to pursue as new creations in Christ.

Paul puts it to us in a way that reflects our responsibility as believers. We are “put on” these things. AS we grow in Christ and the knowledge of Him, the more we reflect these realities in our lives. This implies pursuing these things and chasing after them. When we read these words, we should not only desire them, but pursue them, putting them on as we put off the elements of the flesh that so ensnare us, just as Paul warned us in 3:8ff

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Only believers can put off these things. Only believers have been equipped to do so and only believers have been given the desire. All others are slaves to the flesh and to death. While a non-believer may desire the peace found in Christ, He does not desire Christ. Only true believers desire Him and the benefits of being in Him.

Over 375 Pieces!!!

Those words are the words of doom. Every father or father to be should take note. Whenever you see a toy, that looks really cool in the store and you know your boys will love it, if you see those words: “Over 375 Pieces!” run from the store empty handed. It’s a trap.

I’m sure veteran father’s who read this are already chuckling as they reflect back on that one bicycle, train set, swing set or doll house that seemed like a good idea at the time, only to discover that the toy was more a lesson in daddy’s patience than it was in the child’s fun.

My lesson came from the Techno Gears Marble Mania Vortex. I got mine from Sam’s Club at a considerable discount over the retail price. Looking at the name, and the picture, you can see that it really is quite a toy and there almost seems to be some sort of rule for fathers that if the toy has the word “vortex” in it, we have to buy it. The word “vortex” cannot be there for my boys. They don’t know what a vortex is. So we must assume it’s there for dads.

This dad bit! We had a marble maze before and my boys loved it. They would spend hours putting it together, playing with it, and then taking it a part again. They loved it so much I wanted to get them another one so they could make even bigger mazes. As most dads assume, if one marble maze is good, two is better.

But not when it comes to the Techno Gears Marble Mania Vortex. For one, my boys will never put this thing together. While the box says it is for 8 year olds, (Andy turns 7 today… so I figured it would be OK for him), there is no way an 8 year old could assemble this beast. It comes with a 58 page instruction booklet with color illustrations that even a… 50 year old man could be confused by. This toy, that I was hoping would bring my boys hours of fun, brought me hours of distress.

The moment I started assembling the beast is the moment I realized my mistake and misery. Christmas Day went from enjoying time with my family to deep and hard concentration over this manual so as to not make any mistakes. I could tell that if I made a mistake on step number 7, I would certainly pay for it on step number 43. There was no margin of error.

I also realized that once this beast was assembled, there would be no creativity allowed. It is far too complex and limited in it’s design in order to allow creativity. In fact, the best thing to do once it is assembled is to get some Gorilla Glue and turn the 375 pieces into one piece. When that thought hit me, I realized how many of our boys toys I could have saved had I just glued all the pieces together, especially specialty train sets and Hotwheels sets. They are so complex, that the sets only go together one way. Trying to vary from the designed plan and the toy doesn’t work, which makes for a bad toy. By gluing the pieces together, it will help keep the toy in working condition longer. After all, once you lose the key piece the toy no longer works.

Speaking of “key piece…” guess what? One of THE key pieces to the Techno Gears Marble Mania Vortex was missing. Instead of the marbles making it all the way down the maze, into the battery-powered booster that sends the marble back to the top, half would exit the maze half way up and scurry across the floor due to the missing piece. The disappointment that came with this realization was almost too much for the daddy assembling this forest of colorful plastic.

I set out to remedy the problem immediately this morning by calling Sam’s Club and seeing what they were willing to do about the missing piece. They wanted me to disassemble the one I had and make a simple exchange. But after working to get all 374 parts together, I wasn’t about to.

As politely as I could, I let the young lady I was speaking to at Sam’s Club know that this would not be the best course of action. She realized the plight. Obviously, she was married to a man who had endured his own toy project. She came up with a solution. Bring in my receipt and they would extract the part I needed from one of their 19 other sets still on the floor for sale. Ah yes, common sense prevailed. I retrieved the needed piece this morning before the crowds hit the stores and now the Techno Gears Marble Mania Vortex is fully functional… well, it functions as about 60 percent. My boys are still chasing marbles as they scurry across the floor. But at least some of them make it back down to the battery-powered booster.

My duty as a dad will be complete once I get that Gorilla Glue and make the Techno Gears Marble Mania Vortex one with itself.

J.C. Ryle on Sanctification and Feelings

One of my pet peeves in our religion is that so many base what they believe on their feelings and not the truth of God’s word. This is an extremely dangerous thing to do because our feelings are fallen and can truly mislead us. Do you remember the song, If Loving You is Wrong, I don’t Want to Be Right? That was a song that was based upon the feelings of the singer and not the truth of God’s word. He was committing adultery because it felt “right” even though condemned by God’s word. While you may not have heard that song, the error of it has permeated the church.

With that, I would like to share a quote from J.C. Ryle’s Holiness, the chapter on Sanctification.

“True sanctification does not consist in temporary religious feelings. This again is a point about which a warning is greatly needed. Mission services and revival meetings are attracting great attention in every part of the land, and producing a great sensation. The Church of England seems to have taken a new lease of life, and exhibits a new activity; and we ought to thank God for it. But these things have their attendant dangers as well as their advantages. Wherever wheat is sown, the devil is sure to sow tares. Many, it may be feared, appear moved and touched and roused under the preaching of the gospel, while in reality their hearts are not changed at all. A kind of animal excitement from the contagion of seeing others weeping, rejoicing, or affected is the true account of their case. Their wounds are only skin deep, and the peace they profess to feel is skin deep also. Like the stony-ground hearers, they “receive the Word with joy” (Matthew 13:20); but after a little they fall away, go back to the world, and are harder and worse than before… Let us beware in this day of healing wounds slightly, and crying ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.’ Let us urge on everyone who exhibits new interest in religion to be content with nothing short of the deep, solid, sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost. Reaction, after false religious excitement, is a most deadly disease of soul. When the devil is only temporarily cast out of a man in the heat of a revival, and by and by returns to his house, the last state becomes worse than the first. Better a thousand times begin more slowly, and then ‘continue in the Word’ steadfastly, than begin in a hurry, without counting the cost, and by and by look back, with Lot’s wife, and return to the world. I declare I know no state of soul more dangerous than to imagine we are born again and sanctifiied by the Holy ghost, because we have picked up a few religious feelings.”

His words, which were written in 19th Century England, are just as appropriate today as they were when he penned them. This is because Ryle is dealing with the same spiritual truth that has plagued the church in all ages, even in Christ’s day. He is writing about those who get emotional about the gospel, but are not converted by it. They see the gospel as something that is “new” and therefore something to think about, like the philosophers in Greece, sitting around talking about new ideas but never being changed by any of those ideas. Only it’s worse than that. These people demonstrate some emotional exchange that gets everyone in a lather… but the it’s all for nothing because it is JUST emotionalism.

This is one reason why I’m so reluctant to get all emotional when someone I know trusts in Christ. I’ve seen enough say a prayer, make a commitment and get baptized only to fall away after the attention of the church fades. There was no real conversion, only emotions playing on the person in question.

I will say “amen” if someone trusts in Christ. But I will only say “Hallelujah” when they are still walking with Christ year’s later. This means that the were not caught up in the emotions of the moment, but taken by our Savior and made a new man. That is the kind of man that grows in the LORD and is sanctified. That is the kind of man that is fit for heaven, not the man that just carries on as if he were watching a daily soap opera, but one that is made new by the Spirit of God.

John Newton’s View of Sanctification

I am still reading John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken, and I find Newton’s view on sanctification quite helpful. It’s not the perfect view of sanctification, but he does help us understand the process.

Newton believes that sanctification was like a train, where all start at the same point, that of unbelief and being dead in trespasses and sins. Those who become believers, are then at point A of belief. They are being drawn by God even though they may not understand why. Aitken quotes Newton:

“It is a spring-time with A. His faith is weak, but his heart is warm. He will seldom venture to think of himself as a believer, but he sees, feels, and does those things that no one could unless the Lord was with him.”

Most of us remember those days of infant belief. I remember those first days when the Spirit was moving in me and my soul desire was to be at His feet, reading His word, soaking in His truth. My life had changed from that of being a wanderer, lost and tossed in the world of ideas and thoughts to one who suddenly awakens to a deep and passionate love. Not that I loved Him, but that Jesus truly loved me. The realization was that Jesus truly did die on the cross, and truly died on the cross on my behalf. He was no longer just an historical figure, but my eyes were open to the the living King of the universe who was and is in control of all things. Life began to slowly make sense. All those years of drifting and searching finally came to an end. I had found my Rock, or should I say, He had found me and placed me on the Rock of salvation.

There is no sweeter realization of this truth for the person that experiences it and knows it. Grace had come raining down in my life and the sojourner without a home, now had a destination.

For Newton, this is what happened to him on a ship while out at sea. The ship was in a terrible storm and should have sunk, but during that time, God’s Spirit began to move in the slave trader in order to bring him to repentance. It wasn’t a foxhole conversion, but one that had been coming about for weeks and months.

The next step for sanctification is step B. Aitken writes:

“Newton suggested that B has to be humbled and tested by God. As B goes through trials and temptations, he wrestles with new sins of the kind that evidently troubled Newton, such as ‘spiritual pride, self-dependence, vain confidence, creative attachments, and a train of evils.’ Gradually B realizes that God’s testings and working of the Holy Spirit are training him up in ‘a growing knowledge of himself and of the Lord.’ Beginning to understand the sovereign mercy of God, B learns how to love deeply and to forgive others. B’s spiritual formation is complete when he reaches this stage of love and forgiveness and is able to stop boasting, complaining, and censuring others.”

Newton believed that once a person reached and fulfilled the steps of B, they then progressed to level C. Aitken points out that Newton never felt that he had arrived at level C and I think this is where Newton’s view of sanctification break down. Not that I want to take anything from it, because he was so right about much of it. However the thought of moving from A, then to B, then to C, in progressive steps is the problem with his view. Sanctification is more like moving between A and C, and the more we grow and mature, the more we remain in C. But just because we have moved into C doesn’t mean we do not visit section A or B as well. There are times where someone at level A, will jump to C and demonstrate great levels of spiritual maturity. But the inverse is also true, those who demonstrate great levels of spiritual maturity can fall back into level B or A.

A lot depends upon what God is doing with us in our lives, and how much the Holy Spirit is working in and through us. The closer we walk with Him, and focus on Him, is when we find ourselves living as those who are spiritually mature, because we are leaning less on ourselves and more on Him. When we try and fix our problems and struggles by ourselves, this is when we are acting with less maturity. This doesn’t me we are complacent, but we need to look to Him when dealing with something.

This is very similar to Joshua and the Israelites when they decided to conquer Ai in Joshua 7. Not only did the sin of Achan play a huge roll in their defeat, for the Lord’s anger burned against Israel because of Achan, but they did not inquire of the Lord before doing so. They thought that they could handle it without the Lord, and He let them fail. Had they inquired of the Lord, I’m sure the Lord would have told them of His anger because of Achan.

As for step C in Newton’s view, Aitken writes:

“… Newton describes C as being in a state of contemplation. This means he accepts his absolute dependence on God and acknowledges his own complete weakness. Surrendering his will to God’s will, C concentrates on contemplating the glory of Christ. As he does this, C grows in humility, spirituality, love of God, and tenderness toward others. He is both the object and the example of divine love. Newton concluded this third letter, ‘Happy C! His toils, sufferings, and exercises will soon be at an end; soon his desires will be accomplished; and he who has loved him and redeemed him will receive him to himself with a ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.'”

Again, I like his description of this position. But I think we only get glimpses of it on this side of glory. Those who are His will experience this glory in the fullest. Yet, most of us are probably well grounded in stage B of Newton’s view of sanctification. We are tested and pressed and challenged because God’s hand is working in us. Remember this is the same God that tested Abraham with his son Isaac. He is the same One that test His own Son on our behalf. Since this is true, then why should we not be tested as well?

Every day, the question remains: “Will we trust in Him to do what is best in our lives?” Or, “will we trust in ourselves?” I’m a strong proponent of trusting in Him. Let the One who began a good work in us, continue to do so until the day of salvation!

The Cross of Doctrine and Practice

Another J.C. Ryle quote, this time nabbed from the J.C. Ryle Quotes blog:

Salvation is undoubtedly all of grace. It is offered freely in the Gospel to the chief of sinners, without money and without price. “By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God–not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8, 9) But all who accept this great salvation, must prove the reality of their faith by carrying the cross after Christ. They must not think to enter heaven without trouble, pain, suffering, and conflict on earth. They must be content to take up the cross of DOCTRINE – holding a faith which the world despises, and the cross of PRACTICE – the cross of living a life which the world ridicules as too strict, and righteous over much.

They must be willing to crucify the flesh, to mortify the deeds of the body, to fight daily with the devil, to come out from the world and to lose their lives, if needful, for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s. These are hard sayings, but they admit of no evasion. The words of our Lord are plain and unmistakable. If we will not carry the cross, we shall never wear the crown.

~ J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Mark, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1985], 169. {Mark 8:34-38}

How true Bishop Ryle’s words truly are. It has been said that many Christians want the glory of the cross without the suffering of the cross. This is true in my life as well. But how many would truly be willing to take on the doctrine’s of the Bible as well? How many are willing to say ‘no’ to the practices of the world and endure the suffering and ridicule from the world?

Not enough, and not me. Given over to the flesh, I would readily jettison the walk of faith for the walk with the world if I were left to myself. Fortunately, I am not left to myself. This is one of the reasons that God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works in us to remind us of who it is that we belong to if we endeavor to pursue the things of the world, flesh and devil. Thinking that we will find happiness there, we will not. Those things are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit is opposed to those things.

Given that, should we not submit to His leadership, rule and guidance in our lives? Since God has given us such a great gift of salvation, should we not pursue the things of God?

The obvious answer is ‘yes.’ That being the case, let us endeavor to follow the cross of both doctrine and practice all the more. Let the world hate us as Christ said it would. It hated Him too. But I would much rather be one of His children enduring the trials of this life, than to be a child of wrath undergoing the trials of the afterlife. Let us take up our cross and follow Christ in both doctrine and practice.

Our New Birth in Christ is Soley the Work of the Holy Spirit

From A.W. Pink’s The Sovereignty of God, in the section on God’s sovereignty in salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit:

“The new birth is solely the work of God the Spirit and man has no part or lot in it. This from the very nature of the case. Birth altogether excludes the idea of any effort or work on the part of the one who is born. Personally we have no more to do with our spiritual birth than we had with our natural birth (something I’ve been saying for years). The new birth is a spiritual resurrection, a ‘passing from death unto life’ (John 5:24) and, clearly, resurrection is altogether outside of man’s province. No corpse can re-animate itself”

“Hence it is written, ‘It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing’ (John 6:63). But the Spirit does not ‘quicken’ everyone–why? The usual answer returned to this question is, Because everybody does not trust in Christ. It is supposed that the Holy Spirit quickens only those who believe. But this it to put the cart before the horse. Faith is not the cause of the new birth, but the consequence of it. This ought not to need arguing. Faith (in God) is an exotic, something that is not native to the human heart. If faith were a natural product of the human heart, the exercise of a principle common to human nature, it would never have been written, ‘all men have not faith’ (2 Thess. 3:2).”

“Faith is a spiritual grace, the fruit of the spiritual nature, and because the unregenerate are spiritually dead — ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ — then it follows that faith from them is impossible, for a dead man cannot believe anything. ‘So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God’ (Romans 8:8)– but they could if it were possible for the flesh to believe. Compare with the last-quoted scripture Hebrews 11:6 ‘But without faith it is impossible to please Him.’ Can God be ‘pleased’ or satisfied with any thing which does not have its origin in Himself?”

The answer to that last question is “no.” Those of us who believe in Christ, do so because the Holy Spirit has converted our hearts of stone and turned them to hearts of flesh, SO THAT we can and do believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. I know many will say, “yes, but I have faith and I’m not a Christian.” That is fine. You do have faith in a lot of things. When you drive over a bridge, you are exhibiting faith in the engineers and builders of that bridge as well as the inspection team that inspects it every year. You would be foolish not to drive over it if you didn’t have faith in their work.

But this is not “saving” faith. Saving faith is something all together different from normal, day to day faith. Saving faith is a work of God’s grace in us by the Holy Spirit. He works in us to help us see our sinfulness and need of a savior, then brings us to Christ alone for salvation, giving us the faith we need to believe and trust in the person and work of Jesus on our behalf. This is why men do not move mountains simply by telling the mountain to move. Remember what Jesus said, “for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

The reason it is impossible for us, is because we don’t have the faith of a mustard seed. Allow me to say that again, we do not have the faith of a mustard seed. By nature, mankind is carnal. We operate on site, feelings, touch, smell, emotion… all the things of the flesh, but not by true and living faith. We need saving faith worked in us, and this is what the Holy Spirit does.

Some might ask: “Then why does Jesus tell us to believe if we do not have the capability to do so?” He tells us because this is what is required for salvation. Just because we have the responsibility to do something does not mean we have the capability to do it. Therefore, when faith if finally worked in us by the Holy Spirit, we respond in pure joy because we realize the depth of our own depravity on the one hand, and the richness of God’s amazing grace on the other. We see that God has redeemed us and that our salvation, every ounce of it, is a blessing from Him to us. In view of this, God gets all the glory alone for redeeming us.

Now, for some of you this may irritate the living day lights out of you. But it shouldn’t. In fact, if you are irritated by that, then you need to question your salvation. If the focus of your salvation is you and your glory, then I cannot give you any assurance of salvation whatsoever because your focus is you, and not God and His glory. The true believer doesn’t complain about the terms of salvation given to him by a loving God. We accept those terms and rejoice that Go, somehow, has been glorified through us.

This is a great point of humility, not pride. It is based in humility because the true believer understands without doubt his place in the grand scheme of things without God’s grace. Without God’s grace, we deserve hell. In fact, I contend that most people do not truly believe in hell and realize it’s reality until we have been saved. The natural man cannot accept this fact. It’s too horrendous to think about, especially in light of the fact that we all deserve the rewards of hell.

I remember when I was was rescued by God’s grace back in 1990, the reality of hell really hit home. I was overwhelmed with the reality of hell. Hell wasn’t just some mythical place that people talked about in order to encourage us to do good, but a true place created by God for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). It was a real place and I deserved it completely and fully for my sin.

But what overwhelmed me even more than the reality of hell was the reality of Jesus. He was real. He truly lived. He really died on the cross on my behalf. He truly did love me and all those the Holy Spirit brings to Him by the Father’s decree of election. All those years of drifting between one useless philosophy of God and another, had come to an end. I was no longer asking the question: “Is there and God, and if so, which One?”

The Holy Spirit took care of that in one moment in November 1990. He confirmed to me the realities of God’s word, truth, love and His Son’s sacrifice and I believed and still believe every ounce of it. By His grace, the Spirit confirmed and applied the truth of the gospel to me and I was His. It wasn’t because I worked up faith in my own way, or that I was smarter, better looking, taller, had bigger feet than anyone in my family. It was by His eternal decree that He showed me grace and redeemed me.

If you have trusted in Him, the same is true for you. The only glory in our salvation goes to God and Him alone. This is why I believe in heaven, when we gather around His throne, we will cast our crowns at His feet. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit get all the glory. Those of us who are recipients of His grace, gladly let Him have it as well. Bless Him for sharing it with us, and giving us grace upon grace.

1 Thessalonians 1 and 2

(Originally published January 2006 — and updated for today’s post.)
There are two things I think every believing Christian deeply wants to hear. The first from Christ “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And the second must be “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing brethren, your election by God.” 1Thes. 1:2

As human beings what is our primary job? Why has He placed us here? The Westminster Confession of Faith, shorter catechism says the “chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.” I think theology on a whole revolves around this point. Because of sin, we are separated from this relationship with God. Unregenerated, we can not glorify, please, worship, or enjoy the Father. Our relationship with Him has been defiled and we are justly condemned. Faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation rectifies the problem so that we can worship God in spirit and truth. The Tessalonians did just this. In the midst of persecution, harassment, fear, and the rigors of every day life they found joy in the worship of God and pleasure in obedience through faith Jesus Christ. They were able to look past the trouble to God, through Jesus Christ, working and living for and in Him.

How are we to glorify God and enjoy Him forever? Our brothers and sisters in Thessalonica, by means of the Holy Spirit, gave us a great example, even in the midst of adversity. They turned away from their former idolatry, rejecting the sins and blasphemy of their culture in which they lived, to God. They eagerly awaited Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. They had faith in the deliverance from God’s wrath that is coming, by Jesus. They listened to the gospel preached as the Word of God, not merely of men, which was made effectual in their lives. They sought to glorify and please God, not themselves or others. In other words “work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” is the means by which we can glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
We are to do the same. Only, I would add that we do so by seeking to produce fruits of righteousness. These fruits cannot be produced on our own. We need the Holy Spirit working in our lives in order to do so. Jesus assured us that He would not leave us alone, and would give us a helper in order to produce these fruits. John 14:16-17 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– the Spirit of Truth.
We need the Helper abiding with us continually, especially if we are going to bear fruit as Jesus calls us to do. Remember, Jesus does not just save us. He saves us with a purpose in mind, that we would be holy and blameless before the Father, and that we would bear much fruit. I love Christ’s words to us: He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. As one writer I know wrote: “we can do a lot of things, but if we are not in Christ, we are doing nothing.” I love Christ’s words because they are such a sweet reminder of how dependent we are upon Him. Apart from Him, and His Helper and all the benefits of His salvation in us, we can do nothing. Since He did not save us to do nothing, then let us do what He has called us to do, bear much fruit so that the Father is glorified.
Two things have been in my “request” portion of my prayers lately. The first is that I bear much fruit for the Father’s glory. The way I figure it, is that He has called me to do just that, so I continually ask that His Spirit works in and through me for the glory of the Father. Admittedly, I am somewhat surprised by how much fruit we are seeing in the ministry here at GPC in Jackson. When I first arrived back in November 2009, the church leadership was looking to shut the doors and join our sister church across town. Since that time, the elders have seen that we are still viable and that the Lord is not through with us yet. I would like to take credit. But that would be foolish. However, I am grateful the Lord has used me and my gifts to help this congregation. I hope and pray that He will continue to use me to bear much fruit here for many years to come.
The second aspect of my prayer is to remain faithful to the calling He has placed on my life. Again, the important aspect is the abiding, both of His Holy Spirit in me, and me in Him. This comes with a lot of humility. If it is God working in me and through me for His glory, where is there room for pride in doing what He has not only called me to do, but given me the ability to do. This goes completely against our sin nature, which is all about “me.” But for those who taste the sweetness of this reality, there is an aspect of this relationship and the humility that goes with it that the world fails to see, that of joy.
Only the believer can experience true joy, for we know that not only have we been redeemed from a fallen and wicked world, but that He redeems us to use us for His glory. This should delight our hearts. Is there anything sweeter than knowing that God is being glorified through us? Since God has chosen us, we should give thanks to Him for all that He is doing and will do through us.

Why Join the Church?

I recently read an article by Randy Pope, Perimeter Church Atlanta, on “Why Church Membership?” He makes the case that when Jesus gives the keys to the apostles, this demands church membership. I agree. The basis for his conclusion is that Jesus gave church leadership the right and responsibility to bind and loose that which was necessary within the body of Christ. This was not an open slate to bind or loose anything, but only that which is found in Scripture. This is in keeping with the apostolic view of authority. The authority of the church was passed from Christ, to the apostles, and finally, to elders in the church and continues on today.

Pope writes:

Such God-ordained elders con­tinue to hold the keys of God’s king­dom in the church today.  It is their responsibility to protect the purity of the Church and the honor of God’s Word through biblical discipline of Christ’s flock: opening church mem­bership to professing believers, with­holding membership from non-Chris­tians, building up and encouraging the repentant sinner and dismissing from fellowship the unrepentant.

The possession of the authority of the keys does not guarantee some sort of infallibility on the part of eld­ers.  Their decisions must be based on biblical grounds, but they do not de­termine whether a particular person is or is not a Christian.  Only God knows that with certainty.  Nevertheless, the decisions and declarations of the elders carry the authority of God in such a way as to determine whether or not a person is to be “treated” as a Christian.

He is saying that the elders have a responsibility to protect the flock from bad teaching, or wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15-23, Acts 20:28-30, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus). Therefore they have a right and responsibility to use those keys to both let people join the church who profess Christ and excommunicate those who are in the church and do not live up to the standards given to us by Christ (Matthew 18:15-18, 1 Corinthians 5:1-8).

On a practical level, local church membership is an expression of obedience to God, through submission to the elders.  Apart from this author­ity structure, leaders cannot lead and members have no one to follow, being like sheep without a shepherd.

Thus, local church membership is essential to the proper functioning of the Body of Christ.  Through a member’s fellowship with the local church, he or she has access to the privileges of corporate worship, the sacraments, oversight, care, loving discipline, and the fellowship and mu­tual ministry of other Christians.

There are far too many Christians who do not believe in church membership and this really is sad.

There are other reasons I feel it is necessary to join the church. First, we are to confess our faith in Christ to men (Matthew 10:31). This means that we must be public about our faith and removes the option of being a clandestine Christian. Jesus requires this of His followers, that we confess Him to men. One way that this is done is by joining the local church. In doing so, we must go before the leaders of that church and confess that we are believers in Christ. I know that this takes different shapes in different churches, but it is still required. In our denomination, this means going before the elders and giving a credible profession of faith. (Baptism is required if one has not been baptized, but at the core of joining is confession of faith in Christ.)

Secondly, scripture says that we are to submit to the leadership of the church because those in leadership of the church are responsible for the spiritual well-being of those in the congregation. Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. How is it that we submit to them if we do not appear before them and join them in fellowship? We cannot be faithful to Christ by not being submissive to church leadership. This also aids those in leadership knowing who we are and where we stand in the faith.

Being in leadership, please know that we do take this seriously. Every member that submits to the leadership of the church, is our concern. We want all those in the fellowship to grow spiritually and mature in the Lord. We cannot do well in our calling when those in the congregation are unwilling to submit to leadership.

Third, in the book of Ephesians, Paul gives us the picture of what the church looks like. He is showing us how the community of believers are knit together and how we are to live as together as those built up on The Cornerstone, Christ. He shows us that through Christ, even Jews and Gentiles are made into One and that unity is to be central to the body of Christ. This unity cannot take place when we refuse to submit to one another in mutual love.

But Paul also shows us that Christ gave gifts to the church for the purpose of the edification of the church (4:7-16). There he gives us the list apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers. The purpose of the pastors/teachers is to build up those in the body of Christ, SO THAT they are equipped for the work of the ministry. The entire purpose of this is for the benefit of believers in the body. His imagery is such that it shows that we cannot exist apart from one another: v.15-16 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

The practical application of this is church membership, so that, Christ can work through the gifts He has given to the church, to build up His body. Those who are refusing to come together publicly in this manner, are refusing to take part in what He has called us to be. We are called to be under the preached word of God, and that requires we commit to a local congregation.

(Please note: I understand that there are parts of the world where church membership is held loosely because of the threat of death. I’m not speaking to those. The bond those brothers and sisters have is far stronger than what we have been given here in America, simply because they know the full implications of being believers than we do.)

Finally, as Randy Pope puts it, to not join a church is like someone dating and living with our daughter. Taking in all the privileges of marriage, but without the commitment. We see the results of this kind of a relationship in our culture already. The same is true in the church for those who refuse to join, are refusing to do what Christ requires, submit to the leadership of the church. How is it that we can call ourselves followers of Christ if we will not follow Him in the one characteristic that lead to our salvation: submission. He was without sin, yet submitted Himself to sinners and did so without reviling them (1 Peter 2:23ff). In fact, He not only submitted Himself to unjust rulers on our behalf, but prayed for those who put Him to death (Luke 23:34). The point being that if we are not willing to follow Jesus with a submissive attitude by submitting to the leaders of the church, then how can we truly call ourselves Christians? Being a Christian is more than just being saved. We are called to obedience, to bear fruit and to abide in Him. We cannot do so apart from the local church. The local church is the means by which God uses to sustain us and grow us. That being the case, then we need to join a local congregation in order to be obedient to Him.

Trials In Christ

John 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[a] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

J.C. Ryle writes concerning the Father pruning the vine in John 15:2,

“Trial, to speak plainly, is the instrument by which our Father in heaven makes Christians more holy. By trial He calls out their passive graces, and proves whether thy can suffer His will as well as do it. By trial He weans them from the world, draws them to Christ, drives them to the Bible and prayer, shows them their own hearts, and makes them humble. This is the process by which He ‘purges’ them, and makes them more fruitful. The lives of the saints in every age, are the best and truest comment on the text. Never, hardly, do we find an eminent saint, either in the Old Testament or the New, who was not purified by suffering, and, like His master, a ‘man of sorrows.'”

“Let us learn to be patient in the days of darkness, if we know anything of vital union with Christ. Let us remember the doctrine of the passage before us, and not murmur and complain because of trials. Our trials are not meant to do us harm, but good. God chastens us ‘for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness,’ (Hebrews 12:10). Fruit is the thing that our Master desires to see in us, and He will not spare the pruining knife if He sees we need it. In the last day we shall see that all was well done.”

Timothy’s Top 10 NT Passages

This is one of those subjects that is really hard for the believer to do, make a list of our favorite passages. But I’m going to try. Feel free to share your favorite passages and why in the comments sections. I wish I could reverse the count so that you read my favorite one last. Not sure how to make the numbering system of WordPress do that. So here they are, starting with my favorite.

  1. Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Now, this might seem like an odd passage for someone’s favorite passage. But it is mine because it is the first passage I read from the Bible in which the Holy Spirit moved in me and convicted me of it’s truthfulness. I was still a non-believer at the time and I asked my cousin, who was witnessing to me, about all those money-grubbing televangelists. He took me to this passage and had me read it. For the first time in my life, the text of Scripture was more than just words on a page, more than just a story about a guy some 2,000 years ago. Those words were truth and I realized it. No matter how many people may claim to be doing so many things for Christ, He was not fooled by the false prophets or false professors of the faith. He saw through to the reality in their hearts. I eventually realized that He saw into the reality of my heart as well.
  2. Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. I love this passage because of the assurance that is found in it. Knowing my own heart and resistance to Christ, I would not be a believer had He not first chosen me, moved in me, converted me and saved me. The only aspect of my salvation that I claim is my sin, which I want nothing to do with. It is comforting to know that I’m not a believer because I accidentally stumbled into it, but that He predestined me to become one of His children… before the foundations of the world were laid. If that doesn’t give the believer a sense of purpose and assurance, I’m not sure anything will.
  3. John 6:35-40 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the S7 Again, another passage that offers assurance, and comfort. Those who truly belong to Him will not be lost.
  4. John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. Along with the verses through verse 14, this is one of those monumental statements about Christ. This says that He is far more than a carpenter, or a teacher, or a moral man, or whatever the other drivel is that non-believer ascribes to Him. When we actually read what the Bible says about Christ, we find that He is far more than just a man who lived 2,000 years ago. I believe this is why so many want to take the non-believer to the book of John. While the authors of the synoptic gospels move slowly in their revelations of Christ, John gets right to the point. John is giving a view of Christ from a heavenly perspective. Matthew, Mark and Luke are giving us the ministry of Christ from an earthly perspective. This is why there is such a difference in the way that they are written and why so much of what Christ says is centered on His relationship with the Father. Jesus is God in the flesh, the Second person of the Trinity, and to deny this aspect about Him is to deny Him and the Father.
  5. Colossians 1:15-18 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Again, another Christological verse showing Christ as the preeminent One. I love this verse because it shows that all things belong to Him, and were made by Him, and that He is NOT a created being. For all things were created by Him. He is the One that speaks creation into existence. Paul wants us to understand the greatness of Christ and who He is. Again, if we know anything about Him at all, He is far more than just a good teacher. He is the Second Person of the Trinity.
  6. Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. and Again, showing us more about Christ. But this time, showing us His great humility and His greater exaltation. He laid aside all the glory that belonged to Him, and became a “bondservant” on our behalf. What should have happened is that He should have come and rightfully declared that we should worship Him. Yet, He doesn’t because He is looking for us to love Him out of hearts of gratitude. Yes, in His exaltation, eventually every knee will bow and confess that He is Lord, but until then, He extends an open invitation to all, seeing those who are His come to Him.
  7. 1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. This verse captures the gospel and the special place we have in Christ. He does not just save us from our sins, but makes us into a royal priesthood, a holy nation and even calls us His own special people. I rejoice at the mercy He has extended to me. I deserve none of the blessings given, yet for His own glory, He has graciously extended them to me.
  8. Hebrews 1:1-4 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself[a] purged our[b] sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Again, another Christological passage showing us that Jesus is the final and ultimate revelation of God. There is no more revelation once the canon closed because there is nothing more for Him to reveal to us. He has revealed the greatest message there is, found in His Son alone, bringing peace to those who believe in Him.
  9. Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Short, but so full of truth. Those of us in Christ are to live for Christ. He is the center of who we are because He has purchased us from the eternal darkness, and brought us into His unapproachable light. Given that, even when we die, we gain because then we are immediately in His presence for the rest of eternity. We will have much sweeter communion with Christ on that day, that this life, and all the trials, tribulations and troubles will fade away.
  10. Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. A declaration of who we are in Christ. Our sins have been dealt with, therefore, let us live as those who have been freed from sin, and live unto righteousness.

There are so many more passages than just these 10. But I had to limit myself otherwise, I would have listed the entire New Testament. I’m not sure the people at WordPress would appreciate that.

If you have a few favorite verses you would like to share, please do so in the comments section.