Archives For Jesus

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it (Luke 19.41)

It is early in the Passion Week and our Lord is coming upon the great city Jerusalem.  He has been hailed the King by worshipers (19.37-38) but he has also been questioned and interrogated by the Pharisees (19.39).  But now he is upon the crest of the city and he is moved to tears.

Why?  Well ultimately the tears are bound up in the upcoming destruction of Jerusalem which Jesus connects to their rejection of him as the promised Messiah (vv. 42-44).

But our tendency is to quickly turn from the Savior to the people and begin to think about AD 70 and the destruction as well as the ongoing demonstration of judgment for rejecting Christ.  However we mustn’t too quickly turn away from the heavy truth in verse 41: Jesus wept over the city.

The mere fact that Jesus wept here shows the deeply emotional state of the Savior as he moves toward Jerusalem.  He is not an indifferent Calvinist who’s theology is so suffocated that he cannot breath, see, and be moved.  He is weeping over lost people, judgment, and disaster.  We must not lift our heads up too quickly from the page lest we miss the Master’s heart.  Think and ask yourself about how often (if ever) you have wept over your city.

Furthermore, he is weeping as he approaches his crucifixion.  Jesus is not going to a reception here but an execution.  We know that while the cries may have been “Hosanna!” (John 12.13) on the front end they will be “Crucify Him!” in a matter of days (Mark 15.14).  They call him “King” now but in due time these same fickle crowds will declare passionately that “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19.15).  But nevertheless Jesus weeps.  It would seem that the fickleness and feigned worship seem to even further pierce the Savior’s heart.  He indeed knows what is in man (John 2.24-25).  He is weeping over the sinful hearts of his executioners.  He is weeping because of who they are and what they are doing.  He is weeping because of what they are missing.  Let the Savior’s tears communicate the hidden mysteries of his perfect heart as it beats blood of holy compassion in his bosom.

Jesus’ patience, love, and emotion are so convicting and instructive to me.  He had every right to yell at all of them for their rejection of him.  However he pauses over the city and in plain view, he weeps.  How unlike Christ am I that I do not even come close to this compassion, grief, emotion, or heartache?  Furthermore he is not afraid to show his emotion in the plain eyes of the public.  He does not fear men and their reactions of him.  He just loves them and grieves over their rejection of him.  O’ What a Savior!

This morning I woke up with drums of Calvary beating in my mind. Specifically I was drawn to relentless petitions for Barabbas’ freedom in favor of Jesus’ execution. I had to just sit and try to dwell upon the scene, what follows is what came out. I was convicted and encouraged, which seems to be the pattern in the meditation upon Christ’s cross; so therefore I share this likewise for your encouragement and conviction where need be.

The scene is violent, it is cold,

the source of countless stories told

Heaven’s joy stands beaten and disgraced

One from whom men hide their face

The judge emerges, off’ring his release

The raging mob strikes back with anger now increased

…..

“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” is the uniform cry

Release to us a murderer, Just let this one die

There is a voice in the crowd that is disturbingly distinct

I hear it clear as day in my mind—I’m sure that it is me

…..

I rage and yell, for this offering,

Kill this ‘righteous’ one, get him away from me

Give me a murderer, Barabbas, yes, he will do,

He is more like me than this—“King of the Jews”

…..

He has preached of his kingdom and spoke of my sin

He has dared to look at me and order me to follow him

I’ve had enough of this guy and his claim to be the king

Give me Barabbas! Give me Barabbas! Is the song I sing

…..

Now my voice is nearly hoarse from crying for his death

I stare at his bloody brow and watch him fight for breath

He too is hoarse—but the cause is not like mine

He was bearing the hell-drenched curse for sinners such as I

…..

I see him with heavenly resolve cry out one last time

With a voice so certain and so strong I’m sure it was divine

His shout echoes still, in my ears, with the freshness of that day

“It is finished!” says this Jesus, with blood still dripping from his face

…..

I look at him much different now—for I see him as he is

The righteous Lamb of God pierced through for sinners’ sins

I look upon this bloody cross, horrified by what I see

The demands of my sin by the Law made him a curse for me

…..

He hangs dead before me, heaven’s wrath now spent

I put my hand over my mouth, for my heart is now rent

O’ the love of God to order such as course

By this cross I’m forever changed, but my voice remains still hoarse.

…..

In the last post I mentioned that Christ was not pursuing us as that which was ultimately valuable when he died upon the cross. However, there was something that he did pursue; there was something that he chiefly valued. It is this that he pursued, longed to exalt in and clearly demonstrate.

I am referring to the glory of God. This is what Jesus valued. This is what he came to vindicate (Rom. 3.21-26). God is fanatically intolerant with the disregard of his own glory. He vows with all of heaven as a testimony that he will not give his glory to another (Is. 42.8). Therefore to have us as humanity shaking our puny fists in God’s face like a bunch of little ants is to have God’s most prized possession attacked. This cannot go unpunished. Furthermore, the glory of God cannot go unvindicated; God must get his glory.

This is what we see from Jesus throughout his ministry. He comes and does nothing but love God perfectly (Jn. 8.29) giving him glory (Jn. 17.4) and doing all that he required. His mission was to exalt the glory of God. This is seen in everything from his preaching, to his healings, to the cross and the empty grave. Everything that Jesus does is aimed at the glory of God.

This tells us a bit more about Christ’s inherent excellence; for what does he set his life to exalt but that which is the highest good. Nothing rivals the glory of God, for it is the ultimate good. Therefore the successful pursuit and exaltation of that which is best distinguishes Jesus as the supreme good.

We understand that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5.8). That is while we were not pursuing the glory of God but rather attacking and undermining it (sin) Jesus Christ died to rescue sinners like us and in so doing vindicate divine glory. Jesus is to be esteemed because he valued that which is of the highest value.

From the first mention of redemption of the bible (Gen. 3.15ff) to the full and perfect accomplishment of it, there is a great sense of certainty, hope and relief for those with a heavenly wrought contrition. This one who would come would be able to do the job, he would be able to save his people from their sins (Matt. 1.21). So with this divinely approved resume of the Messiah we have great hope.

Well why is Jesus approved? Why is he uniquely able to save?

Jesus alone is possesses the requisite perfection. We know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3.23). This verse teaches us that the ‘all’ here are all people from all times. Therefore one of our peers could not help us because they likewise are confined to the ranks of the unrighteous (Rom. 3.10-12).

So we need one who is different and not like us. We need one who is not polluted by the effects of human sinfulness. We need one who is not deserving of the wrath of God. However, at the same time we also need one who is like us, that is, one who carries our humanity. This substitute, this redeemer, this Savior must maintain an eternally perfect righteousness (he must be divine), but at the same time he must be able to identify with, live and die for sinners. So he must also be human.

Well who is qualified to undertake this task? All of humanity has been created therefore we are not eternal and we do not possess the eternal righteousness that is required to satisfy God’s standard. Likewise the angels could not serve as a suitable substitute; for angels themselves were created and they are merely the reflection of divine holiness where as Christ is himself is holy. He is not merely a reflection of divine holiness he is the source of holiness (Heb. 7.26).

I often find myself considering the exclusivity of the gospel through the Savior Jesus through the lenses of God’s own character. If the bible is true and God is radically intolerant of anything less than ceaseless perfection with respect to God-centered worship through love and obedience then there is no hope for forgiveness outside of this gloriously and wonderfully qualified one named Jesus of Nazareth.

So why should Jesus be valued? He is exclusively qualified to save sinners. He is preeminent. He is supreme. He is without rival and worthy of unmitigated worship.

1 Peter 1:8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

Peter’s readers had not seen the Lord Jesus with their natural eyes, however, they saw him with the eyes of faith…for the text says, “you love him”. The world around them was wondering how they would renounce all things visible for that which is unseen. However, they believe, they see, they love.

How good and encouraging is it for you Christian to know that you have a lineage of spiritual ancestors who like you have not seen the Lord Jesus with the literal eyes but you have seen him through the eyes of faith, a vision produced and inflamed by the Holy Spirit through the pages of Scriptures and demonstrated in great power in your own life.

This is one of the chief distinguishing marks of genuine Christianity. One may be able to fake their conversion by masking it with service, attendance, generous giving, or morality; but no hypocrite can muster up sustained love for the one who will one day unmask the hypocrisy…no, genuine love for Jesus is Christianity.

Here are some ways in which we have seen him and so therefore, we love him:

-we have seen him humble himself to adorn himself with flesh

-we have seen him submit to his earthly parents, whom he created

-we have seen him call rugged fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, murdererers, and demon possessed men to follow him

-we have seen him touch lepers and heal them

-we have seen him feed thousands

-we have seen him walk upon the water

-we have seen him stare the devil and all of his temptations in the eye without giving in

-we have seen him calm the storm upon Galilee

-we have seen him pray…sometimes all night long

-we have seen him sing with his disciples

-we have seen him endure mockings, ridicule, and persecution…when he deserved none of it

-we have seen him march with such heavenly resolve to Jerusalem, knowing he would die

-we have seen him sweat drops of blood as he contemplated bearing our sin

-we have seen him beaten by religious leaders…but without reviling in return, only entrusting himself to a faithful creator

-we have seen him with a shredded back, carry his cross to the point of collapse

-we have seen him pray upon the cross while he was drinking the unmitigated, undiluted cup of divine wrath for us

-we have seen him hoisted up, suspended above the earth, as the exclusive Savior of the world

-we have seen him entreat sinners unto himself while upon the cross

-we have seen him declare it is finished, as he drank damnation dry

-we have seen him die upon Calvary’s tree

-we have seen him raise from the grave victorious over sin, death, and Satan

-we have seen him ascend to the Father

-we have seen him extend his hand to us in the gospel

-we have seen him welcome us to his chest, that we might, like that beloved apostle, hear his heart beat

-we have seen him stand between us and the Father as our Mediator

-we have seen him continue to pray incessantly as our great High Priest

-we have seen him through enlightened eyes…and we love him…we love him….for he is lovely!!

[this excerpt is from a sermon I preached on 04.15.2007 at Omaha Bible Church, here is a link to a page for listening/download of the complete message]

The Liberality of Jesus

Erik Raymond —  June 30, 2007

by Charles Spurgeon

“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them.” :: John 17:22

Behold the superlative liberality of the Lord Jesus, for he hath given us his all. Although a tithe of his possessions would have made a universe of angels rich beyond all thought, yet was he not content until he had given us all that he had. It would have been surprising grace if he had allowed us to eat the crumbs of his bounty beneath the table of his mercy; but he will do nothing by halves, he makes us sit with him and share the feast.

Had he given us some small pension from his royal coffers, we should have had cause to love him eternally; but no, he will have his bride as rich as himself, and he will not have a glory or a grace in which she shall not share. He has not been content with less than making us joint-heirs with himself, so that we might have equal possessions. He has emptied all his estate into the coffers of the Church, and hath all things common with his redeemed. There is not one room in his house the key of which he will withhold from his people. He gives them full liberty to take all that he hath to be their own; he loves them to make free with his treasure, and appropriate as much as they can possibly carry.

The boundless fulness of his all-sufficiency is as free to the believer as the air he breathes. Christ hath put the flagon of his love and grace to the believer’s lip, and bidden him drink on for ever; for could he drain it, he is welcome to do so, and as he cannot exhaust it, he is bidden to drink abundantly, for it is all his own.

What truer proof of fellowship can heaven or earth afford?

“When I stand before the throne
Dressed in beauty not my own;
When I see thee as thou art,
Love thee with unsinning heart;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know-
Not till then-how much I owe.”

by Charles Spurgeon

“Thou art fairer than the children of men.”
– Psalm 45:2

The entire person of Jesus is but as one gem, and his life is all along
but one impression of the seal. He is altogether complete; not only in his
several parts, but as a gracious all-glorious whole. His character is not
a mass of fair colours mixed confusedly, nor a heap of precious stones
laid carelessly one upon another; he is a picture of beauty and a
breastplate of glory.

charles-spurgeon.jpg

In him, all the “things of good repute” are in their proper places, and
assist in adorning each other. Not one feature in his glorious person
attracts attention at the expense of others; but he is perfectly and altogether lovely.

Oh, Jesus! thy power, thy grace, thy justice, thy tenderness, thy truth,
thy majesty, and thine immutability make up such a man, or rather such a
God-man, as neither heaven nor earth hath seen elsewhere. Thy infancy, thy
eternity, thy sufferings, thy triumphs, thy death, and thine immortality,
are all woven in one gorgeous tapestry, without seam or rent. Thou art
music without discord; thou art many, and yet not divided; thou art all
things, and yet not diverse.

As all the colours blend into one resplendent rainbow, so all the glories
of heaven and earth meet in thee, and unite so wondrously, that there is
none like thee in all things; nay, if all the virtues of the most
excellent were bound in one bundle, they could not rival thee, thou mirror
of all perfection.

Thou hast been anointed with the holy oil of myrrh and cassia, which thy
God hath reserved for thee alone; and as for thy fragrance, it is as the
holy perfume, the like of which none other can ever mingle, even with the
art of the apothecary; each spice is fragrant, but the compound is divine.

“Oh, sacred symmetry! oh, rare connection
Of many perfects, to make one perfection!
Oh, heavenly music, where all parts do meet
In one sweet strain, to make one perfect sweet!”

Religion vs. Gospel

Erik Raymond —  June 10, 2007

Here is a helpful list of distinctives articulated by Mark Driscoll between Religion and the Gospel. I have found these to be helpful in personal evangelism and teaching when trying to explain the uniqueness and need for the gospel.

[I just want to note that ‘religion’ is not bad in a biblical sense (cf. Jam.1.27). However, what makes it bad is the prevalent perception that institutions or creeds in conjunction with human works can serve as a portal to heaven rather than a full reliance upon the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.]

Religion says, if I obey, God will love me. Gospel says, because God loves me, I can obey.

Religion has good people & bad people. Gospel has only repentant and unrepentant people.

Religion values a birth family. Gospel values a new birth.

Religion depends on what I do. Gospel depends on what Jesus has done.

Religion claims that sanctification justifies me. Gospel claims that justification enables sanctification.

Religion has the goal to get from God. Gospel has the goal to get God.

Religion sees hardships as punishment for sin. Gospel sees hardship as sanctified affliction.

Religion is about me. Gospel is about Jesus.

Religion believes appearing as a good person is the key. Gospel believes that being honest is the key.

Religion has an uncertainty of standing before God. Gospel has certainty based upon Jesus’ work.

Religion sees Jesus as the means. Gospel sees Jesus as the end.

Religion ends in pride or despair. Gospel ends in humble joy.

Last night a friend and his kids were over while our wives were out setting up for a friend’s wedding. After dinner he was going to lead devotions for the kids. He opened up to Judges and was going asking some questions. There were 7 kids there ranging from 3 to 12, so the audience was varied. Then Matt asked this question,

lanie.jpg“Who is the guy who is real strong, has big muscles and cool hair?”

My sweet little 5-year-old Alaynah quickly answered:

“Jesus!”

To that I said, “Amen”.

I am so glad that she does not see Jesus as a 98lb wimp, who always got bullied, was effeminate and had no power. Instead she is learning of a Jesus who is King of kings and Lord of lords. The one who created, sustains and will one day judge the world. He is not a wimp but a King. He has a scepter that everyone will either bow under or be crushed by. But yet at the same time, in the mind-blowing grace of God, he entreats rebels to come as a young child, like Alaynah, to come to him, that we might realize and rejoice in his immeasurable love.

the-calvinists-love.jpg

Hi, my name is Erik. I am a Calvinist and I have a problem.

I’ve noticed a bit of a theological and devotional imbalance. Perhaps you can relate. I love Christ, his gospel, the theology that encompasses these things. I love to meditate, talk, and even dream about Christ and the gospel.

However, something in me flinches when I say that God loves me. You can put your eyebrow back down. If you are swimming in the Reformed side of the pool you know what I am talking about. I often feel like I need to qualify the conditions of God’s love towards me, by rushing to articulate such things such as grace, mercy and election. Don’t get me wrong these are all true expression of God’s love for me but I am uncomfortable just saying Paul’s words as if they are my own:

Galatians 2:20 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

This is what bugs me.

Perhaps it is an over reaction against the pop-evangelical portrayal of Jesus as everybody’s boyfriend instead of Lord and King, I don’t know.

At any rate, the Bible is clear: God loves his children. I need to stop there. I need to loiter around this monument of theological truth. Too often, out of a fallen understanding, I try to chase this sweet taste of divine benevolence with other theological tonics, as if I am feeling guilty or something. This is not right. Any theology that cannot marvel and enjoy the love of God in Christ Jesus is not divinely calibrated.

So here I am today talking to myself and instead of listening to myself. I need to have my mind renewed by the word of God (Rom. 12.1-2) that I might properly esteem and enjoy the great and marvelous Savior who loved me and gave himself up for me.

I definitely do not have it all figured out and the more I grow the more chinks in the armour I see. Thanks be to God for his illuminating grace through sanctification. Thanks be to God for his love for me.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Today is Memorial Day here in the US and it serves a great day to remember those who have served both their generation and the generations to come through their heroic defense of freedom.

I think it is fitting and good to honor those who have sacrificed for others. As a former veteran I am especially inclined to be passionately patriotic. However, as a Christian I see this day as a gigantic arrow pointing to a more Memorial Day.

I think of the greatest man who ever lived and who gave the ultimate sacrifice (in the truest sense of the word) to purchase freedom for a great multitude. I of course am talking about the greatest hero to ever live and die, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Consider the mission he was on. He was born to die; there was never another option. And further the very thing that he was coming to die for was what killed him.

So today as you see the flowers, watch the news, or enjoy the day off, remember that these folks were heroes indeed, but they were not Saviors. They did not die redemptively. Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone is the true preeminent hero; for he is the one, the only one, who could and would give his life as a sacrifice for sinners.

The most ‘memorial day’ is the bloody, dark, sin-stained day of Golgotha where the Prince of Heaven became the price for heathens. Take time this week to meditate upon this reality friends. Jesus Christ, under no obligation to you, came to willfully offer up his life as a sacrifice for rebels. He satisfied divine wrath and secured nation of redeemed sinners.

Furthermore, you need not go to his grave to pay tribute or leave a flower, instead this hero stands alive in the posture of preeminence even now reigning at the right hand of God enjoying the incense of his perfection. He does not ask for sorrow, for pity, or for tears of grief, instead Jesus Christ demands worship. He demands that rebels such as us find him to be gloriously beautiful and worthy of our highest joy and treasure.

Enjoy the reality of the risen and victorious King who gave his life as a sacrifice for sinners like you and me. Be encouraged that his glory and merit will never be eclipsed but forever shine as the focal point of all eternity through the Christ Centered worship of all of the redeemed in concert with the heavenly hosts.

To answer this great question I have a quote from John Piper in his extremely helpful and highly recommended book, Counted Righteous in Christ, (Crossway, 2002). In addition, I have added a couple of closing thoughts below.

“By imputation I am referring to the act in which God counts sinners to be righteousness through their faith in Christ on the basis of Christ’s perfect ‘blood and righteousness,’ specifically the righteousness that Christ accomplished by his perfect obedience in life and death….[the] historic Protestant teaching [is] that the basis of our justification through faith is the provision of Christ for both pardon and imputed perfection.

…Christ has become our substitute in two senses: in his suffering and death he becomes our curse and condemnation (Galatians 3.13; Romans 8.3). And in his suffering and life he becomes our perfection (2 Corinthians 5.21). On the one hand, his death is the climax of his atoning sufferings, which propitiate the wrath of God against us (Romans 3.24-25); on the other hand, his death is the climax of a perfect life of righteousness imputed to us (2 Corinthians 5.21; cf. Romans 4.6, 11 with 3.21-22, 5.18-19).”

This may seem like a mouth-full but read through it a couple of times and it should make sense. Imputation is the crediting (charging, reckoning, etc.) of the perfect righteousness of Jesus to the imperfect sinner. This is done on the basis of faith (Rom. 3.20-4.6; 1 Cor. 1.30; 2 Cor. 5.21; Phil. 3.9).

It is important to note a couple of additional aspects of clarity here:

/1/ When Christ became the sin-bearing substitute for the elect he was imputed (charged) with the sins of his sheep (2 Cor. 5.21; Gal.3.13). So in a very real sense your sin is fully charged to Jesus upon that cross and he sufficiently paid its penalty there. So there is no further offering needed, for the believer’s sin was charged to him there (cf. also Col. 2.13-14; Heb.1.3, 9.11-14; 10.10-12).

/2/ The imputation of Christ’s righteousness also carries with it the effect upon our daily lives (this is a huge over generalization here, but for a specific point). His perfect righteousness in obedience is our righteousness (in daily life) in spite of our disobedience. So we do not just cling to imputed righteousness at the bar of judgment but also daily through our everyday lives as he is our perfection while we remain imperfect. It is as Piper says above the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is “for both pardon and perfection”.

There is neither hope for forgiveness nor holiness apart from imputation. As a result, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is a chief doctrine of Christianity which should be more greatly appreciated and more ardently defended.

.

irishcalvinistemail.pngFridays are Q&A Fridays here at IrishCalvinist.com so if you have a question fire it in to…

.

So what is so good about Good Friday? This question was asked at our dinner table the other day and has been rattling around in my head ever since. Someday I’d like to make a tract with this question on it; perhaps for next year. What follows are some meditations as to why Good Friday is good.

Good Friday is ‘good’ because…

…Jesus was my substitute there upon that blood-stained tree

…Jesus wore the crown of thorns that I might wear the crown of life

…Jesus was scourged that I might be healed

…Jesus was condemned that I might be pardoned

Continue Reading…

matthew-28-image.jpg

Truly this is a narrative to be cherished. The women had come to the tomb to serve the crucified Savior by tending to his body, however, upon arrival his body was no longer there. We read of the great announcement by the angel that “He is not here, for he has risen, just as he said..” (Matt. 28.5).

Notice the reaction here by Christ’s servants for it is a great model for us. The risen Savior had induced dual emotions in their hearts, fear and great joy.

:Great Fear
On the one hand they are afraid, for something more powerful than their greatest adversary had been unveiled, they were mourning because of the formidable foe of death and its relentless pursuit of life. However, now, they were struck by another power that has distinguished itself greater than the source of their troubles. They were confronted not by the potential or the predictions of a powerful resurrection, but with the reality.

These early morning witnesses were no doubt overwhelmed with fear as they would have considered the reality that everything that Jesus said and did was true, for he had many times said that this precise thing would happen. So they were afraid. They were afraid because the undisputed champion of mankind, death itself, had just been defeated. There is nothing more powerful and so therefore more awful than the one has the power and victory over death. Continue Reading…

Sit and Stare

Erik Raymond —  March 15, 2007
remember-jesus-target.jpg

A couple of Thursday mornings a month I am privileged to meet with a group of guys at a local Starbucks. We are currently reading through C.J. Maheney’s book Living the Cross Centered Life. This morning we enjoyed rich fellowship and encouragement centered on the need to discipline ourselves to set the cross ever before us that we might cultivate genuine gospel humility resounding in praise to the Savior.

In considering this challenge it is helpful to admit weaknesses and challenges. For instance, we should admit that we are not as focused on Christ as we ought to be. We are also far to enamored with the accommodations of this world, we too often do not find ourselves eagerly longing for heaven like we ought (Phil 3.21, Col. 3.1-4). We also are plagued with a propensity towards the worship of self. Too often our lives are self-centered rather than cross-centered.

So what do we do? How do we live the cross-centered life?

A good place to start is repentance. We can be praying that God would be merciful in giving more grace, that we would truly value the cross and the Savior who died upon it. Additionally, it is always helpful to evangelize yourself daily, to tour the hill of agony with watery eyes that we might see our sin as eternally despicable and our Savior as eternally beautiful. In this vein it is critical to heed the Apostle’s exhortation to Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel

The verb here (translated remember) is in the present tense calling Timothy to maintain this practice of calling to mind the Savior. The gospel is to never escape his mind, for he is to be ever fixed upon it. So too, us as grandchildren in the faith, we are to keep remembering Jesus Christ. We do not want to be guilty of forgetting, undervaluing, or under appreciating the Savior. It was the unbelieving who, according to Isaiah, “we did not esteem him” (Is. 53.3). This is the exact opposite of what God is calling us to do.

Too often Christians think of the cross as the turnstile into the Christian life; as if we run through it with a passing glance and then it is on to the amusement park of Christianity, full of free rides, games and entertainment. This is simply not true! The cross is not simply for unbelievers, but it is for believers as well! We must love and live the gospel.

The cross is an enduring monument of our guilt and God’s unconditional grace towards believers. As Christians we should be tied with a providential leash to its base and should never wander from its shadow. So much of the trouble and pain we incur as believers flows from such wandering.

If we would set the cross ever before ourselves we would be content to sit and to stare at it, knowing that it was upon that tree that we were simultaneously indicted and pardoned, where the source of life died that the source of death might live, where pride was crucified that biblical boasting might ensue; it is here fellow Christians that we are to find ourselves dwelling perpetually, here alone. Sit and stare that you might see and savor Jesus.

The Lifter of our Heads

Erik Raymond —  March 6, 2007

This past Sunday morning we sang a song that was drawn from the third Psalm. Perhaps you have sung the same song before, the main verse is:

Psalm 3:3 But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

It is a song that I have sung many times before, however this time it hit me between the eyes like a 2-by-4.

David is writing about fleeing from his son Absalom and the ever increasing number of adversaries (3.1). There are many who were mocking David in this midst of such troubles (3.2). However, David, standing resilient as ever, drenched in the gracious dew of heaven in this valley of despair, sings this praise to his God and ours.

David of course is finding comfort, peace, confidence and praise because God is his shield, his glory, and the one who lifts his head.

And this is where the 2-by-4 came in…as we sang I wondered why. Why could David sing with such optimism? How could God have given victory to him? On what basis may God extend grace? How is God’s mercy, love and forgiveness compatible with David’s lust, murder, and adultery?

It is because of the Son of David. Any optimism that has ever and will ever be legitimately felt, anticipated, or reflected upon is anchored to a blood-stained tree in Israel. The reason why God could and would lift David’s head is because the Son of David, the Lord Jesus had bowed his head. Yes we are too familiar with that scene aren’t we? You know the scene well, for it is here when Jesus said, “it is finished’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn. 19.30).

Gaze upon this scene in your mind’s eye Christian when you are feeling the weight of sin, the bitter herbs of despair, and the pain of persecution.

Remember that it was Jesus who bowed his head that you may have your head lifted. You have no right to bow your head now. There is no reason to despair! For the greatest ills and enemies lay slain in the shadow of the crucified Savior.

“O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15.55).

The Absolams of this world are but gnats compared to the deadly vipers of sin, death and Satan, but mark it believer, these foes are dead, for they have been crushed by the powerful saving sovereign, our Jesus.

God does lift our head, but only because God has bowed his head. Now I want to sing.

come, ye sinners

Erik Raymond —  February 24, 2007

Last night at Crossroads we sang this song. It was entirely appropriate as we studied James 4.1-10. I love the lyrics; they are so true and so powerful. Our guitar guy (he goes by ‘the Tick’ in the comments) played this well; it was fast and strong. So good. Read, meditate, and enjoy as you find yourself comforted in Jesus.

1. Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,

Weak and wounded, sick and sore;

Jesus, ready, stands to save you,

Full of pity, joined with power.

He is able, He is able;

He is willing; doubt no more.

2. Come ye needy, come, and welcome,

God’s free bounty glorify;

True belief and true repentance,

Every grace that brings you nigh.

Without money, without money

Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

3. Come, ye weary, heavy laden,

Bruised and broken by the fall;

If you tarry ’til you’re better,

You will never come at all.

Not the righteous, not the righteous;

Sinners Jesus came to call.

4. Let not conscience make you linger,

Nor of fitness fondly dream;

All the fitness He requires

Is to feel your need of Him.

This He gives you, this He gives you,

’Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.

5. Lo! The Incarnate God, ascended;

Pleads the merit of His blood.

Venture on Him; venture wholly,

Let no other trust intrude.

None but Jesus, none but Jesus

Can do helpless sinners good.

..

(lead sheets and chords available at RUF)

Ever Impressed with the Cross

Erik Raymond —  February 20, 2007

It seems like so much in our age is determined by newness or freshness. For example, we have music, clothing, and architectural styles that all change regularly. Sometimes people are categorized by their freshness by what they are up on. However, with Christianity it is not so. At least, it should not be so.

Men and women are called to come behold the glories of Jesus through his radiant cross-work. We are called to come and stand with eyes blinded in holy befuddlement of the realties of Golgotha. This is the same cross that has been satisfying the shredded conscience of all earthly pilgrims since the first Friday of redemption.

We will never get over this cross. Even in heaven we will live in a state of constant amazement, wonder and joy as we gather around the Lamb who was slain. For the believer, every heavenly hymn, every ounce of heavenly joy, and every second standing in the Celestial City is procured by bloodstained wood of Calvary. Unlike anything else, the cross will not ever loose its luster, it will not fade, and it will not depreciate. Instead redeemed saints will humbly esteem this humble King who took the rebels’ stripes.

What does this say to the one who today tires of hearing of the cross in preaching? Or the one who’s meditations of the cross have been exhausted? Or to the one who finds the cross to be good for justification, but lacks the punch for the rest of life?

What will the Lamb who was slain say to such things? I think this is the type of thing that moves the Lamb to vomit (Rev. 3.16). What could be more insulting to the one with nail pierced hands than to hear a professing follower yawn at the foot of the cross. If there is enough on Calvary for God to be eternally satisfied then there is enough for the Christian.

There is nothing else for you Christian but the infinite reservoir of love and grace flowing from Calvary. As D.A. Carson says, “You will never master the gospel, it will only master you.” You will keep growing, loving, appreciating, marveling, and rejoicing in it. This starts the hour you first believe and will never end! Even as Christ lights heaven (Rev.21.23) with his glory, he radiates a believer’s heart to likewise behold and glory in his beauty.

So jealously contend for the cross to dominate your own affections, for this is the eternal employment of the believer. If you start to grow tired of it, check you pulse, and labor instead to grow tired of yourself, and in so doing behold the intricacies of Calvary, where the eternal King bowed his head that yours might be lifted.

Bible Thumping Like Jesus

Erik Raymond —  November 28, 2006

Emulating Jesus is such a basic tenant of Christianity that it is infrequently disputed, however, it is also, and tragically, infrequently considered. For instance, one could not even casually read the New Testament and conclude anything but the fact that Jesus Christ is a Bible thumper. He is quoting Scripture all over the place, whether to his disciples (Jn. 13.18; Matt. 5-7), false teachers (Mk, 8.18; Jn. 10.35), and even the devil (Matt. 4.1-11). Jesus Christ was a Bible thumper.

1101_irishcalvinistcom_wal.jpg

It would be prudent then as followers of this Jesus to emulate his Bibliology, or his understanding of the Scriptures, specifically his view of inspiration and his view of authority.

How did Jesus view inspiration?

We see Jesus remarking frequently about the divine origin of Scripture. For instance in his famous Sermon on the Mount, we hear of Jesus saying “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matt. 5.18). And further he says, “It is written, “‘ Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matt. 4.4). Later on in Matthew Jesus is quoting the 110th Psalm and he, questioning the Pharisees, says, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’? (Matt. 22.43-44). Jesus believed that the Bible originated from God, was binding for all and was understandable.

Continue Reading…

Loving God Supremely

Erik Raymond —  November 22, 2006

John Owen is my favorite dead guy right about now, so I’ll share a pregnant quote by him that has stimulated my own affections here today in hopes that it will likewise bless you.

“Divine excellencies are a proper, adequate object of our love….not only that which is the proper object of love is in the divine excellencies, but it is there only perfectly and absolutely, without the mixture of anything that should give it an alloy, as there is in all creatures, they are the most suitable and adequate object of our love.

There is no greater discovery of the depravation of our natures by sin and degeneracy of our wills from their original rectitude, than that—whereas we are so prone to the love of other things, and therein do seek for satisfaction unto our souls where it is not to be obtained—it is so hard and difficult to raise our hearts unto the love of God. Were it not for that depravation, he would always appear as the only suitable and satisfactory object of our affections.” (Works, Volume 1), 151.

Continue Reading…