Friday, April 24, 2015

Hebrews1:1-3: Self-revealing God

PRAYING THROUGH HEBREWS


Heavenly Father and God, you've always revealed yourself to people at different times and in different manners you spoke in the time past to the forefathers by the prophets.

But far better, you've now spoken to us perfectly and once by your one Son whom you've appointed heir of all things, by whom also you made the universe. What more could we've asked for, since Christ is indeed  the brightness of your infinite glory, and the express image of your person. Besides Christ is the epitome  of your righteousness upholding all your law by his perfect obedience when He walked and lived on earth in His days.

Yes, Father Christ is the most worthy of all worship from all creation for He made it all by the Word of His power. We would be unwise to fail in giving due service and worship.

Praise the Lord for when He had by himself purged all our sins, through His precarious death on the cross, He sat down on the right hand of your  Majesty on high.
Amen

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jonah 4: The anger of man does not produce God’s righteousness



We now turn to Jonah’s reaction to the mercy of God to the penitent Ninevites. He was enraged that God could consider their repentance, leave alone forgiving them!
1)      Jonah was displeased exceedingly for the Ninevites repented
Jonah instead of being pleased that he served God who is so rich in mercy and abounding in steadfast love, was furious that God would forgive them! In fact the passage shows that according to Jonah, ‘It was evil to Jonah a great evil,’ and this tells you that his reaction was very strong.
He was not just irritated, he was burning with rage and fury over the mercy of God on people who were outside the commonwealth of Israel. He did not appreciate the sovereignty of God in the dispensation of His grace. If God had consulted with Jonah, if or not to pardon them, Jonah’s counsel could have been ‘no pardon’ without any reservations or remorse! Before you and I lift up our hands to flare Jonah, let us at least appreciate that he lacked the understanding of what God was doing and he is not the only one. Habbakkuk and Jeremiah had the same problem.
Back to Jonah we see that in his prayer to God he justified himself. His word came out that his problem was he had wanted the people of Nineveh to be punished for their sins and particularly because they were enemies of God’s people. He knew that bringing God’s word to Nineveh was itself an act of God’s mercy, therefore he fled to Tarshish. He felt justified in his defiance of God, because ‘God’s mercy is only to be spent on His people, and no other!’ This was Jonah’s theology! In this position Jonah had imbibed a false entitlement to the grace of God that Israel had. Did God chose Israel because they were the best nation? Read Deut. 7:6-8
"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
No one deserves or will ever deserve God’s grace, and except the one who doesn't deserve it will receive it. If by any chance it turned out that you deserved the grace of God, then it would cease to be grace – Grace it always unmerited. If it is deserved, then it is one’s dues (Rom. 4:4-5). In this chapter, we see the blowing up of the Jewish balloon – they deserved the grace of God and everyone else was unwelcome.
Jonah finally admitted the wickedness of the intent of his heart. If Jonah’s theology was true, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, the Ethiopian Eunuch, you and I should not be recipients of God’s saving grace. Thank God that His grace does not depend on counsel from any man, not even a prophet. God does not solicit for human counsel. In fact God does not have a cabinet, outside of Himself! This is the lesson that Peter was taught of God before being sent to the household of Cornelius in Acts 10. Later on he explained this to the other apostles and this was the conclusion: If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?" When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life." Act 11:17-18.
Thank God that He is not hindered by human failure. He turns the hearts of men, even kings to do His bidding. They may not like it, but they will only accomplish the purposes of God even in their wickedness – no one, even the devil can stay His hand to accomplish His will. Jonah’s displeasure was all in human vanity and folly.
2)      Knowledge puffs up (1Cor 8:1)
Jonah knew that God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster! Excellent theology but only intellectual confessionalism is not a sufficient Christianity. But while we may be made indignant by Jonah’s rage we must instead see the infinite patience and wisdom of God in dealing with this prophet. But before casting any stone against Jonah, let us ask ourselves how we use the knowledge we amass here. You may be a well educated person in things of God, thank God for that and use it for His realize the purposes for which He has given it. Never make the knowledge you have as the basis for slamming other people. Use it to edify and not to tear down. Any knowledge could be used either for good or for evil.

3)      God exposes the selfishness of man in love for the posterity
Ultimately the Lord forced him to accept the divine love that motivates divine government in providence by appointing a plant to protect Jonah from the scorching heat and save him from the discomfort. This made Jonah exceedingly happy. This was another demonstration of Jonah’s shameful selfishness (4:6) While he was glad for the plant provided but when it was destroyed by a worm the following day he was back to his fits of anger. Self-entitlement fails to receive the grace of God in affliction. We must guard against the thought that God owes us anything – He does not owe you or me any apology when He governs His creation.
Just as Jonah was beginning to enjoy the shade of the vine, God appointed a worm to attack the plant so that it withered. God then appointed a scorching east wind and the sun to beat on the head of Jonah so that was faint! Jonah got even angrier! In this Jonah was getting a tiny taste of the horrors of the Hell the Ninevites were headed to before they were saved.
This time, God sets the record straight! He reminds Jonah that Jonah cared more about a plant than he did the souls of the people of Nineveh. People made in the image of God and people who would have perished had He not intervened! Do you see the same attitude in your life? Where you look at the wickedness of sinners and think that they deserve hell? Are there people that you consider unworthy of the grace of God? This is the same attitude.
We all should be highly convicted by this. We tend to get upset about things that simply do not matter. Think about the last thing that made you mad. Now, ask yourself this question: What will it matter in 100 years? Friends, the only thing that really matters as we pass through this life is finding God's will for you and walking in with all your power! People are going to Hell and we are worrying about plants and other comforts. Our priorities need to be refocused and narrowed until they want only what God wants in all of life. That would please Him and it would get His work done in the world! Eph. 6:6; Heb. 13:21; 1 John 2:17.)
What has your attention today? Jonah didn't care about the eternal destiny of the people on Nineveh! All he cared about was his reputation as a prophet and the foolish prejudices he carried with him through life. He learned, or at least we hope he did, that God's will in this world is all that really matters. Isn't it time we put aside all the things that cloud our vision of His glory? Isn't it time we put aside our hurts, our desires and our wills so that we might be better able to do His will in the world?
Jonah suffered because he didn't care about God's will. What do you care about today? If anything is more important to you than doing the will of God, then I invite you to leave your booth and come to Him in humble obedience. God has a right to spend His mercy, grace and steadfast love on whoever He wills. We should not imagine that a mortal man can give counsel to God.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jonah 3: God’s purposes cannot be thwarted



One of the big lessons of the book of Jonah is the sovereignty of God in all things. He is involved in all the affairs of His creation, even the most minute. This is to say that God is ordering His creation to accomplish His purposes. This is the third lesson from this book – that His sovereign purposes are immutable by a human hand. Jonah’s will couldn’t withstand the sovereign omnipotence – neither yours nor mine can! We must always bow to God and understand that His counsel shall stand. We see this in two ways in chapter three of the book of Jonah:
1)      The message of God is far powerful than we can imagine:
Jonah was forced to go to Nineveh and he preached the message of repentance boldly. He was told to “Arise and go to the Nineveh, that great city and call out against it the message I tell you.” This time round Jonah went according to the word of the Lord. Jonah preached the message given by God to the Ninevites, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” He could not change it!

This was a terrifying message and it must have been terrible for the people to hear this sad news. A simple eight word message, easy to understand but powerful for the people believed the message as well as God. This tells us that the Word is powerful, sharper than any two edged sword. It is like a sledgehammer – it breaks to pieces all human resistance and penetrates into the human mind, into the heart and the conscience. Jonah preached it and the people of Nineveh as wicked as they were, were brought to submission. The Word of God is powerful to belivers as well as unbelievers alike and no one is too strong willed to resist its power. Those who reject it, are condemned and those who receive it are justified.
When people heard Jonah preaching judgment and demanding repentance, they did not just repent as the message demanded – they believed God (v.5). When you believe God you are justified (Gen. 15:6). But how do we know that one has believed God? There is repentance! Repentance and faith come together, just as the two sides of a coin. They who put their trust in God the Father, and the Son as given ability by the Holy Spirit, repent of their sins. This is what happened in Nineveh- they called a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them – from king to the pauper in the villages; from the nobles to the poor in their slums of Nineveh – there was national repentance. This is the first of its kind outside Israel! From this we learn that when the message of God is preached, it has powerful convicting power.
There is good news in this for you and me! It is a blessing to know that God can use even those who have fallen short for His glory! The upshot of this is that if God can use Jonah, God can use you too and bring glory to His name and good to His people. This also means that when the Lord gives you a message and you preach it as given (faithfully), the Lord will make blessings out of it. We must take confidence when we share the word of the Lord, knowing that He will bless His Word and that it will accomplish the purpose to which He sent it, Isa. 55:11! The truth is that the gospel is called the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. We must unleash it wherever the Lord has placed us.
From this event in Nineveh we see an outstanding miracle. The miracle lies in the fact that a whole great city turned to God! There have been great revivals throughout history, but this is the only instance of a town of this size, filled with such wicked people, being converted and delivered from sin. Isn’t it such a great miracle when revival comes and lives are changed? Shall we not pray for such to come upon our cities and our countries? The Lord did it in Nineveh, He is able! Pray for the conversion of your neighbours and countrymen from today. Pray also for the salvation of the nations. But, it is always a miracle when even a single soul hears the good news of salvation and comes to faith in Jesus! That is the glory of the Gospel, Rom. 1:16; John 1:12.)



2)      God always remembers His great Mercy 
When the people of Nineveh repented of their sins and turned to the Lord, God reacted to their faith in grace. When they turned to Him, He saved their souls by grace! Of course, God knew what would happen before Jonah ever arrived since He is the One who sent Him! Their conversion was part of His perfect plan! Salvation always works this way! When God loves a sinner, He has a plan to save his soul. So He sends the Holy Spirit to give spiritual life and the willingness to listen. He then appoints a messenger who is sent with the good news. Yes, His Word usually is sent to a sinner through a human agent. The sinner is convicted and sees his wicked condition and repents. When that sinner repents of his sins, God saves him by grace through faith, Eph. 2:8-9. Of course, it's all part of His plan! Remember that none of His purposes, plans or intentions are changed.
What about the word ‘relent’ used in 3:9-10,
Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish." When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it (3:9-10)
The Ninevites, although wicked people knew that God is merciful and will turn if they turn – He will not punish them if they repent. They knew that there is a way by which God’s fierce anger can be appeased. So they repented. So did God really thwart His plans? Can God change His mind? Isn’t God the unchanging or immutable One?
In dealing with this matter, John L. Mackay on his Focus Commentary on Job writes:
The OT does not hesitate to affirm both that God is unchanging, and that He can and does alter His attitude towards people and His way of dealing with them. It is interesting to find both these truths stated in the one chapter of Scripture, 1 Samuel 15. In verse 11, the Lord tells Samuel, ‘I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions,’ while a little later Samuel says to Saul, ‘He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man, that He should change His mind’ (1Sam. 15:29). The same word is used for grieved is the same as change His mind and clearly it is not God who changed it was Saul. When God uses this language in the Scripture, it is that matters are viewed from a human perspective. It seems to us that God has changed, but what has in reality happened is the human conduct. Saul was no longer the human he once was, he had become with no regard for God and had turned to wickedness. Thankfully the opposite is true in the case of the Ninevites who were initially wicked but had now turned around for the better in light of God’s warning and threat. Clearly God could have been inconsistent if His holy and divine attitude had remained the same despite the change in their conduct for the better.
God is consistent in His divine government in all matters. His rule is that the soul that sins shall die and so whoever dies in His sins is committed to eternal punishment. On the other hand whoever is willing to give his sins to Jesus Christ has his punishment meted on Christ on his behalf. There is no question that there is no shadow of turning with God and so our confession of faith puts it like this:
There is but one, and only one, living and true God. He is self-existent and infinite in His being and His perfections. None but He can comprehend or understand His essence. He is pure spirit, invisible, and without body, parts, or the changeable feelings of men. He alone possesses immortality, and dwells amid the light insufferably bright to mortal men. He never changes. He is great beyond all our conceptions, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty and infinite. He is most holy, wise, free and absolute. All that He does is the out-working of His changeless, righteous will, and for His own glory. He is most loving, gracious, merciful and compassionate. He abounds in goodness and truth. He forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. He rewards those who seek Him diligently. But He hates sin. He will not overlook guilt or spare the guilty, and He is perfectly just in executing judgment.   1689LBCF Chapter 2:1
So in His outworking all things He is changeless and in the case of the forgiveness of the Ninevites, we see a demonstration of His mercy and grace. For this we must be so thankful that He is willing to commit His mercy not just on the people of His own choice, the Jews but also the Gentiles, for He is God of the Gentiles also. God simply gave the statement of intent if they were to remain in their course of wickedness, the very giving of the warning is an act of His grace. Threatening with judgment is the same as alerting the sleeping evil man of the impending disaster so that he may be awakened from his wickedness. This is what happened. Consider Jeremiah 18:7-10
If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

YOU MUST BE RIGHT WITH GOD

Rom. 3:9-31
9.  What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
10.  as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;
11.  no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
13.  "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips."
14.  "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
15.  "Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16.  in their paths are ruin and misery,
17.  and the way of peace they have not known."
18.  "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
19.  Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
20.  For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
21.  But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—
22.  the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:
23.  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24.  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25.  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
26.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27.  Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.
28.  For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
29.  Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,
30.  since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
31.  Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

JUSTIFICATION: This is one of the great blessings God gives to those who have faith in Christ (Galatians 2:16), when God calls them by the gospel.  In justification, God declares the sinner to be righteous, only because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to him (Romans 4:6, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 3:9).  Justification is much more than forgiveness; we are counted and declared as righteous as Christ Himself is righteous.  Justification is not God infusing righteousness on sinners, rather God pardons their sins, by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous not for anything they have done (or not done for that matter), but for Christ's sake alone, not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience in His death for their whole and sole righteousness, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith, which is not of themselves; it is the gift of God.

The purpose of this paper is to show you how much you are missing out by being without it. It is to show you your dire need, and its infinite worth. This is the message of the good news. This is the greatest news – showing how rebels can be made right with a holy God and be forever secure under God’s grace and mercy. So Why do you need to be right with God?

1.       THE INFINITE HOLINESS OF GOD

God is absolutely righteous and holy. He is most holy, infinite in being and perfection, such that He is incomprehensible by any but Himself, a most pure spirit, dwelling in light which no man can approach, sovereignly working all things according to the counsel of His immutable and most holy will for His own glory, and withal most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
This is how God is described in Scripture and we need to come to terms with this reality. Consider how He described Himself to Moses:

The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." Exo 34:5-7.
He is the One described by the Cherubim as,
And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" Isa 6:3.
But the good news here is that God has been pleased to reveal His righteousness to us apart from what we have done. “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law… the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God … This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
The righteousness and the glory of God are things that God will seek to defend. The only currency He admits in heaven is His own righteousness. Earth-gotten righteousness is not just a foreign currency before God – it is illegal. When there is no righteousness there is no glory and where there is no glory it is because of the righteousness. It concerns God that the fall ruined the righteousness that was intended for man, in order to yield God’s glory. The essence of salvation is to bring both back – man obtains this righteousness from God and God receives all the glory. Any other way man cannot be helped from his great predicaments. When the Bible refers to the righteousness of God, it is talking about the righteousness that belongs to God and that He gives. He does not require us to manufacture it – He has it and He gives it. Righteousness means the ability to conform unto the law of God. It is perfect obedience. It is absolute and eternal.

2.       THE TERRIBLE SINFULNESS OF MAN

Man is a totally depraved creature. This is not to say that every human being as wicked as he can be and that he can’t do any seemingly good, rather it is to say that there is absolutely no spiritual good in him at all! It is to say that the best of human deeds of kindness are marred by failure to trust God and inability to glorify God. Everything he touches is tainted with sin that fills his being and he is wretched in the sight of God. But how exactly is human sinfulness described in Scripture?
a)      Man has been declared a sinner by the Law- Because the Law of God exposes all the things that man is guilty of, man stands exposed as a sinner and condemned by the Law! The Law of God is like a ruler – it shows us just how crooked we are. No one can look into the Word of God and miss the truth of what Paul is saying! “…What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (vv.9-18, 23)
b)     Man is damned as a sinner by the Law - God gave the Law to man as a tool to show man that he is a helpless, guilty sinner who direly need to be saved but who otherwise will bear the due punishment for their sins. The Law then aims at driving man to Jesus, Gal. 3:24. The Law is like a mirror, James 1:23-25. It can show you just how dirty your face is, but it cannot be used to clean you up. You do not take the mirror and rub it on your face to get clean. The mirror exists to point you to the water. So it is with the Law of the Lord. The Law cannot clean us up, but it can create a desire in us for the One Who can: the Lord Jesus Christ.
c)      The eternal judgment that await all sinners
God very categorically says what is soon going to happen to all who will be found under this category. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Rom 1:18.
Under this all I can do is point out to various passages of God’s word about this judgment:
i)                    God gave them up
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Rom. 1:21-32. The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit; he with whom the LORD is angry will fall into it. Pro 22:14. This is the first judgement – God gives them up their sinfulness. And to delusion - Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 2Th 2:11.

ii)                   God actively and eternally will punish them all
God has clearly said that there is such a place of eternal punishment. It is for all who have rejected or not believed in His Son. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. Mat 5:22. It is a place of permanent and eternal separation from God, And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' Luk 16:26. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 2Pet. 2:4. And again, This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 2Th 1:5-10.

3.       THE WONDERFUL REDEMPTION IN CHRIST JESUS (VV.21-26)

Since this is the emphasis of the passage, we will spend more time here. Notice the little conjunction "but". It is a contrast to denote a change of thought. Pay attention to those little words in your Bible. Remember, even the largest door turns on a relatively small hinge! For instance, think of the great passage in Eph. 2:1-10. There, the word "but" shows up in a similar fashion. These few verses that we are about to look into now are jammed packed full of theological truth. Martin Luther labelled them as "the marrow of theology." This is, perhaps, the deepest theological sea in the New Testament. We can never do them justice in the few minutes we have here. Notice what has become of the terrible sinner:
A sinner is given Faith (vv.21-23) - Man is lost and he cannot work his way to God or access or please God. And yet, God the Father demands perfect righteousness to enter His heaven - Matt. 5:20; 5:48. But man is a miserable sinner, 3:23, and he will never be right with God by virtue of his own efforts. To "come short of the glory of God," means literally miss the mark. The tense of this word shows this to be an ongoing state of affairs. In other words, no matter how good one may get, he will still be missing the mark and falling far short of the glory of God! You can't get to God on your own!
Therefore, God gives a gift of faith to men (Eph. 2:8) allows men to be made righteous by their placing their faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus. Salvation comes solely by faith. You cannot buy your way to Heaven. You cannot be good enough to get to Heaven. You cannot work hard enough to get to Heaven. However, you can believe in Jesus, be saved by grace, be declared righteous by the Heavenly Father and go to Heaven with nothing but faith to show for it!
What does,"unto all and upon all." Mean? It means that the Lord takes His righteous and gives it to and puts it on ALL those who BELIEVE in His Son! That is how salvation works.
A sinner is given Freedom (v.24)- This verse has two great theological words: "justify" and "redemption." The word "justify" means to "To declare one not guilty, or to make one as he ought to be." In the biblical sense, it means that God, in His power and in His grace declares us to be righteous and worthy of a relationship with Him. The word "redemption" means "to set at liberty after the payment of a ransom price." To put it all together, when you believed the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, God applied the price that Jesus had paid on the cross to our account and declared you as righteous. By so doing, He freed us from the condemnation and the consequences of our sins. He very literally set us free from sin!
The Bible says in this verse that all of this happens "freely". This word literally means "without a cause or price". Basically, God gave us His righteousness even when we did not deserve to receive it, for we could never earn it or pay Him back for it. He gave it to us without a single cause, or without any strings attached! There is no explaining why God saved a bunch of Hell deserving sinners, except to display the richness of His grace, love and mercy that he lavished on us richly.
A sinner is given Forgiveness (vv.25-26): These verses tell us that Jesus is the "propitiation". This is a theological word that means "An appeasement, or a satisfying." This word comes from the Hebrew word which was used of the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement (this rite signifying that the life of the people, the loss of which they had merited by their sins, was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God by this ceremony was appeased and their sins expiated).
What this means for you and me is that when we trusted Jesus as our Savior, God requires nothing further from us. He is absolutely satisfied! Because of this, He has forgiven us by the "remission of sins that are past". The word "remission" means "to pass over, to disregard." When we trusted Christ, God put our sins behind Him, Psa. 103:12; Isa. 38:17; Micah 7:19, and has forever cleansed us and forgiven us, Col. 2:13-14; 1 John 1:7.

4.       THE PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS GIVEN (VV.27-31)
A believer has a new relationship with the Law – So far, the Scripture has clearly shown that no man is saved by keeping the Law. He is saved by pure faith, which he has received from God. Therefore, there is nothing to boast about which he can boast in the matter of his salvation. Instead of man taking the credit for something with which he had nothing to do, all glory and honour must be given to the Lord. He knows that the Law was just a tool used by the Lord to bring that man to Himself. He isn't trying to please God, He knows that God is already pleased. He isn't trying to earn point with God, he knows that God is already completely satisfied. He knows that His salvation is complete in the Person of the Lord Jesus and He glorifies God on that account! He has passed from the state of salvation having to do with do's and realizes that it is done!
There are only two types of religion in the world – ‘Do religions’ and Christianity which a ‘Done religion’. The "Do" religions are all based on the notion that man must "do" something to please the God. Emphasis on such as: pray, join a church, give money, be a good person, make a sacrifice, make a pilgrimage, wear certain clothing, keep the Ten Commandments, go to Mass, etc. Although all the "Do" religions may seem worthwhile from the outside, they all require their followers to "do" something in order to earn salvation. Religions like Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, Mormonism, The Jehovah's Witnesses and Roman Catholicism are all examples of "Do" religions. In short, every religion in the world is a "Do" religion, except one. Christianity is a "Done" religion! Those who are truly saved haven't done anything and aren't required to do anything, because Jesus has already done everything that is necessary!
A believer has a new Lord (vv.29-30). Because of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we are brought into a right relationship with the Heavenly Father. God isn't any more just the Father of our Lord, He is our Father too.  We are His sons and daughters, 1 John 3:1-2! He has saved us, justified us, accepted us in His Son and even now He awaits us in our new home in Heaven. We are no longer strangers, Eph. 2:12, we are His family, belonging to His commonwealth. We have been reconciled to the Lord, 2 Cor. 5:18-19, and we have been brought into His presence by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!
A believer has a new life (v31) - In this final verse, final question. If we are saved by faith apart from the Law, then does this make the Law of God null and void. In other words, can we just throw out the Law and live as we please if we are really saved by grace? The answer? God Forbid! What he is saying is that our salvation does not do away with the Law. Instead, our salvation establishes, or fixes the Law of God in its right place. How is this true? Well, the Lord used the Law to teach us that we were sinners. He used the Law to show us that we were doomed without Him. He used the Law to establish our need. Now that we are saved, the Lord begins to live this Law through our lives. The difference is that we are not living the Law to be saved. We are not living the Law because we have to. We just naturally begin to live out the spirit of the Law of the Lord because He has placed His Spirit in us and because He has made us to be partakers of His divine nature, 2 Pet. 1:4. In the simplest of terms, we begin to live like God and His Son intends when we are saved! Jesus changes every aspect life He saves by grace! He puts a desire and a longing within our hearts to love Him with all the heart, all the soul, all the mind and all the strength as well as to love our neighbours as ourselves. A Christian lives for the glory of God. Yes, to do the things that please Him, honour Him and bring glory unto Him. We show the world that people can live for God, by letting God live in them!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Jonah 2: Salvation Belongs to the Lord

1.       God chastens those He loves (Chapter 2)
When spanking my son, I find that he is very quick and wise in words imploring me not to spank him further. He knows how to plead and beg so that he is not spanked. He makes promises and even sometimes kneels down for the fear of pain. There are times I listen to him, and relent and there are times I have to be faithful to God by not withholding the rod of correction and so destroy him. I know what God has said, "Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death." Prov. 19:18 and again, For the Lord discipline the one He loves and chastises every son whom He receives. Heb. 12:6. I know that For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Heb. 12:11.
This reality is applied in this second chapter that God chastens those He loves. This is what He did with Jonah, His servant and prophet. When Jonah defied His Word, He lifted His chastening rod by the appointing the great storm and the great fish, and later the great scorching heat.
How Did Jonah respond to this? He responded in prayer. He pleaded with God for mercy. The most part of chapter 2 is the prayer of Jonah (vv. 2-9) and God’s answer to Jonah’s prayer (v. 10).



1)      Jonah prayed to the Lord His God from the belly of the fish.
His prayer was so important that it is recorded as inspired Scripture. Being a man in distress, he called out to the Lord. As was pressing upon the damp flesh of the fish, the darkness surrounded him, but he recollected his minds to remember to call upon the Lord. Many Christians of our day do not highly value prayer – it is regarded as worthy nothing. Yet, we must never forget that prayer is God’s own idea. It is provided for us graciously. When Jonah prayed, He also immediately tells us that when he called out,
…he (God) answered … you (Lord) heard my voice ((2:2)
He described the situation inside the belly and I can assure you I wouldn’t want to be there for a minute! …floods surrounded me. He was driven away from your sight… waters closed over me… the deep surrounded… weeds were wrapped about my head… my life was fainting away!
2)      Jonah acknowledged that God answers prayers even of those who have gone astray.
Even from the belly of the great fish! Even from a fainting heart (2.7). It is very reassuring to know that God will not tell the worst prayer sinner to shut up. He will listen. He listened to Jonah. He listened to Samson and in one day killed more Philistines than ever before! Has the Lord not promised that whoever comes to Him He will by no means cast out? Why do you then abandon yourself to prayerlessness? May our dire situations be the fuel to drive us to fervent prayer. May the prayer meetings overflow with praying saints. And if not, may the saints wherever they may be, even though in the valley of the shadow of death, may they sincerely and powerfully, even in their groaning call out to God in prayer.
3)      Salvation belongs to the Lord

One of the most astounding statement in the book of Jonah is the bear knuckled fact that salvation from disaster and even the eternal danger and peril cannot come from men. Men are all helpless – we all look to the Lord for help. More specifically, our salvation from sins, from the eternal punishment, from the wrath to come, from the final destruction to be meted on all who live according to the folly is of the Lord. Our gracious God has sent forth His son who has willingly died in our place and paid the penalty due to you. Trust Him! Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ today and you will find real life.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Show Pity, O Lord, Forgive ... let a repenting sinner live.

Offended Sovereign! I am justly under sentence of death, and should I eternally perish, yet thou art righteous…. But is there nothing in thy revealed character that may encourage a miserable creature and a guilty criminal, to look for mercy and hope for acceptance? Art thou not a compassionate Saviour, as well as a just God? Is not Jesus thy only Son, and hast thou not set him forth as a propitiation through faith in his blood? To him, therefore, as my only asylum from divine wrath, I would flee…. I have no claim on thy mercy. Only, if it seemed good to thee to save the vilest of sinners, the most wretched of creatures; if it please thee to extend infinite mercy to one who deserves infinite misery and is obliged to condemn himself; the greater will be the glory of thy compassion…boundless grace shall have the glory.

Abraham Booth (1734–1806). An English Baptist minister, Booth served as pastor of Prescot Street Church in Whitechapel, London for 35 years as well as founding what is now Regents Park College for ministerial training in Oxford. He is most known for his work The Reign of Grace (from which this prayer is taken).