To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘The Cross’ Category

Adam And Eve And The Goodness of God

Adam was told by the Lord that “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 3:16b-17). When he was given this instruction the primary question Adam had to resolve is: Is God good?”

If God is good then the withholding of something was bound to be for Adam’s good. The withholding of the fruit though, was not the only issue. The fruit by it’s name, being called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, had a certain significance. The clear implication of not taking the fruit, is that certain knowledge was being withheld from Adam and his, soon to be, wife.

If Adam concluded that God was not good then this restriction was mean and the accompanying threat was just scaremongering. However, if God is good then the restriction is a grace from the Lord for Adam’s benefit. And the warning is a kindness which reinforces the need to keep the commandment which was for Adams’s blessing.

So how could Adam know that God was good? Simply he just had to look around himself and see the beautiful, fulsome and convivial environment he was in. All of it provided by and gifted to him by God.

But after the command God even went further to prove His goodness. He gave Adam a wife, Eve. She would have been the most beautiful woman in history and they would have had the best sex in history and they were encouraged to do such (see Gen. 2:24 and 1:28).

We conclude then that God’s goodness as etched all over Genesis 1 and 2. Alas, mankind did not live long in this blessed appreciation.

Satan sought to bring Adam and Eve down by inferring that God was not good, but rather a killjoy. His lie was  God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Eve, with the by-standing Adam complicit, fell for it and the rest is history; very sad and bad history. And we feel like shouting at Adam in particular, why did you allow that to happen; you must be crazy to allow any suspicion that God is not good.

This question about the verity of the goodness of God is continually with us as we seek to understand the Bible and life. When we don’t know and don’t understand how do we handle the issues of life? If we have doubts about the goodness of God then we are inevitably in an uncertain predicament about how to move forward in our lack of understanding.

However, if God is good then faith bridges the gap in everything. This is so because, I reason that He is withholding full knowledge from me for my good. At the heart of that conclusion is the reckoning that it is better to trust God than to know everything. As the Word from Habakkuk 2:4b says the righteous shall live by his faith.

So how can we know that God is good? Through the evidence of God’s creation and sustaining of this universe most definitely we can conclude God is good. And as we enjoy food on our tables can we ever doubt that God is good when we have a God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17b). Food comes to us not only as suitable to benefit our bodies, but also for our enjoyment. God is good.

Moreover, when we look back we can follow the example of Samuel in 1 Samuel 7:12 and raise our Ebenezer stone. In that verse we read: Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.”

The apogee of our being convinced of the goodness of God is the cross of our Lord Jesus. Of that event we read God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Calvary says “God is good” in the most profound way. In Christ, God deals with our most pressing need; our sins. Truly God is good.

The evidence then is overwhelming: there is a God and He is good. The saving value of the benefits of the cross trumpets this above all the other melodies of His goodness.

Calvary says: God is good, So faith says: I believe, even when I don’t understand. When suffering comes, when people mess us around, when we feel disobedience would be more convenient. In all the trying circumstances of life we recall that God is good and we trust and obey.

 

Our Sins Are Gone.

The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel (see Jer. 50:18a) says in Jeremiah 50:20. 

In those days, at that time,’
    declares the Lord,
‘search will be made for Israel’s guilt,
    but there will be none,
and for the sins of Judah,
    but none will be found,
    for I will forgive the remnant I spare.

This is such good news. Guilt resulting from the committal of sins is the fundamental problem of the human race. It is because of sins that we will eternally die. It is not poverty, disease or a miscellany of a myriad of things that will damn us, it is our sin. We stand guilty before the eternal judgement throne of the eternal Judge. We face the sentence of “guilty” and the punishment of death.

Then the good news comes there is no guilt; it is gone. There are no sins; they are gone. We are in Romans 8:1 territory: there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Because of our Lord Jesus taking our sins and our guilt to Calvary’s cross we can rejoice with Israel and Judah about removed guilt and removed sins. Oh precious is the fact of our Lord Jesus giving himself. So let us believe in Him afresh and rejoice in Him afresh.

If these fundamental truths grip our hearts we will be set for a good Lord’s Day tomorrow.

Adam And The Gospel.

We can never fully grasp the immensity of the cataclysmic events that unfolded in Genesis 3. We begin the chapter with a harmonious earth beautifully ordered, with man and woman taking their place obediently in their realm before God. We end the chapter with sin on the march, all creation under judgement, everything bearing the marks of the curse and man barred from the garden of Eden.

In the midst of all this chaos we find there is gospel hope. There is hope of a better day. It first comes with the promise in v15 and is found in these words of the Lord God to the snake (Satan).

And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.’

The seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, will have His heel struck and so will be brought to the cross. But in that cross He will crush the head of Satan and render him powerless.

This is the only bright word amidst the devastation, ensuing from the fall, that was all around him. And yet in v20 we read Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. Logic would determine that he must call her the mother of all the dying, because that is what prevailed all around. There was no life in sight. And yet, hanging on to the promise of v15, he, in faith, declared her to be Eve. He asserted that God would bring life through the crushing of Satan. Thereby he named her to be the mother of the living. This is amazing faith.

In v21 we see two further critical ingredients of the message of the gospel. In v7b we read how, consequent to the fall,  Adam and Eve realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. However, this was to no avail in being a proper cover. In v21 we read how God made garments for them. Before the fall there was no need of any garments because everything was pure and there was no shame. The fall brought shame and Adam and Eve knew they needed to be covered up. The need for coverings, whether they be fig leaves or skins, testify to the fact of mankind in sin. The wearing of garments by ourselves is a continued reminder that we are sinners. The coverings are an ongoing testimony to the reality of sin and us being sinners.

We also learn in v21 that the giving up of the life of another is necessary for a suitable covering to be made so that we can be acceptable with God. The coverings of v7 prove to be useless because they were man-made. But then the God-made (and provided) coverings of v21 were entirely sufficient. In the providing of these garments we see a foreshadowing of the ultimate giving up of life and shedding of blood to provide a covering for others when our Lord Jesus died on the cross. There he provided a coat of righteousness to all who believe.

So there is the gospel. The promise, faith, sin and the substitutionary offering. All this reminds us of our need of Christ and the provision of salvation in Christ.

 

 

There Is Room at The Cross For You

Is that true? Is it true that there is room at the cross for you? What do you think? Let us then take some time to consider the issues that the statement raises.

YES, THERE IS!! The first thing we have to assert is that it is most wonderfully true that there is room for us at the cross. By this we mean that the blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cleanse the sins of all who come to Him. Never will anyone ever be able to say that there was no salvation for them at the cross. The great gospel summary verse rings loud and true, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Everyone who believes in Christ is saved. That is for definite; there are no exceptions. There is room at the cross. None need keep away fearing that they will not be accepted.

Moreover, there is room at the cross to deal with all the sins of those who believe. In 1 John 1:9 we read, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We must notice the ‘all’ there. Every bit of unrighteousness is cleansed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is never any reason to fear that we will be damned on account of any sin we have committed. When we have true faith in Jesus we can know all our sins are forgiven. His blood cleanses even the biggest sins. What a wonderful salvation this is. How we should rejoice and be thankful!.

NO, THERE IS NOT!! However, there is a sense that there is no room at the cross for us. This is because it is only Jesus who is the Saviour. He Himself, and He alone, has achieved the mighty eternal act of salvation. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24). It is the default position of the human being that we want to do something to achieve our own salvation. The pride that is resident in our hearts moves us to want to contribute to our own acceptance with God. And the ultimate way of doing this is to give ourselves totally in a sacrificial way; to offer ourselves on the cross. This thinking is of man, it is of the flesh and although we might consider such a sacrifice to be admirable it is hellish, satanic thinking.

It is only Jesus who can achieve salvation. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21). Only Jesus, who is the sinless, eternal, Son of God who died as the Son of Man, could do this.

Let us unpack this a bit further. On the cross the Lord Jesus made a full and sufficient payment for the sins of all His people. The resurrection of our Saviour proves that His salvation work is done. Many would happily say that Jesus, salvation work is great in itself. But they go on to conclude that it is not enough. They therefore determine to do something themselves to “top-up” that salvation and guarantee their acceptance by God. In doing this they are taking their place alongside his cross to achieve salvation. This is totally wrong.

Paul deals with this thinking in Romans 10:6-8. There we read: ‘But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down) ‘or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’[ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim.”

If we undertake some big work, even to the extent of going to heaven or going down to hell to boost our standing before God, we are taking away from the work of Christ. We are saying he must come and live again and die again and be raised again. We are saying to our LORD that what you did in coming to die on the cross to take away our sins was not enough.

But the reality is it is enough. So we lay before people that they have nothing to contribute to their salvation. Salvation is fully achieved by our Saviour. They simply must believe. They must call on the Name of the LORD and thereby they will be saved.

Accordingly, we glory in the full sufficiency of the blood shed by our Saviour on the cross to save us from our sins, whilst simultaneously not taking any credit for our salvation ourselves. No other religion has anything of this ilk, because this is the only true religion.

Taken (and adapted) from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of August 2013

Good Friday Poem

Jesus came to live THE life.
Jesus came to die THE death.
Jesus came to really die.
Jesus came to conquer death.

The Son of God, who is LORD of all,
Is the Christ, the SPECIAL ONE given for all,
Is Jesus, the Saviour, who saves all:
Who saves all who believe in HIM.

On the cross His blood was shed.
On the cross He bore our sins.
On the cross He was made sin for us.
On the cross He made salvation for us.

So our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
Must be received and not rejected.
The Saviour of the World
Must be honoured and not despised.

There is no other who brings salvation.
He is the only One who brings life: eternal life.
Trust Him and you will have blessings untold.
Receive Him and you will be a child of God.

Faith in the Cross.

It is a phrase which is very easily used in preaching. It normally takes the form of an exhortation. “You need to have faith in the finished work of Christ”, or “You must place your faith in the cross” are two ways it is expressed. We so very easily accept such statements without “batting an eye-lid”. But are they really accurate? I would suggest not.

The relentless call of Scripture is that we need to have faith in Christ. Paul reviewing his ministry in Ephesus says that I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus (Acts 20:21). Our faith is to be in Jesus Christ the Lord who once died on the cross to take away our sins. Our faith is not to be in an event, but in a person. When we come by faith to the person of Christ we come into union with Him. We come into the blessing of all that He is and all that He has done for us. Therefore everything that He is as the One who once died for our sins and is now alive and risen and is there in heaven for us is made good to us and for us.

Let me be careful to emphasise here that I believe that the message of the cross is central to our faith. Without the proclamation of Christ and Him crucified there is no gospel message. But we must be careful and biblical in our expressions. We are not called to believe in the cross. We are called to believe in the Christ who gave Himself on the cross for us.

The Cross.

Here is another old hymn that does not get into the modern hymn books. No doubt there is a certain quaintness. However, it expresses some splendid truth. And here is some music if you want to sing

  1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
    The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
    And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
    For a world of lost sinners was slain.

    • Refrain:
      So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
      Till my trophies at last I lay down;
      I will cling to the old rugged cross,
      And exchange it someday for a crown.
  2. Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
    Has a wondrous attraction for me;
    For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
    To bear it to dark Calvary.
  3. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
    A wondrous beauty I see,
    For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
    To pardon and sanctify me.
  4. To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
    Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
    Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
    Where His glory forever I’ll share.

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