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

Archive for the ‘The Gospel’ Category

His Indescribable Gift

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (2 Cor. 9:15) What a verse this is. Such a wonderful reminder, at this Christmas season, of how our Lord Jesus came into the world as Saviour. But the riches of the verse start to become even more sparkling when we delve into the context of the passage.

Paul is seeking to bring forth giving hearts from the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 9:6 he has asserted the agricultural principle of sowing and reaping to illustrate the reasonableness of giving. In the agricultural scenario the farmer will sow as much seed as possible in order to maximise the yield from his crops. In springtime he is not thinking about keeping as much seed as possible back in the barn. He is instead, thinking about getting as much as possible out on his fields.

When our hearts are in tune with God’s then we will be following this principle. Our default position will be to give as much as possible rather than keep as much back as possible. We want to share and give in order to bless.

Now with that in our minds let us look at our verse. In eternity God has dwelt in a beautiful, righteous harmony which is hard for us to grasp. Father, Son and Holy Spirit always there; always enjoying loving communion together; always delighting in each other. And as we think about what prompted the incarnation of the Son, we are led on to the thought, that the three persons of the Godhead concluded that the wonder of their bliss was too good to keep to themselves.

So the whole programmes of creation and redemption was played out by our beautiful God. Rather than keeping all this beautiful relationship within themselves, Father, Son and Holy Spirit determined to share it with others. All that is unfolded in Genesis 1 and 2 shows how mankind was created for the purpose of knowing God. Alas sin came in, but God was not to be thwarted in sharing His glory with others. And so there is the divine purpose of Jesus coming into the world. This is first stated in the proto-evangeleon of Genesis 3:15: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The Son is appointed to come as the head  crushing offspring of the woman. He has come as a love gift. God in His grace does not want to just keep Himself to Himself, but to share Himself with others.

This sharing could only be brought to fruition by the Lord Jesus coming into the world. Paul seeks to pass on something of this when he says to the Colossians; For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Col. 1:19-20)

This all ties in with the context of 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 as we see how a giving heart leads to blessing. God did not keep for Himself all of the triune joy of His relationship within Himself, but was set to share it. And that meant the incarnation; that means Calvary. Oh what a gift. Oh what a God. Oh what blessing is now ours.

So as we ponder upon the giving heart of God this Christmas, let us worship and praise. And let us further ponder upon whether our hearts are godlike and therefore prone to share.

Two Gospels

There is a great message here by Rupert Bentley-Taylor. In it he refers to two gospels

Gospel of Performance

This is based on what I do and what I achieve. It is based on me recommending myself to God so that He will be pleased with what I have done. It is ultimately a false gospel. It is flawed because of the frailty of humanity waylaid by sin and rebellion against God. Everything about it is false because this is true We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away (Is. 64:6).

So the gospel of performance is no gospel at all.

Gospel of Grace

This is based on a salvation which God has achieved. He has done everything and He kindly bestows His saving goodness on all who believe. In this gospel I am declared wrecked in my sin and an offence at a holy God. In such a condition He reaches down to rescue me. Historically He reached down in the sending of His Son to bring salvation through His cross. There in His dying he was undertaking the wrath exhausting work of salvation by His cross. Experiencially, I received this grace when, by the Holy Spirit, I believed in the blood shedding, risen Saviour.

Oh this is true gospel.

 

Which gospel are you believing? There are only two; performance or grace.

 

 

Upheaval In UK

The biggest surprise we should have concerning life in the UK is that things have continued to be so stable for so long. The fact that we seem to be entering a time of turbulence should not be a surprise.

One of the themes of scripture is the collapsing of government and societies which set themselves against God and His ways. The ejection of Adam and Eve from the Garden In Genesis 3:22-24 was the first example of this. The flood events in Genesis 6-8 and disrupting of the people through diverse languages in Genesis 11 all showed God causing upheaval on account of the people’s sin.

The rejection of God’s ways over the last century in the UK through the propounding of alternative moralities and the exaltation of man, must inevitably have consequences. The foundations of have gradually been eroded and the new superstructure of society is standing on very flimsy foundations.

So as we face increasing turbulence. In so many ways not only though the shenanigans surrounding Brexit, but also through the knife crime on our streets, extensive drug use, dismembering of families, etc. As we face these things we should not be surprised.

I have written here previously about how long the West might last.

But praise God amidst turbulence we can turn to the Rock. Let us rejoice in these words of David from Psalm 40:1-4

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!

In turbulent times we cannot find rest in the times, but only in our God. May the days we are set to go through be days when the church of God draws away from the “rocks” of this world to the only true rock, our God Himself. And in the Lord’s grace may many who have placed their hope in this world repent and come and join us there.

Weddings And Funerals Etc.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practise cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. The clear implication of Paul’s teaching here is that we should be not be underhand in any of our methods in seeking to advance the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Mr Hinton (I have written about him here) took our wedding some twenty three years ago. I always remember him saying in anticipation of the wedding that we were inviting people to a wedding and not a gospel meeting. Now, I admire that attitude that determines upon making the gospel known at weddings and funerals, for example, but we should never forget the purpose of the occasion. Yes it may well be that people are in a situation where they can hear the gospel for one of the few times in their lives, but we should never forget the purpose of the occasion they are attending.

Those attending should know that they are at a funeral or a wedding and should not feel that a slight of hand has been pulled to use that occasion as a means of cornering them with the gospel.

Of course our Lord Jesus is most precious to us and we should want to make known the message of the Lord’s grace that focuses on Him. And we can do this sensitively and appropriately at both weddings and funerals. But let us not appear manipulative in doing this.

If people suspect what we are being deceitful then all the power that comes through a true God-honouring funeral or wedding conducted for the Lord’s glory can be lost because people suspect what we are up to.

This same principle applies in arranging other events such as evangelicalistic meals. If there is going to be a talk tell people beforehand.  So people know what they are coming to.

Conviction of Sin

Whatever, happened to “conviction of sin”?

How is the gospel presented so very often today? It is presented as a means of improving your life. People are told that their lives are not what they should be and if they “come to Jesus” they will be improved. Therefore in embracing Jesus their average “run-of-the-mill” lives are pepped up so that they are now fulfilled. But is this right?

The Bible speaks of the work of salvation in far more radical terms. The Bible speaks of us getting a new life and not an improved life. That is the implication of the “born again” term. Technically this is referred to as the doctrine of regeneration. Upon believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we are granted new life. Those who are dead in sins are made anew.

Critical in the experience of salvation is the conviction of sin. Our Lord Jesus said that when the Spirit of God comes he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged. Sin is the barrier that keeps us from salvation and we need to be convicted of our sin.

To be made aware of our sin is not a human construct. Rather, it is constructed by being in the presence of God. It comes about through becoming aware of who God is and how He and His standards are revealed in His Word. The Holy Spirit uses such means to convict us of our sin and bankrupt state before God. It is only those who have been ransacked by the Word who cry out for the rescuing mercies of God which are found in our Lord Jesus.

The challenge is for us as Christians whether we be preachers or not to be faithfully declaring the need for people to be broken before God because of their sin.

 

Talk Normally

When potentially meeting people and thinking about talking with them I have often been deterred from doing so because of a mental malfunction. I reason it out that as a Christian I should talk to them about the Lord and His salvation. However, in the presenting situation, I feel that that would be difficult and perhaps awkward. So I conclude in my deluded way that I won’t speak to them at all!

What I have sought to do of late is to ditch that way of thinking and rather just speak to people normally. I have sought to simply interact with people about this and that; anything that might be of mutual interest. In doing this I have desired to enjoy the interaction with the other person. In taking this approach I am to freed myself of the perceived burden of having to introduce spiritual things.

So if nothing about scripture or the bible develops then I hang loose about that. However, should the opportunity arise to move things on to a more spiritual level then I trust the Lord to take advantage of such opportunities.

In all this I feel that the ministry of the Lord was of this ilk. As i read the gospels i sense a calm reasonableness to His approach to the general circumstances of life. When he was interacting with people there was nothing off putting about him. There was no Bible bashing or contrived spiritual conversations. He simply talked to people and naturally introduced spiritual matters

Of course He was the ultimate Holy Spirit led man who was always anointed into the right way. However, He is also our example in all things. And when we are enabled and anointed by the Holy Spirit we will be ministering in a way that is in the likeness of our Lord.

How Can The Unsaved Live?

I am pondering here upon the experience of being a unbeliever and wondering how they can go on in life. When I say unbeliever I am referring to those who do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Saviour; those who have not repented of their sins and believed in Jesus as their Saviour.

Now life can be tough for the believer; sometimes very tough. We read of Paul and Barnabas how they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said. (Acts 14:21b-22). Many hardships can be experienced by those believing in the Lord. However, always there is hope. There is hope of eternal blessings secured by our Lord and Saviour which we will fully enter into by-and-by. Moreover, there is knowledge that our sovereign kind Lord is watching over us to work out all things for His glory. 

However, for the unbeliever there is none of this. They are ultimately cast out on the sea of life, with all its uncertainty, without any sure and certain hope concerning the future. They do not have faith and thereby they do not have God and that means no hope. Amidst all the camouflaging of eternal issues and the pursuit of the pleasures of this life, there still remains the great uncertainty of death and beyond.

Moreover, they have no anchor for the soul in the turbulence of life. There are no everlasting arms underneath them promising to strengthen them and comfort them.

Oh what a fearful position it is to be unsaved. Is that you? You may have plenty of religion, but if you do not have Christ then all is not well. So come and find Christ as Saviour and enter into the joyous privileges of being a Christian.

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