The Gospel and the Vomitous Slop Cycle

anti-itch meditation

Sin is a huge deal.

We love our sin. We find it very difficult to leave it off. As a dog returns to his vomit and the pig returns to his slop, so does our sin pull us back.

Certainly people can get tired of the vomit and the slop, usually right after we indulge our flesh and feel dirty.

But the lead-up to sin and the momentary enjoyment of the sinful act is all pleasure. And it feels good. Really good.

Then there’s after, when you have to restore relationships, apologize, repair all the broken things, and clean up the mess your flesh made. We feel bad and we feel shame.

We vow to never do it again. Why would I sin again? Look at how miserable it makes everything.

Then the temptation comes again. Your flesh tells you there won’t be guilt this time, you deserve a break…

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Justification, Being Declared Righteous, Is Like, For Real

I too have come to the same conclusions! Oh what a minority view though!

anti-itch meditation

Christianity in the past 500 years or so views justification–accounted or imputed righteousness–as a mind game. That God simply thinks differently about us even though we’re exactly the same sinful person.

But justification is not some floaty concept. He who doeth righteousness is righteous. If you’ve been accounted righteous, you do righteous things. Don’t be deceived.

Paul focuses on this problem in Romans and Galatians quite a bit.

Galatians 2 is all about this idea of justification.

In doing research on this topic, I read Vincent’s Word Studies on Galatians 2. He was talking about justification and how it’s commonly viewed as a floaty thing by many, an issue in God’s mind. But this cannot be Paul’s meaning when he speaks of justification. Here is the pertinent paragraph.

The meaning to declare or pronounce righteous cannot be consistently carried through Paul’s writings in the interest of a theological…

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Making People Righteous is the Power of the Gospel

Making People Righteous is the Power of the Gospel

by Jeff Weddell

 

Justification is often viewed as God switching us from the Unrighteous column to the Righteous column in His heavenly ledger book.

Being counted righteous, or being justified, is not just a switch in God’s mind about you.

To be counted righteous, to be justified, means you have been made righteous!

Actually, in a real-life way, you can be made righteous, to the extent that righteousness shows up in your life.

This is the regenerating power of the Gospel!

You who were born in sin, a child of wrath, have been reconstituted, remade to do what is righteous!

Nothing else has that power. Nothing and no one can make unrighteous people suddenly do righteous things except God alone.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ rebirths us. It raises us up to newness of life. It is the power of God unto salvation.

There is power, re-creative power, in the Gospel. It frees from sin, it liberates the soul from the clutches of Satan and his evil, and frees you to do righteousness.

Nothing else can do this. You can’t do it. The law can’t do it. Good intentions can’t do it. Happy thoughts can’t do it.

Christ alone can do it.

And He does every time someone believes that He can.

The whole point of God redeeming a person is so they would do righteousness.

We are created to do good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.

He redeemed unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Salvation is not there so when you die you don’t go to hell.

Salvation is here to transform your life. To remake you with a desire and the ability to finally be able to do what God desires.

This is the longing of the soul that Christ answers. This is the glorious water of life that is poured into those who thirst after righteousness.

Unfortunately, we’ve sucked the Gospel’s power away. We tell people they are saved because they did a thing we told them to do and then pat them on the back as they go back to their sin.

We bring people to the Gospel without even mentioning sin or a new life. We make it about what happens after death. We make it all about later and nothing about now.

Release from sin now is what the Gospel can do. To not want to be released from sin is to not want the Gospel.

Instead of dealing with the sad fact that most people don’t want the Gospel, we invent a false Gospel that tells people “Jesus is fine with your sin. Nothing can stop it, you have to sin.” Oh well, guess even Jesus and the Gospel can’t stop your awesome power to sin.

How sad. If only God were more powerful than sin. Imagine what the Gospel would look like if that were true?

Guess what? It is true!

Stop believing lies and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel’s power, which is able to make you a child of God, freed from sin, and released into righteous service.

What Good News?

We rejoice always in the good news of the resurrection of Jesus following  his death for our salvation.

We rejoice in this amazing grace not just once a year but continually.

But it seems that it is only good news to those who recognise their need of salvation and the merciful redemption of Jesus.

It is good news only to us who understand and feel Jesus’ assessment of our horrible condition which required such momentous events such as God sending his Son and then the killing of the Jewish Messiah and his wondrous raising from the regions of nethergloom.

It is obvious to us, but solely through the grace of the Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit and so we have believed in Jesus and his work on the cross.

But to the sea of paganism and unbelief around us and the almost monolithic habit of ignoring God the Father and His wonderful love for us here in Aussie land, it is not good news.

It is a nuisance, even an offence. Often anger is expressed or a resentment held against God when an attempt is made to point out that we are all under the judgment of God and will have to give an account.

There can be no excuse for ignoring the one who made us and sustains us.

Two days ago I spoke to Jo, a checkout lady, all smiles. And her friendly and cheery manner changed dramatically to anger when in answer to her question about the cheating cricketers, I said that cheating and deception is endemic in our culture (‘everyone does it’) but we will all face a future judgment by our loving Creator.

As far back as 1940, C. S. Lewis observed in his classic The Problem of Pain, that in modern times a recovery of the sense of corruption and badness, the illusion of “I’m good enough” or “better than that person”, and the horror of deserving judgment, is essential.

In the time of Jesus, the Gospel had a more immediate application amid the recognition by people of the dominance of darkness and hopelessness and the sense of shame and failure: “what must I do to be saved?”

How much more do we need to see the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in our day and in our society without which I feel our efforts are in vain.

Miracles are essential, especially the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit to open the hearts and minds enslaved and blinded by the god of this world.

Walking in the Spirit is called for if the people we approach with good news will have a prior consciousness of sin and the awful condition they are in: slavery, blindness, deafness, hypocrisy, given over to serving self and the denial of shame and guilt.

How impossible it is for anyone to come to Jesus “unless the Father who sent me draws him”. John 6:44, 65.

Yet “with God nothing is impossible”.

Rejoicing with you all in the good news that HE LIVES and he lives in us.

CONVERSATION WITH LIAM

Met Liam a few days ago and spoke with him while he was checking out my shopping and filling bags at the supermarket.

I overheard him tell the shopper who preceded me that he was looking forward to his big trip overseas.

Liam is a likable young man, happy to talk to customers—a real asset to his employers.

As we locked eyes, I spoke “so you’re looking forward to your big trip?

Yep.

Bet you’re excited.

Sure am.

How soon?

About 3 months and I can hardly wait.

Though of course in the total of our understanding of time, it’s very short.

Yes, sometimes time is not our friend.

So I said : I am also looking forward to the trip of a lifetime. And boy am I excited about it!

Oooh, where ya’ going?

Goin’ to Heaven!

Oooh! not so soon surely! he said smiling, trying to guess my age.

Well as you said a few seconds ago, in the total of our understanding of time, it’s very short.

So where are you heading ultimately? Heaven or the other place?

Oh I hope I go to the good place.

Liam, do you know who will go there, who will make the good place?

Hmmm not sure.

Well, it says that those who love God their Creator, and listen to his son Jesus for their salvation, will be looking forward to it and will be at home there.

Those who don’t want God as Jesus revealed him, will not be at home there, will be judged (who hasn’t sinned?) and be located to Hell, whatever that is like. Not good by Jesus’ reckoning. To be avoided at all costs.

Do you think about that?

Yes. I know about that (maybe good Catholic upbringing)

But have you thought seriously about it?

I know about it. But I havn’t really considered it.

Please consider. Please don’t put it off.

We parted friends, Liam and I, shopping bags packed.

Next time at the checkout?

But Time is not his friend.

Nor ours, eh?

             

 

Church Is Largely a Sham

anti-itch meditation

Many Christians would rather feel holy/spiritual/righteous/good than actually be holy/spiritual/righteous/good.

Church becomes a place that makes sinners feel better about themselves without addressing their sin.

Since sin isn’t addressed, people go home and sin. Then they feel bad because deep down they know sin is bad. They feel guilty.

What shall we do with the guilt?

Ooo, ooo! I know: Let’s get together and sing happy songs and exchange happy thoughts until we all feel holy/spiritual/righteous/good again!

Awesome! All the guilt goes away. We all feel loved and fulfilled. All ready for a new week of sinning!

This goes on week after week until finally the person just gives up. They know the whole thing is a sham. Church practice shows that sin isn’t that big of a deal anyway. I did my time. God loves me, the church has told me that for years, so, I’m out.

On the…

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Billy Graham’s Faithfulness

We have all heard recently of Billy Graham’s change of address, his home-coming which he constantly spoke of with joyous anticipation. What a life! what an example! How focussed he was always on Jesus–his death, his rising, his saving grace.

I watched some of the ‘live-stream’ online of his final journey through North Carolina and to Washington to lie in state for a couple of days in the Capital Hill Rotunda, an honour so few have been  granted by the US people.

The producers gave viewers two inspiring addresses from Billy in which he showed his unwavering belief in the Word of God–‘the Bible says . . .’

These bold statements remain for me to think about afresh:

Jesus went to hell for us on the cross, so that we trusting in what he did there we we have wonderful assurance of eternal life.

God loves you, God loves you! –balanced by Jesus’ warnings to avoid at all costs the just retribution for our sin by the free gift of eternal life through and only by, the cross.

Jesus called people to follow him publicly — and to confess him before others.

God’s eternal word/warning ‘rebel against me and my word and you surely die’ and that God will not, can not, change his word, cannot lie, it is everlasting.

I thank the Lord for the life, the consistency, the graciousness, the integrity, of Dr Billy Graham and pray that the Lord of the Harvest will raise up and send many like him, as we think about his good and faithful servant.