Tag Archive: gospel


The Gospel in Psalm 130

July 19, 2015

 

Introduction

Psa. 130:1 A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD. 2 Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. 3 If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. 7 O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption. 8 And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Based on the text of this Psalm, it seems appropriate to begin with some questions. How many transgressions of all the principles and commandments and precepts that are found in Scripture did you violate last week? What would the list look like if all of your sins, up to this moment in time, had been recorded? How would you like to appear before God and see such a list displayed before Him?

The truth is, you don’t know how many times you’ve violated the holiness of God just since you opened your eyes this morning. Even if we attempted to record all of our sinful thoughts and words and actions for just a day, we would miss most of them. We don’t go through life thinking in terms of cataloging our sins—and for good reason. We don’t have to live like that. But that shouldn’t stop us from considering how often we violate God’s standard and that shouldn’t stop us from meditating, at times, on all the ways in which we sin against God. Such times of reflection can be most beneficial, as we are about to see as we turn our attention to Psa. 130.

This obviously is a prayer offered by a worshiper of God; it is a prayer expressing anguish, to a degree, and relief as the writer acknowledges certain facts about God. These facts, as they are recalled, provide him with a much needed encouragement and corrected perspective on whatever it was that drove him to describe himself as being in the “depths.”

I would note that the first truth that stands out is this writer’s apparent conviction that the LORD establishes the standard by which we are judged, the standard by which our lives are measured. This critical truth comes after the writer’s introductory remarks in which he expresses his distress and his desire that the LORD would hear his supplications. In v. 3, the writer asks a question that carries such momentous implications that I fear we will not be able to grasp them all. The writer of this Psalm asks: “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” Before I talk about the most sobering aspects of this question, I want you to notice that the writer automatically assumes that it is the LORD’s place to decide what is and what is not an iniquity; he assumes that the LORD is the One who sets the standard to which all are held.

The writer does not suggest that if the LORD were to be the One with the authority or right to mark iniquities, we might find ourselves in trouble; he assumes that the LORD is the One whose nature is such that He determines that which constitutes acceptable thinking, speaking, and conduct. This fact, in itself, declares to us something vital concerning God’s nature—His nature is the standard of morality. Whatever God is, that is what it means to be morally upright; whatever contradicts what God is, that is what it means to be morally corrupt and fallen.

With this tremendously important assumption operating, the writer asks his question: “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” If God, whose nature is the standard of judgment in this universe, were to “mark iniquities,” no one would survive, the writer asserts. Let me define two words at this point before we continue. First, the word translated “mark” (shamar) means “to keep” as it to preserve something for an indefinite period of time. Second, the word “iniquities” (avon) means “perversity, depravity, sin.” Now, look again at the question: “If You, LORD, should keep or preserve a record of sins or acts of perversity or thoughts of depravity, O Lord, who could stand?”

I already noted that the writer operates with the assumption that the LORD has the authority to determine the standard by which we are judged. Another assumption, which is obviously held by this writer, is that we are a people characterized by that which qualifies as iniquity. He doesn’t speak as though iniquity is a rare thing; he speaks as though everyone on this earth is characterized by enough iniquity to render them worthy of destruction were the LORD ever to decide to call them to account. This Psalm tells us that God sets the standard and it tells us that He is not like us; we are different from God because we are characterized by various elements that are contrary to His nature; therefore, we deserve judgment—that is a clear message from this writer.

We deserve judgment because we commit violation after violation of God’s standard, and yet we do not perish. Why is this? It is because the LORD is pleased not to mark our iniquities, and He is pleased not to keep a list of our sins current right up to this present moment in time is a running count of accusations against us. He is pleased not to call us to account for our transgressions. Now the writer has revealed a truth about God that should leave us astounded —we are creatures of depravity, but the LORD chooses not to hold our sins against us. He chooses not to mark our iniquities. If we could simply comprehend this one primary point, we would have an understanding of the gospel that would change us forever; we would understand the power of the gospel, the beauty of the gospel, and the comfort of the gospel. The LORD does not mark our iniquities because “there is forgiveness with [Him], that [He] may be feared.” (v. 4)

Forgiveness—that is the explanation. We are characterized by iniquities, but the LORD doesn’t hold on to those transgressions and He doesn’t bring them against us time after time because He forgives us. It’s not that we learn to do better and it’s not that God cares less about His holy character as time goes by and it’s not that our offenses are any less offensive the tenth time we commit them as opposed to the first time. The answer is forgiveness. God forgives us, which means, as the writer’s word structure indicates, that forgiveness is the very opposite of marking iniquities. Knowing that God forgives, the writer states, leads us to fear Him. He uses a Hebrew term (yare) that refers to the deep reverence we have when we stand in awe of something. This word is used extensively in the Old Testament to describe a proper attitude toward God. This fear is not that He will harm us, the fear is reverence, respect, standing in all of the magnificent God of the Bible. To meditate on the forgiveness of God leads to this worshipful attitude; it is an attitude of humility and thanksgiving.

The only way for you to understand the richness of your salvation is to first grasp the enormity of your sin. This is the idea here in our text. The enormity of our sin is revealed when the writer says, in essence, that if we had to answer for our conduct, we would perish; the richness of our salvation is revealed when he says that, instead of being called to account for our sins, God forgives us—which explains, by the way, what forgiveness is; it is relating to the offending party without regard for his sins. Here I must make something absolutely clear; what I want to make absolutely clear is how this kind of situation can exist. I want to make clear how it is that God forgives the guilty.

If anyone ever had a doubt regarding the presence of the gospel in the Old Testament, here is a prime example of how the Old Testament reveals the nature of redemption without speaking as directly about Christ as is the case after the incarnation. We know why the LORD doesn’t mark our iniquities; it is because He forgives us. But we also know that God’s holy nature makes it impossible for Him simply to overlook transgressions. The kind of statement found in this Psalm would have led any pious mind to thoughts about what was taught in the Levitical system, namely, that sins are forgiven on the basis of a substitutionary atonement. If there is forgiveness with God, as this writer says, it is because something has been done about our sins—and that “something” is that God has provided Another to bear the consequences of our iniquities.

As I said before, we do not escape answering for our transgressions because God forgets about them or because He knows that we are “doing our best.” We escape because our Savior takes our place. That is the underlying truth of this portion of Psa. 130. Here is a brief, but truthful reminder of what God had been promising for ages; and the writer of this Psalm relates in a simple fashion the reality of redemption.

This Psalm tells us that God determines the standard to which we are held, that He does not count our transgressions against us even though we violate His standard, and that in the place of destruction God provides forgiveness. Consequently, as the writer goes on to teach, God becomes the focus of his hope (cf. v. 5). Because he knows what the LORD has done, because He knows that the LORD forgives and restores, the writer found great comfort for his soul as he faced hardships. We’ll see in a moment the manner in which he describes this hope, but for now the important point is that the way in which God treats His people makes Him the object of their trust and hope.

This Psalm is a wonderful assertion of some of the primary truths of the gospel. Sinners who are condemned and deserving of destruction are forgiven by the very God against whom they have committed innumerable acts of transgression. Imagine the God who would operate in this manner! Imagine His love and His mercy and His patience.

Clearly, as we’ve seen in many of the other Psalms in this current series, this Psalm tells us that these were people who quickly and confidently turned to the LORD in times of distress. Routinely, these Psalms have given testimony to the fact that the worshipers sought guidance, comfort and confidence from the LORD in the many adverse circumstances they encountered. In this case, the writer describes himself as crying to the LORD “out of the depths.” (v. 1) Whenever this word (“depths”) is used in the Old Testament, it normally refers to the deepest parts of the ocean. Figuratively, therefore, it is used to express a state of great anguish and despair.

Although the writer doesn’t provide specific details concerning his situation, we do have some indication of what was bothering him. After expressing such anguish, he begins speaking of iniquities. It is possible, therefore, that the writer was deeply troubled by his transgressions or those of the nation. For some reason, sin and forgiveness were on his mind when he wrote this song. Rightly, as I noted, he turns to the LORD and pours out his distress in those few words found in vv. 1 and 2. This writer is in a position where only the LORD can help him and it is to the LORD that he directs his cry for assistance.

Those who, along with this writer, worshiped the LORD at this point in history knew the fundamental truth that God is the one to whom we turn in times of distress, especially if that distress is caused by the contemplation of our sin. Where else can we turn to find relief for our troubled soul when, upon the contemplation of our depravity, we find ourselves near despair? The very act of meditating on one’s fallen state quickly leads to the conclusion that there is no help to be found in self—self is the problem! We are sinners and when sinners think soberly on their condition, they certainly do not conclude that deliverance from condemnation and the torment of guilt is to be found in their own devices. It is to the LORD and to Him only that we turn in such moments and it is that perspective that is recorded in this Psalm.

This apparent deliberation on his condition led this writer to a sobering conclusion: “If you, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (v. 2) Realizing, even to a slight degree, how unfit he was to stand before the LORD, this writer confesses the truth that if the LORD were to require an accounting from him for his transgressions, he would be doomed. And, in fact, the way he states the question makes it obvious that he held this same opinion about all of his countrymen. If the LORD were to keep track of our sins, he says, and then require a reckoning from us, we would be lost. We could not possibly stand before the LORD were He to produce a list of our sins.

Imagine knowing that the LORD was, in fact, marking iniquities, was keeping a record and would demand an accounting. This would be enough to unravel any pious person, or any person who truly wanted to walk before Jehovah in faith. But just as such disturbing thoughts occurred to this writer, he adds that astounding statement in v. 4: “But there is forgiveness with You…”

These worshipers were not free of sin and they were not free of guilt before the LORD, but He was not relating to them based on their sin because with Jehovah there is forgiveness. With Him, there is a remedy for sin—because there is forgiveness with the LORD. What a change of perspectives! If the LORD should mark iniquities, these worshipers knew that they could not endure before Him, but the LORD did not keep a record of their sin in order to bring it against them. Instead, He offered them forgiveness; instead, the LORD, the holy One, the offended One, made a provision for their deliverance.

It’s no wonder that the writer goes on to express how he eagerly waited for the LORD (vv. 5 and 6). As he considered his sin and the fact that the LORD forgave him, he wanted nothing more than to be with the LORD who loved him so. The truth of God’s forgiveness was the hope to which this man held as he made his way through life. It was communion with God that brought this man joy and comfort.

The word translated “wait” (qavah) is interesting (cf. v. 5). It’s a term that refers to remaining or abiding in a specific state as you anticipate something beneficial. When the writer says that he waited for the LORD, he doesn’t mean he was expecting the LORD to show up at some point. He means that he was resting in the LORD. And from that perspective, he was anticipating a time of communion with God, perhaps through worship or perhaps through his departure from this life into the presence of God.

In this frame of mind, the writer could urge his fellow-worshipers to “hope in the LORD.” (v. 7) He could assure them that they served a God who is known for His lovingkindness. In Him, the writer declares, there is “abundant redemption.” He presents a picture of the LORD that is completely uplifting and perfectly suited for those who were on their way to worship Jehovah.

At some point, this writer was made aware of his transgressions or something caused him to pause and think about the fact that he was a sinner and his sins were committed against a God of purity and holiness. And as he was going through this thought process, he realized that he deserved destruction. But there he was—alive and well and able to worship the LORD. The contemplation of his sin led, of course, to the contemplation of God’s forgiveness of his sin. Those two realities—his sin and God’s forgiveness of his sin—overwhelmed him and he had to exclaim praise for the LORD.

If God marked your iniquities, if He kept a record of your sins and called you to account, would you be able to stand? If God took note of your transgressions and preserved a list of them, would you be able to appear before Him with confidence? You know the answer to those questions. Our problem is that we don’t face these kinds of questions often enough. We rarely consider the implications of such a question as: “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?”

Meditation on such questions leads inevitably to the conclusion that God forgives—otherwise, we wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t have a life and we wouldn’t know the LORD. Meditation on what God has done for sinners is where God-honoring worship begins.

When the writer of this Psalm thought on such things, he was moved to fear the LORD. How about you? We don’t hear much talk about fearing the LORD these days. To fear the LORD means that you relate to Him as God, as a holy and righteous God. It means that we look to Him with thankful hearts realizing that He is the One who saves us and who watches over us. To fear the LORD is to stand in awe of Him.

These kinds of thoughts come much more easily when we keep before us the fact that God has forgiven us. It was that truth that caused the writer to find hope in spite of his sins. He knew that God had provided for his forgiveness. As I said before, the gospel is portrayed in Psa. 130. There is the undeniable teaching of atonement in this Psalm. There is recognition of sin and there is recognition of forgiveness—the two key elements in redemption.

Therefore, we cannot study this Psalm without being directed to Christ. There is no way to read this Psalm and even begin to have the slightest understanding of it without turning our eyes to Christ. It is impossible for us to think about our transgression and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they have been forgiven without turning our minds to Christ. He is the explanation for sins forgiven. The Messiah is the explanation for this writer’s conclusion that, although he was a man of iniquity, there was forgiveness with the LORD. Amen.

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Churches may, indeed, soon face more vicious forms of government sanctioned persecution in this country. This is not something new, nor should it surprise us. (Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:20-23) Let us be sure of one thing, however: the Church of Jesus Christ, over which He is Head (Eph. 1:18-23), will never cease to exist on the earth. (1 Cor. 15:22-28) The people of God do not have to have buildings and public meetings to carry on the work of the gospel, which is the one unique and glorious thing about this message– it does not deal only with external behavior, but is the power of God to penetrate to the very soul and no opposition, seen or unseen, will ever succeed in stopping it. (Rom. 1:16; Heb. 4:12, 13) You can forbid people to meet and you can destroy our buildings and you can threaten us all you want, but the gospel will continue to be applied to the human race according to the sovereign decree of God and then it will be over–and not a millisecond before God has done whatsoever He pleases with this world. (2 Pet. 3:3-10) Rave on God-haters. He who sits in the heavens is laughing at you. (Psa. 2:1-4) You are only storing up wrath for that great Day. (Rom. 2:5-8)

Some Thoughts on the Divine Origin of the Church

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. 5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs– we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”

The context of this passage is well known. Jesus has been crucified and He has appeared to His disciples following His resurrection from the dead. In the first chapter of this book, He explains to His disciples that they were going to become witnesses for Him beginning in Jerusalem, but eventually encompassing the whole world. When we look at the Gospels, we see that the same disciples were often confused about the things Jesus taught them and the things Jesus predicted. But at one point, Jesus promised a Helper who would come after Him to equip these disciples to carry out the commission given to them by the Savior.

The arrival of that Helper, who is the Holy Spirit, is recorded in the verses I just read. This happened on the day of Pentecost. This holy day occurred 50 days after Passover. Rabbinic scholars teach that Moses brought the law of God down from Mount Sinai 50 days after the observance of Passover. This particular day; therefore, came to have great significance for the Jews.

During the time of Christ, the Jews were somewhat scattered throughout the region. At this celebration, Jews would travel to Jerusalem from various locations throughout the empire. That is why so many areas were represented when this event took place (cf. vv. 9-11). The Spirit that comes on this day is the Spirit of Christ. He comes to prepare the disciples to take a new law to the world—the law of Christ or the law of liberty, as James calls it in his epistle. The law of God was given to make us aware of our sin and need for redemption. On this occasion, the One who kept the law of God perfectly for us so that we might be redeemed dispatches His Spirit to apply the victory He attained.

After this, the book of Acts records the phenomenal growth of the early Church. The disciples who were confused and timid become men of superior understanding and boldness. On this day, the transformation of the world began. And it is still going on in our day as the people of Christ speak, teach, and preach about Him throughout the world. The few thousand who were converted within days of this event have become millions upon millions over the centuries. This is the context for this passage of Scripture.

The disciples were gathered in an upper room that was used as living quarters. Based on the previous chapter, we know that they were devoting themselves to prayer and were probably discussing recent events. While contemplating their circumstances, “suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing when, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” (v. 2) In addition, “there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.” (v. 3) This event had significance, not just for this particular day, but for the rest of their lives. And this event had significance, not just for the city of Jerusalem, but for the entire world. On this day, the subjection of the world to the King of Kings begins. Everything that grew out of this event, which includes the establishment and global progress of the Church of Christ, bears the mark of the supernatural. The Church is not a creation of man, it is a creation of God. The destiny of the Church is not in the hands of man, but in the hands of God.

What does all of this imply for the ministry of local congregations? I would mention first the matter of our mission. The mission of the Church is the conversion of sinners. The mission of the Church is the conversion of nations of sinners through the teaching and preaching of the words of Christ. In a local ministry, we must understand that our mission is to preach and apply the gospel. Only the gospel can bring about the salvation of a lost soul; therefore, the gospel must be the primary concern of the local church because we exist to save lost souls. Contemporary churches are often extremely confused when it comes to articulating their mission. As result, many churches have tried to become all things to all people, with the result that their primary mission, as assigned by the Savior, suffers from neglect.

In addition to bearing on the relationship between the local church and the surrounding community, the supernatural origin of the Church also relates to the nature of our worship. If the Church is of the divine origin, then it must reflect that truth in everything it does. And one of the most significant tasks in which the local church engages is the worship of God. The local church is obligated to make sure that the way in which God is approached on the Lord’s Day is acceptable to Him. It is God’s character that we need to consider when we decide what we are going to include or exclude from our service of worship.

Once again, we must admit that contemporary local churches are often severely misguided in this important area. It is common today for churches to structure themselves in order to attract visitors. This is exactly the wrong perspective. As a divine institution, the local church must reflect its divine origin. The Church is, once again, the creation of God through the Holy Spirit. This truth was made unmistakably clear on the day of Pentecost.

In our worship, it should be evident that we are offering our praise and our service to God, which in turn means that we are to worship Him according to what He has revealed to us. The worship of the local church is not the place for innovation, it is the place for tradition, tradition stretching all the way back to the giving of the Scriptures where we find what God says is appropriate. When it comes to worship, a disregard for tradition amounts to disobedience if that disregard causes us to introduce unbiblical elements into our worship. When I speak of disobedience to tradition, I am not referring to the tradition of man, but to the tradition of doctrine given to us by God. The Bible tells us what God accepts when it comes to His worship. That is our tradition.

The supernatural origin of the Church has implications for our mission and our organization, specifically our worship. I would add one more observation. This one concerns our expectation as local congregations. Based on what we know about the origin of the Church and the equipping of the Church by the Holy Spirit, should we be optimistic or pessimistic about the impact of the gospel in this world?

Let us acknowledge that the conflict between darkness and light has been decided. It was decided when Jesus rose from the dead, which is why the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ occupied such a prominent place in the preaching of the early Church. Since Peter stood before the people gathered in Jerusalem and preached, Christ has been applying His victory through the Church to the world. And we should expect that process to continue. The divine origin of the Church guarantees that history must unfold as an amazing application of the atonement.

We live in a dark day when it comes to the expectation of contemporary churches. The optimism that should accompany those who believe the gospel has been all but extinguished by the so-called “end times” eschatology. But understand that this is not the view that characterized the Church of Christ in the past; nor will it be the view that characterizes the Church in the future. But thanks be to God that eventually the Church will escape the clutches of this view that robs Christ of His glory and the Church of Her vision.

 

The Gospel of Our Salvation

(Rom. 5:6-11)

Part 2

 Romans 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

In part 1 of this study, I noted that the gospel is a message concerning two primary issues: the spiritual condition of human beings and God’s response to that condition. In response to man’s need, God set in motion a plan of redemption by which the human race would be rescued and delivered from condemnation through the work of Jesus Christ. I noted that the entire Bible is about this unfolding decree of God whereby He appointed us to eternal life.

I called attention to the way in which Paul begins this section of his letter to the Romans. He describes a sinner’s condition at the point where the ministry of Christ becomes relevant. While we were still helpless, Christ died for the ungodly. (v.6) Paul uses a Greek term (asthenes) that means” to be weak, sick, feeble, without strength.” Paul is speaking of our spiritual condition. He is teaching that the sinner is incapable of delivering himself from the judgment of God.

Paul uses another term to describe fallen man’s condition apart from Christ. In verse 8, he refers to us as “sinners.” This is the simplest and most prevalent term used to identify fallen man in his relationship to God. As we continued working through these verses, we found that Paul uses yet another phrase to explain fallen man’s condition. In v. 9, Paul refers to us as being “saved from the wrath of God through Him.” If we are saved from the wrath of God in Christ, that means that we existed under the wrath of God prior to our deliverance.

One other descriptive term of man in sin is found in verse 10: “[W]hile we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” I suggested that it is quite unsettling to think of ourselves as enemies of God. He made us and yet we are declared to be hostile toward Him. To be an enemy of God is to be doomed. It is to have no hope of deliverance.

Having worked through Paul’s description of man apart from Christ, or man in sin, we began looking at the second primary element of the gospel, which is God’s response to our need. While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (v. 6) The first component of God’s response to fallen man’s need is recorded in this verse. God responded to our need by taking our guilt from us and placing it on the back of His own Son. And then, bearing our sin Himself, Jesus Christ gave His life as a payment for our transgressions.

A second aspect of God’s response to our need is found in verse 8 where Paul says that the coming of Christ for us was a demonstration of God’s love toward us. We must always remember that God’s response to our need was grounded in His love for us. God loves us; therefore, He did not require us to answer for our rebellion against Him. His love revealed itself in His plan for our deliverance, which, as we know, involved Another taking our place.

We are now ready to examine the remainder of this passage as we continue looking at how God responded to man’s lost condition.

A third aspect of God’s response to our condition has to do with our standing before God. As I have said several times, outside of Christ, we are condemned before God because of our sin. But the death of Christ on our behalf changes our status before God because the Savior took upon Himself our guilt and paid the required penalty, which was His own life.

As result, God declares and we have been justified by Christ’s blood.(v. 9) To be justified means that we are pronounced guilt-free and no charge remains pending against us. All of our sin is pardoned because our Savior died for it. Before, we were condemned with no means of escape. But after Christ, we are free and God views us as those for whom His Son made atonement.

This is an incredibly encouraging truth. At one time, we faced only the judgment of God and our condemnation was completely just. That judgment, however, fell on our Substitute. This is a change that only God by His grace could bring about. We could never have altered our standing before a holy God and, therefore, had no hope whatsoever while looking only to ourselves.

But when we look to Christ, we find a loving Savior who was willing to receive what truly belonged to us. Being pure and without sin Himself, Jesus became sin for us. With our guilt credited to Him, Jesus allowed Himself to be nailed to the cross where, in due time, He surrendered His life in our place. Only a sacrifice of infinite worth could atone for our offense against infinitely holy God. Jesus was that infinitely worthy sacrifice because He was God in the flesh.

So far, then, we have seen three aspects or elements in God’s response to man’s need: He sent His Son to die for the ungodly, He manifested His love for us in Christ, and He declares us justified as a result of having the blood of His own Son shed in order to atone for our sin.

That brings us to a fourth aspect of God’s response to our condition. It is found in v. 10. Previously, I noted that in this verse, we are referred to as the “enemies” of God. That was one of the terms Paul used to describe our status outside of Christ. Now, notice what follows that statement: “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” Note also that the same truth is stated in verse 11.

Reconciliation is one of the leading themes of the Bible. When this term is used in the context of redemption, it means that those who were enemies of God, those who were separated from Him due to sin, have been brought back into a peaceful and loving relationship with God. It was not God who needed to be reconciled to us, but we who needed to be reconciled to God. That has taken place, according to Paul, through the death of Christ.

We find ourselves in a relationship of peace instead of adversity. We have the assurance of everlasting life instead of assurance of inevitable judgment. And we relate to God as our heavenly Father instead of our offended Judge. In Christ, our eternal destinies have been settled.

This is the gospel. It is a message of profound implications for us as we live out our days in this world. If you have believed the gospel and have called upon Christ to be your Savior, then you may lead a life of contentment in a world of chaos.

To have peace with God is to have the peace that truly matters most. Knowing that God has received us as one of His redeemed, gives us joy and a steadfastness of heart. Our life is one of living in the saving love of God. Everything we experience is within the amazing love of God. This is life in the gospel.

The Gospel of Our Salvation

(Rom. 5:6-11)

Part 1

Romans 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

The gospel is a message concerning two primary issues: the spiritual condition of human beings and God’s response to that condition. One of the chief aims of Paul in the book of Romans is communicating the fact that all people, Jews and Gentiles, come into the world alienated from God. We all have inherited the corrupt nature of our father Adam.

In response to man’s need, God set in motion a plan of redemption by which the human race would be rescued and delivered from condemnation through the work of Jesus Christ. The entire Bible is about this unfolding decree of God whereby He appointed us to eternal life.

The passage above comes from a section where the apostle is explaining how Christ served as our Savior. Having established the fact that all people are in need of the Savior because all people are, as I said earlier, alienated from God, Paul takes up the matter of our common Redeemer. God has appointed only one way of salvation and that is through His Son.

Please notice how Paul begins this section of his letter to the Romans. He describes a sinner’s condition at the point where the ministry of Christ becomes relevant. While we were still helpless, Christ died for the ungodly. (v.6) The first phrase of this verse speaks to the spiritual condition of man. We were “helpless.”

The context confirms that Paul is speaking of our status before God as we come into this world. He is addressing the results of man’s fall into sin. As a race, we were left “helpless.” Paul uses a Greek term (asthenes) that means” to be weak, sick, feeble, without strength.” Remember that Paul is not speaking of our physical condition, but of our spiritual condition. He is teaching that the sinner is incapable of delivering himself from the judgment of God. We do not have the ability to overcome the effects of man’s corruption due to the fall of Adam.

Adam was our representative and his conduct had immediate and critical consequences for all of those human beings who would descend from him. Right at the beginning of human history, therefore, mankind was confirmed in a spiritual state that left him estranged from God and liable only for God’s judgment.

Notice how Paul describes us, in our fallen state, as this passage continues. In verse 8, he refers to us as “sinners.” This is the simplest and most prevalent term used to identify fallen man in his relationship to God. While God is holy, man is unholy. God is unmarked by sin, but we are corrupt in every facet of our existence.

In the next verse, Paul refers to us as being “saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (v 9) If we are saved from the wrath of God in Christ, that means that we existed under the wrath of God prior to our deliverance. Apart from Christ, we are not in neutral territory, so to speak. From the point of Adam’s disobedience, every human being is conceived in a state of separation from God.

At no time during our lives do we escape the sentence of judgment that hangs over us. As Paul has already stated, the only way of escape is for us to have a Substitute to receive that judgment in our place. That Substitute, as already stated, is Jesus Christ.

The wrath of God does not disappear, nor is it simply set aside. The wrath of God must fall upon sin and all transgressions against a holy God must be atoned for. That is what happens for us in our Savior. In Christ, the necessary and unavoidable justice of God finds its fulfillment in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. And those represented by Christ, just like those represented by Adam, receive the benefits of what He attained.

One other descriptive term of man in sin is found in verse 10: “[W]hile we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” It is an unsettling thing to think of ourselves as enemies of God. He made us and yet we are declared to be hostile toward Him. We fall into a category of hopelessness because no enemy of God can ever overcome Him. God’s enemies are always defeated and destroyed because there is no wisdom or power in all the universe that can successfully contend with the wisdom and the power of God.

To be an enemy of God, therefore, is to be doomed. It is to have no hope of deliverance, no hope of escaping the inevitable wrath that a righteous God must inflict upon His enemies. It is not difficult to understand why Paul begins this passage by saying that we were “helpless.” There was nothing we could do to change our condition. Compounding this frightening truth is the fact that a fallen man has no desire to be reconciled to God, no desire to serve his Maker, and no desire to please God. (cf. Rom. 3:10-18)

Theologians use the term “depravity” to describe fallen man’s spiritual condition apart from Christ. This word means that there is no aspect of our nature that has gone untouched by sin. There is only one way of salvation and that is through Jesus Christ. By receiving His work as our own, our sins are paid for and we are granted eternal life in Him. In the Savior, God’s condemnation falls on Him as our Substitute.

With Christ as my personal Savior, God accepts His work on my behalf. As my Redeemer, Jesus was nailed to the cross where He suffered and died in my place. He paid the price necessary for me to be reconciled to God. When God came to this world in the flesh, He gave himself as a sacrifice of infinite worth. His death atoned for my sin.

Before I continue, let me emphasize that what has been said so far about man apart from Christ is true of everyone. Paul is not speaking about exceptionally wicked people only, he is speaking about all people. The helplessness Paul mentions applies to every human being, past, present, and future. Absolute helplessness is the state of all people—every man, woman, and child—outside of Christ.

If you will meditate on these disturbing truths about your spiritual condition, you will find great comfort and joy in the other aspect of the gospel that I mentioned earlier, namely, God’s response to our need. While we were still helpless, Paul writes, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Consider the implications of that opening verse. Christ died for us while we were in a state of estrangement from God. We did not love Him, nor did we have a desire to please Him, as I noted before. Christ did not die for us after we began to make an effort to reach God.

Christ did not come along and help us find our way back to our Creator. Jesus Christ came for us and delivered us while we hated Him and wanted nothing to do with the righteousness of God.

The word that is used to describe this act of selflessness on the part of our Savior is grace. Grace refers to God showing the unworthy sinner mercy even when that sinner was an enemy. Grace is seen in God’s willingness to receive the work of His Son in our place. Grace is in operation when the sinner receives the blessings of redemption without any demands made upon him.

Above all else, therefore, we must keep in mind that the gospel is a declaration of God’s grace toward us in Christ. We did not deserve deliverance from God’s judgment, nor could we ever achieve deliverance from God’s judgment on our own. It had to be done for us and it had to be done without requiring anything of us because we had nothing to give in exchange for the salvation of our souls.

While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (v. 6) God responded to our need by taking our guilt from us and placing it on the back of His own Son. And then, bearing our sin Himself, Jesus Christ, the blessed Lamb of God, gave His life as a payment for our transgressions. God in the flesh came to us in our misery. This was His response to our horrible dilemma. We had nothing to entice Him, nothing to give Him, yet He came from heaven to earth to save us.

A second aspect of God’s response to our need is found in verse 8 where Paul says that the coming of Christ for us was a demonstration of God’s love toward us. Talk about God’s plan of redemption and Christ’s work of atonement can become quite technical and, to a degree, academic. This is because we have to have absolute precision in our interpretation of these matters.

We must always, however, work within the context of God’s love. Christ’s ministry on our behalf was grounded in the love of God. The truths that we hold dear as believers, the joy that we experience in worship and fellowship with one another, the peace we have when contemplating our security in Christ—all these wonderful elements in our Christian experience are aspects of God’s love for us.

God loves us; therefore, He did not require us to answer for our rebellion against Him. His love revealed itself in His plan for our deliverance, which, as we know, involved Another taking our place. The love of God was not only declared to us, it was manifested, Paul writes, in the Person of Jesus Christ.

The love of God can be observed. It is not just a concept. God’s promises are followed by His actions. While walking the earth, Jesus referred to His mission many times. He taught His disciples that He was the promised Messiah who had come to deliver them from their spiritual bondage. And Jesus went to the cross to fulfill the things He had promised. I will say again, therefore, that the love of God can be observed.

As I conclude part one of this study, I want you to personalize the teaching of the apostle. I want you to think about the fact that you were helpless—helpless when it came to escaping that dreaded sentence of condemnation. You would still be under that judgment were it not for Christ. Without Him, your spiritual condition would never change.

You will never know the displeasure of God. You will never experience even a taste of his righteous judgment. You will only know the peace of God, the comfort of God, the patience of God, and the forgiveness of God.

If you have embraced Christ as Savior, then all of God’s displeasure with you was transferred to Him on the cross. And His righteous judgment was directed away from you and to His own Son. And what is true for you, is true for all those who have believed God’s promise of salvation in Christ. Together, we praise God for His saving love. Together, we worship Him each week and strive to live for His glory each day. We live a truly blessed life. We know God, we know His Son, and we know where we are going.

If you hear these words, but realize that they do not describe your life, you can change that today. God offers salvation to all who will receive it. It is a gift in the most magnificent sense of the term. You may call upon the Savior even now and ask Him to save you, to fill your heart with joy, and to grant you eternal life.

All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 2 Number 5

May 2, 2013

A Better Way?

From Pastor Bordwine

 

Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes!

(Psalm 119:5)

Do you agree that the concept of personal obedience is irrelevant within the context of living the Christian life? Many believers have been taught that references to obedience on the part of Christians somehow contradicts the gospel. As a matter fact, there is currently a vigorous debate going on within the evangelical Church regarding this question. One particular school of thought is that any talk of obeying God once a person becomes a Christian is somehow contrary to the message of salvation by grace through faith alone.

There are two major flaws in this thinking. First, it cannot be reconciled with the multitude of passages in which the writers of Scripture command some behavior while condemning other behavior. This implies, of course, that choices have to be made in the Christian life. And those choices, by necessity, must be made according to some standard. If we say that seeking to conform our lives to the commands of Scripture through simple obedience is not an option for the believer, then what do we have left? Some source of authority will inform our conduct. If the Bible is eliminated as a possible source, then we have only the leading of our own hearts. Keep in mind, however, this statement from the prophet Jeremiah: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)

Salvation does not bring with it an immediate perfection of our sense of discernment. The Word of God teaches the very opposite when it tells us that sin remains as a powerful influence in our flesh this side of heaven even after we are born-again. Apart from the Bible, therefore, there is no other source on which the Christian may rely for moral guidance if our desire is to reflect the character of God.

I said that the thinking described above has two major flaws. The second flaw is the complete mischaracterization of the idea of obedience in the Christian life. We do not seek to know and obey the Scriptures in order to impress God or established merit in His eyes. Our desire to know and obey the Scriptures comes from our sense of thankfulness to God for what He has done for us in Christ. For the Christian, attempting to bring our lives into line with the commands of Scripture is an act of humility because we have come to understand that we are not capable of righteous living apart from instruction concerning what constitutes such an existence.

I quoted from Psalm 119 above. This Psalm contains the conclusions of David as he meditated on the law of God. Throughout this Psalm, we find numerous references such as the one above: “Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes!” David repeatedly expresses his desire to develop the highest regard for the commands of God. It was his prayer that his life be a reflection of the will of God as revealed to us in the Bible.

Clearly, David understood that walking before the Lord requires direction, correction, and encouragement and that is what we find in those passages where God tells us how to live. Again, these commands are not given so we might achieve or maintain our place before God, but are given so that we might know what pleases Him. Our love for God and for the Savior prompts us to seek that which David sought, which is a life characterized by holiness.

It is greatly troubling to know, as I mentioned above, that there are those who completely reject the notion of a believer showing concern for the Word of God as a source for moral guidance in our lives. This is in spite of the fact that Jesus Himself declared: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) Our desire to express our love for God in our conduct is the work of the Spirit and is a natural response from those who have been delivered from condemnation and given eternal life.

Be on guard, therefore, as you avail yourself of all the sources of Christian teaching that are accessible these days. Take time to read Psalm 119 and pay attention to the many ways in which David described his dedication to the commands of God. By adopting David’s attitude toward the Word, you will find joy and, far from contradicting the gospel, your thankful obedience will confirm its reality and power.

All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 1 Number 36

October 11, 2012

Why Did Jesus Come to this Earth?

From Pastor Bordwine

 

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

(1 Timothy 1:15)

Preaching recently from 1 John, I examined John’s words concerning false teaching and the threat of antichrists. Sometimes, you don’t even have to leave your house to encounter these enemies of the gospel. With these topics still fresh in my mind, I decided to share this experience.

Early this morning, our doorbell rang and when I opened the door, there stood a well-dressed man and woman. I knew who they were immediately—or, I should say, I knew who they represented immediately.

Without delay, the man asked me a question: “Do you think that a lot of people these days are having trouble finding happiness?” Still drowsy and wearing jogging pants and a tee shirt, I mumbled something like “Yes, I would say so.” Then he added: “Did you know that Jesus talked about this problem a long time ago?” Apparently, this was a rhetorical question because he didn’t wait for my response. Instead, the man opened a book and pointed to what he said was the Gospel of Matthew.

With his finger resting on the page, the man stated that “In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: ‘Those who find happiness will be blessed.’” As he explained, the man said: “This is why Jesus came to earth—to make us happy.” Before he could ask me if I wanted to be happy, I interrupted with a question of my own: “What is that book you just read from?” Thinking he had just met the ideal candidate for proselytization, the man raised the book to eye level and replied: “This is the Bible.”

At that moment, the conversation took an uneasy turn as I said: “I don’t think so.” The eyes of the woman popped open wide as she turned to look at her friend. For his part, the man remained cool and collected. My guess is that he had faced an experience like this before. Whatever the case, I didn’t wait for his answer. Instead, I added: “Jesus never said anything like that in His Sermon on the Mount. And I know for a fact that Jesus didn’t come to Earth to make us happy.” [NOTE: The Jehovah’s Witnesses “bible” is called The New World Translation and falsely claims to be a faithful translation of ancient Biblical texts.]

The man shot back: “I assure you that this is the Bible. It was produced by a host of Hebrew and Greek scholars based on many, many ancient manuscripts.” Being quite familiar with the history of his book, I asked: “Which ancient manuscripts?” “Well, we aren’t here to debate such technical details,” the man said.

“Do you see the reliability of your book as a mere technical detail,” I responded. “No, no, that’s not what I meant,” the man answered, “My purpose for being here today is to help people find what Jesus offers.” “Happiness?” I asked. “Is that all people need—happiness? What about sin? What does your book say about sin?”

“Well, we believe that people hear enough bad news. They need to hear something encouraging,” the gentleman declared. “But wouldn’t it be most helpful to tell people how God sees them so that they could then learn about His provision of salvation?” I responded.

By this point, I was a little annoyed as I thought of the deception this man was taking from door to door in my neighborhood. I decided to end the conversation: “Jesus came to Earth because we were condemned before God. We were helpless and hopeless and faced the wrath of a holy God. As my Substitute, Jesus came to pay the penalty demanded by God’s perfect justice. I didn’t need happiness, I needed redemption. Does your book say anything about such things?”

The man did not respond immediately, but reached into his briefcase and pulled out some literature, which he handed to me. “May we leave this material with you?” he asked, “It will tell you more about us and the wonderful message we have to share.” As I took the pamphlets, I said: “After I read these, I may have some more questions for you. How do I contact you?” Already making his way down the sidewalk, the Watchtower agent said back over his shoulder: “Contact information is printed inside.”

Although this is a simple report on something I experienced, it does have devotional value. My conversation with the representative of the Watchtower Society gave me three points to ponder. First, threats against the pure gospel of Jesus Christ are still very active in this world. In fact, as long as the Church preaches the gospel, we can expect determined opposition to remain. This opposition is deceptive by nature; it consists of lies. Therefore, we should be vigilant in guarding our own hearts and those of others by committing ourselves to the defense of the gospel.

Second, we should be thankful that God has given us a gospel that is true, reliable, defendable, and, above all, supernatural. Our problem as fallen men and women was one that required divine intervention. We have that power of God in the gospel. Jesus Christ came to this Earth according to the merciful provision of God for our redemption.

Third, Christians need not be intimidated when it comes to confronting false teachers. I say that because God has given us the truth. It is not difficult to expose error when you know the truth.

All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 1 Number 35

October 4, 2012

Life in Death

From Pastor Bordwine

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

(1 Corinthians 15:55)

 We know only too well that life is full of challenges and disappointments. And on occasion, we learn that life includes painful tragedies. Regardless of our experiences, we have to admit that we will never be truly at ease until we leave this world. Only then will we no longer be subject to this world’s assaults.

It’s true that we enjoy a great amount of happiness in this life, but we never really escape the threats associated with an environment that has been thoroughly corrupted by sin. The most agonizing of our trials cause us to ponder a multitude of questions. Many of them are answered in God’s revelation and others seem to have no answer at the present time. This is certainly the case when the fiercest of incidents occur. I am referring, of course, to death. Sometimes death comes with a warning, such as a prolonged illness. At other times, death strikes unexpectedly. This latter kind of experience is the most shocking and upsetting.

A couple of days ago, my wife’s sister committed suicide. News of this act stunned us and our grief was immediate. This was one of those onslaughts from which we don’t recover—not in this life. For the believer, receiving news like this is heartbreaking, but it is not necessarily the end.

From the beginning of our history, mankind has been subject to death, which is the chief weapon of our adversary and by which he has tormented those made in the image of God. Therefore, when death strikes, it appears to be a victory for the devil.

While describing the nature of Christ’s earthly ministry, however, the writer of the book of Hebrews states that Jesus shared in our flesh and blood in order to serve as our Representative before God’s bar of justice. As the God-Man, Jesus received the penalty that was due to us. He died in our place. (cf. Heb. 2:14, 15)

The justice of God was satisfied when Jesus paid what we owed with His own life. But that wasn’t the end of His mission. To demonstrate that death no longer bound us, Jesus rose from the dead and this act declared that death was dead. In Christ, even death does not prevail against us.

In this same passage, the writer observes that Jesus became a Man so that “He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” The defeat of death was long anticipated by the people of God. We were promised that one day the Savior would come and free us from death’s dominion. And so it has come to pass. Death remains active, but we no longer fear it. Life awaits us on the other side of the grave.

As painful as it was for us to hear about our loved one’s death and as unsettling as the circumstances were, we have not been left without comfort, nor have we been deprived of hope. Because of our Savior’s sacrifice, death is now powerless. It can never gain the victory over us. Jesus gives us never-ending life in death, His death. Therefore, with glad hearts we look forward to that Great Day when the redeemed of God will be raised to everlasting glory. And then, Paul’s words, quoted above, will ring throughout creation: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

Although the details are few, we know that some kind of disruption occurred that resulted in some who had professed to be Christians leaving the group to which John is writing. John indicates that this caused a great amount of stress. Based on the verses just read, another source of danger was false teaching.

It is generally agreed that John is referring to self-proclaimed prophets (or teachers) when he issues the warning that we see in verse one. The threat was significant, according to his description: “many false prophets have gone out into the world.” This meant that these believers had to be extremely careful regarding their sources of instruction. The only thing that could be done is what John advises, namely, “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”

The word translated “test” (dokimazo) means “to scrutinize something to determine its authenticity.” The apostle is telling his readers to examine the message of those who claim to be speaking for God and compare what they hear with what the apostles had already imparted. John infers that such an examination can lead to a definitive conclusion regarding truthfulness.

The means of testing is not left up to the people, however. John tells them what standard to apply when they assess the proclamations they encounter. In the second verse, he reveals the key to identifying the prophets of God: “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is from God.” This tells us, it appears, that the fundamental issue being debated had to do with the nature of Jesus Christ.

In his typical style, John is blunt in his assessment of these false prophets: “this is the spirit of the antichrist.” Already, he adds, these enemies of the gospel are at work in the world seeking to oppose the preaching of the good news and keep people from finding deliverance in Christ.

The gospel message included this declaration that the Savior was not a mere man, but was God in the flesh. This fact meant that Christ’s sacrifice was infinitely worthy and could, therefore, atone for our sins. The death of a man could not provide what was required, but the death of God, as it were, was more than sufficient to satisfy the demands of God’s justice. Therefore, those who were proclaiming that Jesus Christ was not God in the flesh had to be rejected.

All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 1 Number 31

September 6, 2012

Restoration

From Pastor Bordwine

 

 

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;

the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

(2 Cor. 5:17)

Among the most popular television shows these days are those having to do with the restoration of old, worn-out products to a “like new” status. The process can be quite tedious, although most of the gritty details are left out of the final video presentation. Typically, the audience sees the “before” picture that shows how dilapidated the item is and how improbable it seems that it could ever be returned to an attractive and functioning condition. After letting us observe a few of the steps involved, such as finding rare parts and straightening bent metal, the show focuses on the finished product, which is always a surprising and pleasing contrast to the original.

The theme of restoration permeates Scripture. It is one of the primary aspects of the gospel, in fact. That which is ruined and offensive is rescued, recreated, and restored to a place of dignity. I’m referring, of course, to us—fallen men and women who were ruined and had no good or honorable purpose to serve except to be the objects of God’s righteous indignation. Although we came from the hand of God pure and capable of bringing glory to Him, disobedience rendered us useless; we became unable and even unwilling to honor our Creator and dedicated ourselves instead to self-promotion and self-preservation.

God would have been completely just had He left us in our state of sin and misery. In spite of His clear warning, our first parents ignored the commandment of their Maker and acted according to their own wisdom. The result was catastrophic. But then a love that we can barely comprehend was manifested toward us in the form of a Savior who was God in the flesh. The penalty of our sin fell upon Jesus, our Substitute. The Holy Spirit gave us new life and began to build us all over again, from the inside out, so to speak.

Any restoration requires at least two critical elements: knowledge of how the finished product should look and the skill to achieve that end result. When it comes to the human soul, only God, our omnipotent Designer, has both knowledge and skill. Salvation, therefore, is a restoration project in which a fallen, deformed, and corrupted creature is returned to a state of honor. This is the most amazing restoration of all and this is how the Bible describes what happens to the sinner who is called out of darkness into the light of redemption.

In the case of a sinner, the primary issue in need of attention is his history of transgressions. This is what stands between the creature and the Creator and this is why the wrath of God hangs over the head of the fallen individual. Therefore, God’s restoration of us includes a provision for taking away our guilt. As just mentioned, that provision is Jesus Christ. By dying in our place, He enabled our full restoration by the Holy Spirit.

As Paul indicates in the verse quoted above, what we were is replaced with what we are becoming. We are “new creatures,” he writes. Throughout our lives, we are engaged in the restoration project. Gradually, the Holy Spirit returns us to a state of purity and dedication to our original purpose, which is the glorification of God. Some days, you may feel as if the work on you has ceased or has been unproductive, but rest assured that, once begun, your restoration will be completed. This is the inevitable conclusion to the sacrifice of our wonderful Savior.