The Foot of the Cross ~ Ground Zero

Scan 142190000As Jesus was crucified the Jewish leaders looked up and ridiculed Him. He looked down and said, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they are doing.” By His death He was proving how desperate was man’s condition, with no means of escaping His Father’s wrath, except by a sacrifice given on their part. The purpose was that through Him a pardon would be provided, and eternal life given to those who would believe the “good news” (the gospel) and accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

Even as the Jews were in that day thinking they were privileged just by being a Jew, there are people, Jew and Gentile alike, who do not believe; who are blinded to their own sin. Jews, then and now, still hold to their own traditions, thinking that they have the advantage over other nations without the need of a Savior. There are even those in the church, having grown up with Christian parents or with an infant baptism, who are lacking the righteousness by faith that is required for salvation.

Abraham, the Law and Circumcision
In Romans 3 Paul continues to drive home the point that all stand condemned as sinners under the wrath of God. He has stressed the depravity of all mankind; the power of this depravity in oppression and sin, to the extent of denying that which is natural to all mankind. Now Paul addresses the Jews in particular who suppose that their advantage of being children of Abraham, having the law and circumcision, exempts them from the need of faith.   Although Abraham was their “father,” the “father of faith” to whom the promises of the everlasting covenant for all nations was given ~ who came before the law and circumcision ~ they are relying on their position as Jews for their status before God. They are depending on their own righteousness; yet they proved that none could keep the law.

Paul is saying, “No, having the law and circumcision will not save you from your sins, and the wrath of God.” “There is none righteous before God.” “All have sinned” and fallen short of the expectations of God; none can keep His law and live up to His righteousness and glory. Only one has done that; and in so doing able to give His life a ransom; dying so as to be a propitiation for our sins; appeasing the wrath of God, and so taking away the death penalty that we justly deserve.

He is continuing to build upon the necessity for faith in the gospel; the good news is to be believed. God’s word is to be accepted as true. Jesus’ life, His sacrifice, His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father are all His work on our part. No matter how hard we try we can never keep the whole law; but He did it on our behalf. Faith in Jesus Christ and His work on our part is our means of laying hold of His righteousness, our justification and our eternal salvation.

The law is meant to show how far we are from the kingdom of God. The rules of His kingdom are more than anyone here on this earth is able to keep. The law convicts us of our sin, which Paul said was meant to be our schoolmaster until Christ came.

imagesimagesThe Law and the Gospel Now we have the law and the gospel, the bad news and the good news. (My notes on the Book of Romans as our pastor is preaching through it are meant to help me to sort out the gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ; what it means to me; and how I can document what I am still learning of the phenomena of the Christian faith; a phenomena that requires the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, and none of my own.)

The work of God’s Spirit is to use the law to convict us of our sin. Had we been there in Jesus’ day we would have been part of the multitude that shouted, “Crucify him.” As a Jew we would have probably mocked Him and spit on Him. But, now we also have the gospel, which the Holy Spirit uses to convict us of the forgiveness and righteousness that is ours in Jesus Christ.

imagesThe Cross ~ The Ladder
The power of the gospel brings us to the foot of the cross, the place where man is stripped away of all pretension, pride and unbelief. In Christ we see the righteousness of God given to us, “justified by His grace as a gift; through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26

In Luke 12:49 Jesus is recorded as saying, “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?” On the cross He said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Jesus’ work on the cross brought to shambles every idea that man has concerning his own righteousness before God. Our good works become ashes at His feet.

Jesus told Nathaniel that because he believed he would see the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man. (John 1:51) The first rung of that ladder for us is faith. In response to His revelation and regeneration (new birth), with a new heart we come in repentance to the cross of Jesus Christ believing the good news of our righteousness in Him. There is where His blood, His life, covered all the sins of those who believe in Him.

There, when we realize what took place, we will as “all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle” leave the ashes of our own ideas and works. We will in humility, as they “returned home beating their breasts” live in the reality of what our sins cost our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We will not, as some, throw out the law; but, by His grace, we “establish the law” as God’s first means of our understanding the need for the gospel. We see it as God’s rule for life, the standard of His kingdom, which He is building within each of us as He is conforming us to the image of His dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ ~ that image, that standard, will be complete and perfect when He brings us into His final glory. Now, it is a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path as we continue in obedience of faith toward our final goal in Christ.

Gracious heavenly Father, thank you for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We praise you for your law on which we meditate day and night, seeking your kingdom and your righteousness that is in Christ, by faith in Him alone.  Thank you for the authority of your word commanded in us by the power of your Holy Spirit, shining that light into our hearts, convicting us of our sin and the salvation that by grace is given to us.  Thank you that it does not depend on anything we can do, but that all has been done in Christ for us. Open our hearts to Him, today.  Let us see Him; enable us in humility and faith to follow and obey.  In Jesus’ name I pray and praise you.  Amen

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Soul Food for Sunday

“My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord:
my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”
Psalm 84:2

 I am addicted to the Word of God.  In it is the power of the life of Jesus Christ, the Lord. The power of the gospel to save, (Romans 1:16)  is the same power that raised Christ from the death, so that His life would be a continual flow of power in and through His people.  Feeding on His word daily is coupled with the Lord’s Day proclamation in the preaching of His word.  His word goes forth in power to those whose hearts and souls feed on Him.  How can we fast on the Lord’s Day when He has prepared a feast for us from His word?

Sword-Word-God-118735“For the word of God is quick, and powerful,
and sharper than any twoedged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,
and of the joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12

By His Word and Spirit He searches and knows my heart; He tries me and knows my thoughts, seeing any wicked way in me; and leads me in the paths of righteousness.

 “Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

I need His word ~ the same word that penetrated my being ~ to permeate, and perpetuate the life of Christ in and through me; for His sanctification by the “washing of the water by the word.” Ephesians 5:26

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing:
the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

John 6:63

Through His Word are all God’s promises made and fulfilled in Christ.

“For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”
Psalm 107:9

“I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”
Psalm 130:5

“Whom have I in heaven but thee?
and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart,
and my portion for ever.”
Psalm 73:25:26

sarasota-tropical-garden-design“And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden,
and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Isaiah 58:11

Dear Father, as you bring us this day into your gates with thanksgiving and your courts with praise, open our hearts to your word, that our souls may be fed, nourished, and receiving the bread of life in Christ, your Son, and your Spirit, knowing the abundance of His life within us. Let us this week, in obedience of faith be about our Father’s business of life, doing all your will ~ to your glory and our joy.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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HUMILITY AND HOLINESS ~ Chapter 7

imagesIn this seventh chapter Andrew Murray brings us to the heart of his message, the original title of Humility ~ the Beauty of Holiness. (PDF) He reminds us that humility is the fruit of holiness; the inward impression and the outward expression of holiness. He has written in previous chapters that humility is the root of the Christian life. It is both root and fruit of the working within the Christian heart; and the express truth of our relationship in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. From beginning to the end of this life it will always be Christ in us; His love, His mercy, His grace, His humility. It is in this working that we find no place for pride; either at home, in the workplace, or in our public worship.

Murray speaks to the Pharisee and the publican here, warning of the work of pride even in our worship. Without saying it we are in danger of thinking that we may be holier than others. Pride creeps in where we least expect it.

“Self find its cause of complacency in that which is just cause for thanksgiving, in the very thanksgiving which we render to God, and in the very confession that God has done it all. Pride can clothe itself in the garments of praise or of penitence.”

 Praise or Love
Often wondering which is easier ~ to praise God or to love Him ~ I think the question may apply here.

It is easy to stand with others each week in public worship, joining others in singing and praise. But when the worship time is over, and praise is done, we return to our usual dispositions and conversation. Love and humility toward others outside of worship is the true testing of holiness.

 “You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy
and have separated you from the peoples,
that you should be mine.”
Leviticus 20:26

What is Holiness?
It would be beneficial to us to take a few minutes (at least) to look at the meaning of holiness. The suffix “ness” means “a state of” or “condition.” Put this together with the meaning of “holy” (set apart; sacred, righteous) and we see that holiness is the state of being holy, set apart unto God for His righteousness to be displayed in us. When we live in the reality that this is the work of God’s Spirit for us and in us ~ not our own doing ~ we are in awesome wonder of His state of holiness into which He has brought us.

“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation.”
Psalm 149:4

In His own mercy He has saved us and brought us from the state of sinfulness into the state of holiness. (Colossians 1:12-13) His mercy then is coupled with humility in our hearts to live humbly and in service to God and others.

True worship then has no thought of others in it; but only our recognition and praise of His holiness and mercy to us. Together with others in worship and service we live in fellowship remembering where we were before He brought us to Himself in Christ.
Where others may be weak in their faith we seek to encourage and serve them in their relationship with Christ.

“The power of a perfect love forgets itself and finds its blessedness in blessing others — in bearing with and honoring them, however feeble they may be. The power of this love is given where the spirit of love is shed abroad in the heart, where the divine nature comes to a full birth, and where Christ, the meek and lowly Lamb of God is truly formed within.”

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 “Come and let us flee to Jesus and hide ourselves in Him until we are clothed with His humility. That alone is our holiness.”

Dear Father, we are so prone to the work of the flesh; to pride, even of holiness. Do your work in us to keep us close to you, that we may be ever watchful against self and our own thoughts. Keep us focused on you; our hearts centered in Christ and Christ in us; and our lives ordered according to your everlasting covenant in all things. Keep our thoughts by the power of your Spirit on that which is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue and worthy of praise. Let us serve today wherever you have placed us. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

(In Note D there is a blessed suggestion for our practice in the state of humility. )

Related articles:
A Year for Humility  ~ The Preface

Images: Holiness
Psalm 96:9