Three Crosses, Two Crowns, One Sacrifice

(Since  January 2011, this has been our most-read post. The sequel, A Bloody Crown, A Bloody Cross, A Bloody Sacrifice is scheduled for Friday.)

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There is not only the foreordained plan of God according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11); but also His purpose in all He has planned and does
Romans 8:28-29; Ephesians 1:10).

THREE CROSSES

When I consider three men dying on individual crosses at the same time — Jesus being the middleman — I see the significance in this event for all humanity. What is this that took place and was symbolized for us?

Three men were tried and convicted of crimes.
Two men were guilty by reason of their own actions.
Jesus was termed “guilty” by reason of God’s decree
(Acts 4:27-28),
as a substitute for His people who were guilty in their own sins.
(2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18)

                                  TWO CROWNS

A crown in heaven awaited two men. Jesus earned the crown for Himself, in obedience to God’s will — and for the other man. The other man earned nothing for himself but was given the gift of pardon and eternal life in heaven with Jesus.

                                 ONE SACRIFICE

One man for all eternity was offered as a sacrifice for many by God the Father for propitiation; by Jesus’ willingness, and through His one sacrifice took their punishment upon Himself (1 John 4:10).

Christ was crucified in the middle of all humanity. On one side is a man who may represent all unbelievers, who received no mercy, but all that his own sin deserved. On the other side is the man who may represent all believers — those who see and hear and receive Jesus Christ through the message of this “great salvation” for which Jesus died (Hebrews 2:1-3).

All humanity is hanging. All men are born into this world under the “death” penalty.

One group is:
1. Unaware of its condition,
2. Trusting in their own merits, with hope that they can save ourselves, or
3. That someone greater than Jesus Christ will come along and offer a better deal.     Without Christ and repentance, these will die in their sins and receive the just penalty—eternal death and hell.  (Luke 5:32; 13:3; Acts 5:31; 20:21; Romans 2:4)

One group is:
1. Seeing their condition of sin and misery, their dying, and need of a Savior.
2. Seeing and hearing the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. By regeneration of the Holy Spirit (how else could one sinner have turned to Jesus, and not the other?) turning in faith and repentance to Him, alone, for this “great salvation,” promised in and through Him.
With, and in Christ, these are “living” now and forever “unto God” with assurance and the abiding hope that is ours in Him.

On which side do you hang?  Is it with those who have no hope, except for what they can do for themselves or by their works — alone for the rest of this life and eternity?

Which cross have you been given?

Be joyful if you can “envision” Jesus next to you, having suffered the penalty that you deserve.  Be thankful if He has bid you to look to Him, “the only begotten Son of God” who hung in your place. Praise Him if He has been “high and lifted up” for you.

As a “new-born” believer be adamant, fervent, and diligent as you “present your body to Him as a living sacrifice.” By the power of His grace “live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age”  (Romans 12:1-2; Titus 2:12).

Looking for that blessed hope,
and the glorious appearing of the great God
and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Who gave himself for us,
that he might redeem us from all iniquity,
and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
Titus 2:11-14

Dear Father, we thank you and praise you for the continual reminder by your Holy Spirit of the sacrifice that you and your Son made in that time of history, for your love for us and the eternal hope you give for all believers. Enable us to remember who we are in Christ. In His name, I pray.  Amen.
Fran
                                            Music: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Grace Crowned with Glory
Grace and Grace Alone

 Images: Google

 

The Price of Contentment

For the world, contentment cost nothing more than what money can afford.
A divine contentment was purchased by the blood of Christ; for those who are His followers, born of His Spirit. The love of God was revealed for His children by the death of His Son; purchasing and redeeming us from the bondage of sin and death (Romans 8:2). We are born to a living hope by His abundant mercy and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; to an inheritance in Him that no one can take away (1 Peter 1:3-4).
It is a legacy that we do not deserve, could not pay for, nor earn by any good work.
Not to be content with the finished work of Christ that assures and provides a pardon from sin, and an abundant life in Him, is to doubt this free gift of His own righteousness for us and to live without Him.
“You Are Not Your Own”
“You have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God so loved us, desired us, sired us and made us His own, to lavish His grace, His provisions, His protection, His goodness, His own life for us, in us, and through us. To His own glory He has shined His light into our hearts to shine through us His grace, mercy and power. He has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) through Christ His Son (Romans 8:32).
He has given all for us to reflect His presence, His goodness and His wealth in and upon us. He has spread abroad His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which He has given us (Romans 5:5).
Our Response to His Sacrifice and Mercy
In response to His sacrifice and mercy in taking our sin and punishment upon Himself, Paul urges, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
Here is the reality of a life of contentment according to His will. His sacrificial death works through us for a sacrificial life devoted to serving Him and others while He is preparing us to share His glory. True contentment cost Jesus His life, and it costs us ours. He denied Himself for us to give us eternal life in Him. To experience this life of contentment we deny ourselves for Christ’s sake. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 
Understanding the Terms of Sacrifice
Eternal life in Christ begins when we are born of His Spirit; a new heart and spirit are joined to Christ from that moment. Eternal life is not experienced just when we die, but here, now, and forever. The new birth, faith and repentance separate us from the world’s way of life. We are no longer our own, being conformed to this world, but sanctified, being transformed by the renewing of our minds, and growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ until He calls us home to be with Him.
Jesus paid the price for our contentment. Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice  means that we have received, understand, accept, and enter into the covenant of life that is ours in His death and resurrection.
Gracious Father, We thank you for your covenant of redemption and grace made with Christ, your Son, before the foundation of the world. We praise you for the work of your Holy Spirit in revealing and fulfilling your covenant with us. Enable us to know the power of Christ’s resurrection through the continued work of the gospel, bringing us to submission and surrender of all that we are, so as to live in covenant with you, in Christ, now and forever. In Jesus’ name we pray and thank you. Amen.

Radical Mercy

What is a reasonable response to the pouring out of God’s mercy upon this human race? The apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans brings us through eleven chapters and shows us how God, by His own grace, evokes a sacrifice from us. We have learned that the power of the gospel is able to effectually bring about the obedience of faith in those to whom God reveals Himself and His Word, those whom He has chosen.31118_000_011_08

Just as Abraham, by believing God’s word, in obedience offered his only son as a sacrifice, so, we, sought by His mercy, cannot resist but willingly, offer our own bodies as living sacrifices. This is the power of the gospel that he mentioned in chapter one ~ God’s own power, through His Word and Spirit ~ to save a people for Himself and His eternal kingdom that is being prepared for those of His household of faith.

He has spoken of justification, through the only just one, who is the justifier. In chapter eleven, He ends His presentation of God’s work through Jesus Christ, His Son, and the Holy Spirit’s working through His mercy.

Being that it is all of His mercy and none of our own work we come to chapter twelve to find what obedience of faith looks like. From beginning to end, this was his purpose for writing; to show that it is God’s work of mercy and grace that effectually brings the power of obedience in the life of His people. (Romans 11:30-31)

Radical Response
Now that His mercy is revealed, we are called to respond. The command is two-fold ~ a negative and a positive. Where there is a negative, it is so He will be revealed as working the positive.

“Do not be conformed to this world.” This is what we were being, naturally. The negative is what we normally do. From the time of birth into this world, we are being conformed to it. Here, then is where we see the difference that His power of the gospel makes.

 “But, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” He does not command something that is not possible. His commands are promises of what He will do.

By His mercy, we are brought from being conformed to the world naturally, to being transformed supernaturally, by the renewing of our minds. How? Through the same power of His Word and Spirit as He saves us in faith, and calls us to obedience in Christ. The gospel that justifies us is the same gospel that sanctifies us and is preparing us for His glory ~ the same power that will bring us to glorification.

As the power of the gospel has worked to justify us, this is our only reasonable worship in response to His great mercy. This is the work of His Spirit in our hearts, through the power of His Word and Spirit. imagesIt corresponds to the work in every heart that is turned to Christ. To offer our bodies as living sacrifices is the offset of His sacrifice for us. He died for us that we may live for Him.

Just reading the effects of the gospel in the heart and life, we see the description of a true believer. The people of faith have a radical change take place, so radical that to read the characteristics makes one know that such a new life is beyond our own doing. (Romans 12:9-21)

Each of us, with whatever measure of grace He gives, brings it together with all others, as one body of Christ, so that we are offering what He has separated unto Himself, in obedience and sanctification, willfully becoming that noble vessel for His use. We lose ourselves and become one with His people wherever He calls us to serve and worship Him. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is totally different than any other religion on earth. Unlike other religions that take other lives and die in the process, themselves, Christ enables us to live victoriously and to seek to save others.

Mercy begets mercy.

Father, we are not our own. You have bought us with the price of your precious Son, Jesus Christ.  Enable us to daily offer to you what you have sanctified for yourself, so that you may reveal the power of the gospel to others.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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Melted and Poured Out

“I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me.”
Psalm 22:14 

As I have struggled these past two weeks to discipline myself to do all that I need to do—not what I want to do—the thought came that God, our Father knows what we need, for all that He plans for us to do.

From revelation to repentance He is willing and able to work in us this “great salvation.”  He knows how to preserve His own, to work through us all that is needed to sanctify us and make us willing citizens of His kingdom—members of the “household of faith”—servants of the living God.

If it means that He must bring us to a melting point, so that we are not only pliable in His hands, but unable to do what we want to do.  Then is when He can use us.

I imagined what this would be like for me; totally beyond my doing anything on my own—everything under the power of His mercy and grace, being used to fulfill the “counsel of His will.”  It would seem that I would be useless; but not useless in His hands.

What can you do with a piece of ice? It is too cold to hold in your bare hands.  If you drop it it will shatter into lots of pieces.  All you can is wipe up the mess.  Take the ice cube and put it into a liquid and it will be melted and eventually become a part of that liquid.  In God’s hands of love we are melted.  When God’s Spirit melts a cold heart He can do whatever He wants with it and then pour it out on His altar as a living sacrifice.

In Richard and Joseph Alleine’s book Heaven Opened ~ the Riches of God Covenant this “great salvation” through the covenant of grace is explained.  It is all in God’s hands.  Our hearts are in His hands, to reveal Himself, to bring new life, to turn us to faith and repentance, to reconcile us to Himself in Christ; to conform us to His image.  Through His Word, and His Spirit, He continues to transform us by the renewing of our minds, sanctifying and preserving us through our struggles and our sufferings, and service in His kingdom.

“A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.”
Ezekiel 36:26

A Heart to Know Him
“I will give them a heart to know Me.”  Jeremiah 24:7

One Heart
“I will give them one heart.” Ezekiel 11:19

A Heart of Flesh
“I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

“Flesh will bleed.  A soft heart will mourn, melt, and grieve while nothing moves a hard heart.  Flesh will yield.  It is apt to receive impressions.  The power of God will awe it.  His justice will alarm it.  His mercy will melt it, and His holiness will humble it and leave the stamp and image of it upon it.  And as the attributes do, so the Word and works of God will make a sign upon it.”*   

A Heart to Love the Lord
“The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God, with all thine heart, and with all thine soul.” Deuteronomy 30:6

A Heart to Fear the Lord
“I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me.” Jeremiah 32:40

Obedience in the Covenant
“I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statues, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:27

Perseverance in the Covenant
“I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good…” Jeremiah 32:40

“There are two things secured to believers  in this passage—things which secure their perseverance.  The first is that God will not depart from them.  The second is that they shall not depart from Him.”*

Thank you Father, that you have poured out your whole heart and soul to us in your Son, Jesus Christ.  We praise you that you are exceeding abundantly able to do more than we can ask or imagine to accomplish all for which you created and redeemed us.  Melt us and pour us out today as a living sacrifice for you and your people.

* Heaven Opened ~ The Riches of God’s Covenant by Richard Alleine, published by Sola Deo Publications