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

 

Movement

Activity is a manifestation of life. Activity is movement, or motion—the opposite of stillness. imagesActivity is movement in a certain direction, for a specific purpose.   This movement is a result of the act of God as He breathed His own Spirit into a form, which He made from the dust of the earth. The soul, or the being, called man, is the result—God’s act of creation. His Spirit, His breath, breathed into man from the beginning, has continued throughout the generation of man; although the guidance that came with it—the wisdom—of His Spirit was taken away in Adam’s willful disobedience to God. Non-the-less, the power of life—activity—remains with man.

In the deception of sin that comes with every life born into this world—that “lies in wickedness”—man is unaware that the life within is guided to move in a certain direction. Unregenerate man, unknowingly, moves in the direction of destruction. The spirit of man, without the wisdom of the Creator, has no Life force within him. All that is left to Adam’s generation is the motion toward death.

The guiding force of the Creator within man is always moving forward and upward, toward heaven, toward Himself, bringing those who have been regenerated with His Spirit closer and closer to Him, WHO IS LIFE, and the giver of life, the sustainer and nourisher of Life.

“Ye must be born again,” are the words of Jesus Christ—“the wisdom and knowledge of God”–speaking to man, to turn us back to God, so that He can give us His Spirit, His Life-force that turns us from the direction that our sinful nature is taking us—from death. Our spirits are regenerated; our eyes are opened to see the cliff that looms ahead in our path; our ears hear the words, “Stop.” “No,” “Turn around,” “Look at Me,” “Come toward Me, and Live.” Our direction is changed, for He reveals Himself in Christ, as everlasting Life, generated by an everlasting Love, moving us ever and always by His Spirit that dwells within, through Christ—–into a body of believers, His church, the “body of Christ.” It is here that the Word of God, in power, is given in His “grace and knowledge” in the “measure of faith” to each one who comes in obedience to His Word. It is here that the heavenly Father meets the needs of all His children. Without each other we will still be going in the wrong direction. With each other—“members one of another”—is the safety the Father gives us here on the earth. It is in the family environment, as His people, that He pours down the blessings that He has “prepared for those who love Him.”  F.R. 2/01

Dear Father, continue to move us, by your newborn Spirit within us, toward Christ and you, to accomplish all for which you created and redeemed us.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Experiencing the New Birth

A newborn infant cannot in this life rejoice in the experience of its physical birth; neither can it at any time remember that day or time. The record of a baby’s birth is filed in the county and country in which it is born. The parents and others who love this child will remember its birth in years to come.

24900590Jesus told Nicodemus, a religious leader of His day, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5

When we read and study the third chapter of John we come upon truth that was spoken by Jesus Christ to one who knew the law, who taught the Scriptures from the Old Testament, yet he was no better off than the newborn infant. We are born blind and cannot see spiritual things. We cannot understand this life, nor any that is to come. We are deaf and helpless to know the things of God. We do not understand truth because it comes from God only through the revelation of His Son, Jesus Christ.  In truth, we enter this world under the sentence of death.

When Jesus prefaced His statements with the words truly, truly (verily, verily, in the KJV), He was bringing attention to the truth that followed, though Nicodemus could not understand it; and he had been brought up with the Law and the Prophets. He knew of Ezekiel 36:26 where God promised to take away the stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh.

The writer of Hebrews quoted the promise, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God,
 and they shall be my people” (8:10). When He puts within us the new heart and spirit He has a new tablet on which to write and record His law and promises, so that they will not be forgotten, and through which His Spirit can speak and work the truth. We are given new eyes to see the kingdom of God and to live in light of His truth. We have His Spirit that brings us into His kingdom, so that we may live in proclamation of our new birth.

The Secret of New Birth
Jesus told the Jews who believed in Him, “If you abide (continue) in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Their faith was not a saving faith, (the power of the new birth). They were still blind to the truth that was in Jesus. They would know the truth and be set free from their blindness and the power of sin if they continued in the truth that Jesus was speaking to them. We cannot have true faith in something we do not know. We cannot truly know Jesus Christ, who came to bear witness of the truth unless we continue in God’s Word.

“And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole 
heart” Jeremiah 24:7

He has graciously provided and preserved the truth through The Holy Bible for centuries for us to know the truth; for those who are His people to be set free from blindness and sin; that they may see and enter into the glory of His kingdom.

 If we continue in God’s Word the Spirit of truth will convict us of our sin, enable us to see our blindness, our helplessness; and the need for salvation. The power of the gospel will work in this new heart and spirit for our regeneration; so that we are enabled in faith to turn in repentance from our darkness and the old life of sin and misery, to Christ.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

A Conception of Love
We cannot speak of new birth ~ a spiritual birth that is wrought in the hearts of men ~ as a work that man can claim as any of his own. Just as we cannot conceive or birth ourselves to this human life, neither can we conceive of a new life spiritually. It must be a supernatural act of God and only in God’s power. Just as the first creation was by God’s Word only so is the new creation in us.

But, more importantly, we must see it as an act of God’s love. It is a father whose seed is planted that sires a natural child. It is the heavenly Father who plants the seed of His own Word, His divine word of Christ into the hearts of His own children. Let’s look at this work of His own love working through His Word and Spirit to produce this new birth.

A Penetrating Love
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of the power of God’s Word; living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) Here is the penetrating power of God’s love (the seed of His Word) that He alone can plant wherever He wants it. “The wind blows where it wishes (where God wishes) and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

A Love That Permeates and Reshapes the Heart
Where it penetrates, it permeates, saturates, and reshapes, “because God’s love has been poured into (spread abroad in KJV) our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10

“God shows us His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

A Perpetuating Love
The love of God penetrates, permeates and perpetuates His Word in and through us forever. Neither he, nor anyone else will stop this love, or take it away. (Romans 8:38)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Ephesians 2:4-5

“According to his great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

 “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;…. for the word of God remains forever.” 1 Peter 1:23, 25

We continue in His Word that has given us new life. The same word and power that gives us new life is the same truth that sustains us and enables us to grow and mature. From our justification in Christ we continue in sanctification until we are fully glorified in the day of redemption.

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.” 1 John 4:10

Unlike our physical birth, the experience of our new birth is something that we cannot forget, but we continue to speak of it. It is the beginning of being set apart for Him for sanctification; and His witness through us of the proclamation of His kingdom here on earth. Through our witness God brings others to His Word and freedom in the truth of Christ. Those who love us, others who are born of His Spirit, rejoice with us. We love to hear their experiences of new life and living by the Spirit. We rejoice together and worship the heavenly Father who desired us and sired us through His Spirit and His Word. He keeps us and teaches us, in and of His kingdom here, preparing us to share His glory in eternity.

(Next: Part 2  ~ Proof of the New Birth)
Excerpt from The Purpose and Delight of Bible Study

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Valid Grace for an Invalid Race

Two months ago we received a call from my niece in Thomaston, Georgia. My nephew wanted me to call him for an update on my brother who was in ICU, following an emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder.  After a second surgery to stop my brother’s hemorrhaging the surgeon told my nephew, “One of his systems is shutting down (they did not know which one, and could not go back in for a third surgery because of the risk with his heart); we will do all we can to make him comfortable.”  Jerry and I drove down that afternoon prepared for the worst.  My brother stayed in ICU for three weeks, during which time his kidneys and liver failed, blood circulation was limited to his feet and legs, he suffered a mild heart attack, was given a form of morphine for pain, and antibiotics for infection.  The second week of his stay at Upson Medical we drove down, again prepared for a funeral. After being moved from ICU to a private room for a few days he was moved to Roosevelt Rehabilitation Center in Warm Springs.

My nephew had told me about my brother’s toes turning black—gangrene was the result of a lack of circulation.  Their family doctor told us that it was possible that with dry gangrene my brother’s toes would simply dry up and fall off.  My nephew and I both thought that this was ridiculous.  We had never heard of such a thing. And I never wanted to see those toes—I had seen enough skin tissue turn black before Jerry had his leg amputated five years ago.

We visited my brother the day after he was moved to Warm Springs.  He was slumped in a wheel chair—the first time I had seen him out of bed. His feet were bandaged, but his black toes were exposed. Though I was standing in front of him and he was looking straight at me he still did not see me.  The shot the nurse had just given him for pain was so that they could get him back to bed and give him a bath; and since he still could not get in and out of bed on his own he had to moved with a sling and a lift.  I stayed for a while, but the nurse’s guess that he would be awake after his bath was wrong.  He was “out of it;” and even though they only gave him a weaker pain reliever the next day he still did not know that I was there.

Days later my nephew related to me that he had watched the nurses turn his dad in the bed.  It was easy to hear the sadness in his voice when he said, “Aunt Fran, he’s an invalid.”  We have both come to realize that invalids can still live a productive life with the help of those who are stronger than they are.  We have very distinctly seen our prayers answered.  We did not pray for him to live except according to God’s will.  He would have been merciful to take him to Himself because of his former health problems.

My brother was moved to Providence Nursing Home in Thomaston on his 80th birthday, August 8, where he is still dependent on the nurses and a sling; but he is talking, feeding himself, going through rehab and watching his toes gradually shrinking.  Thursday when I visited him I thought again that I could avoid them; but no, I had to adjust his boots for him.  The nurses there have never seen such a “ridiculous” thing.  This thing of which many people have never heard has turned into a work of God’s grace for many to see.  When I visited him this week my brother related to me that “the Lord has kept me here; He must have something else for me to do.”

The Fall

From the time of Adam’s disobedience God’s records show the whole human race as “INVALID.”   We all became invalids after the Fall.  We are of no use to ourselves or anyone else; least of all to God.  We can’t even turn ourselves. “Dead in trespasses and sins” we are unable to even see, think, or speak anything that makes sense. If my brother could “will” it he would be on his feet, walking.  His toes are already in the grave.  But for the mercy and grace of God his whole life would have been snuffed out.  We have enough evidence—according to the records—that he was at the point of death more than once.

All this has reminded me several times of the sufficient grace  — the powerful grace  — of our Father, His Son, and His Holy Spirit to do the impossible, the thing that we cannot do.  We cannot save ourselves.  We cannot give ourselves “Life.”  We cannot even think of what that means, except by the working of His grace to effectually, and effectively reveal our invalid condition, regenerate a new heart within us for a valid faith and repentance—by His own goodness turning us to Himself through the authority of His Word and the power of His Holy Spirit.

Our family would not choose to go through these episodes again.  I recall saying to my nephew when my brother got through the first week, “God has something to teach us here.”  My brother is not out of the woods yet, but the Lord has given us much of his valid grace to go on for a long time; and a greater desire to experience this grace for the rest of our lives—for His glory and our joy.