Thursday, December 20, 2012

Poem: "Peace on Earth" by Librae Jackson, Deacon

Peace on earth:
a greeting which first came unto some shepherds in Bethlehem,
tellin' them of Jesus' birth.

Peace on earth is something He would earn by His death.
God is righteous, and only satisfied with righteousness.
This is what Christ lived His life with.
And when He died, it was a sacrifice which provided
peace, in the highest sense of the word.

Christ entered the world
to reconcile men, who were defiled with sin, to The Lord.

Truly, before we could know any peace on earth,
God's holy justice must've been appeased first.
The Lord Jesus' work at the Cross restored peace between us & God.

By us, I mean the believers of the Gospel
and others in this world, who are His, but who are lost, though.
Eventually, these particular sheep will also be brought into the fold.
The glory of God they'll behold,
who will have wrought peace in their souls.
Gospel preaching is the info by which men know
that God is at peace with them.

“Peace on earth, good will to men”
means that God's will for them
is to turn to Jesus. He is God's terms of peace &
the means by which He deals with sin.

For Christ's sake, He forgives them; 
inwardly cleanses; gives repentance, and makes them live with a significant difference,
which is only reasonable, since He speaks whole peace to their souls.
This is the true peace on earth, and indeed it’s beautiful.

When His peace is revealed, we will believe and be healed and be whole.
Otherwise, due to our evil, and because of our hearts being so dark and deceitful,
"Peace on earth "is a credo, which we know nothing much of,
until we behold God's abundant love,
in sending us His Son from above.

This is the sum & the substance of
the glad tidings of which the Scriptures teach.
From Genesis to Revelation,
Jesus, the Word of God, speaks
and His word to the people of God is: "Peace."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"He Inquired of Them" (Matthew 2:4) by Librae Jackson, Deacon

"And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’'

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” (Matthew 2:3-7)

Herod and his people in Jerusalem were troubled by the arrival of Christ, who was “born King of the Jews” (v2). They had the Scriptures, which foretold of Christ, but did not believe the Scriptures in such a way, as to be comforted by them. When Herod referred to the Scriptures, what did he expect to find? He made an insincere inquiry, and missed out on the Gospel.

Know Christ; Don’t Just Know About Him
"And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born" (v4).

When we approach the Scriptures, will it be for mere information, or will we actually put into practice what we learn from the word of God? The Scriptures were written for us to know Christ, in a saving way. The Scriptures can only be of value to our souls, as they compel us to worship God in Spirit and truth, bowing to Christ, in the obedience of faith. When rightly used, the Scriptures bring us unto confession, forgiveness, cleansing and repentance of sin. Any use of the Scriptures that does not involve the forsaking of ourselves to follow The Lord Jesus Christ, is a misuse of the Book. May Herod’s treachery stand as a warning to us, that we would not handle the word of God deceitfully.

Herod had no intention of bowing to what was written. In fact, he consulted the Scriptures, only to find a way out of believing the good news. How many people today have such an attitude about the Gospel? How many people, rather than looking for Christ in the Scriptures, in order to worship Him, treat the Bible as an interesting textbook of historical facts and conventional principles - or even worse - a compilation of fables to merely demonstrate moral lessons? It's this type of thinking that leads people to believe that the Bible is a "take it or leave it" type of book, with teachings that are optional and/or on the same level as other texts that have been written throughout the ages. Such thinking is confronted by the stark claim that the Holy Bible is God’s word, and the fact that all 66 of its books cohesively testify of Christ, who Himself, is the Word of God.

A diverse collection of men penned the Bible, but the Spirit of God is the Author (2 Peter 1:20-21), and Christ is its singular message (John 5:39). Furthermore, every person who has ever lived will be judged by what's in that Book. It deserves much more consideration than the average person typically gives it (religious, or otherwise). Like Herod, many people make the horrible mistake of approaching the Scriptures the wrong way - not seeking to know and obey God's revealed will.

We see that in verses 4-6 of Matthew 2, Herod had Micah 5 read to him by the chief priests and scribes, whose job it was to study the writings of Moses and the prophets. They were supposedly well-versed experts in the Scriptures, but they missed Christ. It's a tragic example of people who had the Scriptures, but did not live by them. Let's all avoid the folly of trifling with God's word (and our own souls) like this.

"And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” (Matthew 2:4-6)

This text contained some wonderful news for God’s elect. It can be said of Herod, like all others who perish in unbelief, that he did not believe because he was not of Christ’s chosen sheep (John 10:26). However, he was still culpable for every bit of his rebellion. Rather than being brought Godward by the Scriptures, Herod willfully misused them, and missed out on the blessings contained therein.

Paul told Timothy that: all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Scriptures were written for a specific purpose, but those who twist them, do so "to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16). Like many an unregenerate sinner, Herod's immediate agenda, upon hearing the Gospel, was to discount it; prove it untrue; put an end to it; stamp it out - although he pretended to be in alignment with it.

Seek Christ For Yourself
"Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also” (Matthew 2:7-8).

Notice Herod’s directive to the wise men: “Go and search carefully…” What if Herod, himself, would have been a careful seeker? He would have found mercy, salvation and eternal life! But instead, he delegated the task to others. And those others were called wise men for a reason. They sought The Lord and found Him. Herod did not do so, and remained a fool.

Notice his words: “when you have found Him…” We cannot outsource the pursuit of inward peace that our souls require. We cannot count on others to find God for us. We must be active seekers, and sincere worshippers. Then, rather than saying “bring back word to me,” we can dig into the Scriptures to get our own particular needs met, and find out for ourselves what God’s will is. If we don’t, by the Gospel, get to Christ on a personal basis, we will have no relationship with God the Father, and no comfort of the Holy Spirit.

What if Herod would have gotten up from his vain throne and made a sincere pilgrimage after that star, like those wise men did? What if he would’ve thought enough about his eternal soul, to step out of the temporary comforts of his kingly palace, and embark upon a journey to find this true King, that they (and the Scriptures) spoke of? What if he would’ve arrived with them at that lowly manger, where the King of kings was laying, and worshipped Him, like everyone else there? Tragically for Herod, this is not how his history reads. He did not seek, nor find Christ. He was content to send others (who were, themselves, already en route). Herod had his own agenda, which did not involve bowing to the Son of God.

Herod had no intention of worshipping Christ. His pretense is reminiscent of many today who would call themselves "Christian," but in their hearts, they will not seek God's will as supreme. They still want to maintain their own self-rule and self-righteousness, rather than seeking "the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). Let's be mindful that those three wise men, who left what they had, and pursued Christ, did not miss out on anything. They were blessed, beyond measure, to have been worshippers of King Jesus. Whatever they may have had before they found Him, it paled in comparison to the "unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8).

Conversely, like Herod, all other fraudulent worshippers will be sorely disappointed. Herod never heard back from the wise men (Matthew 2:12). Likewise, those who trifle with the Gospel, and don't give Christ the honor and reverence He deserves, place themselves in danger of perishing, without hearing any more good news from God, or His people. Those who will not live by the word of God will die without the word of God. In Hell, they’ll never hear, nor see, nor experience anything good again…..ever.

Fraudulent Worship Breeds Mad Hatred
"Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men." (Matthew 2:16)

The Lord had warned the wise men in a dream not to return to Herod. When it was discovered that they would not play into his game, Herod became “exceedingly angry.” This extreme anger can be contrasted with the extreme gladness of the wise men, who, “when they saw the star, rejoiced with exceedingly great joy” (v10). In these two extremes, we can see how everyone can fit into one of two categories, with regard to the Gospel. They will either react with joy, or with anger. Those who are offended by the Gospel will direct their disagreeable anger at both the message and the messengers. Ultimately, their hatred is against God. However, since they are powerless to take their anger out on The Lord, they take it out on whomever they can.

Herod, in this insanely ruthless execution campaign, sought to stamp out the Gospel, by any means. He started out as a dissident to the Gospel, and ended up as a murderous madman, on a rampage. I’m reminded of how Cain slew his righteous brother Abel, setting the precedent for all future persecutions – from the killing of the prophets, to the crucifixion of Christ, to the martyrdom of His disciples over the past 2000 years. These murders have been perpetrated by both religious and secular adversaries. Such is the climate of current persecution that God’s people endure today. But neither this, nor even the very gates of Hell, can prevail against Christ’s church.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Troubled by Good News? (Matthew 2:1-3) by Librae Jackson, Deacon

"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him." (Matthew 2:1-3)

Why would anyone be troubled by good news? We’ll see, in this text, an example of such nonsensical reasoning. As a result of sin’s presence and influence in this world, human minds can indeed be so corrupt, as to be troubled by good news. It's a fact that many people are troubled, albeit needlessly, by the Gospel. In King Herod's day, there were some who were glad at the coming of Christ, and others who were troubled by it. In our day, there still exists a distinction between people: those who rejoice in the Gospel of Christ's kingdom, and those who reject Him.

Before we proceed with our main text, let's consider how unnecessary the consternation was, and is. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world on an errand of pure mercy and love. He came to rescue sinners from having Hell as their destination, and to prepare them for Heaven. He came to bring evil people unto their Holy God, in a full restoral of the peace that was lost, due to sin. He came to die for the ungodly, taking upon Himself the punishment for their crimes. He came to make wicked people righteous. Any way you look at it, this is good news - a precious gem; beautiful from all sides. And yet, this ultimate gesture of God's goodness is despised by many eternity-bound human beings, who'd otherwise benefit greatly from it. Who can understand such unreasonable insolence? Here's a portion of Scripture that we can rely on, to explain what seems inexplicable:

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:17-19)

This is an accurate description of everyone who hears and rejects the Gospel, as pictured by the reaction of King Herod to the news about King Jesus.

Wise Men Seek The Lord
In the 2nd chapter of Matthew, Herod and those in his kingdom had just heard about the birth of Christ, from three wise men, who travelled a long way, searching Him out. These wise men had heard about Him, who was "born King of the Jews" (v2), and were excited about this good news. They had apparently understood something that Herod and his pseudo-religious cohorts did not. Something was revealed to them that caused them to embark upon a journey to find Him. They enquired about Him with diligence. And when they found Him, they worshipped Him, and presented Him with gifts. Similarly, every believer, after hearing about King Jesus, begins a lifelong quest to seek Him. We follow that bright star (the light of Gospel truth) and seek Him, according to His word. And finding Him, we are lifelong worshippers of Him. This worship also involves offering Him the gift of our very lives, as we open the treasures He gave us, and render myriad forms of praise, devotion, honor and thankful service.

These three wise men in the text represent a wonderful picture of faith, and the wisdom that it exhibits! If any person on this planet can truly be called wise, he or she will be a seeker of Christ. We see, by the example of these three wise men, that wise people hear and believe the Gospel - so much so, that they seek The Lord.

This is in direct contrast to Herod and his people, who were troubled by the same news. But why? Why did the good news of Christ's arrival bring dread to Herod and his people in Jerusalem? They had the Scriptures that prophesied of Christ, and as Jews, they were supposed to have been awaiting the coming of the Messiah. Why didn't they rejoice, and see it as an awesome blessing, that the Christ would come in their generation?! Why did the Gospel, instead, disturb them? Why were they troubled?!

The wise men were not troubled! They were very enthusiastic (Matthew 2:10). The shepherds in the field were not troubled! They praised and glorified God for the good tidings of great joy that the angels proclaimed to them (Luke 2:8-20). Mary was not troubled! She magnified The Lord for His mercy and the fulfillment of His promise to Israel (Luke 1:46-56). Joseph was not troubled! He, himself, a "son of David," was also looking for the promise, and it was surely an honor for Him to, as the angel told him, name his stepson: "Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:20-21). How wonderful that our God would have His name/identity wrapped up in the salvation of His people from their sins! And, indeed He is our God, having that other name, "Immanuel...God with us" (Matthew 2:23). This magnificent Person causes the heart of every believer to rejoice! The world of unbelievers may be troubled by the Gospel, but believers are not troubled! This is our hope of salvation and eternal life! This is the message that shows us how our sins are forgiven!

Christ “Has Been Born King”
This text in Matthew 2 gives us a small glimpse of what distinguishes those who would be King Jesus' willing subjects, from those who would persist to be His mutinous enemies. We've already sought to examine the rationale behind their bewilderment against Him, and were shown that an innate preference for sin, and love of their own darkness, causes them to resist the Light. Herod's example provides us with specific details that contribute to this point. Simply put, Herod was disturbed by the news of Christ, because Herod, at that point in time, was considered king of the Jews. There had been many Jewish kings, since Saul, but Jesus is the only one who was "born King of the Jews."

Herod did not rejoice in this good news of Christ's arrival because he viewed it as a threat to his own meager throne. The Scriptures clearly showed that the fulfillment of Christ's promised coming would be to the benefit of that entire nation (including Herod, if he'd only acquiesced). And yet, there was still dismay. This Gospel wasn't good news to those who were comfortable with their current ranks and positions, preferring temporal frivolity above eternal life. Although the Jews, at that time, were under the thumb of the Roman Empire, those of them, who had a little authority, thought themselves to be great. Herod didn't want to hear about another King, whom he would have to bow the knee to. He was satisfied with the carnal ease, privileges and esteem that came with being the "king."

Oh! What a picture of the natural man! We will not bow the knee to Christ, because we do not want to forfeit our own throne. We hear the Good News: the Gospel of Christ, and we say "we will not have this man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14). We have sins that we do not want to let go of. We enjoy being the bosses of our own lives; the masters of our own realities. But how foolish are we to think that we can push God Almighty off of His throne! How futile are our efforts to retain our own fleeting kingdoms! How unwise are we to think that we do not have to acknowledge Him as our Master, to whom we must give account!

Herod Died
Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” (Matthew 2:19-20)

There was a day of reckoning for Herod. He would eventually (sooner than he knew) forego his throne and exit his kingdom. Moreover, he would leave his own body. In the end, all he had was his eternal soul. He could not take with him any of the wealth or status that he enjoyed, while on earth. Not one possession, nor position, could he carry with him to the other side. How foolish of him to live for those things, in light of eternity, and the consequences that awaited him.

Meanwhile, the Gospel continued to prosper. Christ would go on to fulfill His mission, and there was nothing that Herod, or any other enemy could do to prevent it. Despite mankind's revelry, the kingdom of God has been advancing and abounding for thousands of years. Our individual responses to the Gospel will continue to define each of our destinies. As in Herod's day, there will be wise people who kiss the Son of God, and there will be fools who experience the kindling of His wrath, having refused to bow (Psalm 2).

Which side will we be on, when death comes for us? There came a time when King Herod, like all men, had to die. As you're reading this, I implore you to take heed to this lesson. Don't be as Herod, who refused the good news about the kindness of God toward sinners. Don't be offended by something so glorious and helpful. Don't imitate Herod's pretense of worship. Be real with God, and get mercy. Don't retain a low regard for God's word. Don't even think that you can escape, by being indifferent. To do so, is to run the risk of your obstinacy, like Herod's, soon being discovered as all-out hatred. Don't leave this world, having been troubled by good news. You will die as you lived, and the good news will trouble you forever. You will endure the torment of regret, knowing that you refused the King's invitation to eternal life.

Right now, on this side of eternity, there is a chance for everyone alive to obey the words of King Jesus, who has pronounced this gracious message: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Pray for Us" by George Whitefield

1 Thessalonians 5:25 - "Brethren, pray for us."

You ought to pray for those, whom "the Holy Ghost hath made OVERSEERS over you." This is what St. Paul begs, again and again, of the churches to whom he writes: Says he in the text, "Brethren, pray for us;" and again, in his epistle to the Ephesians, "praying always, with all manner of supplication; and for me also, that I may open my mouth boldly, to declare the mystery of the gospel." And in another place, to express his earnestness in this request, and the great importance of their prayers for him, he bids the church "strive, (or, as the original word signifies, be in an agony) together with him in their prayers." And surely, if the great St. Paul, that chosen vessel, that favorite of heaven, needed the most importunate prayers of his Christian converts; much more do the ordinary ministers of the gospel stand in need of the intercession of their respective flocks.

And I cannot but in a more especial manner insist upon this branch of your duty, because it is a matter of such importance: for, no doubt, much good is frequently withheld from many, by reason of their neglecting to pray for their ministers, and which they would have received, had they prayed for them as they ought. Not to mention, that people often complain of the want of diligent and faithful pastors. But how do they deserve good pastors, who will not earnestly pray to God for such? If we will not pray to the Lord of the harvest, can it be expected He will send forth laborers into His harvest?

Besides, what ingratitude is it, not to pray for your ministers! For shall they watch and labor in the word and doctrine for you, and your salvation, and shall not you pray for them in return? If any bestow favors on your bodies, you think it right, meet, and your bounden duty, to pray for them; and shall not they be remembered in your prayers, who daily feed and nourish your souls? Add to all this, that praying for your ministers, will be a manifest proof of your believing, that though Paul plant, and Apollos water, yet it is God alone who giveth the increase. And you will also find it the best means you can use, to promote your own welfare; because God, in answer to your prayers, may impart a double portion of His Holy Spirit to them, whereby they will be qualified to deal out to you larger measures of knowledge in spiritual things, and be enabled more skillfully to divide the word of truth.

Would men but constantly observe this direction, and when their ministers are praying in their name to God, humbly beseech Him to perform all their petitions: or, when they are speaking in God's name to them, pray that the Holy Ghost may fall on all them that hear the word; we should find a more visible good effect of their doctrine, and a greater mutual love between ministers and their people. For ministers hands would then be held up by the people's intercessions, and the people will never dare to villify or traduce those who are the constant subjects of their prayers.

- Excerpt from sermon entitled: "Intercession - Every Christian's Duty"

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thank The Good Lord (Spurgeon excerpt)

O give thanks unto the LORD. For He is good. Because His mercy endureth for ever.  (Psalm 118:1)

For He is good. 
This is reason enough for giving Him thanks; goodness is His essence and nature, and therefore He is always to be praised, whether we are receiving anything from Him or not. Those who only praise God because He does them good should rise to a higher note and give thanks to Him because He is good

In the truest sense, He alone is good, "There is none good but one, that is God"; therefore in all gratitude the Lord should have the royal portion. If others seem to be good, He is good. If others are good in a measure, He is good beyond measure. When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord because He is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless Him that "He is good." 

We must never tolerate an instant's unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questionable, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His dispensations may vary, but His nature is always the same, and always good. It is not only that He was good, and will be good, but He is good; let His providence be what it may. Therefore let us even at this present moment, though the skies be dark with clouds, yet give thanks unto His name.

CH Spurgeon (from The Treasury of David)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Righteous Grace" by Horatius Bonar

We have spoken of God's character as "the God of all grace." We have seen that it is in "tasting that the Lord is gracious" that the sinner has peace.

But let us keep in mind that this grace is the grace of a righteous God; it is the grace of One who is Judge as well as Father. Unless we see this we shall mistake the Gospel, and fail in appreciating both the pardon we are seeking, and the great sacrifice through which it comes to us. No vague forgiveness, arising out of mere paternal love, will do. We need to know what kind of pardon it is; and whether it proceeds from the full recognition of our absolute guiltiness by Him who is to "judge the world in righteousness." The right kind of pardon comes not from love alone, but from law; not from good nature, but from righteousness; not from indifference to sin, but from holiness.

The inquirer who is only half in earnest overlooks this. His feelings are moved, but his conscience is not roused. Hence he is content with very vague ideas of God's mere compassion for the sinner's unhappiness. To him human guilt seems but human misfortune, and God's acquittal of the sinner little more than the overlooking of his sin. He does not trouble himself with asking how the forgiveness comes, or what is the real nature of the love which he professes to have received. He is easily soothed to sleep, because he has never been fully awake. He is, at the best, a stony-ground hearer; soon losing the poor measure of joy that he may have got; becoming a formalist; or perhaps a trifler with sin; or it may be, a religious sentimentalist.

But he whose conscience has been pierced, is not so easily satisfied. He sees that the God, whose favor he is seeking, is holy as well as loving; and that He has to do with righteousness as well as grace. Hence the first inquiry that he makes is as to the righteousness of the pardon which the grace of God holds out. He must be satisfied on this point, and see that the grace is righteous grace, ere he can enjoy it all. The more alive he is to his own unrighteousness, the more does he feel the need of ascertaining the righteousness of the grace which we make known to him.

It does not satisfy him to say, that, since it comes from a righteous God, it must be righteous grace. His conscience wants to see the righteousness of the way by which it comes. Without this it cannot be pacified or "purged;" and the man is not made "perfect as pertaining to the conscience;" but must always have an uneasy feeling that all is not right; that his sins may one day rise up against him.

That which soothes the heart will not always pacify the conscience. The sight of the grace will do the former; but only the sight of the righteousness of the grace will do the latter. Till the latter is done, there cannot be real peace. The hurt is healed slightly, and peace is spoken where there is no peace. The healing of the hurt can only be brought about by speaking peace where there is peace.
Here the work of Christ comes in; and the cross of the Sin-Bearer answers the question which conscience has raised, - "Is it righteous grace?" It is this great work of propitiation that exhibits God as "the just God, yet the Saviour;" not only righteous in spite of his justifying the ungodly, but righteous in doing so. It shows salvation as an act of righteousness; nay, one of the highest acts of righteousness that a righteous God can do. It shows pardon not only as the deed of a righteous God, but as the thing which shows how righteous he is, and how he hates and condemns the very sin that he is pardoning.

Hear the word of the Lord concerning this "finished" work. "Christ died for our sins." "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities." "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." "He gave Himself for us." "He was delivered for our offences." "He gave Himself for our sins." "Christ died for the ungodly." "He hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." "Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh." "Christ hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust." "His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree." These expressions speak of something more than love. Love is in each of them; the deep, true, real love of God; but also justice and holiness; inflexible and inexorable adherence to law. They have no meaning apart from law; law as the foundation, pillar, keystone of the universe.

But their connection with law is also their connection with love. For as it was law, in its unchangeable perfection, that constituted the necessity for the Surety's death, so it was this necessity that drew out the Surety's love, and gave also glorious proof of the love of Him who made Him to be sin for us. For if a man were to die for another, when there was no necessity for his doing so, we should hardly call his death a proof of love. At best, such would be foolish love, or, at least, a fond and idle way of showing it. But to die for one, when there is really need of dying, is the true test of genuine love. To die for a friend when nothing less will save him; this is the proof of love! When either He or we must die; and when He, to save us from dying, dies Himself, this is love. There was need of a death, if we were to be saved from dying. Righteousness made the necessity. And, to meet this terrible necessity, the Son of God took flesh and died! He died, because it was written, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." Love led Him down to the cradle; love led Him up to the cross! He died as the sinner's substitute. He died to make it a righteous thing in God to cancel the sinner's guilt and annul the penalty of His everlasting death.
Had it not been for this dying, grace and guilt could not have looked each other in the face; God and the sinner could not have come nigh; righteousness would have forbidden reconciliation; and righteousness, we know, is as divine and real a thing as love. Without this exception, it would not have been right for God to receive the sinner nor safe for the sinner to come.

But now, mercy and truth have met together; now grace is righteousness, and righteousness is grace. This satisfies the sinner's conscience, by showing him righteous love for the unrighteous and unlovable. It tells him, too, that the reconciliation brought about in this way shall never be disturbed, either in this life or that which is to come. It is righteous reconciliation, and will stand every test, as well as last throughout eternity. The peace of conscience thus secured will be trial-proof, sickness-proof, deathbed-proof, judgment-proof. Realizing this, the chief of sinners can say, "Who is he that condemneth?"

What peace for the stricken conscience is there in the truth that Christ died for the ungodly; and that it is of the ungodly that the righteous God is the Justifier! The righteous grace thus coming to us through the sin-bearing work of the "Word made flesh," tells the soul, at once and forever, that there can be no condemnation for any sinner upon earth, who will only consent to be indebted to this free love of God, which, like a fountain of living water, is bursting freely forth from the foot of the Cross.
Just, yet the Justifier of the ungodly! What glad tidings are here! Here is grace; God's free love to the sinner; divine bounty and goodwill, altogether irrespective of human worth or merit. For this is the scriptural meaning of that often misunderstood word "grace."

This righteous free love has its origin in the bosom of the Father, where the only begotten has His dwelling. It is not produced by anything out of God himself. It was man's evil, not his good, that called it forth. It was not the drawing to the like, but to the unlike; it was light attracted by darkness, and life by death. It does not wait for our seeking, it comes unasked as well as undeserved. It is not our faith that creates it or calls it up; our faith realizes it as already existing in its divine and manifold fullness. Whether we believe it or not, this righteous grace exists, and exists for us. Unbelief refuses it; but faith takes it, rejoices in it, and lives upon it. Yes, faith takes this righteous grace of God, and, with it, a righteous pardon, a righteous salvation, and a righteous heirship of the everlasting glory.

- Chapter 4 of "God's Way of Peace" by Horatius Bonar (1808-1809)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Song: "Perfect Love" by Shai Linne

Verse 1:
Now let’s get straight to the topic, God’s love is weighty to process
And apart from the Holy Spirit, we’re unable to digest
Because man’s depraved in his logic, so God’s haters will mock it
But inter-trinitarian love should make us astonished
Imagine the Son enjoying the embrace of His Father
Eternally paying Him homage as He bathed in His knowledge
Equally faithful and sovereign, gracious, patient and honest
Cosmic greatness blazing with radiance- conscious
Holy Spirit also present, full display of His God-ness
No creation could watch this- it wasn’t safe for their optics
What an awesome scene in heaven with all esteem and reverence
It’s Psalm 16:11 as conveyed through the prophet
Overflow of joy and love, the Father made Him a promise
To give His Son a people to liberate from their bondage
So they’re no longer slaves and hostages, but blameless and spotless
Consequence of eternal love - our salvation’s accomplished!
Love so perfect
Love eternally
Unchanging, Holy, Righteous Love
Transcends our understanding
But in Your nature there is perfect love
Verse 2:
Now it’s one thing to consider God’s love that’s within
But how could God’s love extend to men corrupted with sin?
Because we certainly don’t deserve it, He’s perfect and we’re imperfect
What’s lurking beneath the surface? His mercy and deeper purpose
Made in His likeness, installed with reminders of His law
Despite our blindness from the fall, His kindness reaches all
The fact He allows the sun to rise on this evil planet
Means that His love is such that we can’t even understand it
In other words, don’t let traditions fool ya, gotta let them Scriptures school ya
As a matter of fact, see how Christ reacted when it came to the rich young ruler
Love explicit, if it isn’t His love, what is it
Restricting Him from inflicting His vengeance on the wicked?
Some call it common grace, but I’m inclined to state
that it’s the love of God shining from a place that's beyond time and space
They say, “If God is love, what’s eternal torment for?”
Well, He loves the world for sure, but He loves His glory more!
Verse 3:
Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of this subject
Would be the love of God that He expresses towards the elect
And the second some people hear that, they get mad inside
But it’s a special kind of love the Husband has for His Bride
It’s a love that distinguishes her and sets her apart
No other woman could ever have the same effect on His heart
Because this Groom is not adulterous, this marriage has no openness
His devotion is traced back to when the world was motionless
In love we were predestined for adoption as a son
Not for anything that we’ve done, check Ephesians chapter one
Look, when we lived as God’s opponents, He gave His only Son for atonement
So we’ve got to see He can’t possibly love us more than He does this moment
In love, He justified us, in love, He sanctifies us
So we don’t have to jump through hoops to try to make Him like us
One thing we truly cannot fathom- we’re stunned
The Father loves us with the very love He has for His Son!
- from "The Attributes of God" (

Heshimu Colar, Pastor

Heshimu Colar, Pastor
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