Ordo Salutis VII: Christ’s Sufficient Work, We Are Clean

This is the magnificence of the True God.

The God of the Old Testament who called down judgment on the wicked and the departed. The same God who expressed His faithfulness to His people who were faithless. The God whose steadfast love never ceased to those whom he promised would make things all things right. The infinitely powerful God who was able to always woo and pursue the hearts of his children and bring them out of death and destruction back into life everlasting. The holy God who did not destroy our original parents when they choose themselves over him. The righteous God who redeems and restores. The Lord who resets his mercies every morning. The gracious God pours his heart out like a mighty river.

What have we done? Fought against God. War against God. Blaspheme against His holy name. Sought out the destruction of all living things. We tend to think of ourselves above everything. Shall we receive this glory! Shall we behold all the praises due because of all the good works we have done, the brilliant thoughts we have thought up and how we have pushed ourselves to improve over the generation before us? How good are we! How we need to be exalted! How no harm, no foul, no evil, no bad thing should ever happen against us! If anything bad happens to us, the God is not a just god, not a good god, not a great god, not a powerful god and not a loving god. Therefore, there is no god and we chose to declare war against him as everything in this universe descends in utter chaos and our undoing.

In whatever we do and all we have done, He is mournful, sorrowful and grieved but he is not phased and he is not moved. His will still carries on from the beginning of time and he is determined, nay, absolute that His people will be with him to enjoy him for his glory alone forevermore.

This is the God who does not quit.

This is the God who does not relent.

This is the God who does not forget.

This is the God who saves.

This is the God who loves

This is the God who bled.

This is the God who died.

This is the God who gave his life up for me.

Jesus Christ stood before his blasphemous people—people who cried and rejoiced with their lips, “Hosanna in the highest!” just days before—now are ready to cry out in a murderous rage to crucify the Son of God who is God. Jesus Christ, the glorious Lord stood side-by-side a convicted murderer, Barabbas as the governor audaciously asked the people, “Who would you rather have living with you in your neighborhoods, shopping in your shops, doing business with, passing by you on the streets? Who do you want: God or a murderer?”

The rational answer is clear. Yet our sinful hearts pick the comforts of sin every time.

In the Old Testament, Aaron stood before the people of Israel and they looked up this live goat. Aaron runs through all of their sins, all of their follies, all of their iniquities and all of their transgressions. With that massive, terrible list, Aaron touches the head of the goat and pushes it through the crowds and directs the goat into the vastness of the wilderness, always lost, always running in freedom and never to be seen again. (Leviticus 16:21-22)

Barabbas was presented as the culmination of the best that humanity has to offer as our depravity and wickedness stared us straight in the face. We don’t want better. We don’t want perfection. We want more of our wicked hearts desires. We want not His holiness, His forgiveness, and His love. We want more of what this world can offer.

We pick the goat with all of our sins. We are the ones who picked Barabbas. Yet, just like the goat into the wilderness, Barabbas is forgotten from ancient history, never to be heard from again.

The only thing we have done right is sin. However, by faith alone, we can place those sins on the one who would bear it all for those who have and will come to trust in him. The only thing we have done is allowed the Son of God to be crucified. The only right thing we have said, “Crucify Him!”.

In his beatings, his whippings, his crowning of thorns, in the nails stabbing through his hands and the spear through his heart were all needed to drain our Savior of his life-giving blood. He had his people to save and He must do it perfectly:

Indeed, under the law, almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. 1

This is the only way it could be done: violently, excruciatingly, vomit-inducing, and sickly because that is what sin is to our Holy God.

He had to save his people.

He had to change his people.

He had to cleanse his people so that they can know Him:

And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” 2

He will not be angry at his people forever because He loves them too much. He does not bestow his righteous and just wrath upon his people because his people cannot bear it, to lest they are destroyed and be apart from him forever. His love is as high and as great as the distance between heaven and earth, so too is the same distance our sins, wickedness, and atrocities our removed from us.

Our God is One of compassion. 3

This all culminates into His Son who died on the cross, who pour out all of his blood just like a lamb to the slaughter.

We must admit the exceeding sinfulness of our sin. We must be desperate for to someone greater than us to save us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 4

We call upon him. We look towards him. We reach out and cry, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” God, who is merciful, gives us His Son because He is the God who actually saves.

Notes:

  1. Hebrews 9:22
  2. Jeremiah 31:34
  3. Psalm 103:6-14
  4. 1 John 1:9

Mark 9:30-32 God Alone is Over Death

Mark 9:30-32 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

  1. Did the disciples knew what Christ was actually talking about? Why or why not?
  2. What did Christ mean by “delivered into the hands of men”?
  3. Could Christ be randomly killed by anybody?
  4. What was the death of Christ going to do?

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 23:1a The Lord Is My Shepherd

You are my Good Shepherd.

You fled the ninety-nine in order to come rescue me,
	when I could not possibly rescue myself.

You saved me from certain damnation,
	you’ve rescued me from the slaughter.

You’ve taken all of my sin,
	and you let the wrath of Father fall upon your heart
	You bled out for me,
	so that I might live forever.

Lord, keep me in your care,
	I pray that you keep good shepherds to care and feed me.
	none that will run away at the first sight of danger
	none that will be swayed to and fro by every wind of doctrine
	but stay the course because you are their strength and resolve.

I praise your holy name ever.

Here is Love: Why Did God Save Us? – Romans 8:29d

Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

This entire series has been trying to pit the world’s definition of love versus God’s definition of love. And perhaps up until this moment, we have never taken that to actual task. What I mean by that is that comparatively speaking, if I speak of God’s love, we can still find something like that in on earth.

For example, the laughter of a tiny infant to their parents’ goo-goo and gah-gah sounds. Some would say that would be joy, innocence, and love. But not much more that. Or when we challenge oppressors in hopes to give liberty to the oppressed, that might be out of justice and love, but what else could that included.

We could come up good lists of what different loves look like but none would be as complete as the love of God. I contend that the reason why is because while we do things out of love, God does something even greater than that—He does everything out of his glory.

Think for a moment and try to come up with a definition for the word ‘glory’. Consider Webster’s:

  1. high renown or honor won by notable achievements.
  2. magnificence or great beauty.
  3. praise, worship, and thanksgiving offered to a deity.
  4. luminous ring or halo, especially as depicted around the head of Jesus Christ or a saint.
  5. take great pride or pleasure in.

But according to the Bible, it speaks of God’s glory as each of his attributes to the maximum infinite degree. I say both maximum and infinite because to suggest maximum might suggest a limit somewhere. To say infinite says there is unlimited potential, but we can fall short of that.  In who God is—whether it be love, mercy, justice, holiness, righteousness, presence, strength, knowledge, or grace—God is maximum unlimited.

So when we say “God saved us out of love”, that is true but is far much more than that. I can say that with utmost certainty because you see, God is perfect and was never was or will be in sin and thus, everything that he does is never out of good intentions or in hope of but completed perfectly to the end. Consider our born state and the world we live in: many times, while we might do our best to do things out of love, we either fallen short with good intentions or do so with selfish gain.

Take any book of the Bible, look for the mention of the glory of God and see what I am saying. For instance, in Luke we see that:

God’s glory in the mere ability of God becoming man, Jesus – Luke 2:8-21 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

God’s glory in His all-knowledge and all-wisdom Luke 4:15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

God’s glory again in His all-power over brokenness Luke 5:25-26 And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

God’s glory in his all-power over death Luke 7:16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”

God’s glory in all-justice Luke 9:26-27 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (See Revelation 19:11–21)

God’s glory in His command of time Luke 9:32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.

God’s even in the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross Luke 24:26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

Why did God save? Because he loves us but more so than that, because He is glorious!

Consider this: if God was not for his glory, then he would cease to be God. Remember, until we see our Savior completely face to face, we will never know perfection on this side of heaven. (Some pastors say you can obtain perfection while on earth and I am here to tell you that they are wrong). But what if we were without sin? That is so impossible to imagine but that is what God is. And in his absolute perfection, He operates within the maxed out of his attributes. He operates in glory.

To put this in another way, God does not have to lessen something that he is his in order to do what he wants. He doesn’t suppress his righteousness and holiness in order to love us. He doesn’t have to suppress his love in order to be fully holy. No, not at all! But sometimes we want him to let off his righteousness and holiness? Don’t we? Like “Lord, thank you for eradicating all of my sins but how about don’t work on this little sin deep in the recesses of my heart. How about leave that alone? I need my pride, my lust, my fear, my vanity because that is who I am!” How crazy is the notion that we would want God to grade on a curve or overlook this one little sin in our hearts? Don’t you want to be with the God who has ZERO SIN in and around him which automatically equates to perfect peace, fullness of joy and blissful pleasures forevermore? If God allowed sin in his presence—yes, even our “itty bitty little” sin— then we would still have sickness, disease, despair, death, broken hearts, some joy, some love, and mediocre pleasures in a short amount of time. Doesn’t that already sound a bit familiar? (Hint: look around you.)

But because God is glorious—in other words, because God is fully, perfectly, one-hundred percent-ly all the things that the Bible says he is, then it is because His glory that we are saved.

Isaiah 48:9–11

“For my name’s sake I defer my anger;
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.

And yet from this one prophet, consider how he was saved:

Isaiah 6:1-7 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

How do we know this to be the glory of God? Jesus said so:

John 12:41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.

Praise God for his perfection and glory.

Praise God for his ability, willingness, and actually completed his salvation of His people.

Praise God for his absolutely amazing love!

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. So we then have to ask, what is love? This series is my attempt to answer that question as theologically and biblically as possible.

A Present Salvation

I adore thee for making me capable of knowing thee, for giving me reason and conscience, for leading me to desire thee; I praise thee for the revelation of thyself in the gospel, for thy heart as a dwelling place of pity, for thy thoughts of peace towards me, for thy patience and thy graciousness, for the vastness of thy mercy.

– from A Present Salvation
The Valley of Vision

Ordo Salutis VIII: Christ’s Finished Work, We Are Protected

This has been one of the most difficult chapters to write because there is so much to be packed into the doctrine of propitiation. The only way I could approach this is to start at the beginning and start at the high altitude and work our way down. To understand propitiation, we must understand God, his law, his love and his holiness.

What can incite the wrath of God? It is when we decide that we don’t need his way but we insist on own our way. Parents recognize this in their own kids. But what about our own lives. We are not talking about wanting cookies for breakfast and not getting them. We are talking about dismissing God’s words for life entirely and try to save ourselves. In that vein, the world thinks that surely because God is love, then he can simply overlook such details and give us a free pass, perhaps even grade on a curve.

You might laugh but some Christians actually think that.

Have you ever heard, perhaps in a church, bible study or even a Christian conference, “Are you saved?” to which someone has responded, “Man, I sure hope so.” Brothers and sisters, don’t be surprised! I overheard that exchange not 10 feet away and waited with bated breath to hear the punchline. But there was none. He was serious.

That exchange happened at a Pastor’s conference.

This is why we must understand His holiness. Yes, the holiness of God can big and scary but if by the Spirit alone, we can grasp and understand it, we can rest assured of His goodness and salvation.

In the beginning, in Genesis 2:15-17, God gives us just one law. Follow this one simple rule and I can take care of the rest. Let see how that unfolds:

Genesis 3:1-7 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

In other words, this is what I think Eve was thinking “Hmm, I want my way. Man, it sure does feel like God is holding out on me. If I do this thing, sure I will get what God has been keeping from me.”

What did God say would happen?

Genesis 2:15-17 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Forthwith, the wages of sin is death. 1

Did God kill them right away? No. But what cannot be denied, evident by the entire history of mankind, is that when sin came into this universe, all of the cosmos shattered and broke into a million pieces.

Because of sin, God’s wrath and judgment fall in three ways: eventual death, sudden death and a giving over to what we want. All three ways lead to separation from God.

Genesis 3:15–24
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
but he shall rule over you.”

And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

In other words, life is going to be hard and at the end, you are going to die.

But let us take a quick look at the sudden execution of God’s judgment:

Genesis 13:13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.

Genesis 18:20-21 Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

So based on Genesis 2 and Romans 6:23, what do you think is going to happen to the Sodom and Gomorrah? The judgment here is obvious, “Well, that is easy, they were wicked and they deserve to die.”

Let’s go to other places where it is not so obvious.

God commands. Pharaoh disobeys. Pharaoh pretends to confess his sins but as soon as the current plague disappears, he sins and hardens his heart. 2

God warned Pharoah of his judgment and wrath 3. God’s own people believed. 4

But Pharaoh did not believe. Genesis 12:29-32 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!”

Judgment of the family within camp 5

Judgment of idol worshippers 6

The judgment of nations that surrounded Israel 7

Judgment of entire nations 8

I am not going to sugar coat this at all. Sometimes, the women and the children were judged. Upon hearing that, our minds instantly click and thinks, “Those are women and children, they are innocent. They have done nothing wrong. They have been not been tried and judged.”

Perhaps they were innocent in the laws of their land. But did they sin against God? Strike that—did we not all sin against God?

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 9

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned 10

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11

If this is your first time hearing this or this is your millionth time hearing this, it is not easy to hear. This is not soft chew candy. This is tough, gristly meat cooked burnt to a well-done crisp that you have to chew on for days and even then, it’s painful to swallow.

Let’s hammer this point and let us see how you, me, my kids, my future little babies, your babies, even my sainted grandma all were born into:

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

We were all born by nature children of the wrath of God. To simply put it, we were born dead.

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Finally, beyond sudden judgment and eventual judgment, there is a wrath that is not so obvious but it is where God simply gives us over to what we want. We keep suppressing His truth and we keep doing what we want. God simply goes, “You think your way is better, fine, go. Have it your way.”

That should scare the living daylights out of you.

So what then?

Here is the greatest news that the world has ever known or will ever know:

For those who would believe in the Son of God then all the wrath, hatred and judgment that was rightfully meant for those same sinners fall then upon the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. His perfect obedient life, called out to us by the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit, as he gives his life over, nails himself to the cross and takes on the full wrath of the Father and the forsaking of the Spirit so for that those who believe in Him would never experience that.

God loves you so much. Before the creation of the world, he loved you. He looks upon all eternity and declares, “I must have you in my family. You are my son. You are my precious daughter. Yet you are running from me and you are so far from me. I cannot count on you to come back to me. You have no power to do so. Yet, I have all the power. I will send my Son and he will close that gap with his own life.” God the Father loved you so much that it pleased Him to send His Son to the cross 12. Father’s joy. Likewise, Christ loved you so much that for His glory, he saved you to Himself 13 and he did it with all humility and joy 14. How do we know this? The evidence of the Spirit of God within us who produces His fruit 15, leads us, guides us, bears witness with our spirit that we are His children 16, comforts us, reminds of us everything that God has taught 17, convicts us of sin when we do not believe but reminds us of our righteousness because of everything that God has done in us 18.

From the Lord’s furious righteous anger against sin is meant to make all things right. All things right is joy, love, and happiness forever and ever.

Jesus Christ being our sacrificial lamb (propitiation) and scapegoat (expiation) is that singular righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled. 19 In a nutshell, the law required in order for you and me to be in the presence of God, you will have to sacrifice a spotless lamb and take all the sins of the people, place them on a goat and release the goat into the wilderness never to return back again. Those rituals in the Old Testament was a foreshadow to whom Jesus Christ is and what he does. But those were just that: foreshadows. Never the real thing. The real thing is that man must shed his blood to atone for his sins. Herein lies the problem: Man is not perfect. Man cannot atone for his sin. 20

There is only One who is not only willing to save and able to save but he is the only one who has the power to save.

God came down from heaven, His Son, the Word of God and became flesh and entered into our jacked up, messed up, broken world as God but yet as a son, stepson, citizen, missionary, priest, and king. And by the word ‘king’, He did so not appear as an all-powerful warrior-king figure. He did so, humbly and mildly, as a tiny infant. He didn’t come into a wealthy family with all resources at his fingertips. He is born into a poor working-class family of an out-of-wedlock pregnant junior girl and with a stepdad. He didn’t live in a big huge metropolis where he could easily gain fame. No, he begins his life in a little rural small town and he begins his life on the run, like a fugitive, because the ruler of that time wanted him dead.

He faced the same temptations that we did, yet he did not sin.

He faced the same brokenness, heartache, sadness, loneliness, poverty, loved ones being sick, loved ones with terminal diseases, loved ones dying. He faced betrayal, distrust, fair-weather friends and faced people who would cheer for him one moment only turn around and want to murder him the next. Just like any of us but he did not sin.

He lived the life that we should have lived.

In doing so, he was the only one qualified to die the death that we should have died.

He was then taken to be stripped naked and then severely beaten, flogged and whipped to within an inch of His life. His body was so shredded to a point that you could see bones and muscle and guts underneath where there was skin as His body was covered in blood. A crown of thorns shoved upon His head, His beard yanked off His face. He was spat upon, slapped and mocked. His clothes and belongings were seized by the soldiers and bid upon in a game of craps. To top of all that, He was made to carry a wooden cross up a hill. There, upon that same, He would be nailed to that cross with spikes about 12 inches long through both wrists and one through both of his feet. They raised the cross up into a hole in the ground.

Jesus Christ is then crucified.

His body drained out of his own blood, sweat, tears, urine, and feces that gathered into a pool at the bottom of His cross. He faced the scorching heat of the day and the freezing coldness of the night. His bones never broken but just to be sure that Jesus was surely dead, a soldier stuck a spear through his ribcage straight into His heart where blood and water poured out.

It was at that moment, Jesus became every single sin ever committed by anyone who has put their faith and trust in God alone. Since the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God to every sin that is being committed today to every sin that will ever be committed to the end of time by those God calls His people. In essence, He became a murderer, a rapist, a child molester, a thief, a hacker, a liar, pornstar, extreme fundamentalist and tax evader. He became religious, bitterness, deception, gluttony, lust, laziness, idolatry and pride. Not only did He bore the weight of all of the sins for all of His people but He bore all the sins ever committed against His people.

It was in that same moment, that His only begotten Son was indeed the only True Perfect Sacrifice and that His Son had become all of our sins, God the Father unleashed His wrath upon His Son and killing Him. That wrath was meant for you and me. We were meant to die that way. But because God loves us so much, Jesus Christ stood in our place and took the full force of God’s wrath that was meant for His people. It was in the moment, God the Father and God the Spirit turned their backs and forsook God the Son because Christ was the only one who could bear the weight of the sins of His people, of those who would believe and trust Him for eternal life.

Hebrews 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

1 John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

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

God made Jesus to be the bearer of all the wrath that was in store for us. Listen, if you think that the wrath of God is simply contained to fire out of the heavens that take our temporal life on earth, think less of that and think about being separated from the love of God forever. That is called hell.

But with God’s will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ knew us so intimately and loved us so dearly, gives his life up and faces the wrath of the Father and the forsaking of Triune God, and allows his body to break so that we would be with Him forever.

This work was done once. Only once. We don’t need to crucify Christ again.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit 21

For those who are in Christ, God is not out to get you. God is not out to pour his wrath on you. Will God discipline you if you try to go astray? That is to be sure. That is because He is your Father in heaven who loves you and would only do what any good Father would do but do so without shame, condemnation, abuse, torment, affliction. He would do so in perfect love, gentleness, kindness, never leaving you nor forsaking you forever. 22

But Christ, with his life and his love, protects and saves His people so that God can make all things right-standing with Himself.

Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Notes:

  1. Romans 6:23a
  2. Exodus 9:34-35, 10:16-20
  3. Exodus 11:1-10
  4. Exodus 12:1-28
  5. Numbers 11:1
  6. Leviticus 26:27-30
  7. read Ezekiel chapters 12-35
  8. Deuteronomy 29:24
  9. Romans 3:23
  10. Romans 5:12
  11. James 2:10
  12. Isaiah 53
  13. Isaiah 48:8-11
  14. Philippians 2:1-11; Hebrews 12:2
  15. Galatians 5:22-23
  16. Romans 8:14-17
  17. John 14:15-31
  18. John 16:4-15; 2 Corinthians 5:21
  19. Romans 8:1-4
  20. Hebrews 9:15-28
  21. 1 Peter 3:18
  22. Hebrews 12:6

Mark 9:14-29 God Alone is Over Life

Mark 9:14–29 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

  1. What is prayer?
  2. How important is prayer according to Jesus?
  3. How many times did Jesus go away to be with the Father?
  4. How can I believe and needed help with my unbelief? Have you ever felt like that?
  5. What did Jesus have for the father that the scribes and maybe even the disciples did not have?
  6. Keeping that in mind, how should we pray? How should we go to God?

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 22:25-31

My Worthy Lord,

Let my words and my songs be a sweetness to your ears.

For I know that you sit on the throne of our praises because you are the God who alone saves.

I know that not only are you willing and able to save, you and you alone are the only one who is mighty to save.

So I praise you with all of my breath and strength and life.

And you have commissioned me to go tell everyone everywhere of everything that you have done. That if they turn to you, you will save them, even in their deepest, darkest despair.

So I preach of you and your great gospel.

Until every knee bows and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer forever.

Here is Love: By Whom We Are Saved – Romans 8:29c

Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

When we speak of Romans 8, most Christians rightfully cling to the verse 1: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But Romans 8:1 is not the very first line of this epistle from Paul to the church in Rome. What I am getting to is that idea didn’t just come out of nowhere. What was Paul responding to? Perhaps we can look at the verses right before:

Romans 7:24–25 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin.

Seem familiar? Don’t we hear the same desperation in anyone, who by the grace of God, see their own sins as an affront and treason against holy and loving God? It is the great cry of the tax collector, “… standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’” 1

Even more than that, it seems to be the same question Isaiah asked:

Isaiah 64:5–6
     You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
     those who remember you in your ways.
     Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
     in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
     We have all become like one who is unclean,       
     and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
     We all fade like a leaf,
     and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Isaiah the great prophet, to whom Christ unraveled his glory before him and Christ then sent an angel to touch Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal and cleansed his soul from all unrighteousness even asked, “Shall we be saved?”

I know that Paul answers all the cries of all the saints who clearly see their own sin before a glorious God, “THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS!”

Let that be one of the many banners over our souls and hearts: “THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION BECAUSE I AM IN CHRIST AND HE IS IN ME FOREVER!”

But this is not some standalone “theory” that we have to do doctrinal gymnastics in order to arrive at this point. The world wants to make the Bible more difficult than it needs to be. By either claiming to be nonsense, or it is a book filled with fantasy, or that God is an angry god or there are just too many contradictions. To such counters I will say two things: One, you cannot understand any gift of God without the Holy Spirit of God 2. Two, once you have the Holy Spirit and by his will, power and wisdom alone, you can now begin to grasp the Bible for it really is—the word of God.  All of a sudden, when we read passages like Luke 24 when Jesus taught his disciples about all the Scriptures, we realize that the Bible is really all about Him.

If the Bible is all about Jesus, then logic and reason dictate that salvation comes through Christ alone.

Let’s see what the rest of the Bible says:

Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

John 1:12–13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Romans 5:9-10 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

1 Corinthians 15:1–11 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Ephesians 2:1–10  And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 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—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Titus 3:3–7  For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

And the Old Testament says nothing less about it even despite our “Age of Information” brains who can only search by keywords. Go back and start at the beginning.

Genesis – beginning of the promise of Jesus Christ

Exodus – Jesus will save his people from their sins

Leviticus – the weight of the holy law upon the shoulders of Christ

Numbers – the progressive sanctification of his people or to put it into other words, being conformed to the image of His Son.

But how do we know that Christ was the Savior of those in the Old Testament when they didn’t even know His name? Paul says that in Romans 3 that God put Jesus Christ forward as a propitiation with Christ’s own blood to be received by faith. Not only with us the New Testament saints but the Old Testaments as well. God was passing over their sins in divine forbearance because those saints believed in Christ Jesus. 3

Saints of old and saints of new were all perfectly saved by Christ alone.

We know that those old saints were under the burden of the law with sacrifices and shedding of blood. But the shedding of the blood of ox and goats or even following the law perfect never intended to save God’s people 4.

Jesus Christ was born, lived, died, rose again, and ascended to the right hand of the Father to rule and reign over everyone, everywhere, and everything.

And Christ rules, reigns and saved his people because He went to the cross in humility and joy.

Jesus Christ is the literal crux where God’s steadfast love and God’s faithfulness meet and He is where His righteousness and His perfect peace kiss each other. 5

Because of all that he has done and because of what he is doing now and will do, there will be one fine day that I will stand in the presence of my Savior, just as Joshua did before the Commander of the Most High or as the adulteress caught red-handed and thrown before this King of Kings. I saw my Savior’s beautiful face but can I approach him? I can say nothing. But I fall to the ground in worship and in true awe before the one who saved me.

But then, the Holy Spirit bears witness with my spirit, “Father of Lights, this is your precious son!”

And I can imagine Christ turning to his Father and the Father’s voice booms the heavens, “THIS IS MY SON IN WHOM I AM WELL-PLEASED!”

And upon that declarative state, Christ descends from his rightful throne, lifts me up to stand with him and finishes the holy judgment before angels, elders, and the other saints:

NO CONDEMNATION! Come and enter in the joy of your master.

It is then and only then that I will have a chance to hold my lovely Saviour’s face, look deeply into his eyes and kiss him a thousand kisses all because of what He has done for me.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. So we then have to ask, what is love? This series is my attempt to answer that question as theologically and biblically as possible.

Notes:

  1. Luke 18:13
  2. 1 Corinthians 2:12
  3. see Romans 3:21-26
  4. Hebrews 9:1-28 Cf. Romans 8:1-4
  5. Psalm 85.10