We confess the mystery and wonder of God made flesh and rejoice in our great salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. With the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Son created all things, sustains all things, and makes all things new. Truly God, He became truly man, two natures in one person. He was born of the Virgin Mary and lived among us. Crucified, dead, and buried, He rose on the third day, ascended to heaven, and will come again in glory and judgment. For us, He kept the Law, atoned for sin, and satisfied God’s wrath. He took our filthy rags and gave us His righteous robe. He is our Prophet, Priest, and King, building His church, interceding for us, and reigning over all things. Jesus Christ is Lord; we praise His holy Name forever. Amen.
Yet more: Faith is not only the instrument by which we receive a free grace justification, but it harmonizes the outward act of God with the inward feelings of the believing heart. Thus in justification the heart of the Justifier and the heart of the justified beat in the most perfect and holy unison. It is not a stupendous act on the part of God meeting no response on the part of man. Oh no! the believer’s heart flows out in gratitude after God’s heart, traveling towards him in the mightiness and majesty of its saving love; and thus both meet in Christ, the one Mediator between God and man. Here the believer is conscious of a vital union with his justifying Lord. He feels he is one with Christ. The righteousness wrought out, is by faith wrought in, and that faith is the uniting grace of a real, personal union between the justified soul, and a risen, living Savior. “He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit.” Oh close and blessed union! Justified by God, accepted in Christ, condemnation there cannot be. I stand in the Divine presence as Joshua stood before the Lord, or as the woman stood before the Savior, charged, accused, guilty; but I am in the presence of him who, though now he sits upon the throne as my Judge, once hung upon the cross as my Savior. And, investing me with his own spotless robe, he proceeds to pronounce the sentence—”NO CONDEMNATION!” “These things write I unto you that your joy may be full.”
– No Condemnation in Christ Jesus by Octavius Winslow
Series: Once a month, I get to teach the Elementary kids during our main Worship Gatherings. My incredible Children’s Pastor, Kim, does the amazing work of feeding me that weekend’s lesson, much like a lectionary. There will be a power verse, the lesson (or the reading) and then the accompanied Bible passage. Quite often, God will linked everything together to His Son and to His gospel which I am to believe the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:12) is through the power of the Holy Spirit. Here is a series with my sermon notes for the kiddos.
This week’s lesson: Banners and the Victory of God.
Our power verse was one of Christus Victor found in Psalm 20:5
“May we shout for you over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners!”
In this weekend’s reading, we spoke about the colors of the tabernacle and how that compares to what we know colors to be now. Things like white for purity or gold for holiness. Also, green for life but green for jealousy.
But red. That was the most important. You see, the red came from the blood being spilled on the altar. But it was also the blood of our Saviour on the cross being spilled for the sins of His people.
Here is that distinction: Christ removed your sins and mistakes by his blood on the cross. Do you believe and trust in Jesus? It is here on the cross and Jesus’ blood that God has truly championed over all evil, once and for all.
Let’s look at Exodus 17:8-17
Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner, saying, “A hand upon the throne of the LORD! The LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
It is in this Old Testament passage about Moses, Joshua, and war that the Holy Spirit quietly reminded me how Christ did defeat sin, Satan, demons, hell, and death when He went to the cross and died.
Now, let me go off-topic just a tad and explain, “quietly reminded”? It is when His voice is so quiet that He is not even audible in your soul. If I didn’t know better, I would have confused it with my own mind, thoughts, feelings, judgments, or conscience. No. 1 Corinthians 3 declares that all truth is from God. If all of sciences belong to God and his revelations within the scientific realm, how much more when it pertains to His Word and theology and doctrine. Further more, 1 Corinthians 2 says this:
But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
1 Corinthians 2:9-13 ESV
Never do I ever want to think of myself to be so brilliant, wise, and smart to where I think I can come up with this stuff on my own, even it is even worth mentioning. First, I am not that smart. Second, that’s not how it works.
As a teacher of the gospel, I am reminded of a quote: “We know our skills are insufficient for an activity with such vast consequences. We recognize that our hearts are too lacking in purity to lead others to holiness. Honest evaluation inevitably causes us to conclude that we do not have sufficient eloquence, wisdom, or character to be capable of turning others from spiritual death to eternal life. Such a realization can cause young preachers to run from their first preaching assignment and experienced pastors to despair in their pulpits.” 1
I am insufficient for this sort of activity. If not just intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually, but also morally and ethically. What I mean by that is that I would even sometimes sin against God and others like my wife and kids mere moments before teaching kids the gospel. I am woefully unqualified to teach. And so many times, I want to run away because of my failings. But much like Jonah, God brings me back, gives me His Spirit in order to be obedient and faithful to what He has asked me to do. Not only that, to return to those who I have hurt, and repent, and return to Him and ask forgiveness, repent of my sins and His grace and love and mercy is more than enough for me.
You see, all of that is the power of the cross of Christ from the sovereign grace of our Father by the Almighty power of the Holy Spirit.
I ask the kids to stand and stretch out our hands like Moses.
You do the same.
What does that remind you of?
Just like Moses, when Jesus held up his hands on the cross, He was winning over our true enemies of Satan and demons, sin, hell, and death. But unlike Moses, Jesus never let his hands down because they were nailed to the cross.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:13-15 ESV)
While Moses nor Joshua didn’t die in those battles, Exodus 17:17 states they had to fight their enemies “generation after generation”. However, Jesus died once and in his death he put Satan and demons to open shame. In his burial and resurrection, he championed over sin (Romans 6:10), hell, and death (Revelation 11:8) ad he did it once for all (Hebrews 9:23-28).
- Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, 2 edition (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2005). ↩
“Through him that loved us.” Here is the great secret of our victory, the source of our triumph. Behold the mystery explained, how a weak, timid believer, often running from his own shadow, is yet “more than a conqueror” over his many and mighty foes. To Christ who loved him, who gave himself for him, who died in his stead, and lives to intercede on his behalf, the glory of the triumph is ascribed. And this is the song he chants, “Thanks be to God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jews Christ.” Through the conquest which he himself obtained, through the grace which he imparts, through the strength which he inspires, through the intercession which he presents, in all our “tribulation, and distress, and persecution, and famine, and nakedness, and peril, and sword ” we are “more than conquerors.” Accounted though we are as “sheep for the slaughter,” yet our Great Shepherd, Himself slain for the sheep, guides his flock, and has declared that no one shall pluck them out of his hand. We are more than conquerors through his grace who loved us in the very circumstances that threaten to overwhelm. Fear not, then, the darkest cloud, nor the proudest waves, nor the deepest needs—in these very things you shall, through Christ, prove triumphant. Nor shrink from the battle with the “last enemy.” Death received a death-wound when Christ died. You face a conquered foe. He stands at your side a crownless king, and waving a broken scepter. Your death shall be another victory over the believer’s last foe. Planting your foot of faith upon his prostrate neck, you shall spring into glory, more than a conqueror, through him that loved you. Thus passing to glory in triumph, you shall go to swell the ranks of the “noble army of martyrs”—those Christian heroes of whom it is recorded, “THEY OVERCAME HIM BY THE BLOOD Of THE LAMB.”
– No Condemnation in Christ Jesus by Octavius Winslow
For you, little child, Jesus Christ has come, he has fought, he has suffered. For you he entered the shadow of Gethsemane and the horror of Calvary. For you he uttered the cry, ‘It is finished!’ For you he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and there he intercedes — for you, little child, even though you do not know it. But in this way the word of the Gospel becomes true. “We love him, because he first loved us.”
– French Reformed Baptismal Liturgy
Since the 2016 Presidential Election, I definitely regret many things. Most of which, the lashing out in anger against Trump, his Nazi administration, and his White Evangelical followers who empowered him.
But all of that anger and frustration is really all in vain. You see, for all of that energy spent, I have gain nothing. I have not done anything significant. Nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed because I haven’t really been about anything significant. To be against something is not really being for anything. To oppose something really isn’t anything. What I need to be about is something that will conquer evil and oppression. And that something is the gospel of Christ.
I have stated many times that racism, bigotry, hatred, xenophobia are not mere social issues that most Evangelicals have grown up falsely believing but are actually antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But to say such a thing is to assume that readers here know what is the gospel and why do those things actually oppose it.
What is the gospel of God? Simply stated: the gospel is the power of God in salvation for those who believe. (Romans 1:16)
Yes, the gospel are the words that absolutely declared what God has done and what God will do to save His people to himself. No more and no less.
This goes all the way back Genesis 3 when all of the universe was broken by the mere breaking of God’s law. All things, including mankind, began its descent into chaos and death. But God the Creator, came to mankind and spoke the good news that He himself will reverse this descent and restore all of those things back to himself. This first proclamation of the good news is called the protoevangelium 1. We know that the people whom he preached this news to, Adam and Eve, believed because while they slept, God took away their own works of self-righteousness, slain an animal and spilled its blood (as a foretelling of what would need to happen in order for his people to be saved) and covered Adam and Eve with his own works righteousness 2.
God completes his promise of restoration, goodness, holiness, and perfection by doing the nearly the very same thing later but this time, it was when the Father sent His Son to be slain in His people’s place for their sins. His Son became human, and his name is Jesus Christ, lived a life by the power of the Holy Spirit, gave up his life so that he could die, but by the power of that same Spirit, he arose into life and now He is ascended to the right hand of his Father.
When that happened over two thousand years ago, those people who have come and trust in God to save them, their salvation was completed. Their salvation was finished because what God had promised to do, he alone can finish the work and by the very definition of God, he has to complete the work. He has no choice because He is all powerful and is the only one who can fulfill those promises.
Do you believe and trust in God and what He has done? Then that salvation is for you.
Listen, if you don’t believe, then the gospel is not for you.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 3
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 4
What the gospel does not contain is any amount of hatred, this includes racism, bigotry, and fear.
We know that God does not save a particular people group, as has so many preachers falsely taught that God will completely save the inhabitants of Israel. When in fact, we look throughout the Bible and we find that God saves only those who came to trust and believed in Him. You are not born into this salvation, whether be by birth or by your will, but by the will of God who saves. 5
So racism cannot be justified by the gospel so it is not part of the gospel. The gospel has no room for such a sin. (We know racism to be a sin. See Numbers 12:1-16)
Bigotry is the intolerance of someone who is different from you or thinks differently from you. Here’s the thing that many churchgoers don’t realize: the gospel is not an answer on a multiple choice test. It is the absolute truth. All of “truths” in the world that differ from this is actually not true. Many people in the world including many people in the church oppose this because we don’t want anybody condemned and we want everyone to have a chance to be saved. But we know that there is no other name by which we are saved 6. So with that in mind, and in the truest sense off the word, all of those who do not believe God are different from you and they think differently from you. And you want to what? Be intolerant to their existence when in fact, there was a time when you were an enemy and a traitor against the God of the universe?
So that the God of the universe was not intolerant to you, so you should not be intolerant towards others.
“Yes but they are sinning and we shouldn’t associate with sin.” Yes, we shouldn’t associate with sin but we are to love the sinner because they are prisoners are who are held captive in their sin. And you want to kick them out of their church? Where else can they hear of the God who actually saves? Check to see if your church actually preaches the gospel week in and week out. If your church doesn’t preach the gospel, then go ahead and remove such sinners from your church. Without the gospel of Christ preached, there is nothing for their souls there anyways.
So we can clearly see that bigotry is not part of the gospel. The gospel has no room for such sin.
Lastly, we come to xenophobia which is defined as “intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.” We have seen a hatred against people who are outside this country coming in and we use everything not Biblical to justify our stances. But to know and read the Bible is to know the heart of God for the stranger, the immigrant, the outsider, the alien, the lost. And God loves and cares for them and seeks out to find them and bring them home.
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. 7
“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. 8
And for those who say we no longer have to follow the Old Testament, I say this. Literally, this is the parable of the Good Samaritan 9. Like, literally.
In other words, we were once lost but now found. 10
So we can clearly see that xenophobia is not part of the gospel. The gospel has no room for such sin.
So now we see that everything that Donald Trump has stood for—all around hatred—is at complete odds not with society with the gospel and against God himself.
So we can say with the utmost certainty racism, bigotry, hatred, and xenophobia are gospel issues because the Bible makes that painfully clear.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
When coming to the full acknowledgment of the pain and anguish of sin that he seems to never be able to overcome, Paul cries the same incredible prayer in the same spirit as the tax collector in the synagogue:
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” 1
And I believe the totality of Romans 8 is the extended, thorough, exegetical explanation to his powerful nine-word answer: “Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord!” 2
So let’s suppose that we find ourselves in the same shoes as Paul. We see our sin and we even try to wrestle it and overcome it and try to choke the life out of it but we all know that our strength is neither perfect nor mighty. It wanes day to day and even moment to moment. We are not as strong as the Almighty Savior who counted it as all joy to ascend to the cross and hand over his life as a ransom for many.
What shall we do? Do we give up hope? Do we scream out “Forget this! This is too much for me to handle. I will never succeed! Why even try?”
But don’t you see? Your cries are exactly like those of the children of Israel. The Old Testament is your prayer and the New Testament is your answer.
What, you can’t do it? God knows and He shows us His great love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us? 3
Remember before God saved you to himself and filled your heart with His Holy Spirit? When you 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.” 4
Yes, God was mindful of you, saw you, and saved you despite your own wickedness, evilness, and malice towards the Himself.
If God is so good and powerful to do that, what do you think He’s going to do when you know you are weak, sick and more need of a Savior? Leave you? NO! You are His precious adopted child to whom all that belongs to His only begotten Son also is yours.
That gift includes the world. 5 But that includes something much greater than all of anything that we could want or desire on this earth:
God the Father, whose mind, compassion, grace, sovereignty, and love is yours.
God the Son, whose life and body was in your place on the cross so that you could be with “His God, your God, His Father and your Father”. That’s yours.
God the Spirit, by whom is the power, connection, intimacy, closeness and the very voice that brings you and God together forever never to break apart or be forgotten. That’s yours.
By the power of the same Spirit that Jesus was able to walk this earth and live as we should have lived.
By the power of the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
If His Spirit dwells in you, you are now fully completely alive.
God WOULD NEVER ABANDON YOU, FORSAKE YOU, NOR FORGET YOU.
So why would he leave you at your weakest?
Paul goes on to say:
“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.“ 6
When sin crouches like a hungry lion ready to devour our souls.
When the Devil and his demons shower you a million arrows of arrows to consume your flesh.
When everything that has worked before and now nothing does.
When you are at loss for words and nothing comes out.
That’s when the almighty Spirit steps in, shatters the mouth of the lion, shields us and absorbs every single arrow aimed for our hearts. He actually gives you the power to overcome all fears, anxiety, and sins, and speaks perfectly to God, our Father, on your behalf. Giving what is the very best for you when you couldn’t figure that out yourself.
That is powerful 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.
Where are you?
I am in trouble!
Sin and wickedness have surrounded me. Everything goes dark and cold. Satan and his minions look upon my flesh with lust and hunger.
Temptations are too much. I cannot do battle. My muscles are weak, small, and frail.
I cry and scream: HELP ME, O GOD!
But you are my powerful Champion. You are the people’s Savior. You are invincible. You are forever strong.
I have praised you in the past and my lips shall sing of your praises for as long as I draw breath and beyond.
Your people before me trusted you and I trust you now. You have never failed me. Even when there have been moments when I didn’t know your goodness, you were always good.
You have rescued my grandmother and my dad.
Now rescue me!
Save me, O God.
My life is in your hands.
Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves. Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.
Mark 8:22–26 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
- Is it even possible to see God without God?
- How do we get to see God and his goodness?
- If we cannot see it, how are we able to see God? What can we do?
- Is it possible to truly know God without the help of God? Could we study and go to a lot of church and go to Bible school and really know God?
1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
To proclaim ourselves as Christians to proclaim that we believe and trust upon Christ as our Saviour and Lord.
At that beautiful moment when God saved us, we hope and pray that each one of us are immediately surrounded by other brothers and sisters in Christ that are willing to walk alongside us in love, encouragement, teaching and exhortation. It is my sincere hope that no newly saved person is ever alone by themselves trying to figure this thing especially when the cross of Christ has not only saved us to Himself but we have been reconciled to each other. Here at ground zero, we are given a new heart and new desires by God. Desires to want to know more of him, to know and love Him more and more each day.
But how is it that we are actually come to salvation by God? This is the question that the idea of the Latin term “Ordo Salutis” (or the Order of Salvation) attempts to answer. If we have some knowledge of the Bible, the better question would no doubt be:
“What did God have to do in order to save His people to Himself?”
In order to answer this, we have to fully dive into the Scriptures to see what God has revealed about what salvation is. We cannot rely on superstition, church history or simply what “feels good”. We must seek out what God says about salvation.
So in this series, we are going to attempt answer questions such as, “Does the Bible teach about God electing us to salvation?”, “Are we predestined by God?”, “What is free will of man?” and “Can a person truly be saved without the outward appearance of a new heart?”.
So in this, we begin with the Golden Chain (emphasized in orange) found in this passage:
Romans 8:27-30 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
In verse 30, Paul did not simply throw the words “predestined”, “called”, “justified” and “glorified” at us as though their order matter not. Paul was very careful in ordering them in the way that he did to give us the idea of what all occurred on the part of God in order to save us.
Before we begin to take this passage apart and split into different doctrines, I want to know some of your thoughts. Keep in mind that they are no wrong answers. I want you to be as honest as possible because I simply want to know where you are coming from and what your perceptions are.
Here are your questions to ponder for our next lesson. Feel free to answer in the comment section:
- What does predestination mean to you?
- Do you believe that God predestined our salvation?
- What is free will?
Passages to read for our next lesson:
- Romans 8:27-30
- Romans 3:10-12
- Genesis 3:1-21 (What was Adam and Eve doing before God clothed them?)
- Genesis 6:1-9 (What was Noah doing before God bestowed grace upon him?)
- Genesis 12:1-4 (What was Abram doing before God called out to him?)
- Isaiah 6:1-7 (What was Isaiah doing before God revealed His glory to him?)
- Acts 7:54-8:3; 9:1-6 (What was Saul doing before God saved him?)
I am very excited to walk alongside you in this study. I strongly encourage you to do all things, especially reading the word of God, bathed in prayer and seeking out His understanding and His will in all things.
May God bless us all in this journey.