Holy Skill

“What skill doth every part of our [the preacher’s] work require! – and of how much moment is every part! To preach a sermon, I think, is not the hardest part; and yet what skill is necessary to make the truth plain; to convince the hearers, to let irresistible light in to their consciences, and to keep it there, and drive all home; to screw the truth into their minds, and work Christ into their affections; to meet every objection, and clearly to resolve it; to drive sinners to a stand, and make them see that there is no hope, but that they must unavoidably either be converted or condemned – and to do all this, as regards language and manner, as beseems our work, and yet as is most suitable to the capacities of our hearers. This, and a great deal more that should be done in every sermon, must surely require a great deal of holy skill.”

~ Richard Baxter (1615-1691)

All Are Welcome Here

The cross of Jesus displays the most awful exhibition of God’s hatred of sin and at the same time the most august manifestation of His readiness to pardon it. Pardon, full and free, is written out in every drop of blood that is seen, is proclaimed in every groan that is heard, and shines in the very prodigy of mercy that closes the solemn scene upon the cross. O blessed door of return, open and never shut, to the wanderer from God! How glorious, how free, how accessible! Here the sinful, the vile, the guilty, the unworthy, the poor, the penniless, may come. Here too the weary spirit may bring its burden, the broken spirit its sorrow, the guilty spirit its sin, the backsliding spirit its wandering. All are welcome here.

~ Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

Costly Grace

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)

The Lord’s Portion

“For the LORD’s portion is His people…”

~ Deuteronomy 32:9 (NKJV)

It is amazing to think of all the things God could delight in, He is abundantly pleased to delight in His people. The Creator of heaven and earth has no greater love, joy or delight than to pour out His care and affection over the people whom He has chosen for Himself. This concern is seen in no fuller glory than when God’s own beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, died that sacrificial death that allows us the high privilege, that allows us, those who come by faith, to become the Lord’s portion.

Amen

Our Salvation

“The will of the Father is the originating cause of our salvation, the worth of the Son’s redemption, its meritorious cause, and the work of the Spirit, its effectual cause.”

~ Arthur Pink (1886-1952)

Christ, The Double Cure

“God loved us… and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins”

~ 1 John 4:10 (NKJV)

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

~ John 1:29 (NKJV)

In the beautiful drama of redemption, Christ acts as the twofold Cure for the sins of His people. Biblically, there are two essential and distinct (but not separate) aspects to the redeeming characteristic and efficacy in the salvation of sinners through the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Theologically, these two aspects of salvation are known as propitiation and expiation.

In 1 John 4:10, the Bible says God’s Son, Jesus, was sent to be the propitiation of our sins. What is John telling us here? The idea behind the word propitiation means to satisfy an obligation and to turn away the wrath of a righteous God who demands that His justice be satisfied. Sin incurs the anger or wrath of God. Sin offends God’s perfect sense of right or justice. Sin needs to be propitiated that the sinner might come out from under God’s holy wrath. Jesus is our propitiation. He who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ bore the wrath of the Father for His people (Is. 53:4-6). Jesus propitiated our sins; that is He met the perfect requirement of justice and turned the holy wrath of God from us and took it upon Himself on the Cross.

In John 1:29 we find the second vitally important characteristic to divine mercy – the expiation of our sins. John tells us there in verse 29 of chapter 1 Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This is expiation – it is to remove the guilt, the burden and the stain of sin from the life of the sinner. Under the Old Covenant, the sins of Israel were symbolically placed on the scapegoat and then the scapegoat was sent outside the camp, out from the presence of God and His people. There was expiation of their sins (Lev. 16:20-22). Jesus was led away outside the walls of Jerusalem, outside the camp of Israel to a place called Golgotha (Jn. 19:17) where He took and bore the sins of His people on the Cross. Jesus removed the guilt and stain of our sin.

Augustus Toplady (1740-1778) understood the Scriptural significance of both the doctrine of propitiation and expiation. When he penned his well-known hymn Rock of Ages, he was sure to include a beautiful reference to both:

                                                                                        Rock of Ages, cleft for me; Let me hide myself in Thee;
                                                                            Let the water and the blood; From Thy wounded side which flowed,
                                                     Be of sin, the double cure, save from wrath (propitiation) and make me pure (expiation).

Finally, we find in the Psalms another wonderful place in God’s Word where both propitiation and expiation are magnificently portrayed in the glorious and gracious work of salvation. In Psalm 103, verses 8-12, we read;

The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities (in Christ’s propitiation of sin). For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us (in Christ’s expiation of sin).

Amen

Wallowing In Wickedness

“The wicked are overthrown and are no more, But the house of the righteous will stand.”

Proverbs 12:7

The contrast between the wicked and the righteous found in this Proverb is obvious. On that great and awful Day, a final reckoning will occur when the Lord of heaven and earth lays down His final judgment and those who are found wallowing in wickedness will be overthrown and eternally condemned. While those who have taken their shelter in the household of Faith, in the covering of Christ, will stand with Him and enjoy His everlasting blessing forever more. Pray for God’s mercy upon your soul and the souls of others.