Is this Christmas? Extracting The Legal Pain!

Extracted is the legal pain. These five words in verse two form a single line in this remarkable hymn by Charles Wesley. This is Wesley at his best as someone said. These hymns are not inspired in the same authoritative sense that the Bible is but they can convey profound truth in a wonderful way. Inspired perhaps with a little i. These five words convey two very important Bible truths. Truths that need to be constantly stated because man in sin always assumes and seeks to state the opposite and to deny the truth. So what are these two truths?

1. ‘Extracted is the legal pain’ tells us of a problem. Any punishment is unpleasant and we all recognise that it’s the result of doing something wrong. Overstay in a car park and a demand for payment will arrive in the post. Get caught speeding and you’ll get a fine. These are trite examples but you get the idea. If you get caught breaking the law of God – and make no mistake we have all been caught – payment is required. The Bible calls it sin. And as we continue sinning, that is, as we continue breaking the law of God we are, as it were, earning a wage. The Bible says very plainly that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). As if that wasn’t bad enough, the reason we continue to sin is because there’s a deeper problem. The problem is that there’s a something wrong with our nature. But we seek to deny it or play it down. What problem? There’s nothing wrong with me, you might say, even though you know full well there is a problem. There’s a deep-seated problem that’s impervious to mere outward reformation. What’s required is a reformation that goes far beyond any outward change. Changes of habit or lifestyle are definitely in vogue and even make good viewing. But these changes will do nothing for us legally before God. In the court of God who can make representation for us when on every hand we are found guilty in thought word and deed. Any earthly representative has the same problem. It’s no accident The Lord Jesus Christ is called our Advocate (1 John 2:1). The problem for us is that we need a nature that is beyond the law. There isn’t one! The law of God condemns all. It slays all! All are guilty and found wanting before a Holy and Righteous God.

2. Although the words speak of punishment in an excruciating manner the legal pain is being extracted from an innocent party. The fact is, the legal pain should really be extracted from me, the guilty sinner, but it’s been extracted from another! Secondly then, to ‘Extract the legal pain’ speaks of Substitutionary Atonement. And this is the heart of The Gospel and why The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world. And it’s why at Christmas we realise why The Christ came. It’s not really about stars, stables and shepherds but about a bloody cross, about agony of soul and of body, about punishment and death. It’s about the cost of Redemption! A cost we sinners cannot ever possibly pay. Not even an eternity will extract the legal pain from us! We need another to do it for us. One that is suitably qualified for the awful task. Although Wesley has captured the horror of breaking the law of God putting the frighteners on you is not necessarily a good evangelistic strategy. But on the other hand, you are a fool if you ignore it because you don’t like being threatened or dislike ‘hellfire preaching’. The truth is, there is a Hell. And there’s only one way to escape it (Heb 2:3). That way is The Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Being ‘right with God’ is a legal declaration that God makes. This is the Justification by faith that is celebrated this 500th Reformation year – and every year. Because of what Christ has accomplished on the Cross, God is able to be just and to justify those that have faith in The Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 3:23-26).

So it’s no wonder the Wise men and the Shepherds rejoiced when the Salvation of God appeared. We Christians ought to be amazed at what God did in sending His Son. And we are amazed at what Christ has done by coming to us when we could not and would not go to Him (Heb 10:5). Salvation truly is of The Lord. Will you trust Him? Is your faith in The Christ? Please have a happy Christmas. But don’t ignore or neglect what it’s really all about.

Sue’s Birthday Today – 25/11/1955

2012-03-31 11.55.12Today has been really tough. Sue would have been 60 today. She missed it by 2 days.

We would joke about it because we are the same age then for 10 days. This year (and all the years I have to come) it is not to be.

Happy Birthday darling. I know you are safe with Jesus. I’ll be joining you soon.

I can thank God for her.

It is not death to die,
To leave this weary road,
And midst the brotherhood on high
To be at home with God.

It is not death to close
The eye long dimmed by tears,
And wake, in glorious repose,
To spend eternal years.

It is not death to bear
The wrench that sets us free
From dungeon chain, to breathe the air
Of boundless liberty.

It is not death to fling
Aside this sinful dust
And rise, on strong exulting wing
To live among the just.

Jesus, Thou Prince of Life,
Thy chosen cannot die:
Like Thee, they conquer in the strife
To reign with Thee on high.

César Malan 1787 – 1864 (Translated by George W. Bethune 1806-62)

The Sands of Time are Sinking

We live in a fallen world and it can be a  terrible blow to receive difficult medical news.  Christians don’t get a free pass on suffering. But these words may help the one trusting in Christ.

‘Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.’

There’s no getting away from the fact that we are all on a one way journey. There is no reverse. The sand of time will run out. For the Christian, amidst their sorrow – and it’s a real sorrow – there is Hope. I have to pause for a moment, because when the Bible uses the word Hope, it doesn’t mean a vague wishful thinking in the face of a bleak unknown. It means a certainty, into a Glorious future. The words above are the second part of the first verse. Here’s the full hymn as found in Christian Hymns, No 816. Christian, rejoice and ponder each precious truth. What a blessing to be saved and have The Lord Jesus as Saviour!

The sands of time are sinking;
The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for,
The fair, sweet morn, awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But day-spring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

The King there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen;
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between;
The Lamb with His fair army
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, he is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love;
The streams on earth I’ve tasted,
More deep I’ll drink above;
There to an ocean fullness,
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

With mercy and with judgement
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustered with His love:
I’ll bless the hand that guided,
I’ll bless the hand that planned,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.

The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom’s face,
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of grace;
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand:
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land.

I’ve wrestled on towards heaven,
‘Gainst storm and wind and tide;
Now, like a weary traveller
That leans upon his guide,
Amid the shades of evening,
While sinks life’s lingering sand,
I hail the glory dawning
From Immanuel’s land.

Author: Samuel Rutherford; Author: A. R. Cousin (1857)
(This version in Christian Hymns, 816)

What mercy, what judgement as He weaves our web of time! What a wonderful thing, what a joy it will be to ‘Bless the hand that guided’ and to ‘bless the heart that planned’. Will it be your joy to Bless and Praise Jesus. I pray it may be so.

‘I have overcome the world’

We were treated to a wonderful sermon this morning from a passage in the Gospel of John 16:25 – 33. The sermon focused on the words of Jesus in v33 ‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world‘.

Pastor Watts had two very simple points; i) what the passage does not say and ii) what it does say.

To anyone that is suffering or in pain of any sort I recommend this sermon. Suffering and pain are a part of living in a fallen world and there is no escape from these things. No matter how powerful you are or how much wealth you might have you are unprotected ultimately from pain and suffering. If you are a believer I pray this sermon will be a great blessing to you. If you are not a believer I pray you will bow the knee to King Jesus that the blessing of God may be upon you – and that you may have Hope in Christ.

Listen to or download the Sermon ‘Christ has overcome the world’ Here.

We ended the service by singing ‘Begone unbelief’.

1 Begone unbelief;
My Savior is near,
And for my relief
Will surely appear:
By prayer let me wrestle,
And he will perform;
With Christ in the vessel,
I smile at the storm.

2 Though dark be my way,
Since he is my guide,
‘Tis mine to obey,
‘Tis his to provide:
Though cisterns be broken,
And creatures all fail,
The word he has spoken
Shall surely prevail.

3 His love in time past
Forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last
In trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer
I have in review
Confirms his good pleasure
To help me quite through.

4 Determined to save,
He watched o’er my path,
When, Satan’s blind slave,
I sported with death;
And can He have taught me
To trust in His name,
And thus far have brought me
To put me to shame?

5 Why should I complain
Of want or distress,
Temptation or pain?
He told me no less;
The heirs of salvation,
I knew from His word,
Through much tribulation,
Must follow their Lord.

6 Since all that I meet
Shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet,
The medicine is food;
Though painful at present,
‘Twill cease before long;
And then, O how pleasant,
The conqueror’s song!

John Newton, 1725 – 1807
This version in Christian Hymns, 697.

Jesus is Superior to Mohammed

The Superiority of Jesus over Mohammed.

What a difference between Muhammad and Allah. Did either love sinful creatures as our Lord Jesus Christ? This is brought out beautifully in The Belgic Confession, Article 26: About the Intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ. Does Muhammad love like this? Does the God of Islam, Allah, love like this? Did Allah come down to lay his life down for sinners. Not at all! Allah is removed from his creatures and cannot enter into our world. Muhammad, himself a sinner cannot provide salvation for anyone as he is a sinner also in need of salvation. Sinners will not find absolution, the forgiveness of sins or peace with God through Mohammed but they may certainly find it through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Read all of Article 26 but note the following extract:

‘For there is, neither among heaven nor among the terrestrial creatures, one who more lovingly embraces us than Christ Himself, Who, “although He was in the form of God, emptied His very self,” and, on account of us, “was made like His brethren in all things.” But if we had to contrive another Mediator for ourselves through seeking, who would deem us of some worth, who would love us more zealously than He Himself Who willingly abandoned His own life on our behalf when we were up to that point enemies?’

What are we to say? Can Mohammed save? Did Mohammed die in the place of his followers? Does Mohammed intercede for sinners? Mohammed only left rules and regulations. Jesus kept the law of God perfectly and then died in the place of sinners. ‘In my place condemned He stood, sealed my pardon with His blood’!

In Islam YOU submit. It’s a religion of works, and you’ll never know if it’s enough. Christianity is a religion of Grace (undeserved favour), someone else has submitted – JESUS has submitted. No-one else is good enough. (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 7:25 – 28; John 14:6)

1 Man of sorrows! ‘what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

2 Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

3 Guilty, vile and helpless, we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement! – can it be?
Hallelujah, what a Saviour!

4 Lifted up was He to die,
‘It is finished!’ was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

5 When He comes, our glorious King,
All his ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Philip Paul Bliss, 1838 – 76.
Version in Christian Hymns (1978) No, 221.

It’s worth comparing, so here’s a link to three articles hosted by the Islamic site The Religion of Islam about salvation. All three are together in This Link.

The articles are:

Salvation in Islam (part 1 of 3): What is Salvation?
Salvation in Islam (part 2 of 3): Worship and Obey God
Salvation in Islam (part 3 of 3): Repentance

Far Off I see The Goal

1 Far off I see the goal—-O Savior, guide me;
I feel my strength is small-—be Thou beside me;
with vision ever clear, with love that conquers fear,
And grace to persevere, O Lord, provide me.

2 Whene’er Thy way seems strange, go Thou before me,
and, lest my heart should change, O Lord, watch o’er me;
but, should my faith prove frail, and I through blindness fail,
O let Thy grace prevail, and still restore me.

3 Should earthly pleasures wane, and joy forsake me,
and lonely hours of pain at length o’ertake me;
my hand in Thine hold fast till sorrow be o’erpast,
and gentle death at last for heaven awake me.

4 There, with the ransomed throng who praise forever
the love that made them strong to serve forever,
I, too, would seek Thy face, thy finished work retrace,
and magnify Thy grace, redeemed forever.

Robert R. Roberts (1865-1945)

The Gospel is for Christians Too

Several people have kindly asked what they can do for me. I very much appreciate this. It’s a difficult question to answer but to one person I said ‘Tell me the Gospel – that’s what you can do for me’. I related a couple of stanzas;

Tell me the Old Old Story of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story often for I forget so soon.

Tell me the story always, if you would really be, In any time of trouble, a comforter to me.

I was kind of surprised at the response, ‘you know it better than I do’. The implication as I read it was ‘you don’t need me to tell you the Gospel, you already know it’. Behind this, unwittingly I believe, is the notion or idea that Christians no longer need to hear the Gospel or have it preached to them. Of course I could have misread it and that wasn’t what was meant. But I don’t believe so.

The view might be more commonly held than ‘evangelicals’ would like to admit: that the Gospel is ‘now in the rear-view’ mirror. We no longer need it preached to us. Is this an exaggeration? Maybe. In the circles I move in, I really really hope so. Why should it be a surprise that a Christian would want to hear the Gospel. It doesn’t matter whether I know it better, or even if I didn’t know it all. I still need to hear it.

I wonder, if, as Christians we need to develop a naturalness about speaking the Gospel to one another. It isn’t just for evangelism. If there is any comfort at all in this world of sadness it’s to be found in The Glorious Gospel of the Blessed God (1 Timothy 1:11). It’s where our hope is. Gospel hope by the way isn’t about wishful thinking, it’s about certainty. It’s about what God has done ‘through Christ Jesus’. He (Jesus) has OBTAINED Eternal Redemption. Hebrews 9:12. Salvation is of The LORD (Jonah 2:9).

On Sunday morning we stayed home and listened to a sermon by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones with the title ‘Through Christ Jesus’ (Eph 2:7). I commend this sermon to you – it can be found HERE.

Tell Me The Old Old Story Hymn

Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,
For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.


Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,
That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin.
Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon;
The early dew of morning has passed away at noon.


Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save.
Tell me the story always, if you would really be,
In any time of trouble, a comforter to me.


Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”


Circumstances And Indifferent Until We Say No | The Heidelblog

Circumstances And Indifferent Until We Say No | The Heidelblog.

Here’s a blast of sense from the past. In these days when protesting against modern worship practices is probably considered worse than heresy it was refreshing to read this quote from George Gillespie (1637).

Thanks Dr Clark

Theological Testing of Worship Songs

Came across this interesting piece at Premier Christianity Magazine ‘Theology test your worship songs‘. That is good advice and we ought to that with any song including hymns. I haven’t read it all yet, but others might be interested in checking it out. I particularly like the graphic to show the Industrial Complex that Christian music has become.

I won’t comment on it here now, but I have saved it for future reference.

On Good Friday, we ask, What is Christianity?

I was asked in a recent comment ‘What is Christianity?’ To be more accurate, I was asked; ‘Perhaps you would be able to explain what you take Christianity to be?’ The same person also commented ‘… isn’t the purpose of Christianity, the end goal, to get into heaven? You accomplish this via doing good etc.’ We will see from the Bible verses that follow: we do not become Christians by doing good.

Without being evasive it’s important to preface my reply with this; It isn’t ‘what I take’ Christianity to be that counts. It’s what God says through His Word that counts. What the Bible teaches is quite plain so anyone can check what I’m saying with the Bible text itself. In fact, please don’t take my word for it – check it out and read it for yourself! So ‘what I take Christianity to be’ is what the Bible plainly teaches and says it is. But yes, it is ‘my take’, the same take that has consistently been taught by the Historic Christian Church for the last 2000 years. I’m not saying anything new. To ask ‘What is Christianity’ is to ask What is a Christian? and What is a Church? And further it’s to ask What is the Gospel? These are THE most fundamental questions to ask. I’m not addressing the concept of a ‘Christian’ culture, or some form of social Christianity or of a National consciousness. And for the record, the UK is NOT a Christian nation. Being born in the UK has NEVER made a person a Christian, any more than being born in a bakery will make a person a loaf of bread (choose your own metaphor).

If you are still with me I’m going to quote some verses from the Bible that show plainly and beyond doubt that a person does not become a Christian by being good or doing good things. It depends solely on what someone else has done. Namely, it’s what Jesus Christ has done that counts.

Jesus is speaking in Luke 18:9-14

Luk 18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
Luk 18:10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
Luk 18:11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
Luk 18:12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
Luk 18:13 But 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!
Luk 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Apostle Paul writing to the Romans 3:10-28

Rom 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
Rom 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
Rom 3:20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Rom 3:28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

And Romans 5:1-12

Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 5:2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Writing to the Galatians 3:1-13

Gal 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
Gal 3:11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

To the Ephesians 2:1-10

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

And writing to Titus 3:3-7

Tit 3:3 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.
Tit 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
Tit 3:5 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,
Tit 3:6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Tit 3:7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

I’ll leave it at that, but the Bible teaches clearly and plainly that Salvation is not earned, it is a gift. A gift that is received through faith. Not airy fairy faith, but faith in a person – The Lord Jesus Christ. And what that person has done for sinners like me.

What exactly then has Jesus done that we couldn’t do for ourselves? How appropriate the timing of this post. What is Good about ‘Good Friday’ is that Jesus has paid the price of my Redemption in full by dying in place of the sinner. The charge against us as sinners is that we have not kept God’s law perfectly in every part. But Jesus has. We have not loved God with all our hearts & soul, but Jesus has. We need someone who can do it for us – Jesus has done this. And so the command of the Gospel is to Repent & Believe. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13). In the light of all this John 3:16 makes perfect sense. Our response should be in the light of what God in Christ has done is to cry ‘Have mercy on me a sinner’.

This will all be quite shocking to anyone that’s never come across this before. But it’s what Christianity is all about. There’s something in us that wants to add something, or do something, to work our way into heaven. The Gospel message is incredibly radical: there’s nothing like it. We are called upon to simply trust in the work of another. And this Jesus didn’t just die, but rose from the dead having paid the price of Redemption in full. ‘It is finished’ Jesus cried from the die no more. (John 19:30)

Verses 2 & 3 from the Hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ sum it up beautifully:

2. Not the labours of my hands
Can fulfil Thy law’s commands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.

3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

‘Rock of Ages’ Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778

Finally, just because someone by the Grace of God becomes a Christian, a Saint, a believer, that doesn’t make them perfect. But it does make them forgiven, Justified & Righteous because they have been given (not earned or even deserved – Romans 6:23) the Righteousness of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus lived the perfect sinless life required by the law of God (Hebrews 4:15). And historically this is what the Reformation was about and still is about. A sinner is saved by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, by Christ Alone and to the Glory of God Alone.

Now, dear reader, you may not like this, but it’s what the Bible teaches. There is no hope outside of The Lord Jesus Christ. It is His work Alone to save. And if you are a believer, thank God for His Salvation wrought upon the Cross and now raised from the dead to die no more (Hebrews 7:25).

Repent therefore and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15).