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.

Glorious Rest for those that Die ‘In Christ’

One of our dear friends read the following to us last evening. What a prospect for those that have been saved by Christ. ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Mat 11:28, 29.

‘The Bible teaching is clear and emphatic. At death, the Christian goes to be with the Lord in heaven – immediately. A 17th century Puritan Minister, John Flavel, captured something of the wonder of this remarkable truth in one of his sermons:

“To be lifted from a bed of sickness to a throne of glory! To leave a sinful troublesome world, a sick and painful body and be in a moment perfectly cured and feel yourself perfectly well and free from all troubles…  You cannot imagine what this will be like.”‘

Heaven is a Far Better Place by Eryl Davies pp 95-96. Evangelical Press. (End of ch 14).

Mr Spurgeon – Evening 13th May

Read this together last evening. Sometimes Mr Spurgeon just really hits the spot. Be aware believer you have everything In Christ. Be aware unbeliever you have nothing outside of Christ.

Evening
“Thou art my portion, O Lord.”
Psalm 119:57

Look at thy possessions, O believer, and compare thy portion with the lot of thy fellowmen. Some of them have their portion in the field; they are rich, and their harvests yield them a golden increase; but what are harvests compared with thy God, who is the God of harvests? What are bursting granaries compared with him, who is the Husbandman, and feeds thee with the bread of heaven? Some have their portion in the city; their wealth is abundant, and flows to them in constant streams, until they become a very reservoir of gold; but what is gold compared with thy God? Thou couldst not live on it; thy spiritual life could not be sustained by it. Put it on a troubled conscience, and could it allay its pangs? Apply it to a desponding heart, and see if it could stay a solitary groan, or give one grief the less? But thou hast God, and in him thou hast more than gold or riches ever could buy. Some have their portion in that which most men love-applause and fame; but ask thyself, is not thy God more to thee than that? What if a myriad clarions should be loud in thine applause, would this prepare thee to pass the Jordan, or cheer thee in prospect of judgment? No, there are griefs in life which wealth cannot alleviate; and there is the deep need of a dying hour, for which no riches can provide. But when thou hast God for thy portion, thou hast more than all else put together. In him every want is met, whether in life or in death. With God for thy portion thou art rich indeed, for he will supply thy need, comfort thy heart, assuage thy grief, guide thy steps, be with thee in the dark valley, and then take thee home, to enjoy him as thy portion for ever. “I have enough,” said Esau; this is the best thing a worldly man can say, but Jacob replies, “I have all things,” which is a note too high for carnal minds.

Costa Concordia salvage operation begins

Members of the US salvage company Titan and Italian firm Micoperi work at the wreck of Italy's Costa Concordia cruise ship near the harbour of Giglio PortoCosta Concordia salvage operation begins

This story on the BBC is typical of a news event used to illustrate spiritual truth. This particular story jumped out as an excellent illustration of salvation.

Here’s a number of points to how it might be used:

1. A disaster has taken place. A great verse that speaks to this – and works very well here – is this one: ‘See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes‘. Ecclesiastes 7:29 (ESV). In other words, man is no longer upright. He has been brought down. Such a mighty glorious vessel now lies helpless on its side. And if memory serves well, the blame was laid squarely on  the shoulders of the Captain. The Captain was responsible not the crew or the passengers. The Captain tried to divert blame to someone else but he was found out. At least 30 passengers died when the ship capsized.

2. It needs to be made upright again. For the ship to be made upright it needs help. But it can’t do it, it can’t make itself upright. Help needs to come from outside. In the case of the Concordia there’s going be steel cables attached and host of other engineering equipment needed to bring the ship back to its upright position. It needs salvaging, it needs a rescuer. It needs saving. We need to be made upright and we can’t do it. We can’t help, we cannot contribute, we are helpless.

3. A Rescuer has come. To make the Concodia upright is described as follows: ‘One of the largest and most daunting salvage operations ever undertaken is under way with an attempt to pull the shipwrecked Costa Concordia upright’. I’d disagree with that. The redemption, the rescue of man out of sin is the ‘most daunting salvage operation ever undertaken’. Never was there such a rescue required as the rescue of a sinner.

4. There’s already a hefty price tag, and it’s not over yet. At the end of the report we read, ‘The salvage project has so far cost more than 600m euros ($800m; £500m) and is expected to cost a lot more before the operation is complete’. The planning, the resources and the cost for such an operation is huge. But this is nothing compared to the rescue of a sinner. The salvation of a sinner cost the death of Jesus on the cross. And to get a true perspective of the cost it’s necessary to take some time out and consider just who Jesus is and what it cost to leave heaven, take on the form of a servant and then die.

5. It will be re-floated. It will rise again. As with all illustrations, it’s not perfect. But the following – and final – quote from the news story can be read two ways: ‘Our correspondent says that only after the ship is back up on her keel will it be possible to inspect it fully and begin to plan the next stage – the effort to repair and re-float it – and eventually tow it away to be destroyed.’ Those that have trusted in Christ will rise in Christ to be gloriously re-floated and restored, not just to a former glory but to a greater glory.

Where He displays His healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more:
In Him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.

But for those that have rejected Christ and spurned His cross and His Salvation; they will also be re-floated only to be towed away and destroyed. And lest as a Christ rejecting sinner you should think destruction a good thing – when you’re dead you’re dead – the Bible never speaks of destruction as an end of being, but as a loss of well-being, only to at the last be cast into hell for all eternity to endure the ultimate loss of conscious well-being.

There’s loads more in this story, but the message is clear, Seek Christ and His Salvation as the ONLY Saviour and rescuer of sinners.

…he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

I’ve had this is my drafts folder for a good while. Thought it was time I posted it.

he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. These remarkable words are from the Gospel of John chapter 19, verse 30. They follow on from three other remarkable words ‘it is finished‘ found in the same verse.

In the annals of history was there ever a more horrific means of death designed to inflict maximum pain and suffering on another human being than Crucifixion? If you have seen the film Spartacus you will remember the defeated slave army suffered the crucifixion of 6000 captured men at the hands of the Romans. The Romans were expert at Crucifixion. In Jesus’s day under Roman occupation this was the ultimate degradation and death. To those sentenced to death by crucifixion there was no going back, it was a one way ticket to the after life.

J C Ryle writes on this:

[And He bowed His head] This is the action of one dying. When the will ceases to exercise power over muscles and nerves, at once those parts of the body which are not rigid like the bones, collapse and fall in any direction to which the centre of gravity inclines them. The head of a crucified person would naturally in death droop forward on the breast, the neck being no longer kept stiff by the will (my emphasis). This is what seems to have happened in the case of our Lord.

May we not gather from this expression, that our Lord up to this moment held up His head erect, firm, steady, and unmoved, even under extreme pain?

Alford remarks how this little incident was evidently recorded by an eye-witness. The miraculous darkness must have now passed away, in order to let this movement of the head be seen.

J. C. Ryle ‘Expository Thoughts on the Gospels’ John: Volume III, James Clarke & Co. Ltd. p. 363-4.

This is extremely powerful. Jesus drank to the dregs the fullness of the wrath of God right up until when He could say those amazing words: It Is Finished. By an act of His loving will He fully purposed to consciously bear in His own body the full weight of God’s wrath – even for my sin! In the Greek ‘it is finished’ is the one word Tetelestai and is always used when something is completed. The root of the word is Telos, end.

From Strongs numbers G5056; to end, that is, complete, execute, conclude, discharge (a debt): – accomplish, make an end, expire, fill up, finish, go over, pay, perform.

There were many words that He could have used but He used this one (Tetelestai ) to proclaim the work of Salvation is done, complete.

What this gloriously means is that there is nothing, nothing at all the sinner need do, but come. There is nothing to add to the work of Christ – all is done. Sinners need bring nothing but their sin. Not only is there no need to bring any good works but it would be an insult to Christ after having done all on the cross and then to contribute our pathetic so-called good deeds. No matter where you find yourself in life, no matter what you have done – you, you, may come to Christ for forgiveness and full Salvation. Now that’s what I call good news!!

Then, and not till then does the work of sanctification begin – not before.

When Sinks Yon Radiant Sun

Took this picture on the way home after work last evening. The sinking sun made me think of the hymn below:

P1030858

 

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ on high,
Looking o’er life’s history;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.

Robert Murray McCheyne
1813-1843

Source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/545#ixzz2NQuCFW1y

The battle is the LORD’s

English: The young Hebrew David hoists the hea...
David removes the head of Goliath

1 Samuel 17:47 ‘and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”‘

For those of you that might not be too familiar with the Bible the above quotation is from probably the most famous recorded incident in the Bible. The story of David and Goliath. This was the subject of the evening New Year message given by our other full-time church worker James Young. I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be a ‘You can be like David and defeat the Goliath’s in your life’.  James didn’t disappoint, it was anything but. He laid it out as representatives of Jesus and Satan (David & Goliath) He justified this approach from Scripture during the sermon, I thought very well.

He also subverted the appearance by saying that the real Giant in the story is David as he represents or typifies The Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the strong man, He is the victor and we – those trusting in Christ – share in that victory.

Two statements James wanted us to go away with from the narrative. These are below in bold:

1 Samuel 17:32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” & 1 Samuel 17:47 ‘and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”‘

I thought this was an excellent sermon, an encouraging sermon that is well worth a listen.

To listen to the sermon click on the play button below. Or go to the Lower Ford Street Baptist Church Web-site where you may download it.

The Queen’s Christmas Speech 2011

Last evening at church our Pastor mentioned in his sermon the Queen’s speech (Elizabeth II) and how she had very strongly mentioned The Lord Jesus Christ. Wanting to check it out for myself I can confirm The Queen, contrary to many a spineless politician, spoke of Christ as a unique person. And in the context it’s not possible to interpret unique in the sense that we are all unique but clearly that Jesus is the Saviour and is Christ The Lord. There can only be one Lord – and It’s Jesus. You will find the full text of her speech HERE. But I’ve taken the liberty of posting the last few paragraphs below. To be honest I’m not really a Monarchist (I like the history though) but from the speech below we perhaps do have a Monarch whose faith truly is in Christ. Here’s a high-profile figure not afraid, or bound by ridiculous political correctness, diversity or intolerant tolerance to speak of faith in Christ and her own need of a Saviour and of forgiveness. God bless you.

Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not’, they urged, ‘we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

‘For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed.

God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.

In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer:

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,

Descend to us we pray.

Cast out our sin

And enter in.

Be born in us today.

It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”

What’s wrong with Same-Sex partnerships?

(W. M. Craig) THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Image by Fergal OP via Flickr

A few days ago (Christmas Day) over here, Elton’s parenthood made front page news. All sorts of questions are asked when a high profile member of the entertainment industry obtains a child. Why do I say obtained? Although there’s the possibility of his biological parenthood, he didn’t have the child within the parameters of the usual man woman relationship. To be blunt, he bought the child. I do not intend any mean-spiritedness here at all. Like Carnegie perhaps he’s driven by a consuming desire to continue his name. Not in buildings, but in flesh.

But to answer the question – What’s wrong with Same-Sex partnerships? Behind the concept or idea of marriage lies a theology. What do I mean?

The Marriage model is based on the Love of the Lord Jesus for His church. The Church is the Bride and He is the Groom. It’s between a man and a woman. Homosexual or same-sex partnerships strike at the very heart of Christian Theology. Homosexual relationships are actually just as blasphemous as adulterous heterosexual relationships. These are not relationships intended by God. It would be stupid of me to deny that love exists between same sex partners – it clearly does. All I’m seeking to show is that the marriage model is where love is to be appropriately  manifested.

To state it more clearly then, the marriage model begins and began with God. It was not something man (I’m using man generically here i.e mankind) initiated, invented or thought would be a good idea. No, Gen 2:24: ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’ So this Biblical idea (Theology) goes way back. Here are the words of the Lord Jesus:

Mat 19:4  ‘He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
Mat 19:5  and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
Mat 19:6  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”‘

And further, the words of the Apostle Paul:

Eph 5:23  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour.
Eph 5:24  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Eph 5:26  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
Eph 5:27  so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Eph 5:28  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Eph 5:29  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
Eph 5:30  because we are members of his body.
Eph 5:31  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Then we have the following statement:
Eph 5:32  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Such is the sinfulness of man that he inverts everything, turns it upside down and makes it what it isn’t. So, the marriage model is based on Christ and the Church – a profound mystery.

But just in case anyone is tempted to take me to task for being prejudicial against any form of same-sex relationship, the Bible probably has more to say negatively about adulterous relationships than homosexuality. God hates adultery. This is so popular these days (has it ever been otherwise) that hardly anyone bothers about it – but God is bothered about it, Big Time. Lest we think we’ve escaped the searching gaze of The Lord, Jesus also has this to say:

Mat 5:27  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
Mat 5:28  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

The Bible goes right to the heart – not just what we do or don’t do. That covers almost, actually all, people. What all this shows is this:

We all need a Saviour. Not one of us is innocent before The Lord God of heaven and Earth before whom we must all stand to give account at that last great day. Elton might be a sinner, but so am I. He and I need a Saviour – His name is Christ the Lord.