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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Lord's Battle

April 20, 2010

Fight the Lord's battles.
The Christian is involved in a continual war, with Jesus Christ as the Captain of their salvation. He has said, "Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."2 Listen to the battle cries! Now let the people of God stand firm in their ranks, and let no man's heart fail him. We may feel in these days that we are losing the battle and unless the Lord Jesus shall lift His sword we do not know what may become of the church of God in our time; but let us be courageous and bold.
Seldom has there been a time like this as biblical Christianity trembles on the brink of capitulation to pluralism and empty religious routine. We are in great need of a bold voice and a strong hand to preach and publish the Gospel for which martyrs bled and confessors died. The Savior is, by His Spirit, still on earth; let this encourage us. He is always ever in the middle of the fight, and therefore the outcome of the battle is not in doubt. And as the conflict rages, what a deep satisfaction it is to know that the Lord Jesus, in His office as our great Intercessor, is prevalently pleading for His people!
Turn your anxious gaze from the battle below, where, enshrouded in smoke, the faithful fight in garments rolled in blood. And lift your eyes above where the Savior lives and pleads, for while He intercedes, the cause of God is safe. Let us fight as if it all depended upon us, but let us look up and know that it all depends upon Him.
On the basis of our Savior's atoning sacrifice and in the strength of the Holy Spirit's power, we charge you who love Jesus to fight bravely in this holy war, for truth and righteousness, for the kingdom and the crown. Onward! The battle is not yours but God's, and you will yet hear Him say, "Well done, brave warrior, well done!"
2Matthew 28:20
Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Son of Man, A Ransom for Many

Praise the Lord! Tonight (4/10/10) God used this message to help lead a young man who had not accepted Christ to repentance, confession, and trust in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior!
Excerpt from Sermon by William Wright
Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Full Sermon (PDF):
Full Sermon (audio)

Our Lord Jesus Christ was innocent and he was treated as if he was guilty. Why? Because God was at work in it all. Why was there a trial? Because God was at work in it all. Why did our Lord Jesus Christ not speak up and defend himself? Why did he not say that he was innocent? Because you can come to no other conclusion than he chose to be found guilty.

But, my dear people, there was someone else in the narrative. Christ the innocent one is dealt with as if he was guilty. There was another man whose name was Barabbas. And you will discover that Barabbas is declared on the page of Scripture as being a man who was guilty. He has already been tried and found guilty of sedition and of murder. There was no doubt about Barabbas’ guilt. There is no question raised about the crimes of Barabbas. There is no question raised, there is no objection either from Barabbas or from
anybody else concerning the sentence that Barabbas had received. He was a rebel. He was a murderer. He was guilty beyond any shadow of a doubt. If it had not been for the fact that our Lord had been arrested and brought to trial at that particular time, then Barabbas would have been put to death and that would have been the end of it. We would never have heard about Barabbas again.

But he is mentioned in the narrative because of the circumstances that took place in his life. He is a rebel, a murderer, tried, found guilty. Suddenly he finds that he is treated as if he is innocent. And Barabbas is released and Barabbas is set free. And these are the two people that we have presented before us in the narrative concerning the trial of Christ.

On the one hand the Son of man, the prince of life, the eternal Son of God, holy, harmless and undefiled. On the other hand, a violent murderer, a rebel and a criminal. And yet, you see, there is a very real sense in which Barabbas doesn’t stand before us as an isolated individual. There is a real sense in which Barabbas stands before us as a representative figure. He represents every one of us. That is our picture as we are before God. Everyone of us as we have been born into this world, we are guilty. We are guilty of sedition. We are guilty of rebellion. We will not have God to rule over us. That is our standing and our position. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are under the curse of the law of God. And that is a basic and ultimate human problem from which every other problem stems. It has to do with our standing before God and that, deep down, is every man’s tremendous question. Whether you realize it or not this evening, the greatest question in your life is your standing before God. If you are a sinner it is to be under condemnation just as Barabbas was under condemnation.

“He that believeth is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already,”31 says our Lord. He is condemned already. Notice the word "already". Notice the world “already.” That means that there are an awful lot of condemned people walking around in this world. They don’t have to wait until they die until they are condemned. They are condemned already. And they are condemned because they have not believed
on the Lord Jesus Christ. By virtue of the fact that they do not believe, they are condemned. Unbelief is not some unfortunate defect that we are born with. Unbelief is to be without God and without Christ and without hope either for this world or for the next because we have rebelled against God. 

But then you will notice what happened as far as Barabbas was concerned. Against all his hopes, without any prompting on his part, on the sole initiative of almighty God a word of hope is brought to bear. Maybe from the confines of his prison cell he could hear the voice of Pilate saying, “Whom will ye that I release unto you, Barabbas or Jesus which is called the Christ?”32

And here is Barabbas listening to his name and it is all now a matter of Jesus or Barabbas. The lot must fall one or the other. One will be released and the other will be crucified. If Jesus is freed, Barabbas is lost. If Jesus is crucified, Barabbas will be saved. Now remember that we are thinking Barabbas as a representative figure. And as Barabbas stand in relation to Jesus, so you stand. With respect to you it can be said which shall die, the sinner or the sinless one?

And I am here to tell you this evening that your sins are either on your own head or they are on the head of Christ. And the curse which we have inflicted, that we have accrued must be inflicted. The justice of God demands that the sentence is to be carried out. And that is a mighty issue for every one of us fallen guilty sinners. On one side the sinless Son of God and only Christ can appease the wrath of God and only Christ can make atonement for sin. And I read in my Bible that Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified. And behind the activity of Pilate I see the overruling sovereignty of almighty God because salvation is His initiative.

“The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”33 Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him...”34 The very same words. “Delivered Him up for us all.” Pilate delivered Him, but behind the acts of Pilate God was delivering Him. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.

And you see what happened. Our Lord and Barabbas, they changed places. And the bonds and the curse and the disgrace and the sufferings and the punishment that was due to the murderer and to the rebel, they come upon the head of the innocent Christ. And Barabbas is given a standing and a freedom and a safety and a well being that he never deserved.

That, my dear people, is what it means to be redeemed and to be ransomed. He made him to be sin who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God. And if we were left to ourselves we would be eternally lost.

“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”35

Can I ask you to imagine as I apply this in closing, can you imagine Barabbas in his prison cell? A messenger comes to him with the glorious news. “Barabbas, Barabbas, you are free. Your life has been spared. The death sentence has been removed. It has been removed forever. You no longer have to stand before the courts of justice. No further accusation will be given against you. You are restored to all your rights of freedom and of citizenship. You will never be treated as if you have committed a crime again, because, Barabbas, a sinless substitute has taken your place.”

How does Barabbas react? Does he react as many people react and maybe you have been reacting to the news of the gospel? Did Barabbas say, “Oh, I am sorry. You have got it wrong. You can’t mean me. Not the kind of man I am. I am a murderer. I am guilty of sedition. I have been condemned and rightly. But you have got it wrong”?

Suppose they went to take his chains off him and he resisted the moves to release him.

You would say that that man was absolutely senseless. But that is exactly how people react to the news of the gospel. They feel that they are too far gone. Too bad, Jesus, you don’t know the kind of life that I have lived. And they resist and they refuse the free offer of Christ in the gospel. It is the height of folly.

Is that you this evening? Or suppose Barabbas had said to the messenger, “Well, it sounds good, but it sounds too good to be true. It can’t be true. You are telling me something that couldn’t possibly have taken place. It hasn’t happened. I can’t believe that what you are saying is right.”

Now if Barabbas had said that, Barabbas would have done two things. He would have, first of all insulted the messenger and he would also have insulted the authorities that sent him. And those people who refuse the gospel on the basis that they say, “Well, it is just too good to be true that what you are saying sound good. It sounds very nice. But I just can’t accept it.” 

What you are doing is that you are insulting almighty God. Our Lord has said, “Whosoever believes on him shall not perish. They shall have everlasting life,” whoever believes on him.

And you are saying, “Oh, no, it is just too good to be true.”

Or suppose Barabbas—and maybe I coming a little bit nearer the bone to some of you—suppose Barabbas had said, “Well, I will just stay here in prison until a more suitable time, until a time that is more suitable to me.”

Absurd. You may have been challenged by the gospel from this pulpit again and again and you go out of those doors another day, another time. It is the most ridiculous thing to do. Now is the acceptable time. Today is the day of salvation.

Or maybe Barabbas could have said, “Well, what you say is wonderful. It is good news, but really in order to receive this, I have really got to prove myself to show that I really do deserve my freedom. So let me do a few more years in prison. I will clean up the prison cell and I will show my gratitude that way and then after a couple of years I will receive the pardon that you are giving to me.”

If Barabbas had said that, those messengers would have said to him, “Do you think that you are being released on the basis of what you have done or can do or will do? You are not being released on anything that you are. You are not being released on anything that you can do. You are being released because of what someone else has done.”

Could your tears forever flow,
Could your zeal no respite know,
All for sin could not atone.
Christ must save and Christ alone.

Probably what did happen was this, that Barabbas got out of those chains as quickly as he could and got out of his prison clothes as quickly as he could and went back to his wife and to his family.

And is it fanciful for me to imagine that Barabbas made his way to a place called Calvary? Is it fanciful for me to imagine that Barabbas was in the crowd when he heard him cry, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do”? Is it fanciful for me to imagine that Barabbas is saying, “In my place condemned he stood. He sealed my pardon with his blood. Hallelujah, what a Savior”?

And many of us have been in that place. And we have seen Christ as our Savior standing in our place. He loved me. He gave himself for me, even the Son of man who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many. You know him. You belong to him. Come to him. This may be the last opportunity that you will have. This may be the last sermon I will preach. I urge you to come to Christ.

31 John 3:18
32 Matthew 27:17
33 Isaiah 53:6.
34 Romans 8:32
35 Mark 10:45

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


    How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
    How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"
    However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?"
   So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ."

~ Romans 10:13-17

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jesus Paid it All

Jesus Not Your Lord? Jesus Not Your Savior.

..."We live in a time when many people have only experienced a shallow, emaciated form of Christianity. But in the New Testament, whenever a person encounters Jesus Christ, they’re converted and this is always a life-changing experience. When people are converted to Christ—repentance, faith, service, hope, sacrifice and love are all born together at the cross.

The upgradable Gospel
In our time, the Gospel has been widely redefined and repackaged as a decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. This, we are told, involves saying a prayer, and that if you believe certain things about Jesus, your sins will be forgiven and you will go to heaven.

Thousands of people have bought into the idea that you can have faith without repentance, justification without sanctification, heaven with Christ in the next world without obedience to Christ in this world, Jesus as Savior, but not as Lord.

If pastors preach a Gospel in which you can receive Jesus as Savior but not as Lord, then we should not be surprised if we hear people saying, “I accepted Jesus as my Savior, but my life didn’t really change. Then years later something happened and I bowed my knee to Him.”

Sixty years ago, writing in Chicago, A. W. Tozer lamented the loss of a gospel that really changes people’s lives:

“The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be ‘received’ without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is ‘saved’ but he is not hungry or thirsty after God.” [1]

When my niece was here over Christmas, I got into playing “Rush Hour” with her. It’s a puzzle in which you move little cars around to get them out of an exit. It’s like an overcrowded parking lot.

The kids told me “Dad, you can get that as an ‘app’ on your iPhone.” So, I downloaded it: “Rush Hour”—the free version. It has seventy different puzzles for me to play with, when I have nothing else to do.

Included with this free version is an advert that invites me to buy the full version with 2,500 puzzles that will take me to ever higher levels of difficulty. I won’t be buying the full version. The free one gives me everything I want.

That is precisely how many people have come to think of Christianity. There’s salvation—in which you get your sins forgiven and entrance to heaven—and that comes free. There’s discipleship—in which you are called to repentance, holiness, and sacrifice—and that’s costly. So, why not go with the free version? It gives you all you need.

Of course, you would expect to hear the pastor say, “If you like the free version of Christianity, you really should upgrade to the full version,” but many people never get round to that.

Here’s the problem: We’ve lost the Gospel that is centered on the person of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is not a program. It is a person. The good news of God is regarding His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. The gift of God to us is not an upgradeable product, but the unchangeable person of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

New Testament believers celebrate the Lordship of Christ
Christ offers Himself to you. He is Savior and Lord. You cannot divide him into pieces. In our time there is great interest in Christ the Savior, and a strange reluctance over Christ the Lord. But in the New Testament, you find believers celebrating the Lordship of Christ:

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:21

Peter is explaining to the people on the day of Pentecost—the risen Christ is Savior and Lord. He is Lord over sin, death and hell. That’s why He is able to save people from them.

“God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

This early Christian hymn celebrates the Lordship of Christ.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

This describes how the lives of these believers were transformed by Jesus Christ, who is their Lord.

There is nothing here in the New Testament even close to the idea that you get saved and then sometime later think about consecrating your life to Christ. These believers “received Christ as Lord,” and the rest of their Christian life is a continuing of what started at their conversion.

Paul says, “This is what you were taught.” The Gospel he preached was “the Gospel of God… regarding His Son… Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Why you discover the Lord before you discover the Savior

The story of Paul’s own conversion shows that his first discovery was not that Jesus is Savior, but that Jesus is Lord. Saul was on the road to Damascus, filled with anger, resisting Christ, and persecuting the church:

“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:3-6

Far from receiving Christ as Savior and then somehow moving on to crown Him as Lord, the first discovery Saul makes is that there is a Lord in heaven. He is the Christ, and Saul needs to be reconciled to Him.

On Pentecost, Peter proclaims the resurrection of Jesus Christ, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter proclaims, “Jesus is Lord. And since you’re in rebellion against Him, you have a problem.”

They believe Peter, so they ask, “What shall we do?” Peter says “Repent.” There’s forgiveness, there’s grace, there’s mercy, there’s the gift of the Holy Spirit. But it comes from Jesus Christ the Lord.

The Savior who is ready to forgive us is the Lord who lays claim to our lives. Since Christ is Savior and Lord, and never Savior without Lord, He calls us to faith and repentance, and never faith without repentance.

Becoming a Christian can never amount to adding a belief to an unchanged life. True faith is shot through with repentance because it is faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

When the Gospel is properly preached, it becomes clear that there is a Lord in heaven to whom we must give account, and with whom we need to be reconciled, there are sins against His law from which we must turn, and there is rebellion against His Son that we need to end.

Trusting Christ as your Savior involves turning from the sin from which you are asking Him to save you. You cannot ask Him to save you from your sins and then not turn from them. Trusting Christ as your Savior also involves placing your whole life under His authority.

Christ lays claim to your obedience, your energy, your gifting, your time, your dream, your family, and your retirement. You may ask, “How can that possibly be my highest good?”

Here’s why. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Then He gives the reason, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

Your greatest good is to be wholly owned by the Son of God, because in keeping your life from Christ you will eventually lose it, but in losing your life to Christ you will find it, keep it, and gain it forever.

Excerpted from "Jesus Christ our Lord"
a sermon by Pastor Colin S. Smith
The Orchard Evangelical Free Church
Arlington Heights, IL
Unlocking the

Friday, April 2, 2010

Decide: Who is this Christ?

"'What think ye of Christ, whose Son is He? That's basically the question. He doesn't leave you some little neutral corner here in which to stand, well, I really don't know that I have made a firm decision. Well, no decision is a decision. No decision is a "no" decision. "He that is not for me," He said, "is against me." You can't be neutral concerning Christ. He is too radical. He doesn't allow you any neutrality. You are for Him, or you are against Him. If you are not for Him, you are against Him.

For Jesus said, "when the Spirit comes He is not going to testify of Himself, He is gonna testify of me" (John 15:26). "And He is going to reproof the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement." And then He said, "of sin, because they do not believe on me" (John 16:8-9).

The work of the Holy Spirit is to convict men of sin, by revealing to man the answer for his sin, even Jesus Christ. God has made only one provision for your forgiveness. Only one provision for the putting away of your sin and your guilt, and that provision is in and through His only begotten Son. And the Spirit of God comes to bear witness to us of this fact. That there is only one way you can have forgiveness of your sin, and that is by the receiving of the Son of God, Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.

Now if you continually refuse that work of the Holy Spirit in your heart revealing Jesus Christ to you, reproving you of your sin, because you do not believe in Him; if you continue in that mode, there is no forgiveness, because God has provided no other way for men to be saved.

As Peter said, "neither is there Salvation in any other, for there is no other name given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

So for you to reject God's provision for your sins through the death of His Son, leaves God no alternative. There is no forgiveness for you, not in this world or in the world to come. Because God has made only one provision for men's sin; the Holy Spirit bears witness to your heart of that truth. To refuse to believe, to refuse to accept the witness of the Spirit, is ultimately to blaspheme against the Spirit.

Now as you are progressing in this position against Jesus Christ, ultimately as you are faced with indisputable evidence that Jesus is indeed all that He said He is, by the power of His name, and of His life and you're faced with evidence that you can not deny, because you have continued this rejection mode so long; you've got to somehow now rationalize or explain this obvious evidence for the fact that He is indeed the Son of David, the Messiah.'"

~ Chuck Smith
Senior Pastor, Calvary Chapel
Costa Mesa, CA
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