Monthly Archives: October 2011

Divine Grief

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Matt. 23:37

Grief involves deep and intense sorrow or distress over the death of someone or the loss of a close and important relationship. Grief is a reaction to a major loss: mourning, hurt, pain, anger are all apart of the grieving process.

God grieves for us, his children, when we refuse his help, ignore his will, and reject his explicit commands. He suffers with us and yearns to help, he died for our sins that we might be free to enjoy his love and companionship. Because God loves, he understands us, thus he suffers with us and for us.

This is just what I meant when I spoke of the grief or the tragedy of God on our account. All of us have experienced the fact that our grief for someone whom we cannot help because he will not let us help him is all the greater the more we love him. You grasp how great is God’s sorrow for you only when you realize how much you are loved and to what extent God is thinking about you . . . .

I have said that the suffering of God is so great because He loves us so much. Anyone who has a dear friend going to the dogs, and is unable to help us as he rushes step by step to destruction, knows that this is like death for himself, too. For loving means complete sharing, and the misfortune of the other means pain for oneself.

This is the meaning of Good Friday for the Son of God. He bears the guilt of the world. Perhaps this sounds very dogmatic. But we can understand it clearly enough, as men, if we only see that the heart of the Saviour beats with burning love for His lost and and unhappy children. And because He understands, he suffers with them.

Helmut Thielicke, The Silence of God, trans., G.W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), 70.

Most Magnanimous of Captains

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus.

Heb. 2:9

On June 7, 1891, in heightened physical pain from his numerous illnesses, (Charles H.) Spurgeon preached what would be unknown to him, his last sermon. Spurgeon’s concluding words in the pulpit were, as always, about his Lord Jesus Christ:

He is the most magnanimous of captains. There never was his like among the choicest of princes. He is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold he always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden, he carries it also. If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in him.

These forty years and more have I served him, blessed be his name! and I have had nothing but love from him. I would be glad to continue yet another forty years in the same dear service here below if so it pleased him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh, that you would enter on it at once! God help you to enlist under the banner of Jesus even this day! Amen.

HT: “The Anguish and Agonies of Charles Spurgeon”

The School of Christ (Redux)

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me . . . .

Matt. 11:29-30

The day you gave your life to Christ is the day that you enrolled in the school of Christ (John 15:1-4). The school of Christ is like no other: its instruction deals with the heart. The curriculum deals with character development, heart purity, and Spirit obedience. The goal of instruction: Christlikeness. The classroom is life and the teaching is not complicated, but requires an open heart and a ready spirit. The education is simple, but not easy: walk in the Spirit by responding and not reacting to our circumstances (Gal. 5:16). The book we study is the Bible, our mentor is the Holy Spirit, and our instructor is Jesus Christ himself (1 John 2:27).

The effectiveness of the School’s instruction is dependent on the receptivity of our hearts. Christ’s teaching exposes our stubbornness, pride, and self-will. Will we repent? Will we respond? Will we trust? The goal: create an open heaven (John 1:51) between us and God. The fruit: a lifelong experience of abiding in Christ (John 15:4). Training in the the school of Christ brings a child of God into unparalleled intimacy with God (Eph. 3:16-19).

Every Christian is a pupil in the school of Jesus Christ. We sit at the feet of our Master. We want to bring our minds and our wills, our beliefs and our standards, under his yoke. In the Upper Room he said to the apostles: ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord”, and rightly so, for that is what I am’ (Jn. 13:13). That is, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ were no mere courtesy titles; they bore witness to a reality. Jesus Christ is our Teacher to instruct us and our Lord to command us.

All Christian people are under the instruction and the discipline of Jesus Christ. It should be inconceivable for a Christian ever to disagree with, or to disobey, him. Whenever we do, the credibility of our claim to be converted Christians is in doubt. For we are not truly converted if we are not intellectually and morally converted, and we are not intellectually and morally converted if we have not subjected our minds and our wills to the yoke of Jesus Christ.

John Stott, Life in Christ (Eastbourne: Kingsway, 1991), 57.


Grace Has Visited You

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.

Phil. 3:8-9 ESV

Justification by faith is God’s acceptance of us to be in right standing by the righteousness of Jesus Christ being accounted to each of us, sinners. Justification is an immediate legal work of God in which he forgives all our sins, counts Christ’s righteousness as our own, and declares us righteous in his sight.

If you have come to rest in the righteousness of Christ and have quit trying to parade your own, you know grace has visited you.

Paul David Tripp, Twitter feed

A Strong Calm Sanity

You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

Luke 7:45-46 ESV

To be intimate with Jesus is to never abandon him for another love, but to abide in an on-going, loving, conscious union with our living resurrected Lord.

When once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic. The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Him. The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that Our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for Highest (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1992), January 7.

The Gospel in Four Words


Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matt. 11:28 ESV

The gospel is the good news that God in Christ has come into the world and by his life, death, burial, and resurrection has conquered our greatest enemies: the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil. The gospel is the proclamation that our sins are forgiven and we are under condemnation no more.

This gospel calls forth a response of faith and repentance where upon we receive Christ’s righteousness and are granted right standing in the Father’s sight. Our response allows the Holy Spirit to transform our entire beings making us new creations in Christ.

The gospel is summarized by Jesus’ words, “I will give you.” “I,” salvation is found in the person, Jesus. “Will,” it is the Father’s desire to make this salvation available to anyone who comes. “Give,” the gospel is a gift, a gift of grace alone. “You,” salvation is about us and God’s love for us.

‘Come unto me,’ he says, ‘and I will give you.’ You say, ‘Lord, I cannot give you anything.’ He does not want anything. Come to Jesus, and he says, ‘I will give you.’ Not what you give to God, but what he gives to you, will be your salvation. ‘I will give you‘ — that is the gospel in four words.

Will you come and have it? It lies open before you.”

C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, 1950), I:175. Italics original.

HT: Ray Ortlund


The Great Transformer

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

Luke 19:8 ESV

Do we really believe that Jesus the Christ can change lives? Do we believe that the crucified Christ can meet anyone in their sin, selfishness, and pride and conquer their hearts by his great grace, mercy, and love? The answer must be yes. The Apostle Paul declares,” For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16 NJKV). A face-to-face encounter with the resurrected Christ can change any heart, transform any life, break any addiction, and heal any pain.

No one leaves an encounter with Jesus Christ the same as when he came. For Jesus is the great transformer. A teacher of wisdom can’t manage that, because his goal is make himself superfluous. A student has no thanks for a teacher who never lets him graduate. But with Jesus Christ we go from one transformation to another. He gives us the brightness of morning as the day begins. He wraps us in his peace when the typewriters clatter and the telephone rings all day long. And in the evening I can let myself drop, because his hand is always beneath me.

He gives me joy in life and companionship in my final distress. And when I must stand in the final judgment, he will intercede for me because he has endured pain to draw me to himself and make me his own. The man from Nazareth stands between me and every shadow, for he had called me by name, he has brought me down from my airy spectator’s seat in the tree, and now there is nothing else in the world that can come between me and the final fulfillment of my life.

Helmut Thielicke, How to Believe Again , trans., H. George Anderson (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1972), 37.

What Is Important?

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

1 Peter 4:12 ESV

We live in the midst of the fallout of the fall: sin has affected every area of creation and all aspects of our lives. Disappointment, pain, and trouble are significant ingredients of our daily existence. Ill-timed, unexpected tragedies can shape our lives for the better or make our hearts hard through bitterness. Our choice: trust that God is sovereignly working or become angry that life is not going as expected. What is important in the midst of disappointment? Not whether we are suffering, but whether we know the suffering servant who has come into the world to meet us in our discouragement.

So it is not important whether or not misfortune befalls us, but whether we know the place of refuge and the space under the shadow of his wings (Ps. 57:1). It is not important whether we think we are being persecuted or that everyone is against us, but only whether the Head is our friend and we are beloved by God.

Helmut Thielicke, How to Believe Again, trans., H. George Anderson (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972), 99.

The Generous Heart of God

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 3:18 ESV

“Q. What is grace? A. Grace is God’s favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.”

1979 Book of Common Prayer, 858.

Grace means the generous heart of God who determines to treat sinful men and women as he lovingly wishes rather than as they actually deserve.

It is God the Father’s sovereign good pleasure, totally unmerited by us, which raises us from the ash-heap to a throne of glory. It is the servant-like manner of God the Son who became a man, lived, taught, died, rose again and reigns for us. It is the humble work of God the Holy Spirit who equips us to love and serve him now with his grace-gifts (charismata), and who is the down-payment for the day when we shall be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ himself.

The gospel is grace, God’s good pleasure to delight in people who do not deserve it.

Dick Lucas and Christopher Green, The Message of 2 Peter & Jude (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1995), 36.

HT: Of First Importance 

What Do You See When You See Me?

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Heb 1:2-3

What do you see when you see Jesus? You see the Father’s heart. You see Calvary’s suffering. You see grace. You see love, embrace, and forgiveness. You see our prodigal lives returning to the father’s house. You see acceptance and approval not based on our performance, but based on Christ’s perfect righteousness displayed on the Cross.

“You are right,” he says,”you are lost, if you look only to yourselves. Who is there who has not lied, murdered, committed adultery? Who does not have this possibility lurking in his heart? You are right when you give yourself up as lost.

But look, now something has happened that has nothing to do with your attitudes at all, something that is simply given to you. Now the kingdom of God is among you, now the father’s house is wide open. And I–I am the door, I am the way, I am the life, I am the hand of the Father. He who sees me sees the Father. And what do you see when you see me?

You see one who came to you down in the depths where you could never rise to the heights. You see that God ‘so’ loved the world that he delivered me, his Son, to these depths, that it cost him something to help you, that it cost the very agony of God, that God had to do something contrary to his own being to deal with your sin, to recognize the chasm between you and himself and yet bridge it over. All this you see when you look at me!”

Helmut Thielicke, The Waiting Father: Sermons on the Parables of Jesus, trans., John W. Doberstein (New York: Harper&Row, 1959), 28. [paragraphing mine]