“Everything . . . Springs From This Bloody Cross”

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Cor. 5:21

The Great Exchange is that wonderful one-sided trade of our sins, inadequacies, and numerous failings for Christ’s forgiveness, sufficiency, and triumphal victory. The greatest of all exchanges happened on Calvary’s Hill, Jesus Christ who was truly innocent and without sin, took upon himself all our petty selfishness, deep rebellion, and soul-rending brokenness and then substituted his perfect righteousness, unfailing forgiveness, and spirit-renewing healing. The exchanged life is not a one time event, but a life lived on a daily basis by faith. Each day, the Gospel reminds us that we are forgiven in Christ because of his most gracious grace (2 Cor. 5: 21; Gal. 2:20).

Everything that we know and appreciate and praise God for in all Christian experience both in this life and in the life to come springs from this bloody cross.

Do we have the gift of the Spirit? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Do we enjoy the fellowship of saints? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Does he give us comfort in life and death? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Does he watch over us faithfully, providentially, graciously, and covenantally? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Do we have hope of a heaven to come? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Do we anticipate resurrection bodies on the last day? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Is there a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Do we now enjoy new identities, so that we are no longer to see ourselves as nothing but failures, moral pariahs, disappointments to our parents—but deeply loved, blood-bought, human beings, redeemed by Christ, declared just by God himself, owing to the fact that God himself presented his Son Jesus as the propitiation for our sins? All this is secured by Christ on the cross and granted to those who have faith in him.”

D. A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 70-71.

 

What Binds Us Together

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Gal. 3:28 NLT

Christian unity is not about what materially we have in common, but it is about the person, Jesus Christ, who has made us one by forgiveness of sins, renewal of spirit, and transformation of heart.

What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. Christians come together because they have all been loved by Jesus himself. They are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.

D. A. Carson, Love in Hard Places (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002), 61.

How to Destroy a Church


I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

1 Corinthians 1:10

The historic church is the people of God who are redeemed by the blood of Christ, justified by faith in him, and are equipped by the Holy Spirit to do the words and works of Christ and it is a visible community made known by the bishops in apostolic order who by the grace of God minister the sacraments of Christ to the people of God.

The problem is that frequently, we do not act like God’s own blood-bought people. We allow hurt feelings, personal agendas, misunderstandings, false expectations, etc., to deter us from our unity found in Christ. We forget that we are all sinners redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb and that none of us are better than any one of us.

The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it-admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul.

Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God.

Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism-all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17).” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).

D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993), 83-84.

HT: Justin Taylor

Study Jesus

Know Jesus, Know the Father 

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 14:8-9 ESV

Reading D. A. Carson’s The God Who Is There, an excellent overview of the major themes of the Bible. Good quotes abound in the book, I read this section on Thursday. The quote strikes you with its simplicity and directness.

Do you want to know what God looks like? Look at Jesus. ‘No one has ever seen God,’ and God in all of His transcendent splendor we still cannot see until the last day. But the Word became flesh; God became a human being with the name of Jesus; and we can see Him.

That is why Jesus later says to one of His own disciples, ‘Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9).

Do you want to know what the character of God is like? Study Jesus. Do you want to know what the holiness of God is like? Study Jesus. Do you want to know what the wrath of God is like? Study Jesus.

Do you want to know what the forgiveness of God is like? Study Jesus. Do you want to know what the glory of God is like? Study Jesus all the way to that wretched cross. Study Jesus.

D.A. Carson, The God Who is There (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010), 116.

HT: Tolle Lege

240 Words

The Bible Storyline in 240 Words

God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure.

Eph. 1:9

D. A. Carson is wonderful teacher, I have read a number of his books and listened to scores of his sermons. Below, Carson lays out the entire Bible storyline in a few sentences. Why is this important? To fully understand what God has done in Jesus Christ, we must know the Bible storyline. We must learn of the Fall, the covenants, the law, the prophets, and the sacrifice. We should appreciate that from time immemorial, God planned and purposed to redeem us in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:4).

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

D. A. Carson, “The Biblical Gospel,” in For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London: Evangelical Alliance, 1986), 80.

HT: C. J. Mahaney

The Blood of the Lamb

Christ’s Atoning Work

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Rev. 12:10-12

A few weeks ago, I was experimenting with electronic reading. At Best Buy, we sell the Sony E-Reader and Barnes and Noble Nook. I have examined their respective features pro and con, but I was not quite sold on either one. For months, I have been intrigued by the Amazon Kindle. I preferred an ereader with touch screen which at this moment Kindle does not produce. I decided to wait for the next generation model to see if they might produce a better interface. I was saving my Amazon gift certificates on-line for a possible future purchase.

However, the iPad made its debut and changed everything about electronic reading. Most reviews are saying that the Kindle application on an iPad is the best reading experience. Before, I made a decision about what ereader I wanted, I decided to download the Kindle application on my Mac Book Pro (I have since ruined the computer by spilling water on it) and then on an old Gateway laptop.

I purchased two books for my ereading experiment, Scandalous by D. A. Carson, and Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns. Today, I finished D.A. Carson’s work and found his insights as usual thoroughly compelling.

Scandalous discusses the glory of Jesus’ finished work on Cross and the power of his resurrection by explaining Matt 27:27-51; Rom. 3:21-26; Rev. 12:1-17; John 11:1-53, and John 20:24-31. Chapter three is an exegesis of Revelation twelve: The Woman and the Dragon. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

In that chapter, Carson develops a full teaching on the meaning of the phrase, “the blood of the Lamb,” from 12:11, “They overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb.” The blood of the Lamb is physical evidence that Christ’s life was poured out as our redemption (i.e., payment that frees us from slavery to sin). In other words, Christ’s blood shed is his death for us in all its saving power. Wayne Grudem defines for us the meaning of the blood of Christ in Scripture:

Scripture speaks so much about the blood of Christ because its shedding was very clear evidence that his life was being given in judicial execution (that is, he was condemned to death and died paying a penalty imposed both by an earthly human judge and by God himself in heaven).

Scripture’s emphasis on the blood of Christ also shows the clear connection between Christ’s death and the many sacrifices in the Old Testament that involved the pouring out of the life blood of the sacrificial animal. These sacrifices all pointed forward to and prefigured the death of Christ.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 579.

Now a little taste of D.A. Carson’s Scandalous on the blood of Christ:

All Christian blessings and resources are grounded in the blood of the Lamb.

Do you find yourself accepted before this holy God? If so, it is because of the blood of the Lamb. Have you received the blessed Holy Spirit? He has been poured out because of the blood of the Lamb. Do you have the prospect of consummated eternal life in glory? It was secured by the blood of the Lamb.

Are you in the fellowship of saints, brothers and sisters who love Christ, the church of the living God, a new body, the body of Christ on earth? This is bought, secured, and constituted by the blood of the Lamb. Are you grateful for the spiritual armaments that Paul tells us to deploy (Ephesians 6)? The entire arsenal is at our disposal because of the blood of the Lamb. May we go to God in prayer? It is because of the blood of the Lamb. Do we find our wills strengthened by the Spirit? That incalculable benefit was secured by the blood of the Lamb.

Every whiff of victory over the principalities and powers of this dark age has been secured by the blood of the Lamb.

D.A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 99.