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Tag Archives: Gospel
The Chandlers briefly discuss the lessons they have learned from 15 years of marriage.
The greatest tragedy of human history is the cross of Christ. And yet, as Charles Spurgeon puts it in today’s Morning and Evening…
No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like Calvary’s tragedy.
How can one act both sadden and gladden the soul? I am so thankful for Romans 5:6-9. It says:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.
God’s love and wrath are found in the cross. As agonizing as it would be to see my Savior crucified, I could never “take the nails from His hands…” (sorry, Jeremy Camp). In anguish, He took the cup and bore my sin as it pleased the Father to crush Him. He was obedient unto death. The cross is the greatest tragedy of human history, but also the greatest act of love that mankind has ever known.
Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.
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And when they came to the place that is called The Skull,
there they crucified Him… — Luke 23:33
The hill of comfort is the hill that is called The Skull or Calvary; the house of consolation is built with the wood of the cross; the temple of heavenly blessing is based upon the riven rock—riven by the spear that pierced His side. No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like Calvary’s tragedy.
Is it not strange, the darkest hour
That ever dawned on sinful earth,
Should touch the heart with softer power,
For comfort, than an angel’s mirth?
That to the Cross the mourner’s eye should turn,
Sooner than where the stars of Bethlehem burn?
Light springs from the midday-midnight of Golgotha, and every herb of the field blooms sweetly beneath the shadow of the once accursed tree. In that place of thirst, grace has dug a fountain that runs continually with water pure as crystal, each drop capable of alleviating the woes of mankind. You who have had your seasons of conflict will confess that it was not at Olivet that you ever found comfort, not on the hill of Sinai, nor on Tabor; but Gethsemane and Golgotha have been a means of comfort to you. The bitter herbs of Gethsemane have often taken away the pains in your life; and the groans of Calvary yield rare and rich comfort.
We never would have known Christ’s love in all its heights and depths if He had not died; nor could we guess the Father’s deep affection if He had not given His Son to die. The common mercies we enjoy all sing of love, just as the seashell, when we put it to our ears, whispers the sounds of the deep sea from which it came; but if we desire to hear the ocean itself, we must not look at everyday blessings, but at the transactions of the crucifixion. If you want to know love, then go afresh to Calvary and see the Man of Sorrows die.
This morning’s Morning and Evening carries a gravitas of eternal significance. Few subjects demand our careful attention as much as spiritual regeneration.
New birth is a work of the Holy Spirit. We are not clever or strong enough to birth ourselves spiritually. A newborn baby is never delivered by their own desire or effort. Likewise, we all come to Christ naked with empty hands. Salvation belongs to the Lord. He works, calls, and regenerates. I love this line from the text below:
To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: Man can do the one—God alone can do the other.
Today’s devotional is full of imperatives, but begs the question: Have you truly been born again? If not, you must be! Your eternal destiny hangs upon this supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Beg Him for mercy, repent, and cry out to God this morning! Today is the day of salvation! Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-8,
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
He gives to all who ask. He will not turn you away. Want the assurance of second birth? Ask, seek, and knock. Jesus rescues lost sinners. Deny yourself and the rebellious sin that blinds your eyes and strangles your senses before a perfect, loving, and holy God. What has sin ever brought you but death? Turn to the Giver of Life today! Pick up your cross and follow Him.
As for the redeemed, let’s never stray from the wise counsel found in 2 Corinthians 13:5:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.
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You must be born again. — John 3:7
Regeneration is a subject that lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to make sure that we really are “born again,” for there are many who imagine they are, who are not. Be assured that to be called a Christian is not the same nature as being a Christian, and that being born in a Christian country and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no significance at all unless there be something more added to it.
Being “born again” is a matter so mysterious that human words cannot describe it. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nevertheless, it is a change that is known and felt—known by works of holiness and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation that a man performs for himself: A new principle is infused that works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects his whole life.
It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: Man can do the one—God alone can do the other. If you have, then, been “born again,” your declaration will be, “O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, You are my spiritual Parent; if Your Spirit had not breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I would still be dead in trespasses and sins.’ My heavenly life is wholly derived from You; to You I ascribe it. My life is hidden with Christ in God.’ It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
May the Lord grant us assurance on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.
This morning’s Morning and Evening should be an encouragement to every believer. It is true that everyone is wicked, fallen, and freely evil (even Christians who have been saved by grace alone). Those of us who hold tightly to the doctrine of “total depravity” have a tendency to bang that drum as loud as we can (as if it were our job to keep everyone humble). If we are not careful, the joyous and glorious truth of Christ’s perfect righteousness can be subtly lost in the dwelling of our own corruption.
That said, you can’t have the good news without the bad news. Paul recognized this when he penned his letter to the church in Rome. Romans 1:18-3:20 contains a lot of bad news for mankind. This section begins with the wrath of God being revealed from heaven and concludes with no one being justified in God’s sight according to the law. Thankfully, Paul doesn’t end the letter there.
Romans 3:21-5:21 provides good news for the people of God. Here, Paul opens with the phrase “But now…” and proceeds to demonstrate how faith in Christ provides peace with God and eternal life. The bad news is essential and should not be neglected. However, we cannot afford to dwell in the dreariness of our own self-darkness and obvious short-comings. It is a good thing to dig deep into the foundation of our faith in Christ. But if we never focus on the walls and roof of the structure, we will find ourselves occupying a pit of self-focused piety. Rather, let us rejoice as Paul does in Romans 5:1-2 when he says,
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.
I like how Spurgeon puts it in today’s devotional.
There are some who are always talking about corruption and the depravity of the heart and the innate evil of the soul. This is quite true, but why not go a little further and remember that we are perfect in Christ Jesus.
What a glorious truth to consider! Christ’s perfect life has been added to our account. He was tempted in every way, but never fell. Through His sacrifice, our scarlet sins have been washed away in His perfect righteousness. May we perceive our sinfulness when we see ourselves, but forever keep our focus on the glorious Subject of our salvation.
Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.
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The LORD is our righteousness. — Jeremiah 23:6
It will always give a Christian the greatest calm, quiet, ease, and peace to think of the perfect righteousness of Christ.
How often are the saints of God downcast and sad! I do not think they ought to be. I do not think they would be if they could always see their perfection in Christ. There are some who are always talking about corruption and the depravity of the heart and the innate evil of the soul. This is quite true, but why not go a little further and remember that we are perfect in Christ Jesus.
It is no wonder that those who are dwelling upon their own corruption should wear such downcast looks; but surely if we call to mind “Christ Jesus, whom God made . . . our righteousness,”1 we shall be of good cheer. What though distresses afflict me, though Satan assault me, though there may be many things to be experienced before I get to heaven, those are done for me in the covenant of divine grace; there is nothing wanting in my Lord—Christ has done it all. On the cross He said, “It is finished!” and if it be finished, then am I complete in Him and can rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, “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.”2
You will not find on this side of heaven a holier people than those who receive into their hearts the doctrine of Christ’s righteousness. When the believer says, “I live on Christ alone; I rest on Him solely for salvation; and I believe that, however unworthy, I am still saved in Jesus,” then there rises up as a motive of gratitude this thought: “Shall I not live to Christ? Shall I not love Him and serve Him, seeing that I am saved by His merits?” “The love of Christ controls us,”3 “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”4 If saved by imputed righteousness, we shall greatly value imparted righteousness.
11 Corinthians 1:30, 2Philippians 3:9, 32 Corinthians 5:14, 42 Corinthians 5:15
***Warning: Discernment Required Ahead***
For all you aging hipsters out there who are weary of drowning your holiday cheer in Sufjan Stevens and Brighteyes Christmas music… an energetic alternative has emerged from an unlikely source. That’s right… Bad Religion has released a Christmas CD. Gasp!
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Here is the track listing:
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- O Come, O Come Emmanuel
- White Christmas
- Little Drummer Boy
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- What Child Is This?
- Angels We Have Heard On High
- American Jesus (Andy Wallace Mix)
Shocking? Yes. Let’s start with the obvious. Bad Religion has been an outspokenly anti-Christian band since 1979. For as long as I can remember, their logo has looked like this:
Glance at that track listing again. Why would this band choose these Christmas songs? All but two (White Christmas and American Jesus) are hymnal Christmas classics. This CD contains no snowmen, silver bells, hot cocoa, or Santa Claus. But it is replete with lyrics like…
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, and free thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save and give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
The songs on this CD do not merely mention baby Jesus as a nativity centerpiece. These are Christocentric, Gospel-saturated Christmas songs! And Bad Religion remains true to the message without changing a word. So what gives? Either these guys have grown weary of suppressing the truth of God written on their hearts (Romans 1:18-20), or they believe the funniest way to offend Christians this year is to release a seasonal worship album with their name on it.
Interestingly enough, they recently shared a third reason for choosing these songs during an 8 minute interview on NPR. The audio and transcript can be found here. At one point, the interviewer observes:
And these are not secular songs, we should point out though. You could’ve done, you know, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” These are religious Christmas hymns.
To which, guitarist and songwriter Brett Gurewitz, responded:
I would disagree. I think that all of these songs are secular. Even though they have their roots in the pulpit or in the church setting, virtually everyone who celebrates Christmas has heard these songs. And so, it’s not Bad Religion that has made them ironic. It’s kind of a secular society that’s made Christmas ironic.
That sounds brilliant! My knee-jerk reaction to such an articulate paradigm shift is one of silent consideration. Does Brett Religion have a point? Are songs like “Angels We Have Heard On High” no longer powerful declarations of Christ’s deity because everyone has heard them? Has the fallen world’s popularization of what they lack in understanding truly made Christmas ironic? Let’s think about that for a moment.
Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). In other words, He authorized the eternal nature of His divine truth… not us. Gospel truth is tempered and timeless. It will be just as true two thousand years from now, as it was two thousand years ago… regardless of what we think about it. Words that convey His truth will always pack a wallop as the Holy Spirit uses them to soften or harden the hearts of those who hear them. God’s Word will never return to Him empty, but will always accomplish whatever He intends for it to do (Isaiah 55:11).
The guys in Bad Religion are lying to themselves if they truly believe the divine message is lost in these songs. Words matter. In fact, they matter more than the band’s intention behind singing them. Laughing at truth does not make it false. I agree with Brett that there is irony to be found here. It is truly ironic that God’s transforming truth of the Gospel would be proclaimed through such an unlikely source to one of the world’s most outspokenly rebellious people groups. Ironic and awesome. Many hearts will be hardened by this unintentional proclamation of Gospel truth. Let’s pray that a few are softened as well.
For the few of you out there who love Jesus, nineties style punk, and Christmas music… the million dollar question is this: should I purchase this record? Honestly, I can’t tell you what to do. However, I will strongly urge you to obey the Holy Spirit’s leading with regards to your own conscience.
The content is solid, but the delivery is certainly not for everyone. Many people will find the style of music itself to be vulgar because of its speed. That’s fine. Bing Crosby has a number of good Christmas renditions that ignite the senses at a slower pace.
The musicianship and vocal harmonies are excellent. As previously stated, the lyrics are Christocentric and Gospel-saturated songs of worship. There is no such thing as a “demon of atheism” or mystical quality that disintegrates everything Bad Religion touches. And for a band that has been around longer than I have walked the earth, I am not too worried about a six dollar download through eMusic sending a statement. If you acquire this CD and delete the last song, you will have the punk rock Christmas record you have always dreamed of. But if your conscience is unsettled in any way… do yourself a favor and obey the Spirit. His sanctifying work trumps all musical recommendations. There are plenty of good Christmas CDs out there.
So there you have it. Bad Religion has inadvertently released a seasonal worship album.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus! And Merry Christmas!