Archive for March, 2013

Good Friday Meditation

March 29, 2013

This is the way leading to the Father, this the rock, the fold, the key; He is the Shepherd, the Sacrifice; the Door of knowledge, by which entered Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the whole company of prophets, and the pillars of the world, the apostles, and the spouse of Christ; for whom, instead of a dowry, He poured out his own blood, that He might redeem her. –Ignatius of Antioch, AD 107

It is significant that these words, taken from one of Ignatius’ letters to a Christian church, were written as the bishop was on his way to Rome to be martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. “This” refers to Jesus Christ, the way to the Father. How fitting that Ignatius should speak of the One who opened the way to the Father through suffering as he himself was suffering in Christ’s footsteps.
Holy Week has been emphasized in some corners of the church, maybe too heavily, as a time to focus on Christ’s sufferings. It is true that some Christians see Christ on the cross and feel guilty because they have not done enough for him when he did so much for them. This misses the character of the cross as the agent of freedom from the curse of the law through Christ who became a curse for us.
Many other churches, however, in reaction, have tended to avoid observance of Holy Week altogether because it is too “negative.” All that talk of suffering tends to weigh us down. They want to focus solely on the resurrection on Easter Sunday morning and the joy and light it brings.

I contend, however, that without reflecting seriously on the suffering and death of Christ, we risk cheapening the celebration of his resurrection. His resurrection conquered sin and death, but it was his death that paid the price for that sin. His resurrection gave us victory (1 Cor. 15:57), but only because his death was a “sin offering” (Romans 8:3). In focusing on the suffering of Christ during Holy Week we see the heinousness of sin for what it truly is–a death sentence hanging over our heads that could only be overturned by a Death Sentence pronounced on him. As we hear the sayings of Christ on the cross on Good Friday, we agonize over our sin that caused Christ’s agony. As a result, when we gather on Resurrection morning, we revel in the Good News that is truly, richly, dazzlingly good because it is set against the backdrop of what is hideously dark and evil. How can we appreciate the light unless we have experienced the darkness?

Come join us tonight at 6:30 for our service of Tenebrae (darkness) and soak up the good news of the gospel through the confronting of the bad news of our sin. Invite a friend to join you. Nursery is available for children through age 3.

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Paul Tripp on Personal Ministry

March 19, 2013

I’m reading Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands and found a wonderful quote by the author, Paul Tripp. He was talking about how we as people tend to “dig in the mound of human ideas” to help solve our problems. We look for a 3 step process for everything. This is reflected in much evangelical preaching. Tripp goes on to say:

“We must not offer people a system of redemption, a set of insights and principles. We offer people a Redeemer. In his power, we find the hope and help we need to defeat the most powerful enemies. Hope rests in the grace of the Redeemer, the only real means of lasting change. This is what separates believers from our culture’s psychology. Because it has fundamentally turned its back on the Lord, the world can only offer people some kind of system. It reduces hope to a set of observations, a collection of insights, or steps in a process. We, on the other hand, meet people as they desperately dig and lovingly ask for their shovels. We gently turn them away from the mound, and joyfully turn them to the Man, Jesus Christ. This is the essence of personal ministry.

I’d love to get your thoughts. Why, in your view, is it so important to direct people to a person rather than a process?

sdg

Stewardship and Rewards

March 8, 2013

I was reading the following passage yesterday, and thought I’d share it because it relates to a topic we will discuss in the adult Veritas class on Sunday: “The Sacrifice of Praise: Giving in Worship.”
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Cor. 9:6-11)

There are two typical approaches to this passage: one says that “you will be made rich” refers to spiritual riches only. Thus, God does not prosper us as a result of our giving; we are simply called to be obedient. The other approach says that God desires to increase our material wealth. The more we give, the more he will prosper us, bringing wealth into our lives as a reward for our sacrifice. Christians tend to gravitate to one or the other approach. The truth, however, is that neither approach is accurate. As we grow in sacrificial giving, God does promise to increase our resources. However, he does not promise to increase our wealth. He promises to increase our ability to give. There’s a difference. His goal is not our prosperity but our sanctification, and ultimately His glory.

sdg