Friday, November 26, 2010

The Sweet Smell of Gospel Triumph

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifest through us the the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death; to the other an aroma from life to life.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
How great an aroma to smell a roasting turkey this time of year? It is truly one of those great aromas in the likes of coffee brewing and bacon frying. It fills the nostrils with such a pleasing aroma.
Not so the aroma of our sin before the Holy God. It fills His nostrils with the stench of disobedience and law breaking. He can't stand to be around it and does and will eventually preclude it from reaching His eternal presence.
There is only ONE way to get rid of the stench of our sin: believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He took all the sin of all times into Himself and paid the price for its stench by being punished sacrifically for it on the cross.
Those who believe in this saving Gospel have their stench covered over by the beautiful aroma of Christ crucified for their sins. Those who refuse to believe this Gospel, have their sins' stench wreaking to the high heavens.
Thus, we thank God at all times and places for the Triumphal Procession which carries on in the preaching of His Gospel, a magnificent and fragrant aroma to those "being saved" but an aroma to death to those who "are perishing." We must say here further that any preaching which adds to or subtracts from the pure preaching of the Gospel stink it up to where it no longer removes the stench of sin, i.e. no longer saves. (see Galatians 1 on this)
This "scandal of particularity" of Jesus Christ being the ONLY pleasing aroma to forgive sins is offensive/scandalous to those who "are perishing" because it is Particular. But to those who are "being saved" it is the sweetest smell in all the world. And God agrees!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just Be Yourself?

But that is not the way you learned Christ--assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:20-24

We hear it said often, "Just be yourself! Be true to self!" We never learned this from Christ or His Word. We hear it from our sinful flesh and the devil and the world. This old self was a slave to sin and could never nor would it ever listen to the truth. It had no choice before conversion to do anything but be true to its sinful self. (see Romans 3:9-18) However, not so we who have been "renewed in the spirit ... created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Our God given faith by grace has given us now a new self, who can and should compete with the old self still lingering around and be renewed each and every day in Christ Jesus. This new self wars against the old self (see Romans 7) and must be defeated and corralled each and every day. (see 2 Cor. 4:16)

Daily in our confession of sin and turning to Christ for forgiveness, our lives are Gospel led to live now for Him who loved us and gave Himself for us on the cross that we might continue in His righteousness and holiness purchased and won for us and given to us continually in the means of grace. By this and this only do we live "The New Life" in Christ, by Christ and for Christ!

So we are not about being Ourselves, letting the old self rule. We are about the New Self, created and led by the Gospel of Jesus Christ in righteousness and holiness.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Our Record Won't Get Us In

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

Psalm 130:3-4

If we humans could be see the long legal record of our legal offenses of breaking God's law, we would be in despair because not one of us could stand on the Day of Judgment when an accounting for each of us must and will be given.

But the Psalmist does not stop here! He knows and then proclaims that with God there is forgiveness, so he comforts himself not in himself but in God's grace and mercy found in Jesus Christ paying the price of our legal debts and canceling out the punishment.

Thus we can continue to be in complete awe of such a God! Our hope and trust and life is in Him who died for our sins and lives to forgive them. Thus we stand in His mercy, forgiveness and justice.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jesus Came to Save Sinners

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
1 Timothy 1:15

Why do so many not get this, that Jesus came to save sinners, not all the other things which we hear that He supposedly came to accomplish? We hear that He came for other things. e.g. as a great moral teacher and example to show us how we should live and treat each other and leave the world a better place, or to save the politically and socially oppressed. I believe it is because they are not yet spiritually able to discern that they are a sinner who needs the blood of Jesus to cleanse them from this transgression. This is only spiritually discerned by those born of God's Spirit. (1 Cor. 1:10-14)

This proclamation of God's desire to save all humans (1 Tim. 2:4) is why we preach this Jesus as the only Savior from sin to all people. The truth is that we are all sinners. See here 1 John 1:8-10. And the further truth is as expressed in 1 Timothy 1:15 that Jesus came to save us by His perfect fulfillment of the Ten Commandments and His perfect sacrificial death for our breaking of this Law. This salvation is obtained individually and personally as each of us are brought to belief or faith in Jesus' salvation for eternal life. (1 Tim. 1:16)

That is why the Apostle Paul says that he preaches only this salvation found in Jesus and Him crucified for sinners in 1 Corinthians 1:2:2. For this is the only mediation and Mediator between sinful humans and The Holy God. (1 Tim. 2:5-6) He alone paid the "ransom" necessary to buy us back and free us from sin's condemnation.

Once God gives us faith in this salvation from our sins in Christ Jesus, we are then and only then free to have access to God (Romans 5:1) and peace and joy and the confidence of eternal life in our hearts. So, this trustworthy saying is so important and vital, that Jesus came to this world to save sinners of which each of us could and should argue with the Apostle Paul that we are the foremost.