This is that mystery

“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours.  He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.” “Learn Christ and him crucified.  Learn to pray to him and, despairing of yourself, say, ‘Thou, Lord Jesus, art my righteousness, but I am thy sin.  Thou hast taken upon thyself what is mine and hast given to me what is thine.  Thou hast taken upon thyself what thou wast not and hast given to me what I was not.’” Martin Luther, quoted in J. I. Packer and Mark Dever, In My Place Condemned He Stood (Wheaton, 2008), page 85, footnote 31. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

The Humbling Power of Cross-Centered Thinking

From Tony Reinke: Near the conclusion of his Desiring God National Conference message, “The Life of the Mind and the Love of God”, John Piper had this to say about cross-centered thinking: Where should our mind focus in order to know God most fully and deeply? We could focus on nature because the heavens are telling the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). We could focus on the human soul for we are made in the image of God. We could focus on the history of Israel because God calls Israel “my glory” (Isaiah 46:13). We could focus on the life of Christ because he is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Or we could come to the event where more of God is revealed than any other event in history, the death of his Son. All the other revelations of God in Christ are like rays of sun breaking through the

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Our salvation makes amends for all His sufferings

“Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied.”(Isaiah 53:11) “The happiness of Christ’s exalted state consists, in a great degree, in the pleasure of seeing the designs of His death accomplished in the conversion and salvation of sinners. How does His benevolent heart rejoice to look over the immense plains of heaven, and see them all peopled with His seed! When He takes a view of this numerous offspring, sprung from His blood, and when He looks down to our world—and sees so many infants in grace, gradually advancing to their adult age; when He sees some, perhaps every hour since He died upon Calvary, entering the gates of heaven, having finished their course of education upon earth; I say, when this prospect appears to Him on every hand—how does He rejoice! If you put the sentiments of His benevolent heart into language, methinks He would say, ‘Since My death has been so fruitful of

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All blessings grounded in the blood of the Lamb

“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

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Justice & Mercy are Reconciled at the Cross

“How can God have mercy on sinners without destroying justice? What can it mean that God forgives iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clears the guilty (Ex. 34:7)? How can a righteous and holy God justify the ungodly (Rom. 4:5)? The answer to all these questions is found at the cross of Calvary, in Jesus’ substitutionary death for his people. A righteous and holy God can justify the ungodly because in Jesus’ death, mercy and justice were perfectly reconciled. The curse was rightly executed, and we were mercifully saved.” – Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010), 69. (HT: Of First Importance)

Three Precious Words

This piece from Todd Pruitt sums up the thrust of my teaching here in Rwanda. “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” – Romans 3:21-26 Martin Luther refered to Romans 3:21-26 as, ““the chief point, and the very

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Our Representative & Our Substitute

“God displays his righteousness by judging sin as sin deserves, but the judgment is diverted from the guilty and put on to the shoulders of Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God acting as wrath absorber. The atonement had to be costly because it was necessary in light of the nature of God, which must inflict retributive punishment on sin. A marvelous wisdom of God consists in his establishing the Lord Jesus as our representative and our substitute because only he could bear and absorb the judgment due to us. Being our representative makes him our substitute, and so he suffers and we go free . . ..” – J. I. Packer, “The Necessity of the Atonement” in Atonement, ed. Gabriel N. E. Fluhrer (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2010), 15-16. (HT: Of First Importance)

Alive to God

“The atoning death of Christ, and that alone, has presented sinners as righteous in God’s sight; the Lord Jesus has paid the full penalty of their sins, and clothed them with His perfect righteousness before the judgment seat of God. But Christ has done for Christians even far more than that. He has given to them not only a new and right relation to God, but a new life in God’s presence for evermore. He has saved them from the power as well as from the guilt of sin. The New Testament does not end with the death of Christ; it does not end with the triumphant words of Jesus on the Cross, “It is finished.” The death was followed by the resurrection, and the resurrection like the death was for our sakes. Jesus rose from the dead into a new life of glory and power, and into that life He brings those for whom He died. The Christian, on

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Why the Cross Matters

By Chris Tomlinson: Is it possible to talk too much about the cross? I ask this question only because some preachers and writers and teachers seem to talk about the cross a lot.  Some do so almost continually.  We can understand why they might carry on in this way because we know the primacy and weight of Calvary.  But there are still times this thought crosses many of our minds:  “Great, so I understand the cross is important.  But can’t we move on to the next topic?” We say this sort of thing when we feel our faith is about more than Jesus.  And in one sense, we can say this is true.  Our faith is about God’s glory, and our joy, and loving others, and meeting the needs of the oppressed, and being made holy, and sojourning through life, and laying up treasures in heaven, and all sorts of other things.  In this way, we are saying the expression

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Better news simply does not exist!

“The gospel, in brief, is the good news about the person and finished work of Jesus Christ. Consider for a moment that the eternal Son of God relinquished the glories of heaven to become a man, a human being like you and me. He lived a perfect and sinless life (unlike you and me), fulfilling every requirement of God’s holy law in a way we could never hope to accomplish. And then in a glorious display of God’s love for sinners like us, he willingly received the full fury of God’s righteous wrath against sin by dying for our sins on a cruel Roman cross. Because God’s absolute and perfect holiness demands an equivalent holiness from all who come before him, in ourselves we are hopelessly lost and condemned. But Jesus, who had no sin of his won to pay for, took our place, paid our penalty, and suffered our punishment. Because his death as our substitute was perfectly sufficient

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The Cross and Christian Ministry

I totally agree with Justin Childers: Carson’s The Cross and Christian Ministry is must reading for all Christian leaders. This book is basically an exposition of the first 4 chapters of 1 Corinthians. Carson shows how the Cross of Jesus Christ must be the content and method of our preaching and ministry. The Cross stands as the test and standard of all vital Christian ministry. In every generation, the gospel is in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy. Carson calls us back to the centrality of Christ and Him crucified. One of the many things I have found helpful about this book is in the way it presses home some of the foundational characteristics of a Cross-centered leader. Here are a few examples: A Cross-centered leader focuses on the content rather than the form of preaching. A Cross-centered leader ties every subject to the Cross. A Cross-centered leader follows the crucified Messiah in to suffering. A Cross-centered leader

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Mercy: Who God Is, What He Does, What You Need

From a letter from David Powlison to a 13 year old (C.J. Mahaney’s son): Don’t ever forget: God is merciful to you. Mercy is who he is. “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). Mercy is what he does. “If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him over for us all, how will he not also with him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32). Mercy is what you need. “Lord, hear my voice. . . . If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4). God’s mercy is not a theory, a bunch of words, or stories from a long time ago. It is the reality upon which your life depends. Mercy is a reality that anchors you into the

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Individual and Cosmic Redemption

Tullian Tchividjian writes in his book Unfashionable: Jesus is the divine curse-remover and creation-renewer. Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross broke the curse of sin and death brought on by Adam’s cosmic rebellion. His bodily resurrection from the dead three days later dealt death its final blow, guaranteeing the eventual renewal of all things “in Christ.” Of course none of this is available for those who remain disconnected from Jesus. Sin’s acidic curse remains on everything that continues to be separated from Christ. We must be united to Christ by placing our trust in his finished work in order to receive and experience all the newness God has promised. For, as John Calvin said, “As long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us.” But for all that is united to Christ, everything false, bad,

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Christ alone

“Remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee – it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee – it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that is the instrument it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou doest that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down.” (The Forgotten Spugeon, Iain Murray, 42.) (HT: Monergism)

No more “. . . or else.”

From Ray Ortlund: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”  Galatians 3:13 What is the curse of the law?  It is the or-else-ness of the law: “Do this, or else.”  Christ took the or-else-ness of the law onto himself at the cross, so that there is no more or-else for anyone in Christ, as God looks upon us now.  Or-else is gone forever from your relationship with God. “We, being delivered from these everlasting terrors and anguish through Christ, shall enjoy an everlasting and inestimable peace and happiness.” Martin Luther, commentary on Galatians 3:13.

RC Sproul – Defining The Gospel

There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the Gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the Gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the Gospel. The Gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own

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The Cross as Fulfillment of God’s Law

William Farley from Outrageous Mercy The cross demonstrates the permanent, immutable nature of God’s law. To save us, Jesus did not go around the law. He did not remove it. Rather, he fulfilled it. Taht is because the law is the eternal standard by which we will all be judged, and God is passionate about it. Every jot and tittle of the law must be fulfilled, promised Jesus (Matt. 5:17-20). The cross says, “There will be no lawbreakers in heaven.” The cross says, “God is fervent about his law.” Verses such as “Now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law” (Rom. 7:6) have convinced many that law does not apply to Christians, that in some mysterious way it is no longer relevant or important. In one sense they are right. The law no longer enslaves Christians. We could not keep the law, so Jesus kept it for us. God has released all who put

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