Tim Chester: Did Jesus heal our diseases at the cross? When you read Isaiah’s great song about the servant of the LORD the answer seems pretty straight-forward: Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering … the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5) Did Jesus heal our diseases at the cross? Yes. Our pain, our suffering, our wounds are all healed through the cross. The problem But there’s an obvious problem with this: our diseases are not all healed. Colin is claiming this promise for his cancer. ‘By his wounds we are healed,’ he says, ‘and therefore God will heal my cancer – I just need to believe.’ I admire his confidence. Or is it desperation? I’m not sure. I do know I’ve been a pastor too long to share his confidence. I’ve seen too many people who were convinced God had promised to heal them only for
Tim Chester: Can you improve your relationship with God? People are often unsure how to respond. The promises of grace suggest one answer; the experience of life often suggest another. In the confusion, we often do nothing. We stagnate. But there is a way forward. Can you improve your relationship with God? Yes. Let’s turn for help to the seventeenth-century Puritan John Owen. In his classic book Communion with God, Owen says, Our communion with God consists in his communication of himself to us, with our return to him of that which he requires and accepts, flowing from that union which in Jesus Christ we have with him. (Works, Vol. 2, 8–9, modernized) Note how Owen makes a distinction between “union” and “communion.” In the gospel, through faith, we have union with God in Christ. From start to finish this union is God’s gracious work toward us. But this union leads to communion with God — a genuine, two-way relationship of give-and-take in which our
Tim Chester: Imagine facing Judgment Day every week. Near to where I grew up, in the Oxfordshire village of South Leigh, is the parish church of St. James the Great. Over the chancel arch is a medieval wall painting depicting the final judgment. To the left, the righteous rose from their graves to be welcomed into paradise. To the right, the damned were roped together to be dragged towards the gaping mouth of a huge red dragon. This is what the churchgoers of South Leigh saw every Sunday. And they would find no relief, even if they turned away. For on the wall of the south aisle, another wall painting depicted St. Michael weighing souls in a balance. More demons hover, ready to carry away those found wanting. Heaven was a possibility for the churchgoers of South Leigh — but so was hell. And the church offered no assurance of salvation. Perhaps you might be righteous enough for God with
By Tim Chester, coauthor of Why the Reformation Still Matters. A Personal Doctrine Justification is not just a doctrinal or church doctrine. It is a deeply personal doctrine. Every time I sin, I create a reason to doubt my acceptance by God and I question my future with God. But day after day, the doctrine of justification speaks peace to my soul. This is especially true of imputed righteousness. Catholicism says that righteousness is imparted to us or infused into us, primarily through the sacraments. This righteousness is the potential to live a righteous life that pleases God. With God’s help mediated through the church, we may be accepted by God. We are justified by faith, but it is faith plus human effort. Declared Righteous In contrast, the Reformers spoke of imputed righteousness. Luther said saving righteousness is external or alien. In other words, it’s not our righteousness; it’s not something we achieve. Instead, Christ’s righteousness is given to us
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17). Tim Chester: When you became a Christian, something amazing happens: you are a new creation. The power of God that made the sun and stars is focused down like a laser into your heart. God steps into the world, as it were, and creates all over again. We’re transformed, reborn, made new. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6). At creation God spoke a word into the darkness, and there was light. He spoke a word into the chaos, and there was beauty. And now again God speaks a word through the gospel. He speaks into the darkness of our hearts, and there is light. He speaks
You will cleanse no sin from your life that you have not first recognized as being pardoned through the cross. This is because holiness starts in the heart. The essence of holiness is not new behavior, activity, or disciplines. Holiness is new affections, new desires, and new motives that then lead to new behavior. If you don’t see your sin as completely pardoned, then your affections, desires, and motives will be wrong. You will aim to prove yourself. Your focus will be the consequences of your sin rather than hating the sin and desiring God in its place. — Tim Chester You Can Change (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010), 28 (HT: Of First Importance)
Tim Chester posts 6 simple ways to be missional: 1. Eat with other people We all eat three meals a day. That’s 21 opportunities for church and mission each week without adding anything new to your schedule. And meals are a powerful expression of welcome and community. 2. Work in public places Hold meetings, prepare talks, and read in public spaces like cafés, pubs, and parks. It will naturally help you engage with the culture. For example, whose questions do you want to address in your Bible studies, those of professional exegetes or those of the culture? 3. Be a regular Adopt a local café, pub, park, and shop so you regularly visit and become known as a local. Imagine if everyone in your gospel community did this! 4. Leave the house in the evenings It’s so easy after a long day on a dark evening to slump in front of the television or surf the Internet. Get out! Visit a friend.