The cast of people who discover Jesus’ empty tomb and whom Jesus commissions is not exactly an “A-Team” of high capacity people. That is just the way Jesus likes it, He uses the weak things of this world to bring himself glory (1 Corinthians 1:27). Mary Magdalene, the formerly demon possessed woman (along with other women) discover the empty tomb; the testimony of a woman was not admissible in court, much less a formally demon possessed woman! Not exactly the strategy that we would choose to establish the creditability of the resurrection! We then see Thomas, who is plagued by doubts and Peter who is so impulsive that he jumps out of his boat and swims to shore. But, Jesus engages them, loves them and commissions them – these people are the ones that He chose to build His church. Is there any doubt Who the real the builder is? These disciples were just partakers in God’s divine plan. Are you partaking or are you passively sitting out?
“Many Christians have grown up in the church on moralistic preaching; that is, preaching that calls for obedience without connecting the commands of God to the cross of Christ”
“Naked commands, separated from the character of God, lack both weight and compelling beauty”
“God does not reveal his will so that we can build our confidence in our ability to keep it, but so that we can exalt and exult in the God we know by grace”
Read more on Killing Moralism here
“Christianity today is man-centered, not God-centered. God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men. The image of God currently popular is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heartbroken desperation to get people to accept a Saviour of whom they feel no need and in whom they have very little interest. To persuade these self-sufficient souls to respond to His generous offers God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking down to them in the chummiest way imaginable. This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarrassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show.” (A.W. Tozer Man: The Dwelling Place of God)
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Praying according to the will of God and reveals that they were were in eternal, loving community prior to the creation of the world – why would He create? He did not need community – as if we provide Him with anything that He is lacking! He created to display His glory: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24 ESV).
How did Jesus extend mercy and grace to Judas, whom he knew would betray Him? It is only because He trusted in God’s sovereign control over all things. As we submit and follow God’s plans, it is easier to extend grace because we see a bigger picture, the world is no longer just about us and our plans – it is about God and His plans. And God is in control of those plans. “Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him” (John 18:4 ESV)
Jesus accepts God’s plan for His life – do you? ““Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”” (John 18:11 ESV)
Caiaphas is pawn in the hands of God. “It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.” (John 18:14 ESV)
How does the Creator of all things allow His creation to hit him. Wow! Power under control, meekness is portrayed. Only powered by love, mercy and grace. The mission was ultimate, not his own life. Jesus is the high priest (see Hebrews 4:14-15)! “When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?”” (John 18:22–23 ESV)
“The Heart Is the Organ of Worship Because the heart is so active with its passions, affections, and desires, it is the organ with which we worship. Deuteronomy 11:16 warns, “Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them.” Jesus says, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:8–9).” (location 1307 Kindle edition)
“We need more than moral reformation and behavioral modification. We need inner cleansing, spiritual renewal, and new hearts, and God does that for us!” (location 1522 Kindle edition)
–Christ Formed in You by Brian Hedges
Christ Died For The Sins Of Christians Too blog Post by Tullian Tchividjian (Guest Post by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt)
Yesterday, I briefly posted a quote from John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion which said “men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.” Calvin wrote this after reflecting upon the godly men in scriptures: “Hence that dread and amazement with which as Scripture uniformly relates, holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God.” Let us look at a few passages that show the response of men when they are duly confronted with the presence of the Almighty:
- Isaiah was likely the most holy man of his day, and he was reduced to speechlessness when he was in the presence of the Lord: ““Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”” (Isaiah 6:5 ESV).
- Job “was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1 ESV). He was convinced that if he could gain an audience with God he would be able to “argue with him, and [I] would be acquitted forever by my judge.” (Job 23:7 ESV). God ultimately answers Job’s plea in chapter 38 as He begins to unfold for Job (and us) his might, sovereignty and infinite-ness for the next 5 chapters. Job attempts to stop God in chapter 40 by saying, ““behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further”” (Job 40:4–5 ESV), but God continues unpacking His sovereign infinite-ness. Once Job had experienced being the presence of God, he rightly reckons himself to be finite, limited in perspective and insignificant: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”” (Job 42:5–6 ESV).
- Even the Israelites, who had experienced first hand the miraculous delivery at the hand of God from Egyptian slavery, were fearful of being in the presence of God. “Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”” (Exodus 20:18–19 ESV)
It is unfortunate that much of what we are taught and consume in the modern evangelical church is man centered and attempts to build us up; it is Christianized self esteem. This is not the historical understanding that holy men from the past had, nor is it the picture that we see in the scriptures. What we need most is to be racked with the infinite might and majesty of the eternal, sovereign Creator so as to be put in our place. He is sovereign, infinite and eternal, we are limited, finite and tiny. When we are confronted with the majesty of God, we are rendered speechless and understand our right position in the universe. And when we understand that the universe and scriptures are not about us, but God, there is great joy and freedom. And ultimately profound worship emerges as we marinate on the fact that the eternal, mighty, holy God would be mindful of us, insignificant worms. Instead of digesting a steady stream of how to texts (be a better husband, be a better father, break free from pornography, etc), try spending time mining out the majesty of God and many of your struggles will begin to loose influence in your life.
“There is no way to get people to do more than to constantly show them what Christ has already done for them”
“External compliance without heart change is shallow and short lived”
“men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.”
-John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (trans. Henry Beveridge; Accordance electronic ed. Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1845), n.p.