Gospel Driven Confession of Sin

Posted in Gospel Driven on December 12, 2009 by Jason

Recently, in hunting for some sound material on 1 John, I stumbled (providentially) upon an old WTS seminar lecture from waaaay back in 1975 posted on the Gospel Coalition website.  The audio is retro-weak and the presentation of material isn’t exactly dynamic (as you would expect from a lecture) but the Gospel truth presented blew me away!

Early in John (Jack) Miller’s explanation of 1 John 1 he states, “The most difficult thing for a man to believe is in the forgiveness of his sins.” He goes on to explain that the Lord presents us with a pattern, as it were, of confession of sin.

Miller shows we must begin with a confession of the greatness of our salvation. He points us to its reality in 1 John 1:1-4 and the achievements of Christ in 2:1-2 where he states:

We have a legal change – our Lawyer is now presenting His righteousness as the grounds of our forgiveness.  Now, when I come before God I begin with praise! God has been the daring One.  He has solved the problem of how can there be forgiveness of sin.

Miller goes on to explain that because of this propitiation (Christ absorbing God’s wrath against us and securing God’s favor for us), a rather unexpected word shows up in 1 John 1:9.  When you think the word merciful or gracious would be a good fit, the Apostle instead uses the word just.  He then gives this rich description of that truth and its implications when it comes to our confession of sin:

[God] must forgive… otherwise He would be unjust. The gospel deals with justice; with Jesus Christ having come out of the Father’s loving heart. He establishes justice by keeping the Law, by bearing the penalty of sin on the cross, and reconciling God and man in such a beautiful, splendid way, that now when I ask for forgiveness I must be forgiven, or the Covenant would be violated and God would fall from heaven and all reality would disintegrate.  God cannot do anything but be faithful and just when I confess my sin, and that is something to start off with when you confess your sin.

Far from making us take sin lightly, a clearer understanding of the Gospel actually increases our awareness of sin and frees us to confess it before the Lord with gut level honesty.

After calling us to a thorough going confession of sin Miller tells us there must be an agreeing with God that our sins are really gone!  There must be a confession that the forgiveness we have in Christ is true:

There is real forgiveness.  Those sins are no longer mine!  When I place them under the blood I know they no longer exist in God’s courtroom….

They are no longer mine. I have confessed them and they are fully forgiven… they are no more mine than are the crimes of the prisoner down the road in the local jail.  I did not rob that bank, that is not mine.  And the very thing I did this morning or last night or yesterday, because I’ve confessed it on the basis of God’s great salvation, He has forgiven me, and for Him to hold it against me, He would have to cease to be God. He would be unjust…. I will agree with my God, I have confessed on the blood of Jesus…. The throne of judgment has been, by the blood of Jesus, turned into a throne of grace, and when I bring my sins to Him, they do not exist for me any more.

What glorious truth!

After his biblical, winsome, profound explanation of the Gospel, Miller states, “I know very few believers who have a full appreciation of that.”  How true, even in our most sound evangelical circles.  How true in my own heart every day!  May the Lord be pleased to lead us into more a continual awareness of His marvelous grace.

I would encourage you to take some undistracted time to listen to Miller’s lecture.  It may just reshape the way you approach the Lord with your sin and subsequently lead you to love and follow Him with new freedom, as only the Gospel can.

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Obedience Born of Love

Posted in Gospel Driven on December 9, 2009 by Jason

If you are wanting to more clearly understand the functional place of the Gospel in your daily life I highly recommend A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent.  To give you an idea of the Primer’s impact here is an excerpt from Pastor Mike Bullmore’s Foreward to the book, sharing his reaction when he first read the manuscript:

…. I felt like I had been given a handful of precious diamonds and I could not stop looking at them.

This book was written slowly. It savors of a slow cooking.  I believe it will be best read slowly.  Take your time with it.  Let its truths drip down deep.  And return to it often.  Let it regularly help you preach the life-giving, soul-reviving, heart-rejoicing gospel to yourself.  Keep it close by your bed or the place of your time alone with God.  It is, quite simply, one of the most spiritually useful books I’ve read.

Potent words from a Pastor who understands thoroughly the place of the Gospel in his daily walk.  In the first part of the book Vincent presents 31 “Reason to Rehearse the Gospel Daily.”  These are indeed devotional gems!  Here is a quote from the entry entitled, Obedience Borne of Love:

So how can I come to love God with all of my being?  The Bible teaches that genuine love in my heart for God is generated by an awareness of His love for me, and nowhere is the love of God more clearly revealed than in the gospel.

Therefore, preaching the gospel to myself is a great way to keep God’s amazing love before my eyes, so that I might experience its power to produce in me a passionate love for Him in return.  Captured by His love this way, my smitten heart increasingly burns to do His will and feats itself on doing so.

Gospel blessings!

The Gospel for Everyday Life

Posted in Gospel Driven on December 8, 2009 by Jason

Here is a quote from pastor and author, Tullian Tchividjian, who gives a clear, concise explanation of the place of the Gospel in the life of a believer:

The gospel doesn’t just ignite the Christian life; it’s the fuel that keeps Christians going every day. Once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel, but to move them more deeply into it. After all, the only antidote to sin is the gospel—and since Christians remain sinners even after they’re converted, the gospel must be the medicine a Christian takes every day. Since we never leave off sinning, we can never leave the gospel.

Interesting that something so foundational for Christian living as Gospel centrality could be so easily missed!  And even when we come to agree with this idea we can still be a million miles away from putting it into practice.  I’m increasingly convinced that keeping the promises of the Gospel in worship producing focus, or as Tim Keller puts it, “pressing the truths of the Gospel down into our soul” is the battle underneath all other battles.  As Gospel centrality in our everyday lives moves from abstract concept to concrete practice, the results are revolutionary (no exaggeration).

Check out Tchividjian’s complete article here.

And for a wealth of articles on the subject see the monergism.com page on Gospel Driven Sanctification.  You can’t afford not to dive in to this most wonderful and beneficial of subjects!  Gospel blessings.

Hope for Change

Posted in Gospel Driven, Small Group on December 8, 2009 by Jason

In the following excerpt from chapter 1 of  Instruments In The Redeemer’s Hands Paul Tripp articulates the harsh, pervasive reality of sin.  He then points us to the glorious hope we have because the King has come to establish His agenda in the hearts of His redeemed people:

The sin that grips our hearts makes everything more difficult.  It morphs love into selfish lust.  It takes God-ordained safety of home and makes it a place where the deepest human hurts can occur.  It corrupts the workplace, robs government of its good, and even stains the church.  And at the end of the day, it results in death.

You cannot escape sin because it dwells within you.  All the things you learn get twisted by its power.  You can’t outsmart it or buy your way out of it.  You can’t move to escape it.  This is why the coming of the King is the best of news.

Change is possible because the King has come!

In all of this, God’s ultimate goal is his own glory.  Christ came to restore people to the purpose they were made for: to live every aspect of their lives in worshipful, obedient submission to him.  He accomplishes this by breathing life into dead hearts so that we grasp our need for him.  He lives sinlessly, keeping the law on our behalf.  He lays down his life as a penalty for sin, so that we can be fully forgiven.  He adopts us into his family, giving us all the rights and privileges of his children.  He daily conforms us to his own image.  He enables us by his grace to do what is right.  His Spirit lives inside us, convicting us of sin, illumining truth, and giving us the power to obey.  He places us in the body of Christ where we can learn and grow.  He rules over every event for his glory and our good.  He makes us the objects of his eternal, redemptive love.

The Bible calls this redemption.  We are not only changed, we are restored to God.  This is what makes all other change possible.

My prayer is that the Lord will give us a present awareness of the hope we have because of the Gospel, and that He will lead us into a better understanding of how that hope connects to the moment by moment struggles of our everyday lives. Change is possible!

Gospel Driven Marriage

Posted in Gospel Driven, Marriage & Family, Small Group on December 7, 2009 by Jason

Lauren and I recently started reading through Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace by Gary & Betsy Ricucci of Covenant Life Church (Sovereign Grace Ministries headquarters). We were refreshed by how thoroughly Gospel centered their perspective is right out of the gate!

Below is a chapter 1 excerpt which begins with an articulation of the Gospel.  Watch out! Right off the bat you may find yourself rushing through that explanation subtly thinking “I know this… what’s next?”  And that, my friends, is one of our biggest problems!  Which, the author quickly addresses.  He then starts to connect the Gospel to specific areas of married life which is arguably our most foundational need.

So, take some time to steep in the following excerpt and be encouraged in Christ…

Because God’s absolute and perfect holiness demands an equivalent holiness from all who come before him, in ourselves we are all hopelessly lost and condemned. But Jesus, who had no sin of his own to pay for, took our place, paid our penalty, and suffered our punishment. Because his death as our substitute was perfectly sufficient to pay for our sin, God vindicated him by raising him from the dead. So now all who place their trust in Jesus’ work on their behalf and turn from their sin will be forgiven, counted righteous in him, and saved from jument for all eternity. . . all by God’s marvelous grace. This is the gospel. This is the good news. Better news simply does not exist!

Tragically, this most precious of all news is too often assumed (“OK, I know Jesus died for my sins”), misunderstood (“I thought the gospel was for unbelievers—I’m already a Christian”), or even ignored or dismissed (“Don’t give me theology—I need help for my marriage right now”). But consider these marvelous truths.

Because of the gospel, Christians have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, in our marriage, our past does not define us, confine us, or determine our future.

Because of the gospel, we are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). Therefore we can live free of all guilt and condemnation for every sin, and we can trust that God, in his mercy, will be gracious to us.

Because of the gospel we can forgive, just as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). Nothing done against us compares to our sin against God. Therefore all offenses, hostility, and bitterness between Christians can be completely forgiven and removed.

Because of the gospel, we are accepted by God (Romans 15:7). Therefore we are not dependent on a spouse for who we are or what we need.

Because of the gospel, sin’s ruling power over us is broken (Romans 6:6, 14). Therefore we can truly obey all that God calls us to do in our marriage, regardless of any circumstance or situation.

Because of the gospel, we have access to God through Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Therefore we can at any time take any need in our marriage to the One who can do all things.

Because of the gospel, we have hope (Romans 5:1-4). Therefore we can endure any marital difficulty, hardship, or suffering, with the assurance that God is working all to our greatest good (Romans 8:28).

Because of the gospel, Christ dwells in us by his Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14). Therefore we are confident that God is always with us and is always at work in our marriage, even when progress is imperceptible (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

Because of the gospel, we have power to fight and overcome remaining sin, which continues to dwell and war within us (Romans 7:19-21, 24-25; Galatians 5:16-17). This indwelling enemy represents the essence of what is called the doctrine of sin.

These are just a few of the ways the gospel can transform a marriage. Sometimes it’s not easy to live in the reality of these truths. But it is always possible—and not because of our strength or determination, but because of God’s empowering and enabling grace.

If you haven’t noticed, we are intent (because God is intent) on having your heart and marriage filled with the hope and grace of God’s love, faithfulness, and power displayed in the gospel—the person and finished work of Jesus Christ. And God’s grace is every bit as present and effective on our best days as it is on our worst. God is constant in his commitment to love, bless, and transform, not because of our performance, but because of the perfection of his Son. That is the gospel of grace. And it is grace that gives us hope.

When we grasp the depth of God’s love for us revealed in the gospel, when we rest in the joy of God’s forgiveness toward us in the gospel, when we experience God’s transforming power in us through the gospel, and when we begin to emulate the pattern of humility and obedience we see in the gospel, what a wonderful difference this will make in our lives and marriages! Nothing is more essential to a marriage, and nothing brings more hope, than applying the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel Pillar of God’s Faithfulness

Posted in Gospel Driven on April 23, 2008 by Jason

Today’s Scripture reading from the ESV Bible Reading Schedule took me to Psalm 105. Through this Psalm the Lord moved me to ponder His faithfulness.

7 He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
8 He remembers his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.”

One of the strong pillars of the gospel is the faithfulness of our covenant keeping God. Let’s be honest, day after day is filled with struggles and failures for the Christian. The more we grow in Christ the more we realize how far we are from his likeness. But then we are called, once again, to sink the roots of our faith into the good news of the gospel:

We, who were dead in sin, have been given new life through the power of his Spirit.

The Lord has provided an atoning sacrifice for all of our sin – yes, all of it.

The Lord has draped around our forgiven shoulders the prefect righteousness of his Son.

In Christ we now can stand unashamed before our God and can cry out “Abba, Father!” with the assurance that he hears us with unmatched tenderness and care.

We have a myriad of precious promises to trust in as we look at our own hearts and at the path he has laid before us in this life.

He is at work in us.

He is at work around us.

He holds us in his hand and is shaping us into his likeness.

And so much more.

Why are these glorious gospel promises reliable? How is it we can find solid comfort and hope in them? Because God is faithful. Let that truth ring in your ears… God is faithful. Ours is not a shaky, fleeting hope. No! It is hope built upon the very character and purposes of the Lord God Almighty whose judgments are in all the earth and who remembers his covenanents forever.

May the Lord use his Word, even today, to potently remind you of his faithfulness and provide you with comfort, hope and strength for today.

Gospel Blessings,

jc

Our Worth in Christ Alone

Posted in Gospel Driven on April 21, 2008 by Jason

In a Christian culture saturated with self-esteem counsel and practical theology that subtly makes much of you and little of God, it is refreshing to read the following words from Jon Bloom, Executive Director of Desiring God Ministries, in his April letter to DG supporters:

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ [2 Peter 1:1].

….[W]e ordinary Christians have obtained a faith of equal standing with Peter’s? Absolutely yes! There is nothing ordinary about the faith we’ve received. It has been given to us as a gift from the Lord Jesus, the same Lord who gave Peter his faith.

Peter had no illusion about who he was. He was an ordinary man chosen by an extraordinary Savior to fulfill and extraordinary calling through the power of an extraordinary Spirit. All that had made Peter extraordinary had come to him as a gift of grace from God. Apart from Jesus he was nothing. That’s why when Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped him, Peter quickly pulled him up and said, “Stand up; I too am a man” (Acts 10:26).

The same amazing Savior has chosen you, cleansed you from all your sin, given you his perfect righteousness, and filled you with his Holy Spirit. “What the Lord has made clean, do not call uncommon” (Acts 10:15). Jesus has made you extraordinary, more than you know. Jesus has called you by name, appointed you to faithfully steward a particular calling, has a unique name for you that only he knows, and has prepared a place in his eternal kingdom especially for you. Peter considers you a peer, his sibling in God’s family.

Praise the Lord that we, the utterly unworthy, find our identity, life, hope and calling in the unsurpassed worth and power of the Lord Jesus! Gospel blessings as you serve our Lord today.