Eternity Without a Mediator

It is a surprising thing to note, because so often we speak of hell as a place where God is not. Let me, however, say something provocative. Hell is eternity in the presence of God without a mediator. Heaven is eternity in the presence of God, with a mediator. Hell is eternity in the presence of God, being fully conscious of the just, holy, righteous, good, kind, and loving Father’s disapproval of your rebellion and wickedness. Heaven, on the other hand, is dwelling in the conscious awareness of your holy and righteous Father, but doing so through a mediator who died in your place, the One who absorbed the fullness of the penalty of your sin. Heaven is eternity in the presence of God with the One who totally eradicated sin from your life, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hell is eternity in the presence of God without a mediator. Heaven is eternity in the presence of God with a mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.

—Ligon Duncan
Fear Not!

Via: Tim Challies

The Birds of the Air and Me

Several years ago I was working for a construction company–renovating and building homes. It was probably one of the most difficult jobs I have ever had; but it was what God used to teach me the value of working hard. One weekday morning, I woke up and read the evening section of this particular section of the Daily Light . As I drove to work that morning I meditated on Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” I was not sure why that particular verse stuck out as the one on which I would meditate as I went to work. That morning turned out to be one of the hardest mornings I had at this job. We had just finished building an extension on the back of a home and now had to put new sod down where we had ruined the grass. I was asked to rake a huge pile of dirt across the section we would put new grass on. As I labored and grumbled, I soon discovered that there were birds (Robins) right next to me. I labored and they hopped around. After a little while I realized that they were much closer to me than birds generally get. I started wondering why they were not afraid of me. I stopped and watched them for a minute. They were eating worms. “Well,” I thought, “Birds eat worms; there’s nothing unusual about that.” Then I realized what was happening. As I raked the dirt, I was being used to uncover the worms that lay beneath. The verse I had read that morning came to mind, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.” My Father in heaven was using me to reap and labor so that the birds would be fed. There was, of course, an even greater truth in this rare experience. My Father was teaching me that He cares so much more for me than for them. “Are you not of more value than they?” My heavenly Father has abundantly provided for me since that time. I have never been in want. He has taught me that “every good and every perfect gift comes from…the Father of lights.” He had taught me to trust Him for my needs.

Last night, almost 7 years after that event, I was sitting on my bed expressing my worries about the church plant. “How are we going to get support;” “If we can’t gather a core group we won’t have a church;” “What am I going to do?” These were the things coming out of my mouth. At that very moment, I opened the Daily Light and began to read the evening devotional I read almost 7 years ago that day. The Lord again reminded me to trust the One who feeds birds who do not labor for food, and in whom we live and move and have our being. Oh, that I would remember this lesson every day of my life. It is one of the greatest lessons we could ever learn. We have a Father in Heaven who cares deeply for us. He provides for our every need. He has so ordered nature to exhibit His care and preservation that we ought always to make the connection between His care for objects of lesser value and greater value. Above all He provided His Son as a sacrifice for sin. I am exceedingly thankful that He continues to teach me this lesson.

—Nick Batzig

Via: Feeding on Christ

Then Battle is Your Calling…

When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become your sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.

—Abraham Kuyper

Via: Eric Schumacher

Christ Formed Within Us

True religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation of the Divine nature, the very image of God drawn upon the soul, or, in the apostle’s phrase, ‘it is Christ formed within us.’

—Henry Scougal
The Life of God in the Soul of Man

Via: Of First Importance

He Is Risen!

Here is the watershed of human history where the misery of the race is transformed into grandeur. Here the kerygma, the proclamation of the early church, was born with the cry “He is risen.” We can view this event as a symbol, a lovely tale of hope. We can reduce it to a moralism that declares, as one preacher put it, “The meaning of the Resurrection is that we can face the dawn of each new day with dialectical courage.”

The New Testament proclaims the Resurrection as sober historical fact. The early Christians were not interested in dialectical symbols but in concrete realities. Authentic Christianity stands or falls with the space/time event of Jesus’ resurrection. The term Christian suffers from the burden of a thousand qualifications and a myriad of diverse definitions. One dictionary defines a Christian as a person who is civilized. One can certainly be civilized without affirming the Resurrection, but one cannot then be a Christian in the biblical sense. The person who claims to be a Christian while denying the Resurrection speaks with a forked tongue. From such turn away.

The resurrection of Jesus is radical in the original sense of the word. It touches the radix, the “root” of the Christian faith. Without it Christianity becomes just another religion designed to titillate our moral senses with platitudes of human wisdom. The apostle Paul spelled out the clear and irrefutable consequences of a “resurrectionless” Christianity. If Christ is not raised, he reasoned, we are left with the following list of conclusions:

  1. Our preaching is futile.
  2. Our faith is in vain.
  3. We have misrepresented God.
  4. We are still in our sins.
  5. Our loved ones who have died have perished.
  6. If all we have is hope, we are of all men most to be pitied.

These six consequences sharply reveal the inner connection of the Resurrection to the substance of Christianity. The resurrection of Jesus is the sine qua non of the Christian faith. Take away the Resurrection and you take away Christianity.

—R.C. Sproul
Who Is Jesus?

Via: Ligonier Ministries Blog

A Conversation with Death on Good Friday

CHRISTIAN:

Hello, Death, my old enemy. My old slave-master. Have you come to talk to me again? To frighten me?

I am not the person you think I am. I am not the one you used to talk to. Something has happened. Let me ask you a question, Death.

Where is your sting?

DEATH, sneeringly:

My sting is your sin.

CHRISTIAN:

I know that, Death. But that’s not what I asked you. I asked, where is your sting? I know what it is. But tell me where it is.

Why are you fidgeting, Death? Why are you looking away? Why are you turning to go? Wait, Death, you have not answered my question. Where is your sting?

Where is, my sin?

What? You have no answer? But, Death, why do you have no answer? How will you terrify me, if you have no answer?

O Death, I will tell you the answer. Where is your sting? Where is my sin? It is hanging on that tree. God made Christ to be sin—my sin. When he died, the penalty of my sin was paid. The power of it was broken. I bear it no more.

Farewell, Death. You need not show up here again to frighten me. God will tell you when to come next time. And when you come, you will be his servant. For me, you will have no sting.

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
—1 Corinthians 15:55-57

—John Piper

Via: Desiring God Blog

The Cross and the Call of Christ

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death – we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time – death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Cost of Discipleship

Via: Desiring God Blog

Men Are Small – God Is Big

The greatest of men—like the apostle Paul and St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther and John Calvin and George Whitefield and William Carey and Jonathan Edwards and Billy Graham—the most admirable of men are only meteors on the sky of history. They last about a third of a second and then are gone. But God is like the sun. And generation after generation he rises on the just and the unjust and never fades in his glory. “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to ALL GENERATIONS, FOR EVER AND EVER. Amen.”

—John Piper

Via: Tullian Tchividjian

Election and the Gospel

Let no one say . . . that the doctrine of election by the sovereign will and mercy of God, mysterious as it is, makes either evangelism or faith unnecessary. The opposite is the case. It is only because of God’s gracious will to save that evangelism has any hope of success and faith becomes possible. The preaching of the gospel is the very means that God has appointed by which he delivers from blindness and bondage those whom he chose in Christ before the foundation of the world, sets them free to believe in Jesus, and so causes his will to be done.

—John R. W. Stott
The Message of Ephesians

Via: Of First Importance

Does God “Lead Us Into Temptation”?

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13).

James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13).

That’s true. But the Bible also says, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).

So God does not do the tempting — he does not put evil desires in our hearts (for he can have no evil desires in his heart) — but he does bring us into the presence of many tests and temptations. “A man’s steps are from the Lord” (Proverbs 20:24).

In fact, every step we take is a step into the presence of temptation. There is no moment of your life that is not a moment of temptation — a moment when unbelief and disobedience is not a possibility.

The Lord’s prayer does not teach us to pray against that kind of sovereign guidance.

What it teaches us to pray is that the temptation does not take us in. Don’t lead me into temptation. Deliver me from this evil that is set before me.

Today I will stand before innumerable temptations. That’s what life is: endless choices between belief and unbelief, obedience and disobedience. But, O mighty God, forbid that I would yield. Hold me back from stepping inside the temptation.

—John Piper

Via: Desiring God Blog