To be sure, the Spirit of God quickens within the souls of the redeemed a new desire for worship. But that desire is not something that can be left to the natural course of experience. It must be cultivated. It must be learned in accordance with the directives of sacred Scripture. The worship to which we are called in our renewed state is far too important to be left to personal preferences, to whims, or to marketing strategies. It is the pleasing of God that is at the heart of worship. Therefore, our worship must be informed at every point by the Word of God as we seek God’s own instructions for worship that is pleasing to Him.
In our time, we have experienced a radical eclipse of God. The shadow that has fallen across the face of God cannot destroy His existence any more than a passing cloud can destroy the sun or the moon. But the eclipse hides the real character of God from His people. It has brought a profound loss of the sense of the holy, and with that, any sense of the gravity and seriousness of godly worship.
A Taste of Heaven
Thanks to Tim Challies for pointing to another great poem from The Valley of Vision.
O God of Grace,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute, and hast imputed his righteousness to my soul, clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe, decking me with jewels of holiness. But in my Christian walk I am still in rags; my best prayers are stained with sin; my penitential tears are so much impurity; my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin; my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.
I need to repent of my repentance; I need my tears to be washed; I have no robe to bring to cover my sins, no loom to weave my own righteousness; I am always standing clothed in filthy garments, and by grace am always receiving change of raiment, for thou dost always justify the ungodly; I am always going into the far country, and always returning home as a prodigal, always saying, ‘Father, forgive me’; and thou art always bringing forth the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it, every evening return in it, go out to the day’s work in it, be married in it, be wound in death in it, stand before the great white throne in it, enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, the exceeding wonder of grace.
The Valley of Vision
Via: Tim Challies
Set faith at work on Christ for the killing of your sin. His blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls. Live in this, and you will die a conqueror; yea, you will, through the good providence of God, live to see your lust dead at your feet.
— John Owen
Overcoming Sin and Temptation ed. Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor
Via: Of First Importance
As a follow-up to the previous post on Yom Kippur I want to present the audio from a portion of Dr. R.C. Sproul’s presentation at Together for the Gospel 2008. The title of his presentation was “The Curse Motif of the Atonement” and it was one of the finest messages I’ve ever had the privilege to hear. FYI – this audio selection is a little over 13 minutes in length.
This is an excellent post from Jon Bloom, Executive Director of Desiring God.
Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is perhaps the holiest day in the Jewish year. The nation of Israel has all but shut down operations. And similar to Easter for non-religious people from Christian backgrounds, Yom Kippur has such strong traditional and cultural influence that even many non-observant Jews are attending synagogue and fasting today.
In ancient Israel, this was the day when two unblemished male goats were selected. Then by lot one was chosen as a burnt offering and the other (scapegoat) to have the peoples’ sins transferred on to it ritually and bear them away into the wilderness.
Regarding this day, God said,
For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins… And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest… shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary… for the tent of meeting… for the altar… for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins. (Leviticus 16:30-34)
This is the day the writer of Hebrews was talking about when he wrote,
These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section [of the tent/temple], performing their ritual duties, but into the second [the most holy place] only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. (Hebrews 9:6-7, emphasis mine)
The mind-blowing message and scandal of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that Yom Kippur was part of the copy and shadow (Hebrews 8:5) of the entire temple system and that Jesus completely and perfectly fulfilled the Day of Atonement and every other requirement of the law for us (Romans 8:4).
Israel was looking for a Messiah who would deliver them from their enemies. He came. But many did not realize that the primary enemy the Messiah came to conquer in this age was sin, the thing that made man the enemy of God.
Yom Kippur was both provisional and a pointer. It was meant to be in place “forever” until the consummation:
Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites [blood of sacrificed animals], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:23-26)
Jesus turned out to be far more than the Messiah had been expected to be. He was the consummate temple, Passover lamb, sacrificed goat, scapegoat, high priest, prophet and the King of kings.
Here is the good news for Yom Kippur: Jesus the Messiah has put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. The Day of Atonement: it is finished.
Via: Desiring God Blog
The whole concept of hell is so ghastly and difficult even to comprehend that we have a visceral response of denial to it. We cannot imagine any of our loved ones ever being assigned to such a dreadful place. We also find in our culture a rejection of the whole idea of a final judgment. Never mind that our Lord taught again and again that each one of us will stand before God and will be held accountable for his or her sins – to the extent that even every idle word we speak will be brought into judgment. No one escapes that judgment of God. We all must stand before that final tribunal and be judged not on a curve, not according to how we stack up against other people in this world, but how we stand according to God’s standard of righteousness, a standard that none of us will ever reach.
The Bible speaks of two ways in which people die. There are those who die in faith and, because of that faith, are linked to the atoning work of Christ and receive the benefits of His atoning work, including entrance into His kingdom. The other way that the Bible speaks of dying is dying in sin. Those who die in sin are those who die in a state of impenitence. Such people have never bowed the knee to the living God and cried out from their helplessness for His grace. Instead of clinging to the cross and coming with nothing in our hands, it is our nature as fallen creatures to try to bring something in our hands that will pay the price that needs to be paid for our redemption. This is the height or, perhaps, the nadir of folly. The only thing we can be sure of is that death will give us judgment. The question is, do we have that faith by which we are linked to the righteousness of Christ and all the benefits of His ministry on our behalf, or will we stand alone at that judgment bar of Christ?
—Dr. R.C. Sproul
TableTalk, October 2010
Up, then, my Christian reader, to the service of your Lord and Master. Awake you that sleep! Rouse up from selfishness and indolence, and disinter your buried talent. Go to the cross, where, in tears and blood, in suffering and death, your hell was extinguished and your heaven won, and before that cross blush that you should for one moment have hesitated to yield your ransomed powers, gifts, time, and possessions entirely, freely, and supremely to the Savior. From this solemn hour let love constrain you to a simple, self-denying, unfaltering devotion to Him who sacrificed His life for you, and who, at His second coming in glory and majesty, will make you sit down at the marriage banquet, and serve you. “Where I am, there shall also My servant be.”
Weary, suffering, persecuted servant of Christ, take heart, for the Master is coming, and rich will be your reward. Bind to your heart His yoke more firmly, His burden more closely, His cross more fondly, for a glittering crown, and a snow-white robe, and a waving palm, and a golden harp await you in glory. Living or dying, be your place and posture that of the loving disciple we have been considering – at the feet of Jesus! There you are happy and safe; there you will derive strength for duty, and grace for trial; and whatever clouds may shade other spots in life, this will be bathed in undimmed and eternal sunshine.
The Tree of Life
Via: Octavius Winslow
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus! (Hebrews 12:2)
For every look at self – take ten looks at Christ! Live near to Jesus – and all things will appear little to you in comparison with eternal realities.
How many millions of dazzling pearls and gems are at this moment hidden in the deep recesses of the ocean caves. Likewise, unfathomable oceans of grace are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again – you will never come to the bottom of these depths!
—Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843)
Via: Erik Raymond
Who is glorious like our God? And what tells forth his glory, but the Word of God? In the beginning, God gave forth his voice, he spoke the worlds into existence, and by his Word all creation was made (Genesis 1; John 1:1-3); and now, from one day to another, the glories of the sun and sky and stars above all give an unceasing testimony to the greatness of this God. There is no part of the world where divine glory does not overwhelm our myopic, sin-stained eyes with a dazzling brilliance. All creation shouts forth the majesty of the Creator with a voice loud enough to wake the deaf and shake the earth’s foundations. And these are but a whisper of his ways! The staggering beauty of the heavens are but the echoes of that voice that first thundered “Let there be Light”! And the whole universe is awash with these echoes of the Word – so that they are rendered utterly without excuse, who exchange the glory that can be known from Creation, even the divine majesty and Godhead of the Creator, for a lesser glory to worship (Romans 1:18-32).
Images of the Savior from the Psalms
Via: Nathan Pitchford
Ligonier Ministries recently released the video of a conversation between Dr. R.C. Sproul and Dr. Stephen Meyer, author of the book Signature in the Cell. This was a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion that covered topics such as evolution, intelligent design, philosophy, epistomology, and philosophical theology, among others. As Christians, we have no reason to fear a debate between science and theology – they are not mutually exclusive ideologies. On a personal note, I cannot begin to describe how much Dr. Sproul and his ministry have meant to me. It was through Renewing Your Mind that I came to understand that thoughtful, rational people need not take a blind leap of faith to follow Christ.
The first video of the five-part interview is presented below. Click through to view the other videos in the series.