Servants of Grace exists to be a resource to the local church through the preaching of God's Word, spiritual growth and training future leaders.


Right now I am reaching far back into the recesses of my brain for moments of inspiration. These inspirational moments are drawn from one of my favorite parts of T4G, the Band of Bloggers pre-conference.

Registration cost for Band of Bloggers is very low, usually around $30 and includes a sack lunch from Chick-fil-a. Each attendee receives a haul of book. This year it was 30 titles total! And of course, this pre-conference is held at Southern Seminary, so attendees have the pleasure of walking this historic and beautiful seminary campus.

Band of Bloggers meets in tandem with T4G. It is a gathering of those who are interested in what happens in the Christian blogosphere. At each meeting a panel discussion takes place. This year Collin Hansen, an editor for the Gospel Coalition web blog, moderated the discussion with panelists Justin Taylor, Trevin Wax, Joe Thorn, Denny Burk, and Tim Brister.

Here are seven reflections from this year’s Band of Bloggers.

1. Bloggers aren’t pixels; they’re people.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting any of the men on the panel, you would discover that they are kind and pious men, every one of them. Watching them on display, speaking with candor and enjoying hearty banter with one another, is a joy.

2. We further Jesus’s platform like John the Baptist or Paul did.

One of the early points out the gate that Trevin Wax made is that we should not try to learn from how Jesus built His platform. If so, we’d be innately self-serving, because that is precisely what Jesus does and should do. His greatest joy is to make much of Himself. Our greatest joy is to make much of Him. Thus, we should learn from John the Baptist or Paul’s example. We must decrease so that He might increase.

3. Christian bloggers should be qualified and tested voices.

The panelists didn’t go so far as to say that Christian bloggers should be called to ministry, but they should be able handlers of the Word and qualified teachers. Anyone can start a blog and have a voice, but is that voice worthy of listeners. Readers should look at the qualifications of the blogger. Is the blogger theologically trained? Is the blogger a pastor or professor? Does the blogger have a reliable voice tested by time?

4. Blogs should be extensions of real life ministry with real life people.

Many of the bloggers on the panel explained how their blog started and continues as an extension of their ministry. Some of their key audience is their congregation or the classroom they influence in real life. If what is written in the digital world does not translate into help for the real world, then it fails the test of praxis. Theory must become practice.

5. Freedom and risk is attached to independent bloggers.

Independent bloggers have more freedom to speak to certain issues because they are not expected to represent an organization. This can be advantageous because independent bloggers have a freer voice. Sometimes this is the manner in which a blogger emerges out of anonymity. They give a timely word about a timely issue. They may even critique that which bloggers connected to an organization might wish to critique but have not the freedom to do so because of a tie to a tribe or organization.

Of course, with this freedom comes a lack of accountability. Independent bloggers should seek accountability with others who might hold them accountable for what they say.

6. Social media conscientiousness is important.

Possibly the most entertaining, used, and discussed bit from this years Band of Bloggers is spawned from Hansen’s last question directed to the panel. Should we ReTweet compliments? Justin Taylor brought this immediately into the arena of sin, by calling it just that. It is a manner of consciousness that should be addressed. It’s sin that must be put under the heel.

Too few of us think about these issues, whether one is a broadcaster, influencer, or participant. Our digital words have eternal consequences. Thank you Justin for bringing this to our attention.

 7. Bloggers selflessly serve others with their writing.

This is something that implicitly came out of the panel discussion. These guys took a couple hours to share with others something they care about. They didn’t have to do this with their time. They did it to serve others.

For the most part, people, even the panelists, don’t earn a living blogging. It is actually a costly practice. For most, it serves as an outlet of thinking and an extension of ministry. They do this to edify others. Their aim is our holiness.

Before we callously troll around a blog and tear apart someone’s writing, we should consider why it is written. Bloggers write to help. Bloggers write to divide right from wrong, truth from error. Bloggers write to serve.

This message came across in every way in which the panelists postured their responses. They wanted to further a discussion and guide the course of a movement in a beneficial, healthy, and orderly fashion.

If you want to listen to the discussion between Trevin Wax, Justin Taylor, Dr. Denny Burk, Joe Thorn and Collin Hansen please go here: http://www.sbts.edu/resources/conferences/band-of-bloggers-panel-discussion/

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Editors note: This is a brand new series on the Gospel designed to help our readers think through what the Gospel is and what it demands.

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Introduction

Psalm 32 is often classified by scholars as a thanksgiving hymn, one in which worshipers give thanks to God for the joy of having their sins forgiven. Due to the phrase “when I kept silent” found in verse 3, it has been common to connect this Psalm to Psalm 51, but as there is no clear indication of this from either the title of the Psalm or its content, it is better to take this psalm as speaking generally to the experience of confession and forgiveness. Thus, Psalm 32 can be also classified as a “penitential psalm” in the same vein as Psalms 6, 38, 51, 130, and 143.

Confession, Repentance, and Forgiveness

The opening two verses of Psalm 32 provide the overall theme, answering the question “Who is truly happy (or blessed)?” Verses 3-5 recount a personal experience of the Psalmist that supports the underlying theme. The terms “transgressions,” “forgive,” “sin,” and “iniquity” all echo Exodus 34:6-7, notably the fundamental expression of God’s kindness and mercy toward those who receive His covenant. No one needs to compel God to show mercy; rather, the faithful confess their sins because they believe He is merciful. Several words occur in a mirror pattern, which bind these first five verses together, specifically the words forgiven, covered, cover, and forgave. There is a contrast in the kind of cover, most notably the fact that when God covers sin, He graciously blots it out (Psalm 85:2). Conversely, when man covers his sin, he is sinfully hiding it (Proverbs 28:13).

Furthermore, transgression, sin, and iniquity as revealed in Psalm 32:1-2 are three key words for sin found in the Old Testament. These terms are viewed respectively as rebellion, failure and perversion. Psalm 32:3-5 supports the underlying theme that only the forgiven are truly happy. The Psalmist declares a time of silence about his sin, stating he refused to confess his sin to God in order to receive forgiveness. The lost vitality outlined in vv.3-4 is really a point of God showing mercy, the hand of God moving upon His faithful to help them come to the point of confessing. Having come to that point, the Psalmist wisely acknowledges his sin and God forgives his the iniquity. This brings the psalm back to v.1 with the implication that the Psalmist has now fully learned the blessedness of being forgiven. The Psalmist references in v.5 the key terms used to describe sin in vs.1-2, using them at this point in the Psalm in the context of personal confession. In verse 6, the concluding part of this section of Psalm 32, the Psalmist instructs the reader on the reality that every person who knows the grace of God should not presume upon that grace by putting off confession of their sin.

The opening words of Psalm 32:6-11, reveal a lesson for everyone who is godly, namely, to offer prayer of confession at a time when God may be found, thus noting the need to reject foolishness delays when it comes to confession of sin (Psalm 32:9). The godly are not expected to be sinless; rather, they are to believe God’s promises and confess their sins (v.11). Verses 6-7 are addressed to God, whom the faithful find to be a hiding place with verses 8-11 being addressed to fellow worshipers, urging them to accept this instruction about ready confession and to be glad in the Lord who shows such goodness to His people.

At the heart of Psalm 32 is the act of confession of sin. Not only does the psalmist confess his sins to God (Psalm 32:5), he also makes a public confession within the hearing of the worshiping congregation. It is the opening of his heart to God that ultimately works forgiveness and restoration (Psalm 32:5, 7). What must also be noted is an important dynamic at work in his constant movement from God to the worshiping community. For the Psalmist to make a public confession in this manner is both instructive to the community and supportive of him as an individual, something revealed in how the community surrounds him in song.

Public confession remains an uncomfortable and therefore infrequent experience, especially for modern Protestant Christians. Particularly in North America two elements collide to inhibit our willingness to admit our faults among fellow Christians. First, the fierce independent streak that characterizes much of our society leads to many being consumed with a concern for personal privacy.

This desire and even overt demand for personal privacy is closely linked to the sense of radical tolerance that permeates the current societal milieu. What is good for you is okay with me as long as you demonstrate the same tolerance for what I consider good for myself. Such a dynamic of misplaced privacy makes us increasingly unwilling to divulge our most private issues and concern to others. This makes it uncomfortable to intrude into the inner privacy of others. The result is often rather superficial relationships with others in which only the most obvious elements of our lives are shared.

The second element that stands in the way of public confession is the sense of perfectionism that pervades much of Western Protestantism. Our desire to be completely independent leads us to assume that we ought to be perfectly able to accomplish our goals, fulfill our needs, and reach our dreams with no assistance. We should have the self-discipline to overcome our shortcomings and lead full and satisfying lives. All too often, however, our lives are marked by failure, dissatisfaction, lack of self-control, and an erosion of confidence in our abilities to meet our own needs or those of the ones we love.

Our obvious, at least to ourselves failure to live up to the “should” and “oughts” of life, instead of leading most of us to confess our weakness and needs, instead cause many of us to hide our failings behind a façade of apparent success, happiness, and control. Twelve-step groups are full of people who follow their sense of powerlessness and fear of being discovered in a variety of destructive behaviors ranging from alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual compulsion, eating disorders, to gambling addiction, just to name a few.

Those of us who make our home within the church have fared little better. The allure of independence and perfection have prevented many a struggling Christian from admitting their fears, failures, and helplessness until the crisis blossoms to the point that it can no longer be denied resulting in the utmost devastation for all those concerned.

Those who have passed through this dark and painful tunnel and emerged on the other side forgiven and restored to their faith in God, almost unanimously speak of having learned the value of confession and accountability within a supportive community of loving, caring fellow strugglers in life. Having a community of faith willing to hear your wrongs as a fellow sinner rather than acting as judges, willing to share from their own less than perfect struggles the experience, strength, and hope they have gained from relying on God’s power, has helped many break through years of helplessness to a place of freedom from a lifetime of compulsive behaviors.

Psalm 32:5 declares, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD, and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” God bore the guilt of the Psalmist’s sin himself. It was lifted up and born away by the hand of God, a very New Testament concept deeply rooted in the Old Testament consciousness of the Psalmist. John says it in similar words in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. “ Confession to God and another human being, freely given and freely received, is an important step from the bondage of sin, bondage that gains immeasurable strength from our fear and hiding.

Conclusion

The great Puritan author Thomas Watson once said there are six ingredients for true repentance. The first is sight of sin, whereby a person comes to himself (Luke 15:17) and clearly views his lifestyle as sinful. If we fail to see our own sin, we are rarely ever motivated to repent. The second ingredient for true repentance is sorrow for sin (Psalm 38:18). We need to feel the nails of the cross in our soul as we sin. Repentance includes both godly grief and holy agony (2 Corinthians 7:10). The fruit of repentance is revealed in genuine, anguishing sorrow over the offense itself, not just the consequences of it. Sorrow for sin is seen in the ongoing righteous actions it produces. True repentance lingers in the soul and not just on the lips.

The third ingredient is confession of sin. The humble sinner voluntarily passes judgment on himself as he sincerely admits to the specific sins of his heart. We must not relent of our confession until all of it is freely and fully admitted. We must pluck up any hidden root of sin within us. “Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit” (Deuteronomy 28:19).

At least seven benefits of confession are found in Scripture:

1)      Confession of sin gives God glory.

2)      Confession of sin is a means to humble the soul.

3)      Confession of sin gives release to a trouble heart.

4)      Confession of sin purges our sin. Augustine called it “the expeller of vice.”

5)      Confession of sin endears Christ to the soul that needs atoning.

6)      Confession of sin makes way for forgiveness.

7)      Confession of sin makes way for mercy.

The fourth ingredient for true repentance is shame for sin. The color of repentance is blushing red. Repentance causes a holy bashfulness. Ezra 9:6 says, “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens”. The repenting prodigal was so ashamed of his sin that he did not feel he deserved to be a son anymore (Luke 15:21). Sin makes us shamefully naked and deformed in God’s eyes and puts Christ to shame, the One who took the scorn of the cross on Himself.

The fifth ingredient in repentance is hatred of sin. We must hate our sin to the core. We hate sin more deeply when we love Jesus more fully. Repentance begins in the love of God and ends in the hatred of sin. True repentance loathes sin.

Finally, the sixth ingredient of repentance is the turning away from sin and returning to the Lord with all your heart (Joel 2:12). This turning from sin implies a notable change, “performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20). “Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols and turn away your faces from all your abominations” (Ezekiel 14:6). We are called to turn away from all our abominations, not just the obvious ones or the ones that create friction in others. The goal of repentance is not to manufacture peace among others with perfunctory repentance, but rather to turn to God wholly and completely. This repentance most importantly is not just a turning away from sin. It also necessarily involves a turning in “repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Here is the joy that is found in repentance. “It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance” (Romans 2:4). We rejoice that Christ has done so much for us and continues to do for us.

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Editors note: This is a brand new series on the Gospel designed to help our readers think through what the Gospel is and what it demands.

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Introduction

The result of God’s just wrath being satisfied is reconciliation (katallaso, katallage). We do not reconcile ourselves to God; God reconciles Himself to us and us to Him. Paul especially emphasizes this point in Romans 5. Romans 5:7-11 says, For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Central to the gospel’s announcement, then, is the truth Paul emphasizes in 2 Corinthians 5:19, 21, “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The Old Testament background here is the transition from a state of war to a state of peace (salom), a kingdom where only righteousness dwells. It is not only the lifting of the covenant’s curses but the positive harmony between foes (Romans 5:10-11; Col. 1:19-20; Eph 2:11-12).

Reconciliation and the Cross

Reconciliation with God is not about feelings but about the truth of what Christ has accomplished. Through Christ God can and does now legally forgive and justify the ungodly, and can simultaneously reconcile the world to Himself (Romans 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:19-20). Because the cross is a work of redemption and propitiation, it accomplishes reconciliation between God and sinners. Because of sin, the original friendship between God and man that was established at creation was changed for enmity. God thus regards sinners as His enemies. For reconciliation to occur, the cause for that enmity, sin must be removed. Christ accomplished this in His death. Paul writes that it was  “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10).What Jesus did on the cross removed the cause of the breach in the relationship between God and sinners. His death expiated our sins.

John Calvin’s comments on the announcement of John the Baptist upon seeing Jesus for the first time (John 1:29) underscore this truth. Calvin writes:

The principle office of Christ is briefly but clearly stated; that he takes away the sins of the world by the sacrifice of his death, and reconciled men to God. There are other favors, indeed, which Christ bestows upon us, but this is the chief favor, and the rest depend on it; that, by appeasing the wrath of God, he makes us to be reckoned holy and righteous. For from the source flow all the streams of blessings, that, by not imputing our sins, he receives us into favor. Accordingly, John, in order to conduct us to Christ, commences with the gratuitous forgiveness of sins which we obtain through him.”[i]

In the old covenant expiation of sins was portrayed by means of animal sacrifices. All of the ceremony surrounding the sacrificial offerings was designed to point to the work of Christ upon the Cross. Calvin explains:

“The sacrifice was offered in such a manner as to expiate sin by enduring its punishment and curse. This was expressed by the priests by means of the laying on of hands, as if they threw on the sacrifice the sins of the whole nation (Exodus 29:15). And if a private individual offered a sacrifice, he also laid his hand upon it, as if he threw upon it his own sin. Our sins were thrown upon Christ in such a manner that he along born the curse. This describes the benefit of Christ’s death, that by his sacrifice sins were expiated, and God was reconciled toward men.”[ii]

Without the right starting point, it is impossible to come to a right conclusion about what Jesus accomplished by His death on the cross. God’s holy love that issues forth in wrath against all that is unrighteous (both sin and sinners), along with mankind’s universal and all-pervasive sinfulness, assure us that there can be no salvation without atonement. God must be appeased, sin must be removed, and peace must be reestablished in the relationship between the two. Jesus secured all of this through His sacrificial death. Those who, by faith, entrust themselves to Him receive all of these benefits of His work on the cross.

It is in the Cross that we discover the depth of God’s wrath against us and His love for us. Because of our sin, He is hostile toward us. Because of His grace, He loves us. His wrath we deserve. His love comes to us freely. By delivering up His Son on the cross, God satisfied them both. This lead Calvin to call the cross of Christ a magnificent theater for the glory of God:

“In it, the inestimable goodness of God is displayed before the whole world. In all the creatures, indeed, both high and low, the glory of God shines, but nowhere has it shone more brightly than in the cross, I which there has been an astonishing change of things, the condemnation of all men has been manifested, sin has been blotted out, salvation has been restored to men; and, in sort, the whole world has been renewed, and everything restored to good order.”[iii]

 

Reconciliation between a father and a son

On a cold rain day in Monroe, Washington in April 1998 my father and I took a walk down the street in front of my house. The night before I was reading in Colossians about how if you don’t forgive you won’t be forgiven and the Lord convicted me that I had held a grudge against my father and now was the time to repent of that and forgive him. While I was immediately pierced to the heart for this and repented, the next day my father came over and we went on a walk. On that walk I told my dad about what the Lord had done the night before, and I forgave him. This event opened the flood gates between my father and I. The Lord had sovereignly reconciled us to each other through Christ.

Fast forward now about seven years after this event and I’m now sitting in my father’s office. We’ve been having some issues and I’m determined to sit down with him. So, determined in fact I was waiting in the waiting room at his physical therapist office in downtown Bellevue, Washington for four hours until finally he’s done for the day, and I can meet with him. While we work out some of the issues that we have I find out the next week that he is moving to Eastern Washington. After that day, I don’t see him for another six and a half years until one day he shows up at a hospital in Seattle, Washington after having come back to pick up some of the things from his office he had put in storage from his physical therapy office many years ago. The Lord once again sovereignly and by His grace brought my dad back into my life.

I mention this story to highlight what we’ve talked about in this article. The Lord convicted me of my unforgiveness and I repented and turned from my sin by confessing it first to the Lord who cleansed me of my sin and then to my dad. This explains why reconciliation is important it reconciles us to God on the basis of the finished work of Christ and to one another through confession of our sin. This is why Paul says that we are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Paul also tells us that we are to be agents of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).

The Great Commission commands Christians to make disciples of the nations. Through being reconciled to God, Christians have a message that is desperately needed in our culture. We live in a day when many marriages are falling apart, where men and women are struggling with addictions to pornography, drugs, alcohol and many other issues. What sinners need is to be reconciled to God. Christians need to be truthful about how Jesus has reconciled to them to God not of their own merit or ability but all by the grace of God. Christians, need to be honest and authentic about how God has sovereignly reconciled and repaired relationships in their lives as they’ve applied the gospel to their lives. As Christians by the grace of God share not from a place of strength but rather from weakness boasting only in what Christ has done in and through them, which enables them to share openly of what God has done for them in Christ. This will in turn help Christians and the Church to produce disciples who not only know what the message of reconciliation is, but who lives as agents of reconciliation in our culture to the glory of God.

[i] Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion.

[ii] John Calvin, Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, 4:124-125.

[iii] Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel According to John, 2:73.

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We’re excited to partner with our friends at B&H Publishing for a giveaway here at Servants of Grace. We will be giving away eighteen books with eighteen winners.  Enter below through punchtab for a chance to win one of three copies of Recovering Redemptioin A Gospel-Saturated Perspective On How to Change by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer, one of three copies of Gospel-Centered Teaching Showing Christ in All the Scripture by Trevin Wax, three copies of The Underestimated Gospel, three copies of Manhood Restored by Eric Mason, two copies of Transformational Groups by Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger, two copies of The People of God Empowering The Church To Make Disciples by Trevor Joy and Spence Shelton,  and two copies of Autopsy of a Deceased Church 12 Ways To Keep Yours Alive by Thom S. Rainer For additional entries suscribe via RSS or email. This giveaway is limited to residents of the continental United States.

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Editors note: This is a brand new series on the Gospel designed to help our readers think through what the Gospel is and what it demands.

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Many evangelical churches truncate the gospel. They focus primarily on the benefits of the gospel for us. They explore the depths of our salvation, but rarely talk about Creation, Fall, or Consummation. Salvation is a crucial act in the gospel story as we explored above but it’s still only one act.

Many theologians have desired to correct this salvation-focused gospel by pointing out the full story of the gospel. But in doing so, many downplay the importance of justification by faith. Some see it as a novel focus of the Church. But justification by faith wasn’t invited during the Reformation. The Reformers were self-conscious about tying the reformed faith to the history of the church, the Church Fathers, and the faith found within the pages of the New Testament.

The chasm between the salvation gospel (often rightly or wrongly associated with those who emphasize justification by faith) and the story of the gospel is artificial. Justification is a key element to the story of the gospel. You could no more remove justification by faith from the story than you could remove The Two Towers from J. R. R. Tolkien’s masterpiece The Lord of the Rings and hope to understand it. There’s a crucial connection between the larger story and the doctrine of justification.

We must examine the gospel through covenantal spectacles. The beginning of Genesis has the ingredients of a covenant. A covenant made with certain blessings and curses. The curses are commonly called the “Fall.” The blessings are wrapped up in the Seed who will crush the serpent’s head.

From the “in the beginning” of Genesis 1:1, we are meant to understand God as sovereign creator and ruler of all. We are His ambassadors as image bearers. However, we have foolishly rebelled against God. We have done irreparable harm to our relationship with Him. The question hovers throughout the story: How can a God who is righteous remain so, and yet redeem His bride from her current state of rebellion?1

God offers terms of peace that He meets—in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Isaiah calls Jesus the “Prince of Peace” (9:6). The question immediately becomes, “How does Jesus’s arrival bring us peace?” Hear what the angels say when they announce the arrival of Jesus:

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them,

‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Lk 2:8-14)

I love how the KJV renders this announcement: “[O]n earth peace, good will toward men.” There’s a gospel expectancy because the question of how isn’t explicitly answered. This advent proclamation of peace is the foundation for Paul’s theology of justification. Without this proclamation there’s no justification! So let’s read what Paul writes about peace:

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ [cultic and covenantal language]. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph 2:13-16 see also 6:14-15 “the gospel of peace”).

“For in him [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:19-20).

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:1-2).

It’s in Paul’s magnum opus, the letter to the Romans, that he makes the connection undeniable between peace and justification.

So when someone asks Paul “How can a righteous God make peace with man through Jesus?” Paul would say, in shorthand, justification. Therefore, the proclamation of Jesus as Hero of the gospel story is not opposed to emphasizing the doctrine of justification. What’s more, study the ministry of Jesus—it’s centered on bringing peace to those who are sinners, sick, scandalized, and in dire straits. Jesus embodies and acts out the divine peace through justification by faith in the Gospels, whereas Paul explores and mines these truths systematically.

Jesus’s arrival marks the proclamation of good tidings for everyone whom God is pleased with by offering peace with God by His blood!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings

Ris’n with healing in His wings Mild He lays His glory by

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth Hark!

The herald angels sing “Glory to the newborn King!”2

 

(This is an excerpt from A Household Gospel by Mathew B. Sims available from Grace for Sinners Books, 2013. It appears here with the permission of the author and publisher.)

1. “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.” Proverbs 17:15
2. Charles Wesley’s “Hark the Herald Angel”

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This is our weekly roundup of posts for 4/14/2014-4/19/2014. If you have any feedback on how we can serve you our readers better, I would appreciate it.  Thank you for reading and allowing us to minister to you throughout this past week through these posts.

Monday 4/14/2014-

Gospel Series: Right-Sizing Our Affections by Aron McKay http://servantsofgrace.org/gospel-series-right-sizing-our-affections/

Speak prayerfully, powerfully, gracefully and to the issues to the glory of God by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/speak-prayerfully-powerfully-gracefully-issues-glory-god/

Tuesday 4/15/2014-

Gospel Series: Imputation by Matthew Fretwell http://servantsofgrace.org/gospel-series-imputation/

Wed 4/16/2014-

Gospel Series: Jesus Expiate That by Joey Cochran http://servantsofgrace.org/gospel-series-jesus-expiate/

Thursday 4/17/2014-

Gospel Series: Justification: The “Lost” Doctrine in the American Pulpit by Dr. Brian Cosby http://servantsofgrace.org/gospel-series-justification-the-lost-doctrine-in-the-american-pulpit/

Friday 4/18/2014-

Gospel Series: The Gospel as Reflected in Adoption by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/gospel-series-gospel-reflected-adoption/

Saturday 4/19/2014

Sermon: Our faithlessness to the faithful God from Malachi 2:10-16 by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/4-faithlessness-faithful-godsermon/

Remain Faithful to the End by C. Walter http://servantsofgrace.org/remain-faithful-end/

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Editors note: This is a brand new series on the Gospel designed to help our readers think through what the Gospel is and what it demands.

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What are we saying when we gather to worship on Easter Sunday? We are actually saying something radical, are we not? We’re saying that an itinerant rabbi who lived 2,000 years ago in a backwater town in the Middle East is actually God. But we’re saying more than that, aren’t we?

We’re not only saying that we believe Jesus was God, but that His life and death and resurrection proved this. We’re saying that Jesus’ predictions of His future death and resurrection tell us that He was no ordinary human, but that he was God in the flesh. But we’re saying more than that, aren’t we?

We are not only upholding the apologetic of the Resurrection, we’re not only affirming that the historic Jesus did indeed rise again and was seen by 500 witnesses. We are also saying that “if” this is true, then it changes everything about us, about the world, and about what we think we know about God.

We’re saying Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures, the hope of Israel, the Promised One who will not only satisfy God’s just punishment of sin against humans. We’re saying that the fallen corrupted world, a world of war and disease and famine and strife and murder and corruption, will one day be restored. We’re saying that the utopia we long for, the blessed, beautiful world that we all want to see happen, but seem powerless to effect–we’re saying that Jesus’ resurrection signals that this kingdom will one day happen. That’s what we’re saying.

But we’re saying even more. On Easter, we’re saying that “if” this is true, if Jesus was God, did suffer the death for sin we should have suffered, if He indeed rose again, than death is defeated, the invisible enemy was crushed, and restoration is on the way. Easter is a kind of spring season, it reveals the first colorful shoots and seedlings that point to a new a brighter day. It gives us hope that the world’s long winter freeze has been lifted. Instinctively, we all long for a better world, we all want things to change, all want personal renewal and corporate renewal. But we all know that mankind, at his best, cannot bring this to pass. The 20th century marked the century of the most human progress. And yet, it was the century that arguably saw the most blood shed. So, by Easter, that’s what we are saying.

But we’re saying so much more. Easter also says that Creation itself, the world, the planet, the universe, will also one day be restored. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ not only defeated the death brought to mankind by sin, but it defeated the curse placed by sin on creation, a planet and universe that now rumbles with trouble, unleashing devastating natural disasters. Easter says that there is renewal around the corner. But Easter says even more than this.

What we are saying Easter says is that there is a new Kingdom and a new King coming. We’re saying this new King is calling citizens of a new Kingdom, enlisting them in the immediate task of creating an alternate community, the Church, who is to be a window, a glimpse into the final Kingdom. These kingdom people, empowered by the king, live by a different set of values. The poor, the peacemakers, the virtuous, the humble, the forgiving, the courageous. But we’re saying more than this.

Easter says that God not only came in Christ to renew the earth, rescue humanity, and reverse sin’s curse, but He came to offer personal salvation and access to God. By His life and death and resurrection, Jesus grants those who believe personal intimacy with God. Easter says that this access, citizenship in the new Kingdom, is not given because of merit or birth but by personal regeneration. Consider Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, the most religious man in Israel (John 3). Jesus said that this eminently religious and presumptively qualified man that despite his religious devotion and spiritual heritage, he too needed spiritual rebirth. He too needed a new heart, a new allegiance, a new life. By putting his faith in Christ, Nicodemus and all who believe, become citizens of this new Kingdom.

All of this is what Easter is saying. It is declaring the Bible’s beautiful narrative: Life was once good and beautiful, how we all think it should be. It tells us that man was created uniquely to image God. It tells us what happened to this beautiful world and to man himself. -An enemy seduced humankind into rejecting the Creator. It tells us the consequences of sin: death, destruction, evil–every imaginable horror. It tells us, though, that God already had a plan to restore His creation and His people, through the death and resurrection of Christ. Easter tells us that the centuries-long desire for rescue–the arc of the Old Testament–was fulfilled in Jesus. It tells us that because of Easter, there is a better world coming.

Easter is an invitation into this new world through faith in the King who died, was buried, and rose again.

This, my friends, and not any other reason, is why we celebrate Easter. If this is true, it truly changes everything.

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In today’s episode Shaun Tabatt speaks with Tim Chaffey about his book ‘In Defense of Easter: Answering Critical Challenges to the Resurrection of Jesus’ (Midwest Apologetics, 2014).

About the Book:
Without the Resurrection, there is no hope.

We would still be in our sins, and the Christian faith could not exist. Jesus would be a fraud since He frequently predicted His own Resurrection, even designating it as His sign for an unbelieving world.

Skeptics and critics understand the magnitude of the Resurrection, and they have developed numerous theories in their desperate attempts to explain away the wealth of evidence. The early Christians focused uniquely on Christ’s conquering of death. Yet many in the church today only discuss this vital doctrine at Easter time—and some fail to mention it entirely when attempting to share the gospel with unbelievers.

In Defense of Easter is a biblical and timely apologetic resource that teaches readers:

- How history and archaeology support the Resurrection
- Why skeptical explanations come up short
- How the Resurrection provides hope and comfort
- Whether Easter is a pagan holiday

Equip yourself to answer today’s skeptical challenges and strengthen your confidence in the risen Savior. Discover why everything hinges on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

TimChaffey #119: Tim Chaffey – In Defense of Easter[Podcast]About the Author:
Tim Chaffey is a pastor, cancer survivor, author, and apologist, with a passion for reaching young people with the Gospel. He’s the founder of Midwest Apologetics and is a popular speaker at camps, schools, and churches.

Here are some of the places you can connect with Tim on the web:

Books by Tim Chaffey:
 #119: Tim Chaffey – In Defense of Easter[Podcast] #119: Tim Chaffey – In Defense of Easter[Podcast] #119: Tim Chaffey – In Defense of Easter[Podcast] #119: Tim Chaffey – In Defense of Easter[Podcast] #119: Tim Chaffey – In Defense of Easter[Podcast] #119: Tim Chaffey – In Defense of Easter[Podcast] #119: Tim Chaffey – In Defense of Easter[Podcast]

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