Category Archives: justification

Ezekiel 16

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Abandoned straight from birth you were
Left alone to die
Hated and rejected no one
Listened your cries.
Your heritage and lineage is
From the unredeemed.
No one had compassion; you were
Helpless and unclean.

Then I passed by and saw you there
Writhing in your blood
No one washed or cared for you
Or dared your soul to love.
But my soul had compassion;
Wanted not to see you die
“Live” I said, “grow and be
I’ll make you now, child, mine.”

I made you flourish like a tree
You grew up proud and strong
But naked still you were, and had
No place where you belonged.
When I passed by again and saw,
I came and covered up
Your nakedness, and then declared
A covenant of love.

I bathed you, made you clean, and then
I covered up your shame;
Gave robes of silk and linen, and
Beauty became your fame.
You grew as royalty although
From birth you were so poor.
Favor was bestowed on you
Through God, your redeeming Lord.

But you trusted in your beauty and you
Chose to be a whore.
Though everything to you I gave
Your heart desired more.
You took the good gifts that I gave
Made idols out of them.
I fed you, but you hungered still
For approval and love from men.

Did you forget, my child, I found you
Wallowing in blood?
Did you forget your nakedness?
Did you forget my love?
In spite of all I’ve done, you left;
Rejected all my care
For that of men. My child, you must
Listen and beware.

This path you’re on will bring your death.
Destruction’s sure to come.
Woe to you, for you chose to turn
From the Redeeming One.
Through sin, you’ll find no joy or life
Your heart will always long
For more. It can’t be satisfied
Apart form Me, your God.

How sick your heart, your ways despised
For all that you’ve done wrong.
You’ve turned to lovers for payment
And rejected your true Lover’s song.
So, prostitute, now listen:
Your nakedness will be known.
Rejected by all you’ve chosen to love
You’ll find yourself alone.

I’ll judge you as the whore you are
And it will be severe.
My wrath and jealousy will come
And you’ll learn Me to fear.
Remember your heritage?  It’s what you’ve become.
You’re living as the unredeemed;
Forgotten that I am He who gave you life;
Forgotten my love, so it seems.

My child, please listen, and turn from your ways
Repent of the deeds you have done.
Forget not my mercy, forget not my grace,
Forget not the covenant of love.
See your actions for what they truly are
Injustice against the Holy God
Look to me, remember the great things I’ve done
Find merciful grace from my rod.

Do not forget, my child, I found you
Wallowing in blood.
Do not forget your nakedness.
Do not forget my love.
In spite of all you’ve done, I came,
Pursued you with my grace.
So, return to me, your Redeemer God
Return to your Lover’s embrace.

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free in Christ

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So often in my life
I’m tempted to despair
I see the sin in my heart
And the wickedness in there

I can feel like I’m unworthy
Unfit to bear His name
Like I am not His child
Weighed down by all my shame

But then I remember
That the source of my faith
Does not lie within me
But in His amazing grace

Jesus saved me from myself
And all my wickedness
He rescued me from God’s wrath
And gave me His righteousness

Now I am forgiven
I No longer stand condemned
I’ve been cleansed in His blood
Washed clean and free from my sin

So now I am worthy
Because I bear His name
I am His chosen child
He has taken all my blame

Now I’m free in Christ
My hope in Him secure
I’m free to live for Him
My inheritance is sure

Copyright Matthew Rawlings, March 27, 2009

the foundation of our confidence

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God said “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

 

“The same God I trust for justification is in control of every single moment, of every single day, and every single circumstance.  The foundation of my confidence could not be in my circumstances which seemed to be out of control or in my income which amounted to very little or my feelings which seemed rockier than the roughest waters.  The foundation of my confidence had to be in God, in who He is and who He had revealed himself to be.  Our struggles are so difficult because the foundation of our confidence rests in the wrong place.  The foundation of our confidence rests in God alone”  Steve Bice

 

Psalm 62:1-2

For God alone, my soul waits in silence.  From Him comes my salvation.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress.  I shall not be greatly shaken.

 

“There are times that God calls us to have faith for something that we don’t know the outcome of but we are never called to place our faith in something unknown, in someone unknown.  The event may be unknown, but the Someone in the event is never unknown.  Our confidence must be in God who has graciously revealed himself to us.  A still heart before God is one that remembers that our salvation comes from God alone.”  Steve Bice

 

“Regardless of our performance we are always dependent on God’s grace” Jerry Bridges

 

“To preach the gospel to yourself means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in his shed blood and righteous life.  It means that you appropriate again by faith the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God.  In both its precepts and penalty, He fulfilled the law of God in its most exacting requirements and he did this in our place as our representative and our substitute.  He is your propitiation so that God’s holy wrath is no longer directed towards you. 

 

To preach the gospel to yourself means that you take at face value the precious words of Romans 4:7-8.  “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven and whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”  You believe in the testimony of God that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  You believe that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.  You believe that He forgave you all your sins.  That He reconciled you to present you blameless, holy and above reproach before Him. 

 

To preach the gospel to yourself means that you appropriate by faith the words of Isaiah 53:6 that the Lord has laid on Him the iniquities of us all.  It means you dwell on the promise that God has removed your sins from you as far as the east is from the west. That He has blotted out your transgressions and remembers your sins no more.”  Jerry Bridges

 

That is preaching the gospel to yourself.  That we cannot get tired of, weary of.  It cannot become this mantra “you need to preach the gospel to yourself, you need to preach the gospel to yourself.”  This truth is true in you no matter how you feel, no matter how your week’s been.  There is great confidence there.  There is great peace there. 

 

“If God were to change, it would be the worst possible news imaginable.  He could not be trusted.  Our salvation would be called into question because we wouldn’t know if God would change his mind at any time.  We would have no rest in a changing God.  There would be no rest, no confidence whatsoever.  If God were a changing God, we may as well just pick another source of confidence.  But the one thing that sets God apart is that He never ever changes.”  Steve Bice

 

“If God varied as we do –  if he willed one thing today and another tomorrow – if he were controlled by impulse, who could confide in Him?  But all praise to his glorious name, He is ever the same.  His purpose is fixed, His will is stable, His word is sure. Here then is a Rock on which we may fix our feet while the mighty torrent is sweeping away everything around us.  The permanence of God’s character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises.  For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed by my kindness will not depart from the neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed says the Lord that has mercy on you.” AW Pink – The Attributes of God

 

“Other men build as best they may but true believers rest upon the Rock of Ages.  Their confidence is altogether beyond themselves.  Though the earth gives way and it will give way and feels that it gives way daily the believer does not fear.”  CH Spurgeon

 

“We never know what strength is till our own weakness drives us to trust Omnipotence.  We never know how safe our Refuge is till all other refuges fail us.”  CH Spurgeon

who were you five years ago?

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yesterday when I was meeting with Matt (my pastor) we were talking about God’s power to change lives.  Often I feel that its up to me to change myself… that its up to my great faith (oh wait, i don’t have that).  I get discouraged when change doesn’t happen as quickly as I think it should.  I feel like I’m letting God down by not “holding up my part of the bargain.”  After all, He saved me, its my job to “return the favor” by living for Him, right? 

As I’m writing this, it seems absurd to think this way.  Yet I find this thinking is so pervasive in my life.  When things are hard, I naturally assume that its because I did something wrong or failed to trust God fully or that its judgment for something I did wrong in my past.  And when things go well, I assume its because I did something right and God is pleased therefore He makes my life easy.

So Matt asked me to list ways that I am different from 5 years ago.  He wanted to know specifics of what has changed and what caused those changes.  To be honest with you I didn’t know where to start…   Really the only thing that is the same now is my name.  And the fact that I’m employed full time.  But even where I’m employed is different. 

Here are a 5 things that have changed in my life in the last 5 years:
1.  Five years ago I did not care about God.  I did not love God.  Today, I’m aware my love for Him is very small, very imperfectly offered and not nearly as passionate as it should be, but I do in fact love Him.  And my desire is to love Him more and more each day. 

2.  Five years ago, my desires, passions and lusts controlled every aspect of my life.  I lived for what I wanted.  I did what I wanted.  I didn’t care who didn’t like it.  But God drew me to Him by showing me His kindness.  He showed me that His love is so far superior to the desires of my flesh.  He gave me a hope that was so far greater than sex, drugs and uncontrolled passion.  I want to know this God who gave so much to prove His love for me.

3.  Five years ago, I was a thief, drunk, druggie, controlled by the passions of my flesh.  I was controlled by my sins.  I could do nothing other than carry out those desires.  But God grabbed me from that slavery.  He showed me immesurable kindness.  He gave me this gift, changed my desires and now I can say that none of those desires control my life.  That’s not who I am anymore. 

4.  Five years ago, when I first began coming to Sovereign Grace Church, it was because they had something to offer me.  I could get something from them.  They gave me free meals, they gave me intelligent (well, sometimes) conversations, they gave me friendship.  And they asked nothing in return.  I came for what I could get from them.  And for several years, I simply came and took.  Today, by God’s grace, I still am receiving so many benefits from my friends but now I actually call them friends.  And I try to be a friend to them as well.  I desire to pass along the same kindness and mercy they showed over the past five years.  I desire to reconcile when differences arise.  It is a highlight of my week to talk each Sunday with my dear, sweet friends, pray with and for them and serve them in many little ways.  Again, I’m aware that I still take more than I give, but its only by God’s grace that I’m there at all… and that I’m giving at all.  So, that gives me faith that one day I’ll give more… more freely and with more joy.

5.  Five years ago, life was about me.  I’m often tempted to despair because I see so much of my life is still about me.  And I know that needs to change.  But five years ago, my heart desired only to serve myself.  After God captured my heart and offered me salvation, my desire is now to live my life for Him.  And I know that desire didn’t start with me.

 

So, there you have it… a brief snapshot of what God has done.  Matt then reminded me that everything I had just told him was all a work of God’s grace alone.  I did nothing to change myself.  Every change that has happened in the past 5 years was a result of His loving hand working in my life.  It wasn’t because I desired to change or because I made myself change.  I can claim no part in those changes.  They are all a work of God’s grace.  He went on to read Galatians 3 where Paul asks the Galatians if they are so foolish to really believe that what God started they must now finish.  Matt then reminded me that, just like the Galatians, I didn’t begin this work and its not up to me to finish it.  Actually, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.  It is a work of grace from a God of grace.  None of it is a work of my own ability… God designed it that way so He would get the glory and so that I wouldn’t boast. 

That’s very humbling… on two fronts.  First, that God would really love me that much.  That He knows all my sin and weakness and failure and that He simply offers to me His open hand full of love.  And He asks nothing in return.  I wish I had something to offer to thank Him for that gift.  But He says even if I did, He wouldn’t be pleased with that.  And second, its humbling because there is nothing I can do other than stand in awe of a God that is that great.  He began this work in me.  He is currently working in me.  And He has promised to complete it.  All I can do is sit back in thankfulness and be amazed at such grace.

 

So, my question for you is this… How has God changed you in the last 5 years?   How have His amazing works of grace transformed you from who you once were?

what part?

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over at the New Attitude website, they have posted a portion of my testimony.  In that testimony, I mentioned a spontaneous song sung by Bob Kauflin… here is a link where you can listen to the version I heard that day.

 

Lyrics:

What part of your sin did I not cover?
What part of your guilt did I not take?
You have broken my commandments again and again
But I suffered in your place.

What part of your guilt have I not removed?
And what part of your soul did I not make clean?
Through my once and for all sacrifice
I wholly reconciled you to me.

And don’t let the temporary pleasures of sin
Keep you from what I created you for.
Neverending joy and lasting treasure
In the presence of your Lord.

And I’m the One you were created for.
I made you for myself.
My plans are perfect, my timing’s perfect
I know just where you should be and go
So why would you give yourself to anything else?

For my blood has set you free
Free to worship me
Free to resist the power of sin
That seeks to own your life

My blood has set you free
For you were made for Me.
So live in the good of all that I paid for
Live in the good of what you were made for
Live in the good of the blood shed for you.

the perfect man

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"I believe that human morality rather than flagrant sin is the greatest obstacle to the gospel today." 
Jerry Bridges
 
"As it relates to our salvation, as it relates to our standing before God, our good works are not even in the picture.  And that’s good news.  Make that your daily thought.  Make that an hourly thought if its possible for you. Remind yourself at all times: we earn nothing for our salvation by our own obedience.  Because of Christ’s perfect obedience, he earned for us all of God’s favor; all of God’s blessing.  It’s His performance not ours."
Dave Harvey

"It is good to know, especially when facing the next world, that for every time we have failed to conform to God's will in thought, word and deed by actively sinning or failing to conform to His revealed will, His Son has fulfilled the obedience that we owe, by never once giving in to the lust, the pride, the sloth, the greed, the selfishness, and malice that is so often allowed space in our overcrowded hearts, Jesus Christ becomes our Savior not only in His atoning death but throughout His life.  In this way, every day of His life was as necessary for our salvation as that dark afternoon on Golgotha.  He was the only fully surrendered victorious sold-out Christian who ever lived.  Our surrender is half-hearted and partial.  Our victories seem to be always sullied by pride.  Even if we could live the higher life, could God not smell our smugness?  Wouldn't our best works be sabotaged by our own depravity?  These good works would be corrupt enough to condemn us on the last day.  So what we require is an obedience of someone else to stand in for us.  It is not only Christ's atoning death but His saving life during the 33 years of His conformity to the Father's will that shelters us from God's just sentence.  This is why the believer when arrayed in this righteousness need fear neither death nor hell." 
Charles Hodge