Monday, May 15, 2006

all that believe are justified

"All that believe are justified."
— Acts 13:39
The believer in Christ receives a present justification. Faith does not produce this fruit by-and-by, but now. So far as justification is the result of faith, it is given to the soul in the moment when it closes with Christ, and accepts Him as its all in all. Are they who stand before the throne of God justified now?--so are we, as truly and as clearly justified as they who walk in white and sing melodious praises to celestial harps. The thief upon the cross was justified the moment that he turned the eye of faith to Jesus; and Paul, the aged, after years of service, was not more justified than was the thief with no service at all. We are TODAY accepted in the Beloved, TODAY absolved from sin, TODAY acquitted at the bar of God. Oh! soul-transporting thought! There are some clusters of Eshcol's vine which we shall not be able to gather till we enter heaven; but this is a bough which runneth over the wall. This is not as the corn of the land, which we can never eat till we cross the Jordan; but this is part of the manna in the wilderness, a portion of our daily nutriment with which God supplies us in our journeying to and fro. We are now--even now pardoned; even now are our sins put away; even now we stand in the sight of God accepted, as though we had never been guilty. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." There is not a sin in the Book of God, even now, against one of His people. Who dareth to lay anything to their charge? There is neither speck, nor spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing remaining upon any one believer in the matter of justification in the sight of the Judge of all the earth. Let present privilege awaken us to present duty, and now, while life lasts, let us spend and be spent for our sweet Lord Jesus.

Friday, May 12, 2006

the global church

When I think of the term "church", I usually think of my local church. Maybe I think of denominations or doctrinal distinctions. My point is that I don't usually think of the church as a WHOLE - all believers scattered around the globe.

I've been reading through Revelation. I'm trying NOT to come to scripture with any preconceptions; just let it say to me what it's saying in it's own way. It's a refreshing way to read a book I don't normally crack the pages of. Here's the passage that popped for me today. It speaks of the church (kingdom) from heaven's perspective, not mine.

""Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth." - from Rev 5 ESV

Friday, May 05, 2006

lydia's heart

"One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message." - Acts

Luke is careful to point out that Lydia was one of those "listening" to Paul, though the original language conveys the idea that Lydia "kept on listening," which is a way of saying that she listened intently to what was probably Paul's lengthy discourse from the pages of the Old Testament. It was during this exposition of the gospel by Paul that "the Lord opened Lydia's heart to respond to Paul's message." It is important that we not miss the thrust of Luke's wording here.

First of all, it is the Lord himself who opens Lydia's heart so that she can believe the gospel at all. This is not the first time that Luke has spoken this way, for this certainly echoes Luke's previous comments recorded in Acts 13:48, where Luke had reported that when Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel in Psidion Antioch, "all who were ordained to eternal life believed." In that text we saw that God has not only ordained who will believe, but he has also ordained how it is that those whom he has chosen from eternity past are called to faith in Christ, and that is through the preaching of the gospel. Thus it is through the Word that God opens hearts to trust in the very Savior whom the Word reveals to us. And we see exactly the same thing here. It is through the teaching and preaching of the Word that Jesus Christ opens the hearts of fallen sinners to trust the savior.

Second, this is what Israel's prophets had said would one of the distinguishing characteristic of the great Messianic age to come. In Jeremiah 31 our Old Testament lesson this morning, we saw that the prophet had described the coming Messianic age in terms of a New Covenant, a covenant in which God himself will change the sinful hearts of covenant breakers, forgiving the sins of his people, remembering their infractions of his law no more. In Ezekiel 36:26, God likewise declares, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." And this is exactly what we see come to pass here in Acts 16. Through the proclamation of God's word, the Lord himself opens this woman's heart, and she responds to Paul's message in faith.

- Kim Riddlebarger