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Geoff Thomas has been the the pastor of Alfred Place Baptist Church for over 40 years. He wrote postscript for a book by another Welsh minister, The Glory Of The Cross, which is quoted below.  I have not read the book, but Rev. Thomas’ postscript made my affections for Christ soar this morning! Hallelujah, what a Savior!!

“The Glory of the Cross is understood when we see that the impaled and immolated Christ is not simply a helpless victim, rather that the Cross was the instrument by which our Lord wielded his Almightiness, through the Eternal Spirit, as the weapon of his warfare so that it became the means of his victory over sin, Satan and death. Christ was not simply suffering the will of God, he was doing it.

The cross was not the stake of a martyr: it was a theatre of war, the scene of a mighty conflict. Incalculable spiritual power was being wielded. Sin was being rendered impotent; death was being destroyed; the rulers of the darkness of this world were being routed. At no point of our Lord’s death was there loss of consciousness or exhaustion or strength. His spirit is not simply to depart, or to expire. It is rather dismissed, on the authority of the Saviour, as a magnificent shout of triumph reverberates through heaven, earth and hell – ‘It is finished!’ So forgiveness in the Bible is grounded firmly in the rectitude of God, not his indulgence. It is a righteous act, and a judicial action sanctioned by the Moral law. The sacrifice of the Lord of glory, the blood of God the Son, justify justification. In the flesh of the Son of God the sins of the church of God have been condemned.

Therefore in the logic of redemption there is now no condemnation. In Christ, they are all that the righteousness of God requires the Holy One to require, and for that reason not only may  God forgive them, but God may not forgive them. It is to the divine fidelity that the eloquence of the Cross is ultimately addressed. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ Jesus that died. That is the Glory of the Cross!”

(HT: Paul Levy)

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God is infinitely happy in being God. He does not need us. The Father, Son and Spirit are perfect, needing nothing, and all-glorious in who they are.

“He is the great God… “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity” and created not angels and men because he wanted them, for he is being itself, and as such must necessarily be infinitely happy in the glorious perfections of his nature from everlasting to everlasting; and as he did not create, so neither did he redeem because he needed us; but he loved us because he loved us; he would have mercy because he would have mercy; he would show compassion because he would show compassion.”

~ Susannah Wesley

From Fred Sanders, The Deep Things Of God, 67

For Martin Luther, “the theologian was one who had been seized by the Word, gripped by the address of God, whose very identity was determined by the this prior address of God which then compelled and shaped any response he might care to give. This process was agonizing, existential, redefining at the most fundamental level the person’s own self-understanding as the huge gulf that exists between Creator and creature in all of its terrifying glory comes home to the theologian and drives him again and again out of himself and to the cross where hangs the Incarnate God. A theologian — a true theologian — was one who, through agonizing struggle was driven again and again by the Spirit to wrestle with the text of scripture so as to discern its meaning, and then communicate that meaning in the power of the Spirit to others.”

~ Carl Trueman, Luther On Being A Theologian 1

“The first and foremost duty of every theologian is to let the image of God’s self-revelation in the Scriptures reflect itself as fully and clearly as possible in his or her own mind and life.”

~ Richard Gamble, The Whole Counsel Of God, Vol. 1, 24

God creates everything for his glory… All of life and history is about glorifying God. My very reason for drawing breath today is to glorify God.”

~ Michael Lawrence, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church, 124-125

Why are you breathing today?

“He [Satan] would have us think that we’re better off without God, that our best interests are served by pursuing our own desires and enlarging our liberty from anything that would restrict us from fulfilling those desires.  But Satan was lying on that day when he deceived Adam and Eve, and he is still lying.  Satan intends our enslavement, not our freedom.  He doesn’t intend to enhance our lives; he intends to hasten our death… Our ears need to be saturated with the Bible and our minds shaped by the worldview the Bible creates, so that we will recognize the lie when it’s whispered softly and sweetly in our ear.”

~Michael Lawrence, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church, 134

“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’”

Psalm 40:16

Seeking God is one of the main priorities of the church.  “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).  John Piper, in a sermon on Psalm 40, says, “We seek to behold his beauty, to be with him, to meditate on him. This is our central business in the church—to see the beauty of God. To get our heads into the heavens. To know him for who he is. He is the main reality—not buildings, not Christians, not missions, not heaven. God himself is what we seek.”

But this seeking isn’t complete, it seems, until we proclaim His greatness.  In verses 9-10, David tells how he did not hide or conceal what God has done for him.  He told the people about God’s faithfulness, steadfast love and salvation.  In verse 16, the seeking in the first half is concluded in the second half with proclamation, namely continually saying, “Great is the Lord!”  Piper says, “He is supreme and his supremacy is your passion.”  Part of having a passion for His supremacy is proclaiming it!

So the church’s mission to our neighbors and the nations in which we tell them who God is, what He has done and that salvation is found in Him alone through Jesus Christ flows out of the church’s pursuing God.  A passion for evangelism does not simply flow out of a burden for the lost.  It flows out of a heart that seeks God, a heart that rejoices and is glad in God (Psalm 40:16a).  When we go hard after God and pursue our joy in Christ alone, God is glorified.  When God grants joy and gladness in Him through our seeking, we find that our seeking and loving and worshiping of God is not separate from our proclamation of Him.  Piper says:

“Our passion for God is our persuasion for the nations… our joy in God is both our worship and our evangelism.”

Today is the one year anniversary of Pastor Dan Cummings’ death.  Death is a reality of life because of sin (Romans 6:23) and it is appointed for man to die once (Hebrews 9:27). But the good news of the gospel is that though sin entered the world and death through sin, there is an abundance of grace and a free gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ.  It is through Jesus Christ’s perfect life and death on the cross that sinners find justification by His blood and reconciliation with God.  And it is this truth that leads Paul to say in Romans 5:21, “so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  For the person who puts their faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins, death is not eternal.  As John Owen wrote, “the Father and his Son intended by the death of Christ to redeem, purge, sanctify, purify, deliver from death”… in Jesus, the death of death has come.  [The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (Book II, Chapter III)]

This reminds me of a song from the album Come Weary Saints (which is on sale this month at Sovereign Grace).  The lyrics are below:

It Is Not Death To Die

Come Weary SaintsIt is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears

CHORUS:
O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore

“I think I may say, without offence to God or man, that one reason why God made the world was that He might manifest Himself, not only by, but to the works which He made.”

~ John Bunyan, Works, 1:117

God is the first and best of beings.  And being the first and best means that His people not only proclaim to others how great our God is, but they themselves see, taste and experience His greatness.  God created so that we would bear His image AND encounter Him for His glory.

There are many voices claiming to know the secret to being effective and fruitful.  Out of all of the ones clamoring to be heard, I want to remember the voice of Peter.  In 2 Peter 1:5-9, he writes, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

The secret to being effective and fruitful is not some treasure waiting to be unearthed by the next great writer or preacher.  It is not about Getting Things Done, becoming better organized, reading many books, getting more degrees, or unleashing my potential.  Peter says that effectiveness and fruitfulness come from the qualities of virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love.  These qualities protect us from becoming ineffective and unfruitful followers of Jesus.

But verse 9 is the key… if you lack these qualities, it is not because you do not try hard enough or do not have enough will power.  It is because you have forgotten that your sins have been washed away by the blood of the cross.  The first step in making these protective qualities a reality in your life is knowing that they have already been given to you by His power (verse 3) and never forgetting the cross (verse 9).    The first step is a humble, thankful remembering of the cross.