Friday, April 10, 2009

Jesus Christ: Our Propitiation

Good Friday is over. At the time of this writing, it is 7:00 AM in Jerusalem, which would have been 13 hours after the end of Good Friday nearly 2000 years ago. If we were there at that time, Christ would already be buried in the borrowed tomb for the second day.

These days leading up to Easter are very sobering for us as believers. It is unfathomable to me that the Lord of Glory would descend to this earth; and take on the form of man to become the God-Man in order to become our propitiation to a Righteous, Just, and Holy God. He satisfied the Wrath of God as our penal substitute. The love that He has shown us is truly amazing! Whenever I partake of the Lord's Supper or when I remember the events of this week, it always brings to mind the horrible price that Christ paid to redeem me from my sin. As much as Christ suffered physically, and it was exceedingly great suffering, to willingly accept the Wrath of His Father as it was poured out upon Him, is what I can not fully comprehend.

Christ was tortured and beaten because of our sin. He suffered the Wrath of God because of our sin. He willingly laid His life down and shed His precious blood to atone for our sin. He who knew no sin, became our sin offering. Easter is a great and wonderful day that I look forward to every year. To celebrate Christ's victory over death and the victory He won over the penalty of our sin can not be over emphasized. But these days just before it are an important time for Christians to remember how horrible our sin is before a Holy God. It is a time to reflect on the fact that it was our sin that required the Perfect and Holy sacrificial Lamb of God to die so that our sin could be forgiven. We are free from the bondage of our sin and we need to live in His righteousness because we who have died to sin, should no longer walk in it.

Celebrate Easter and Christ's resurrection! But remember! Remember why Christ suffered so much:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. I John 4:10


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Purpose Driven Advice

I wish I could say that I was surprised that Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Community Church, has apologized to his homosexual friends for comments he made in October to his church in support of Proposition 8 in California. What actually surprised me was his backing of Prop 8 (although belatedly) at all. There are several excellent reads on his inconsistent statements: here, here, here, and here. Both believers and unbelievers have already called him out on his duplicity.

Therefore, I do not need to point out Warren's parsing of words and phrases in his attempt to walk a tightrope between Scripture and his homosexual friends. Instead, I would like to call your attention to some Purpose Driven Advice. It was given to me several years ago (and several times since). It originally was advice that was first given to a young pastor by his mentor and I think it quite appropriate for today. I wish all pastors would heed this advice.

There was a young pastor who was having a difficult time in his ministry. His mentor, who knew that he did not have much longer to live, wrote his son in the ministry. I am of course speaking of Paul in his writing to Timothy in the second epistle to Timothy. He especially gives Timothy counsel on the culture of his day (and ours) and his responsibility as a Pastor in the third and fourth chapters:

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. II Timothy 3:1 - 4:8 NKJV (emphasis mine).

Paul's words to Timothy are pretty plain. He firsts outlines the perilous times. He then stakes out claims about the culture being in great sin. But Paul reminds Timothy that he knows the Word and the Truth. He then gives an emphatic command to this young pastor: Preach the Word! To be counter-cultural and stand against sin and the false teachings of this world. He explicitly commanded Timothy to convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. Paul clearly commands him to be anything but compromising. Truth matters. You can not speak love apart from the truth - for that is not love. However, we should not speak truth apart from love and longsuffering. But we can not tickle the ears of hearers. We must follow the advice and instruction of the Apostle Paul here, so that we too may receive the crown of righteousness. This is where I think Rick Warren has failed. He is not Preaching the Word as Paul commands here.

This is yet another example on why compromising the Word of God is dangerous and leads down a slippery slope. Where do the compromises end? They don't! Once you start, it beomes exceedingly difficult to stop. Warren is attempting to walk a tightrope between Scripture and culture that can not be walked. They are diametrically opposed. Compromise eventually leads to error and false teaching. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." We must not lose our flavor! We must stand firm and be faithful and care what God's Word says, and not what our culture wants to hear.

Preach the Word!

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