60 Seconds On Evil and God’s Judgment


One of the things the reality of the day of final judgment can do is give you comfort when you are confronted with violent, vicious evil.  God is a Judge, and He is returning.  So every finally unrepentant rapist or murderer or child abuser (or liar or gossip) will give an account and receive God’s fair, just wrath.  

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.

Romans 12:19

The Christian can know that His God, His Father and Friend and King, will account for every wrong and every wrongdoer.  None will slip by him.  Each and every sin will be dealt with in one of two places:  The Cross of Christ or Hell.  He can be comforted by the knowledge that every wicked evildoer who refuses to mourn his sin and believe in Christ will have his sin reckoned to him on the last day.  And for every day after that.  All of them.  Unto eternity.  

There are times when you’re confronted with pure, undistilled evil.  Toxic, nasty, virulent wickedness.  The Bible gives us many such cases, and the children of God often (in Psalms, Lamentations, and the Prophets, for instance) call out to God for justice in the face of them.  “Lord, they have ripped open pregnant women and murdered mother and child.  The have burned the homes of families for sport and spite.  They have maimed and scarred and slaughtered our people.  Please account for this.  Please judge them!”  These are adult feelings for an adult world.  In this groaning creation there are many times where humans do unspeakably evil things and then laugh at the pain they’ve caused and move on, with no true remorse and no second thoughts about doing more of the same evil as long as they can get away with it.  When the Christian sees these evils and is stunned by them, he can apply the truth of God’s final judgment to the grief and confusion in his heart.  

God is returning.  And all will give an account to Him.  

They do not escape His notice, these scoffers.  They do not escape His offer of pardon and re-creation, either.  

“Come, and be made new.  I saved a rotten thief who was right next to me on the day of my innocent execution.  I can save you.  But your sin must be dealt with.  It must be paid for.  Either here or in Hell.”

We can rest in the God of Judgment, Christian.  We worship a wise, loving, and just Judge.  All sins will be accounted for.  

Thankfully, even our own.  

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2:12

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Palm Sunday Thought


God the Father condemned Jesus for my sins.  

Jesus died to have me.  

Despite the fact that I was a sexual deviant, disobedient to my loving parents, nasty to friends and acquaintances, and a drunken revolver, the God who is Father and Son and Spirit authored a plan to adopt me.  The Gospel, like slow spun gold, was worked out to rescue people like me.   
I am undeserving.  But I am redeemed.  I will not be condemned on the last day.  I am worse than you can know, but every cent of my debt has been paid.  And now joy and hope should be like breathing for me, just as natural and just as constant.  

I have been taken in.  I have been ransomed.  I was an orphan and I now have a Father.   

The Cross was wrath for Jesus and rescue for me.  

I am unimaginably loved. 

And grateful for the church reminding me of it.

But what does it say?  ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ —that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Romans 10:8-13

More Than Good Works


The world does not need more mere good works.  

Being a nice man can’t get me eternal life.  Having solid character won’t make me right with my Creator.  It won’t unstain what I’ve stained.  Being a good guy won’t fix me.  

We are in a much deeper hole than common wisdom suggests.  And a much different kind of hole.  Specifically, this hole is a grave.  

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Ephesians 2:1-3

We are born spiritually dead, all of us.  Lovely and human and valuable, but also wicked and spiritually dead.  And so the world needs much more than deeds of kindness.  The Middle Ages had deeds of kindness.  But what they thirsted for was a power that their churches had long obscured, and the Reformation was the rain that fell on that parched ground.  

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’

Romans 1:16-17

The world needs salvation.  It needs regeneration.  It needs people who have been taken as one thing and remade into another.  And since mere good works won’t do, a mere teacher won’t do.  It needs someone who can undo what we have done and who can remake us from the feet up.  

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.  When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Colossians 2:9-14

Only God can remake a man.  Only God can kill the worst in him and bring him back something better, and not only better but something altogether different.  Only God can pay a man’s eternal debt, a debt incurred from breaking the best of laws, willfully and daily.  

The world doesn’t need more mere good works.  The world needs the power of God.  It needs a Messiah, a Χριστός.  It needs someone who will do what we cannot, and who can make us what we should be.

The world needs something it cannot offer itself:  A death and a resurrection.  A divine rescue.  It’s a great need.  Impossible, apart from a miracle.  

But thankfully the only thing that can outpace that need is His grace.  

As deep as our grave is, His grace is deeper still.  

We have the Gospel we need.  

But what does it say?  ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ —that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Romans 10:8-13

To the Lost and Abused


You are not forgotten. 

You are not irrelevant.  

This world of sin and sinners is often a place where young girls are sexually abused.  Where little boys are ignored by their fathers or beaten by their fists.  Where the small or disadvantaged are trampled by the anger or selfishness of warped men with warped hearts.  

Creation groans under sin.  

And Satan delights in it.  

He hates truth, hates Jesus, and loves pain.  

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?

Genesis 3:5

And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years.  She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.  When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, ‘Woman, you are freed from your disability.’  And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.  But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, ‘There are six days in which work ought to be done.  Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.’  Then the Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites!  Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it?  And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?’  As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him. 

Like 13:11-17

This is a world where Satan often whispers a violent and treasonous song over the most helpless of people, and then dances to their fear and their pain and their bewilderment.  And it is a world where others join his twisted song.  

But it is not his world.  

Hear me.  

Let Hell and death and sin clamor for your soul.  Let them.  But their loudest ragings will not prevail if you will despair of all other hopes and instead call out to Jesus, like a lost and helpless child.  

Let your anxieties and all your most jagged memories creep up on you like old ghosts with sharp teeth.  They will not get to claim you if you are ransomed by the King of Kings.  

Let pain be pain and fear be fear.  Neither will have the last word if you will believe in Jesus.  

I know you have been wounded to the bone.  

You don’t trust people.  You don’t trust God. And you don’t trust “the world,” by which you probably mean people and God.  

You have heard that God is different from the one who abused you, but you don’t believe it.  

Believe.  

The one who violated you?  I know he used you.  But this is a God who was obliterated to bless people just like you.  

He lied to you.  But this is a God who speaks only truth; He can do no other.  

He promised to change, to be better, only to hurt you time and time and time and time again.  But this is a God who endured Hell and shame and death and agony to keep His promises. 

This God is different from the one who hated and harmed you.  Unimaginably different.  This Jesus will never leave, never forsake, never forget you.  He would rather die than lose those He claims, and the Cross stands as a vertical proof of it.  This is a Lord with a heart for the lowly and the bruised, and who breaks all the violent who refuse to repent. 

You have suffered.  

So has He.  

And at the place your suffering and His meet, namely your faith, a new song starts.  One that sin and death and Satan hate to the core.  

And one that is no whisper, no lie, and that never, ever ends.  

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 

1 Peter 5:8-9

10 Seconds On Joy


Just straight Scripture, here.  

Jesus, to His disciples the night before He was led to the slaughter to save His people: 

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 

John 16:21-22

No one will take your joy from you.  

Amen and amen.  

He Doesn’t Control Some Things

  
That’s right.  He controls all things.  

Is a trumpet blown in a city,and the people are not afraid?  Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? 

Amos 3:6

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?  Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?  Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? 

Lamentations 3:37-39

For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Acts 4:27-28

And this is very, very Good News.  

The greatest comfort I can give a child of God, and I can only give it to a child of God (meaning someone who has been adopted by God through faith in Jesus Christ), is that God is in total, absolute control of your pain.   And the reason why that’s comforting for the Christian is that God promises to work all things together for the good of His elect.  

This is a God whose hand predestined the worst sin in history for His people’s rescue.  

He does no evil, but neither is He perplexed or surprised by any evil.  And He will work all things together for His good purposes.  

From the other side of Christ’s return, there will not be one moment of history, from Eden’s tree to Calvary’s Cross to Hitler’s Holocaust to Hell’s shut doors, where Satan will be able to say, “Well, at least He didn’t get to work that one out for His purposes.”  When all is said and done, God’s glory and beauty and His people’s good will be pulled from every page of history, even the bloody and awful and scary ones.  And the greatest proof of that is Christ’s bloody and awful Cross.  

Some of you who are born again and in chaos or agony need to internalize this.  

What is frustrating to the unbelieving heart is peace to believing one:  There is no sovereign but God.  

I am telling you to pray to the God who will roll up the sky like a blanket, who set the Milky Way spinning as though it were a top, who fashioned all our souls from His own creative heart.  This is not a God who will win at the last second on a Hail Mary.  I am here to tell you there is a King in the Heavens.  A King.  God is not a powerful figure with good intentions who can only do so much.  This is the King of all creation, and He is taking audiences with all who will call upon Him in faith.  

There is nothing that befalls us that is not ordained by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

Keep all your gods, America.  I have met the only One who can save a man like me.  

This God is in control.

A Truer Story

  
Kudos to Julie Roys of Moody Radio for saying something very true very succinctly on a recent Christianity Today podcast.

Mrs. Roys pointed out that there’s a worldview difference between the mindset of the big-government political left and the mindset of the Bible-believing Christian.  

The left maintains that the cause of suffering we see around us is an unequal distribution of goods and services.  The Bible teaches that the cause of suffering is sin.  And so the left, or present-day political liberalism, and the Bible are telling two different stories about how we got here and what can best fix us.

Where the current mainstream culture and climate would say that our biggest problem is one of opportunity, or that our biggest problem is economic or educational in nature, God says that our biggest problem is that all who aren’t in Christ are dead sinners, evil doers who are hurting each other and deserving of His wrath.  God says that our biggest problem is spiritual.  Where your average school textbook contributor or public school administrator or newscaster would probably say that this or that policy, party, or person is the fix for what’s most fundamentally wrong in our society, God says that only His Son and His Spirit can resolve what’s most tilted in our world.  

This is no small difference we’re talking about, here.  We are seeing humanity and creation cast in two very different lights in these narratives.  

Guys, we can only ultimately bend our knees to one savior.  And make no mistake, we are all bowing to one.  I was talking with a Christian from another country a few weeks ago who commented that in Cuba all education of any kind was free.  Leaving aside the question of accuracy for a second (nothing is free, folks), what I found so treacherous and possibly deadly in the glee that someone might have at that prospect (“Let’s all move there!”) is this:  

The desire for Daddy Government to come and provide for us all.  

Hey, what we need most, after all, is education, right?  I mean, not education so that we can appreciate the God-made world, but so that we can get a job and then make money so that we can buy stuff, right?  That’s what we learned in school, anyway.  “Good” education leads to “good” job leads to “good” life.  I mean, sure they also told us we were all just atoms that happen to have started breathing (thanks, natural selection!), and so I guess I’m not totally sure how collections of atoms that happen to be breathing buying collections of atoms that don’t happen to be breathing is really “good,” but, well, I won’t think that far ahead.  

And the President/Governor/Prime Minister/King is telling us he can provide all that schooling and those jobs and that money.  He can give us what we most need.  He can fix what’s most wrong.  

Hallelujah!

But no government can be a savior.  Samuel gave some pretty prophetic words to the Israelites once:

So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him.  He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you:  he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.  And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.  He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.  He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.  He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.  He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work.  He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.  And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’  But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel.  And they said, ‘No!  But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.’  And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord.  And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey their voice and make them a king.’  Samuel then said to the men of Israel, ‘Go every man to his city.’

1 Samuel 8:10-22

God’s Old Testament people wanted their king.  They were just certain that would be the ticket.  They were sure that would be their solution.  The right cause, the right government, the right earthly hands pulling the right earthly lever, would heal the land and mend the people.  They knew it.  They were dead set on it.  

And then right there with Samuel you can see that it always takes the word of God to remind people how the world really works and who we really are as human beings.  

Even when they won’t receive it, only the Word can tell people the God-honest truth about creation, sin, pain, and redemption.  There is only one Savior who can rescue us from sin.  And sin is what we most need rescuing from.

Samuel had a better story to tell his neighbors, because he had a truer one.  

And so do we.