Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Death, once an enemy, now a friend

Briefly, see the power of God's word! Not just to save us but to strengthen us. 2v1 – grace saved Tim and he must also be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus or to be strengthened by the grace. We sing that grace has brought us safe thus far and grace will bring us home, and yet we live like grace saves and works get us home. The challenge is to keep the Main Thing as the main thing. Grace and nothing else.

God doesn't say grace to save and then works to stay saved. No – it's grace to start and grace to finish! How? Because grace abolished death. In 2007 we've remembered 200 years since slavery was abolished. 2000 years ago Jesus abolished death. He destroyed it! 1v10. Remember Jesus!

Death faced us all but now, as John Owen put it we see the Death of Death in the Death of Christ. The Father sent his Son in love to bear the wrath his elect deserved. The curse of death earned by our sin. Our salvation was promised before time but secured in history. The result of which being that in Christ we don't face wrath but instead all the favour and love that the Father has for his Son. And so, as Matthew Henry put it: Death, once an enemy, now a friend. We will still 'die' and we have died with Jesus. But having died, like him, we rise with him!

The resurrection of Jesus isn't just proof that Jesus was telling the truth. Jesus is the first-fruits of a whole new humanity – a people who die with him and rise with him. Christians are re-born graced-up people! 1v10, we will die but we'll live forever with Jesus. Resurrection life looks to Jesus next appearing, 4v8.

Jesus, 2v8, the risen King on David's throne – exactly as God had promised In 2 Samuel 7. A son of David ruling all things forever. Get yourself into the OT story and find a bigger view of Jesus. Get yourself a gospel big enough to be the same gospel the Bible gives us! A gospel big enough to reach from before time, right through to after it. A gospel big enough to save and strengthen you. A gospel in which King Jesus does everything and we do nothing.

And then enjoy the view! Enjoy the sound teaching. Enjoy the good deposit. Enjoy the glorious gospel. The problem of sequel is defied not be reinvention and pursuit of relevance but by grace. Remember the applications. Paul wanted Timothy to avoid shame and teach the gospel. Charles Spurgeon was right to say:

“How can a man be ashamed when he believes that God has given him grace in Christ Jesus before the world was? My name is not in Doomsday Book nor in Burke's Peerage; but it is in the book of God's election, and was there before the world began... No doctrine like it for putting a backbone into a man."
Grace puts backbone in the Christian! It wakes us up from timidity to boldness. In God's gospel we find the greatest treasure – one so vast that there is no ground big enough for it to be hidden in. When you see the gospel, then, 2v2, why would you do anything but teach it to others. It's the overflow of the gushing river that is the grace of God.

Grace gives the Christian the backbone to suffer like Paul. And, 2v3-6, to face hardship, discipline and suffering and say 'I made no sacrifice'. To, 1v14, guard the gospel by the Holy Spirit. Taste the meat of the gospel in your mouth. Saved by grace, strengthened by grace.

How does it feel?
  • Is it devastating because all that you once held dear is being cut out from under you? Come and hear the word of God's grace and believe God doesn't look at what you do.
  • Is it liberating and comforting because you no-longer need to impress? Not to begin as a Christian, nor to go on. This gospel really is such good news – let it bubble up in your heart.

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