It’s at the Cross

Back to the cross we come again
Back to the mystery
Here where our Lord laid down His life
A ransom for you and me

There at the cross the darkened sky
Spoke of His suffering
But in defeat our victory came
Death has now lost its sting

It’s at the cross
Christ shed His blood
Sufficient for all
Who believe on the Son

Now at the cross we find our hope
Sure as Christ rose again
We know His work is fully done
Setting us free from sin

Because of the cross we know our trials
One day will fade away
Drowned in the everlasting joy
Of seeing our Savior’s face

Hawker: The Shepherd of New Believers

Great Shepherd of your sheep, is this how you deal so sweetly with your little ones? That explains why young believers, in the first seasons of knowing you, find so much blessed refreshment.

You gather the lambs and carry them in your bosom. You do this in a way that fully proves your love and compassion for the needs of your flock.

Yes, Lord, you are the one who restores my soul. Praises to your name, for you do it all in such a way that proves it to be for your great name’s sake. Your grace comes freely and without reprimand.

‘He restores my soul, and leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.’

Dear Lord Jesus! Grant me this happy frame of mind, that I may say with David, ‘My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise!’ Amen!”

-Robert Hawker

Eareckson Tada: Heavenly Citizenship

“‘Their destiny is destruction, their God is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.’ Philippians 3:19-21

Christians who think the most of the next world are usually those who are doing the most good in this present world. It is the person whose mind is only on earthly things who, when it comes to earth, does little good. C.S. Lewis expands on this, saying, “Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”*

Our verse today highlights what happens when your heart and mind is set on things above. Unlike the person whose mind is on earthly things, you begin to see yourself as a sojourner, a pilgrim on earth. You begin to appreciate your citizenship in heaven. You also begin to eagerly await the Lord’s return, and you anticipate the joy of having Him transform your body into one like His.

Those whose destiny is destruction may say that being so heavenly minded makes you no earthly good. Not so! Those whose minds are on heaven do earth a world of good.

When you realize that your citizenship is in heaven, you begin acting as a responsible citizen should. You begin to invest wisely in relationships. Your conversations, goals, and motives become more pure and honest, and all of this serves you well not only in heaven but on earth. Heavenly minded people are for earth’s highest good.

Help me to understand, Lord, what it truly means to have my citizenship in heaven. And may I act as a heavenly citizen should while I temporarily reside here on earth.”

Joni Eareckson Tada, Diamonds in the Dust, January 24

*Draper, Edythe, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, 1992, p. 305.

Tripp: Modern Evangelical Schizophrenia

“When we ask the present to give us what only eternity can give, we end up driven, frustrated, discouraged, and ultimately hopeless.

It’s a case of modern evangelical schizophrenia. It causes us so much confusion, frustration, and discouragement. It leaves us with unrealistic expectations, naïveté toward temptation, and regular disappointment. It leads us to ask far too much from the people around us and to expect more than we should from the situations and locations in our lives. It makes us search over and over again for what we will not find and spend endless hours wondering why we haven’t found it. It even results in some of us beginning to doubt the goodness of God.

“What is this schizophrenia?” you ask. It is the fact that we declare that we believe in forever, yet we live as if this is all there is. This functional contradiction between our belief system and our daily living cannot work. Here’s why.

First, you cannot make any sense out of the Christian life without eternity. This is the whole argument of 1 Corinthians 15. If the One you’ve given your life to doesn’t ultimately fix all that sin has broken, so that you can live with him forever without its effects, what is your faith worth?

Second, you and I have been hardwired for eternity. Ecclesiastes 3:11 declares that God has placed eternity in every person’s heart. That means everyone hungers for paradise. No one is satisfied with things the way they are. So either you try your hardest to turn your life right here, right now into the paradise it will never be and therefore become driven and disappointed, or you live in this broken world with the rest and peace that comes from knowing that a guaranteed place in paradise is in your future.

You’re sad that things are as broken as they are, so you work to be an agent of change in God’s gracious and powerful hands. but you’re not anxious or driven, You know that this world is not stuck and that it hasn’t been abandoned by God. You know that God is working his eternal plan. He is moving things toward their final conclusion. You can’t see it every day, but you know it’s true. In the middle of your sadness there is celebration, because vou’ve read the final chanter and you know how God’s grand story is going to end.

So you get up every morning and give yourself to doing the things that God says are good, because you know that if grace has put eternity in your future there’s nothing that you could ever do in God’s name that is in vain.

For further study and encouragement: 1 Corinthians 15:12-34”

-Paul Tripp, New Morning Mercies, January 21

Pink: Forgive Us Our Debts

“‘And forgive us our debts.’ Strange to say, some experience a difficulty here. Seeing that God has already forgiven the Christian ‘all trespasses’ (Col. 2:13), is it not needless, they ask, for him to continue to beg. God for forgiveness? This difficulty is self-created, through a failure to distinguish between the purchase of our pardon by Christ and its actual application to us.

True, full atonement for all our sins was made by Him, and at the cross their guilt was canceled. True, all our old sins are purged at our conversion (2 Peter 1:9). Nevertheless, there is a very real sense in which our present and future sins are not remitted until we repent and confess them to God.Therefore, it is both necessary and proper that we should seek pardon for them. (1 John 1:6-10). Even after Nathan administered assurance to David, saying, ‘The Lord also hath put away thy sins’ (2 Sam. 12:13), David begged God’s forgiveness (Ps. 51:1).

What do we ask for in this petition? First, we ask that God will not lay to our charge the sins we daily commit (Ps. 143:2). Second, we plead that God will accept the satisfaction of Christ for our sins and look upon us as righteous in Him. Some may object, ‘But if we be real Christians, He has already done so.’ True, yet He requires us to sue for our pardon, just as He said to Christ, ‘Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance’ (Ps. 2:8). God is ready to forgive but He requires us to call upon Him. Why? That His saving mercy may be acknowledged, and that our faith may be exercised!

Third, we beseech God for the continuance of pardon. Though we be justified, yet we must continue to ask; as with our daily bread, though we have a goodly store on hand, yet we beg for the continuance of it. Fourth, we plead for the sense of forgiveness or assurance of it, that sins may be blotted out of our conscience and from God’s book of remembrance. The effects of forgiveness are inner peace and access to God (Rom. 5:1, 2).

Forgiveness is not to be demanded as something due us, but requested as a mercy. ‘To the very end of life, the best Christian must come for forgiveness just as he did at first, not as a claimant of a right but as a suppliant of a favour’ (John Brown). Nor is this anywise inconsistent with, or a reflection upon, our complete justification (Acts 13:39). It is certain that the believer ‘shall not come into condemnation’ (John 5:24); yet instead of this truth leading him to the conclusion that he need not pray for the remission of his sins, it supplies him with the strongest possible encouragement to present such a petition.

Likewise, the Divine assurance that a genuine Christian shall persevere to the end, instead of laying a foundation for carelessness, is a most powerful motive to watchfulness and faithfulness. This petition implies a felt sense of sin, a penitent acknowledgement thereof, a seeking of God’s mercy for Christ’s sake, and the realization that He can righteously pardon us. Its presentation should ever be preceded by self-examination and humiliation.

-A.W. Pink, The Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer, 114-115.

Fuller: Persecution

“It is a strong proof of human depravity that men’s curses and Christ’s blessings should meet on the same persons. Who would have thought that a man could be persecuted and reviled, and have all manner of evil said of him, for righteousness’ sake? And do wicked men really hate justice and love those who defraud and wrong their neighbours? No; they do not dislike righteousness as it respects themselves: it is only that species of it which respects God and religion that excites their hatred. If Christians were content with doing justly and loving mercy, and would cease walking humbly with God [Mic. 6:8], they might go through the world, not only in peace, but with applause; but he that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). Such a life reproves the ungodliness of men and provokes their resentment.”

-Andrew Fuller

Alleine: I Wrestle With Sin

You are my Lord and God, and I will serve you.

I have chosen you as my inheritance forever, and I will wait for your salvation.

Hear the sighing of your prisoner, and deliver your captive. My heart is with you.

I pray that sin would no longer reign in my mortal body. I want nothing more to do with the throne of iniquity. Untie the chains, loosen the cuffs, and bring my soul out of prison.

Search me, Lord, and know my heart. Prove me, and know my thoughts. Is there any way of wickedness in me? Do I willingly go after sins commandments? Do I harbor iniquity in my heart?

It is true: My heart wars against you. It riots and rebels against you.

But do I resign myself to it? Is it a pleasure to me? Am I at peace with it?

Lord, you know. I cannot rid myself of the iniquity in my heart, I cannot do the things that I would, I cannot pray as I would. I cannot listen as I would—nor think, nor speak, nor live as I would.

Wherever I go, sin goes with me. Where I stay, it stays. If I sit still, there, it is with me. If I run from it, it follows me.

I cannot rest, I cannot work, I cannot do anything—sin is always hounding me.

And yet, blessed be your name, this I do: I fight against it. I wrestle with it, though it so often takes me down. I do not trust it, though it flatters me. I do not love it, though it feeds me.

My heart is with you, Lord. I am following after you. I groan and I struggle in pain, waiting for your redemption. Until I die, I will not give up.

I will die fighting. I will die hoping. I will die praying.

Save me, Lord. Do not delay, my God. Amen.

-Richard Alleine, Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans, 86-87.

Faithful Ones

Jesus keep me near the cross
Until I see all else as less than nothing
Jesus keep me near the light
Without that grace my heart will always choose the night

The night in which I doubt and fear You
The night in which I love all that You hate
I need You to instill in me the need to hear one phrase:

Well done, well done
Well done, faithful one
Well done, well done
Well done, faithful one

Jesus keep me near Your heart
The heart of God, who never faints or wearies
Jesus keep me near Your love
The best of my intentions are not strong enough

Oh God, I need an intercessor
Oh, may I plead before you Jesus’ name
For He’s the only one who ever truly earned this praise:

Well done, well done
Well done, Faithful One
Well done, well done
Well done, Righteous One

It’s only in Your intercession
Only in Your strength
Only in Your perfection I am saved
Only propitiation, only Substitute
Only Your intervention brings me now to You

Where I receive a Holy pardon
My advocate is Jesus-praise His name!
Of all who are in Him, it will be said, “They overcame”

Well done, well done
Well done, faithful ones
Well done, well done
Well done, righteous ones (X2)

Pink: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

“‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is
the Kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 5:3).

It is indeed blessed to mark how [The Sermon on the Mount] opens. Christ began not by pronouncing maledictions on the wicked, but by pronouncing benedictions on His people. How like Him was this, to whom judgment is a strange work (Isa. 28:21, 22; cf. John 1:17). But how strange is the next word: ‘blessed’ or ‘happy’ are the poor—‘the poor in spirit.’ Who, previously, had ever regarded them as the blessed ones of earth? And who, outside believers, does so today? And how these opening words strike the keynote of all Christ’s subsequent teaching: it is not what a man does but what he is that is most important.

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ What is poverty of spirit? It is the opposite of that haughty, self assertive, and self-sufficient disposition that the world so much admires and praises. It is the very reverse of that independent and defiant attitude that refuses to bow to God, that determines to brave things out, and that says with Pharaoh, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?’ (Exod. 5:2).

To be poor in spirit is to realize that I have nothing, am nothing, and can do nothing, and have need of all things. Poverty of spirit is evident in a person when he is brought into the dust before God to acknowledge his utter helplessness. It is the first experiential evidence of a Divine work of grace within the soul, and corresponds to the initial awakening of the prodigal in the far country when he ‘began to be in want’ (Luke 15:14).”

-A.W. Pink, The Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer, 15-16.

Pink: Thy Kingdom Come

“God’s name is manifestatively glorified here only in the proportion in which His Kingdom comes to us and His will is down by us…. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness’ (Matt. 6:33). But though men ought to glorify God’s name upon earth, yet of themselves they cannot do so. God’s Kingdom must first be set up in their hearts. God cannot be honored by us until we voluntarily submit to His rule over us.

‘Thy Kingdom come.’ Whose Kingdom is being referred to here? Obviously, it is that of God the Father, yet it is not to be thought of as something separate from the Kingdom of the Son. The Father’s Kingdom is no more distinct from Christ’s than ‘the Church of the living God’ (1 Tim. 3:15) is something other than the Body of Christ or than the ‘Gospel of God’ (Rom. 1:1) is something different from ‘the Gospel of Christ’ (Rom. 1:16), or than ‘the Word of Christ’ (Col. 3:16) is to be distinguished from the Word of God. But Christ does mean, by the words ‘Thy Kingdom,’ to distinguish sharply the Kingdom of God from the kingdom of Satan (Matt. 12:25-28), which is a kingdom of darkness and disorder. Satan’s kingdom is not only opposite in character, but it also stands in belligerent opposition to the Kingdom of God.

The Father’s Kingdom is, first and more generally, His universal rule, His absolute dominion over all creatures and things. ‘Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the Kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as Head above all’ (1 Chron. 29:11). Second, and more specifically, it is the external sphere of His grace on earth, where He is ostensibly acknowledged (see Matt. 13:11 and Mark 4:11 in their contexts). Third, and more definitely still, it is God’s spiritual and internal Kingdom, which is entered by regeneration, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God’ (John 3:5).

Now as the Father and the Son are one in nature, so is Their Kingdom the same; and thus it appears in each of its aspects. Concerning the aspect of providence, we read, ‘My Father worketh hitherto, and I work’ (John 5:17), signifying cooperation in the government of the world (Heb. 1:3). Christ now holds the mediatorial office of a King by virtue of His Father’s appointment (Luke 22:29) and establishment (Ps. 2:6). When the Kingdom is viewed very specifically as a reign of grace set up in the hearts of God’s people, it is rightly called both “the Kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 4:20) and ‘the Kingdom of His dear Son’ (Col. 1:13). Viewing the Kingdom in regard to its ultimate eternal glory, Christ says that He shall drink the fruit of the vine with us ‘in [His] Father’s Kingdom’ (Matt. 26:29), yet it is also called ‘the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 1:11). Thus it should seem perfectly natural to us when we read these words: ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ’” (Rev. 11:15).

-A.W. Pink, The Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer, 91-93.