Monday, July 26, 2010

God's Gospel, III

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14)

As we examined a few weeks ago, the Bible is God’s counteroffensive against sin. It is the story of how God made it right, how He is making it right, and how He will one day make it right finally and forever! Mark starts his narrative of Jesus’ life with the words, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” John’s opening statement carried an even greater punch: “In the beginning was the Word…” The Word was God and the Word became flesh. Jesus was God in the flesh.

God’s response to our depravity was a Savior. Matthew records the angel’s confirmation to Joseph concerning Mary’s divine conception, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” In clear, angelic testimony, the plan of God involved your salvation and mine. The Son would sacrifice his life for us. He would be an open display of the incredible love of God.

In Romans 3, Paul spoke of the impact of his sacrifice:

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. . . . For by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many were made righteous” (Romans 5: 8-11, 19).

God’s love was portrayed by the representative obedience of Jesus Christ. He did what Adam could not. He displayed perfect, righteous obedience. You and I were made sinners by our forefather Adam. We inherited sin and death from him. In contrast to his blatant rejection of God’s authority, we see perfect obedience displayed at Calvary. He cared. He loved. He humbled himself and honored the Father. He gave. He laid it down. He gave it up. He gave it all. Why did He need to die in the first place?

In His book The Passion of Jesus Christ, John Piper describes 50 reasons why Jesus Christ suffered and died. Here are just a few of the reasons Christ died in our stead:

I. To Receive The Wrath That We Deserved. (Matt. 26: 39; Heb. 2: 17)

II. To Restore What Was Destroyed By Adam. (Gen. 3: 15; Rom. 5: 12-21)

III. To Reconcile Us To God. (2 Cor. 5: 18-21; Col. 1: 19-20)

IV. To Rescue Us From Final Judgment. (John 3: 16; Heb. 9: 28)

V. To Raise Us To Life Eternal. (Romans 6: 5; 8: 11)

VI. To Reveal The Savior’s Love For Us. (Gal. 2: 20)

VII. To Reassure Us When Our Loved Ones Die.

VIII. To Redeem Us From Our Empty Lives. (Eph. 1: 7; I Peter 1: 18-19)

IX. To Release The Spirit Of God In Our Lives.

X. To Reflect His Grace and Glory Forever.

So, the perfect sacrifice of Jesus fully appeased the fierce wrath of God. As such, all who believe and repent, resulting in saving faith, will be declared righteous. How do we respond to the sacrifice of Christ in a way that results in true, saving faith? Next week.


Our “bless the children” has been a megs-awesome success. We needed $4250 to clothe 170 kids in Santa Elena, Honduras. We raised about $14,000. Thank you for your incredible faithfulness to this mission venture.

Tonight (5:30 PM) we are going to be at Kitty Stone Elementary School to trim and clean up their landscaping around the quads. I am thankful that when a need arises in our community, we are asked to respond. That speaks volumes about our ministry in the community. Again, thank you for your constant faithfulness.

This Wednesday at 6:15 PM, we are going to lay hands on our second New York mission team (Aug. 1-6). This team consists of:

Bob and Eloise Crossley

Rick and Mindy Cheyne

Odell Christopher

John Martin

Chuck Tomlinson

Mike Nelson

Derek Staples

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

God's Gospel

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (I Cor. 15:1-5)

What is the gospel of Jesus Christ? Where do we start when we talk about the gospel and when we preach about the gospel? Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, lays out the gospel. He says human beings are sunk in sin; therefore, are in desperate need of a savior. So he lays it out: “Christ died for our sins . . . was buried . . . was raised.” Paul charged the Corinthians to “hold fast” to the truth. So, where do we start and what do we hold fast to? If we are going to faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are going to have to go back to the beginning – with God. We must start with God, because God IS the Gospel!

The beginning of the Christian message is that God created “ex nihilo”, out of nothing. God created the heavens and the earth. God created the world, the universe and all that it contains. He simply spoke and it came to be. His crowning achievement in creation was man.

When God created human beings, his intention was that they would live under his righteous rule in perfect joy, worshipping him, obeying him, living in unbroken fellowship with him. Gen. 1:26-27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” God created man and woman in his image, meaning we were to be like him, to be in relationship with him, and to declare his glory to the world.

Just think about the massive implications of creation – that God created the world and that God created you – and then thank God that you are the result of the planned actions of God. And because God has created us, He has the right to tell us how to live.

Adam and Eve were told to rule the earth under Him. They were to rule his world under him. The authority to rule was not theirs; it was given to them by God. Friends, God created us and has the right to command us.

The tree of knowledge of good and evil was a stark reminder of that fact. When Adam and Eve looked at that tree, it was a reminder that their authority was limited. Gen. 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

As we will examined in our “Does It Really Matter” series yesterday, when Adam and Eve bit into the fruit, they weren’t just violating some arbitrary command. They were doing something much more serious. They were rejecting God’s authority and declaring their independence from him. Adam and Eve wanted to be “like God” (Gen. 3) and they saw it as an opportunity to take the crown. There was only one thing God had not placed under Adam’s feet – God himself. That arrangement was not good enough, so Adam rebelled.

Now the Bible makes it clear that God is Holy and Righteous. When Moses asked God to tell him his name, God replied, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.” (Ex. 34:6-7) God makes it clear to Moses: a merciful and gracious God will not clear the guilty!

This is where we must start. The Creator has the right to rule over His creation. He has the right to rule over you and me. And we dare not miss this truth about Him: “Your eyes are too pure to look upon evil; you cannot tolerate wrong” (Habakkuk 1:13). God is holy and God is merciful. And God is just. The Psalmist declared, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne” (Psalm 89:14).

So God is absolutely righteous and just. Our question for today: Are we? Are we righteous? Are we just? Do we still possess unhindered fellowship with our Creator? What do our righteous acts look like to a holy God? We’ll look next week


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Least of These

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:37-40)

I am still overwhelmed. My eyes still see poverty. My heart still aches. Conviction over worldly stuff still haunts my life. Last week in Santa Elena, Honduras, my eyes and heart were held captive at the Lincas of Honduras. The Lincas are an Indian group settled in the hill country bordering El Salvador. Their income is next to nothing, their housing is inadequate, and their physical needs (clothing, food) are in short supply.

We got up Thursday morning to leave Santa Elena having experienced an incredible three days of ministry. Here are just a few highlights: saw over 3300 patients; distributed over 12,000 prescriptions, had 654 pray to receive Christ. We were physically drained and spiritually spent. As the children came back to school (the school closed during the clinic and reopened on Thursday) we were again touched by so many in need.

One little boy stood out among all the needs. He has no mother and walks a mile and a half just to get to school every day. His tattered clothing (probably the best he had) reminded us of the words of Jesus, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” God impressed upon our leader, Bob Slay, to immediately address his need for clothes, and then we inquired as to the others in the school and how we might be able to help them.

The principal and some local teachers shared with us that there are approximately 170 children who do not have adequate clothing. They shared with us that $25.00 would provide shoes, pants, and shirts for school. Did you get that! $25.00!!!

Early Saturday morning I was reading in Proverbs and this verse jumped off the page, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it” (Prov. 3:27). God made it clear to me that we are to raise $4,250.00 to clothe every needy child in that school. Sunday morning you responded with affirmation and we are in the early stages of “blessing a child.” Thank you for your gracious fulfillment of Matthew 25:40.

Maybe you read my Monday thoughts, but live outside of Jacksonville and as such are not a part of the First Baptist family. You can still bless a child. You can send a check to the church and note that it is for children in Honduras. After a few weeks we will forward the money to Alba Anderson in Honduras. She and Michael will purchase the clothing and take it to the children of Honduras. Michael and Alba Anderson are our Honduras missionaries. Make you check to First Baptist Church and send it to:

First Baptist Church

230 7th St NE

P.O. Box 400

Jacksonville, AL 36265

God placed on our hearts last week that we are all faced with an option: Are we going to live for a great comfort or a great cause? Are we going to focus on amassing more stuff, or are we going to fulfill the words of Jesus and look to the needs around the world? I pray God burns in us a desire to live for a great cause!