There stands a cross, near not far-
See it: on the cover of the Book,
Around the neck,
In the cool morning mist Of the ‘ol graveyard.
Propitiation. Now there’s a word we don’t hear often enough.
The cross, for the most part, seems to be accepted in our society. People seem to be comfortable with that old rugged cross. No offense is taken by it as it hangs around one’s neck in wood, silver or gold. Furthermore, culture accepts and even appreciates the rows upon rows of white crosses at Arlington. And so, the cross is accepted…. or is it?
Responsibility…. that is what I am after. Who’s to blame, who can we fault, who might we charge for Christ’s bloody death? Certainly, there were a lot of participators. But, who is ultimately responsible for the death of the Son God, Jesus Christ? Was it Judas, Pilate, the Roman soldiers, or….?
Walk with me, it is worth the journey because the answer to the question will lead us to Gospel glory.
“While the Gospel is something worth contending for, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about this business.” D.A. Carson
I like a good mystery! Not the predictable sort; I like the ones that challenge the mind and stretch the imagination. The kind you almost feel like you have to work for to understand.
There is a mystery found in God’s Word. It is the ultimate mystery – A mystery of mysteries. No earthly mystery compares to the mystery of the gospel! Sadly, we do not dwell on the contents or the characters of the mystery enough. But when people do, I find the response is either worship or rebellion. Some behold the mystery and worship, while others grow angry and defiant.
In considering both responses, let’s first unpack the mystery.
“As a pastor, I constantly pray and engage the people of the Village Church to keep what is “of first importance” at the center of their thinking, in both their justification and their sanctification. Over the years, I have become painfully aware that people tend to drift away from the gospel soon after their conversion and begin to try their hand at sanctification. In other words, they operate as if the gospel saves them but doesn’t play a role in sanctifying them. In the end, people become exhausted and miss out on the joy of knowing and walking with the Spirit of God. They miss out on intimacy with Jesus.”
I “know” the gospel. I know it factually. And while that may be good (we need to know the gospel) I realize I often do not live in the good of the gospel. I regularly do not “own” it. Whenever, I find myself seeking to self-atone (seeking to earn God’s favor and salvation), I have lost my way from the truths of the gospel. Don’t misunderstand. I believe in “effort”! Paul said to the Ephesians that we were saved “for good works.”
I try to imagine what it must have been like for those shepherds who, we are told in Luke 2, were watching their sheep by night. I wonder how many uneventful times they had done this very thing. Watching sheep is what they do. Sheep must be protected….night after, boring, night. Occasionally, a wolf may come around, making for an eventful evening under the stars.
The below is a bit of a repost and re-working of an article I wrote last year.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…..
The Almighty God took on human flesh…
He was born miraculously of the virgin Mary….
Herod tried to have Him killed as a newborn….
The “Almost Church” – Almost loves the gospel. The “Almost Church” sings songs about the gospel, reads the Bible, loves Jesus, and genuinely desires to see the gospel advance. But, at the “Almost Church”, the gospel becomes a “help” to the “Almost Christians” who are seeking to build the church. Friends, the gospel is not an additional “help” to building the church, it is the ONLY “hope” of building the church.
I grew up…”Christian”. I have a Christian name, grew up in a Christian home, and learned my abc’s shortly after memorizing the 66 books of the bible. Just kidding… I actually learned my abc’s first; the books of the bible came shortly thereafter.
Ok, so I will jump on the bandwagon of being critical of the Christians, who have jumped on the bandwagon of being critical of secular society (in this case Starbucks), which creates reasons for secular society to jump on the bandwagon of being critical and dismissive of Christians in general.
How is that for a run on sentence?!?
Confused yet? Well, hang in there…
The other day, while I was reading, I ran into this outstanding quote.