Category Archives: I Love the Church

What is Your View of God’s View of You?

Here is the final post in this string of blogs on justification.

Question two

“When I hear the diagnostic question (see the post entitled “Justification vs. Legalism”), ‘Do I live believing God is more disappointed with me than rejoicing over me?,” the answer is “Yes.”   But with this statement in mind, how should I rightly think about God’s grief and displeasure over my sin?”

Answer

The answer is found with your view of God’s view of you.  How do you view God’s eyes when you sin?  She answered, “I do see God with a scowl more than a smile over me.  Part of that is because I know God is rightly grieved over my sin and I can’t get that picture out of my mind.”

At this point we must make a distinction between a scowl and grief.

God’s view of you when you sin is as a loving Father.  As your Father, he is broken over you choosing a destructive path that is the opposite of His design. But he is broken not angry.

As a dad, my anger toward my children usually comes because I can’t fix the situation or because I am not in control. I get angry because my plans are not being carried out and my purposes have been thwarted (and ultimately because my heart is sinful).

Yet none of this happens to God.  He is a loving Father who delights in his children, who greives over their wayward actions and many times will slow or stop their plans to turn them to himself.  But none of this is with a scowl of condemnation, but through the view of loving Father, who although grieved, will accomplish his purposes and who has already forgiven you in Christ.

Hoping these thoughts on justification strengthen you to live confidently in his justifying grace, gladly in your spiritual growth, and boldly in your witness to the world.

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2 Questions on Justification: 1) How Does a Justified Person Deal with the Sin of Legalism?

After I preached on justification, I had two questions that came to me that I wanted to share with others. I first of all desire to thank God for their humility in asking these questions. My attempt in this post is to pass on the questions and hopefully provide helpful answers to you. These will serve as my next two posts.

Question one

You gave a list of questions in your sermon on diagnosing legalism in our hearts (see previous post). After hearing that list, I am convinced and feel guilty about being a legalist. What do I do now? Or stated another way, “If we feel the weight of our sin, specifically, we feel guilty for legalism, how can we deal with it rightly?

Answer

This is how a justified person should deal with any sin, whether it is legalism or license.

  1. Confess your sin– I am guilty of legalism… or anger or lust. (Don’t’ run from it seeking to escape your sin- see previous post. Definitely confess your sin to God and if applicable, confess to the one you sinned against as well.) This keeps me from living in denial where the cancer of sin kills the soul.
  2. Confess your status– My status by faith in Jesus is that I have been declared not guilty because Jesus died for this sin and his righteousness is mine. This is how God views me and he is wildly generous, excited to exert his full empowering, forgiving, life-giving grace upon me. Failing to do this usually keeps me under the waterfall of accusations that come from Satan (cf. Zech 3:1-5). Another way to say this is to say, “Trust in God’s promises towards his children.”

We glorify God when we plead his promises (In this case, pleading the promise that he justifies sinners. He declares you not guilty and clothes you with righteousness). He loves to hear the loud outcry of needy souls. It is his delight to bestow favors. He is more ready to hear than you are to ask. It is God’s nature to keep his promises. Nothing pleases our Lord better than to see His promises put into circulation.- CH Spurgeon (emphasis mine)

Your battle at this stage is to put God’s promises “into circulation,” that is, to believe the fullness of God’s love for his people, his posture of forgiveness as you trust in His Son, and his power to change you by the power of the resurrection

3. Confess your inability- Just as I am unable to justify myself (unable to make right this wrong before God by working for his approval), I am also still unable to get rid of my guilt no matter what I try to do. Confessing my inability puts me in the posture of humility and primes the pump for living in and heralding God’s ability to do what I can’t do.

4. Live in Christ’s ability– So I will not be indifferent to sin, but I will trust in God’s declaration over me and his power in me to do what is right. We agree with Paul it is by the grace of God that we are what we are. And in his grace I will not sit and sulk in guilt, I will trust him and live to enjoy Him to the fullest. In his grace, I will now fight against my sin- this sin of legalism…anger, lust, etc.- for my joy, the joy of others, and the glory of God.


Justification vs. Legalism

In a sermon on justification, CJ Mahaney helps us understand legalism when he states, “Simply put, legalism is substituting your works for His (Christ’s) finished work.”

CJ also poses some questions that really help expose the heart of legalism.

Questions to help you identify legalism in your own heart.

1)    Am I more aware of and affected by my past sins than I am the finished work of Christ?

2)    Do I live thinking and believing and feeling God is disappointed with me rather than delighting over me?

3)    Do I have an undue concern about what others think?

4)    Do I lack joy?

5)   Do I consistently experience condemnation?

6)   Am I more aware of areas I need to grow than I am of the cross of Christ?

These questions leave many of us standing guilty of legalism, but we need to know how to rightly process the indictment.

The remedy to legalism is the cross.  Robert Murray McCheyne says, “Take 10 looks at Christ for every one look at yourself.”

Jerry Bridges seeks to explain how God sees us in our sin, and how understanding justification rightly frees us up to grow deeper in Christ.

When we pray to God for blessing, He does not examine our performance to see if we are worthy. Rather, He looks to see if we are trusting in the merit of His Son as our only hope for securing His blessing. Disciplines of Grace, 19

We need to hear the gospel every day of our Christian lives….It is only the joy of hearing the gospel and being reminded that our sins are forgiven in Christ that will keep the demands of discipleship from becoming drudgery. Disciplines of Grace, 21.

Few things cut the nerve of desire and effort to change like a sense of guilt.  On the contrary, freedom from guilt through realization of forgiveness in Christ usually strengthens a person’s desire to lead a more disciplined life. Disciplines of Grace, 23.

The next two posts will hopefully help us address the pains of guilt in a faith-filled way.


Posts on Justification: Getting Rid of Guilt Can Crush You or Exalt Christ

I love the church series still continues with a series within a series. I love the church because it is a testimony of God’s amazing justifying grace. So from my sermon on justification I am going to write five quick posts on justification. I hope this is helpful and causes us to trust and celebrate the God who justifies the ungodly.

No matter the sin, the Christian feels guilty for their transgression against God. We can handle our guilt with faith or with the absence of faith. Here is an excerpt from my sermon 3 weeks ago on justification that seeks to explain the wrong ways to handle guilt and offers a brief glimpse into God’s answer for guilt.  The next three posts will also be fleshing out the joys of justification.

When you feel guilty, really guilty, you will do almost anything to get out of that feeling.  This is how many respond:

–       We seek to blame others (we saw it with Adam and Eve in Genesis and humanity hasn’t stopped since). Our goal when we blame: to defer the guilt, to get it off of our shoulders.

  • Sometimes this results in the horrors of domestic abuse. If you can’t fix your own pain, then you blame others with force and anger.
  • Sometimes the guilt results in divorce or shattered relationships because no one wants to humbly forgive but simply make sure the other person know they were the cause of the problem.  Know that you are your greatest problem and many don’t know where to go.

–       Many times escape is the plan whether through alcohol, drugs, food, sex, movies, video games, sports, etc…  Our hearts scream, “Keep me from having to deal with the reality of the pain I’ve caused or the wrongs I have done.”  We want them to go away but after the escape they are there again and usually accompanied by even more guilt.

–       Once some acknowledge their guilt they will try to hurt themselves through cutting, not eating, or simply depriving themselves of something they wanted but now feel no longer worthy to have.

No matter what you have done, no matter whom you blame, where you escape or how you inflict punishment on yourself, you… you, yourself, stand at the end of the day…guilty.

And if you are guilty, then death, condemnation, emotional turmoil, separation from God is your destiny.

Unless there is an answer for guilt. An answer other than escape and blaming. An answer that takes the guilty and makes them not guilty. If that is the case then we have hope. Friends, there is an answer. The answer is found in Romans 4:5 where we are called to “…trust in him who justifies the ungodly.” God makes right the ungodly. He declares the ungodly not guilty. How? When sinners trust in the punishment bearing, guilt removing sacrifice of Jesus.  This is called justification. This is the Christian’s joy because justification creates reconciliation to God.


I Love the Book of the Church

Bible pictureMany books catch our eye and they almost seem to be in endless supply these days. Once you get one book there is another that you would like to get.  Yet in the sea of books, there is one book that is unrivaled in its influence and unparalleled in its importance. God’s Word alone gives life, saves, and lasts forever.  The Bible is the book of God’s people.  I love the Word of God and its permanence in the church.

The book of Isaiah says, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall go the law (instruction), and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).

In reading this, I was struck by the contrast between the last days’ glory and the present situation in Israel.  The text portrays the scene in the last days when the people of God will worship him on the mountain of God.  The mountain of God is so special because it is to remind us of the place of his presence. It is there where God’s people will be led and fed by the word of God.  However a devastating scene stands starkly opposed to this glorious picture of perfection in the presence of God. Surrounding this picture in chapter, in the first five chapters of Isaiah, the people of Israel run after gifts rather than God (Isaiah 1:23). They have thrown themselves at idols (2:8,18,20) and are filled with injustice (1:17,5:7). Their “heroes” are drunks and partiers (5:11,22).  Therefore God promises them banishment from the promised land (5:13). Do you know why? “Because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel” (5:24).  This indifference to God’s word is summarized in Isaiah as arrogance (2:11,12).  Oh may we not fall into the same arrogance. I love the book of God’s church because it is God’s word that preserves His people.  May we heed the warning from Isaiah’s portrayal of wordless Israel.  My prayer for TCC and God’s church in general is that we would hunger, even ache for communion with God which happens primarily in His word.  Isaiah’s words are still on point today when he says, “The grass withers and the flower falls (video games fade, money will run out, cars will break, clothes will get holes in them or go out of style), but the word of the Lord remains forever” (Isaiah 40:6,8). Let’s spend our time with this “forever word,” the book of the church.

For more, see this post by Kevin DeYoung. It strengthened my heart further reminding me why I love God’s word. May we be reminded of the power, joys, and mind-altering truths that await us in God’s word.

Longing to Never Stray from God’s Word


I Love God’s Electing Love for the Church

I am glad to be blogging again after a long break due to vacation and vacation catch up. But let’s continue in the series “I Love the Church” with “I Love God’s Electing Love for the Church.”  Election is not supposed to be debated but celebrated (Ephesians 1:3-6).  Sunday’s sermon on election only confirmed in my heart how gracious God is to choose rebels like us to make up the church.  My rebellion could not be stronger and his love could not be clearer than when before time began, highlighting that his electing love was not based upon anything in the creation, God stopped my hell-bent rebellion and in his strong mutiny-crushing love, he chose me for his own.  This is the story for everyone in Christ’s church. Below are a few quotes from Sunday that might stir us to stand amazed at his electing love and live empowered to love others because of his mercy.

John Calvin teaches us to delight in mystery and calls us to affirm what God’s word affirms and no more.

– taken from Sam Storms book, Chosen For Life, p180-181

“Nothing is taught [in Scripture] but what is expedient to know….we must guard against depriving believers of anything disclosed about predestination in Scripture, lest we seem either wickedly to defraud them of the blessing of their God or to accuse and scoff at the Holy Spirit for having published what is in any way profitable to suppress.  Let us, I say, permit the Christian man to open his mind and ears to every utterance of God directed to him, provided it be with such restraint that when the Lord closes his holy lips, he also shall at once close the way to inquiry.”

JI Packer’s “Election: God Chooses His Own”

-from Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs

The verb elect means “to select, or choose out.” The biblical doctrine of election is that before Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen, those whom he would redeem, bring to faith, justify, and glorify in and through Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28-39; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter for endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us; and doubly so when his choice involved the giving of his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect (Rom. 8:32).

CJ Mahaney

-from a sermon entitled, “Sovereign Grace”

If you perish hell blame yourself for it is entirely your fault. But if you should make it to heaven credit God for that is entirely his work.

Charles Spurgeon

-also pulled from CJ Mahaney’s sermon entitled, “Sovereign Grace”

I believe the doctrine of election because had God not chosen me I would never had chosen him, and I am sure he chose me before I was born or else he never would have chosen me afterward.  And he must have elected me for reasons unknown to me for I never could find any reason myself why he should have looked upon me with special love.

At this point I agree with the great hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” when it calls us to respond,  “…Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Loving and Spreading God’s love with you


I Love the Children of the Church

As I think about TCC, my heart is filled with love.  Treasuring Christ Church is my family and I enjoy caring for them with Pastor Travis and the many other humble, gifted leaders in our church.  Even if one person reads my blog it is worth communicating to them my love for Christ’s church and how thankful I am for His grace in my life to allow me to be a part of God’s transforming work here at TCC.  I want to continue a series entitled, “I love the church” with a note on my love for the children of the church.  Now, although many of the kids are not officially members of Treasuring Christ Church I praise God for granting to us as a church the opportunity to care for and love the children of TCC.   Here are a few ways our lives are impacting and impacted by these children:

1.  Children display the humility and eagerness of faith. (Matthew 19:14)

2. When we serve the kids in nursery (praying over them, playing with them, reading to them , memorizing Scripture with them, singing with them, etc.) we are serving Jesus. (Matthew 18:1-5)

3.  Loving our children is a great opportunity to simplify what we know about God which almost always is as clarifying for us as it is for them.

4.  Caring for children is not an “in the spotlight” job and therefore allows us to serve for the eyes of God alone. (Matthew 6:1-4)

5. A child’s joy, care-free play, and funny phrases are good medicine for our hearts.

6. For the humble, loving other’s children can teach you how to be a better parent whether you are a grandparent, one with several kids, one with no kids in the home or a single because you can spot strengths in some kids that you can nurture in your kids.

7. Intentionally interacting with children provides godly examples for children to follow. (My son Elijah loves Blake Hollander because he is an “Eagle Scout.”  I love that my son has godly examples, like Blake, to look to in the church).

8. Children serve as mirrors into our hearts when they repeat our words, mimic our actions, and ask us why we do certain things the way we do them.  This is God’s design to refine our speech, life, love, faith and purity and he uses kids regularly to do this.

9. Children are quicker to overcome diversity.  I love the innocence, especially in younger children,with which black children and white children, rich and poor all mingle together with such joy and ease being oblivious to the potential tension.  Oh that we might put aside prejudice and pursue one another.

10. Children are so cute.  And many times can serve as joy ignitors.

11. Children are sinners in cute bodies.  This reminds us of the deceitfulness of sin.  Sin regularly comes in pretty and tempting packages.  When my cute little Mercy steals a toy from a child and smiles so carelessly when it is in her possession and yet screams so violently when it is taken away, we are awakened again to the aggression of sin and Satan and our need (and theirs) for a Savior is once again exposed.

12. Seeing the birth or adoption of children in our church should awaken glad expectation and astonished celebration at our great God who is still in the business of powerfully creating new birth in the lives of sinners and spiritually adopting sinful orphans into His glorious family.

These are but a few. Feel free to add more.  I love the children of the Treasuring Christ Church.

Laboring with you to be an example for our children and to learn from our children for their joy in Christ and ours.