As we've worked through the book of Galatians, we've touched on the purpose of the Law (the Old Testament and it's commands, rules, and regulations) and how it relates to the Gospel. This is often perplexing to believers and can lead to some faulty beliefs. Please take some time, put on your thinking cap, and learn from this discussion.
To begin with, I must express appreciation to Kristi Raboin for getting our website going. She spent a good amount of time getting it set up.
I believe that a website for a church is a very helpful tool. It serves the people of the church in many ways, and it allows people outside the church to check us out before they really visit.
Over the past two weeks I have invested a good amount of time on our website. I believe that it is a worthy investment and trust that God might use it to advance His kingdom. Yet I do firmly believe that God does not intend to build His church through a website. That job God has given to real life people.
Churches may build websites, make signs, send out mailings, and do other such “marketing”. But the best commercial for a church is its people. A church website might be snazzy and user friendly, but if the church doesn’t treasure Christ and live out of His life, the website may be false advertising.
I pray that our website is a useful tool to our church and community. But a far deeper burden in my heart is that all of us at Country Bible Church are being changed into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). Then, if people visit us because of the website, they will see a group of believers that are imperfect, yet are running to a God who is running to us in love, grace, and mercy (Luke 15:11-32), and is forming us into a people who radiate “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).
Jesus is precious.
He has done eternally sweet things in us.
He will continue to powerfully work in and through us.
This illustrates these truths well:
I have loved the doctrines of the gospel; they have been to my soul like green pastures. The gospel has seemed to me the richest treasure; the treasure that I have most desired, and longed that it might dwell richly in me. The way of salvation by Christ has appeared, in a general way, glorious and excellent, most pleasant and most beautiful. It has often seemed to me, that it would in a great measure spoil heaven, to receive it in any other way. That text has often been affecting and delightful to me, Isa. 32:2, A man shall be an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, etc.
This man knew the joys of meditating on Scripture with a regenerate heart.
This was a blessing to me today:
We are constantly tempted to look within ourselves to seek to find some reason why God should love us. Such searching is, of course, usually discouraging. We usually find within ourselves reasons why we think God should not love us. Such searching is also unbiblical.
The Bible is quite clear that God does not look within us for a reason to love us. He loves us because we are in Christ Jesus. When He looks at us, He does not look at us as “stand alone” Christians, resplendent in our own good works, even good works as Christians. Rather, as He looks at us, He sees us united to His beloved Son, clothed in His righteousness. He loves us, not because we are lovely in ourselves, but because we are in Christ.
Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, pp. 151-152
I listened to an interview with Pastor Tim Keller this week. In it, he was asked, “How do you preach the gospel to yourself every day?” This may seem an odd question to some. In essence, to preach the gospel to yourself means that we Christians take time to remember the accomplishments of Christ on our behalf, and make sure they are being applied through the flurry of life and its many distractions. His answer was very helpful to me. I hope to implement something like it in my own life. Here’s his answer (taken from Steve McCoy’s attempt to transcribe the answer):
I try to do petition in the morning. I try to do repentance in the evening. So I try to pray in the morning and in the evening. In the evening I look back on what I did wrong and repent. But in the middle of the day I try to catch myself and I look for four kinds of emotions. I always pray in the morning, “Lord make me happy enough in the grace of Jesus to avoid being proud, cold, scared, and hooked.”
I am not what I ought to be. Ah, how imperfect and deficient!
I am not what I wish to be. I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good!
I am not what I hope to be. Soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection.
Yet, though I am not what I ought to be,
nor what I wish to be,
nor what I hope to be,
I can truly say, I am not what I once was;
a slave to sin and Satan;
and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge,
‘By the grace of God I am what I am.’
This is a wonderfully helpful quote for any who are sick of their sins and the residual guilt that comes along with them.
I know not what you may have been in your past life – it matters nothing. You may have broken every commandment under heaven; you may have sinned with a high hand against light and knowledge; you may have despised a father’s warnings and a mother’s tears; you may have run greedily into every excess of riot, and plunged into every kind of abominable behavior – you may have turned your back entirely on God, His day, His house, His ministers, His word. I say again it matters nothing. Do you feel your sins? Are you sick of them? Are you ashamed of them? Are you weary of them? Then come to Christ just as you are, and Christ’s blood shall make you clean. (J. C. Ryle, Old Paths)
Isn’t that glorious!! COME TO CHRIST JUST AS YOU ARE, AND CHRIST’S BLOOD SHALL MAKE YOU CLEAN!
This reminds me of the second and third verses of one of my favorite hymns, “It Is Well With My Soul”:
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
With that solid truth, my heart can sing, “It IS well with my soul!”