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The Endless Self-Justifying Life And The Gospel (via J.D. Greear)

Finding security in our ability to successfully construct a life is destructive of relationship because others who do not conform to that from which we derive security detract from our assurance of security.
In the Bible it’s as old as Cain and Abel.
From J.D. Greear.

St. Augustine said that before they sinned, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed because they were clothed in God’s love and acceptance. One of the first effects of sin after the fall was a sense of shame over their nakedness. They had always been naked, but without God’s approval, now they felt naked.
That’s a picture of the human race: We feel exposed, unacceptable, and ashamed. Our whole lives are spent as a quest to re-clothe ourselves. We’re always looking for what sets us apart and makes us “right.” We’re always looking for something to validate us, something to prove that we’ve earned our place in this world.
But apart from Christ, whatever we turn to for our justification becomes a snare.
Worse, it becomes a point of division in our communities—and in the church. If I’m trusting in my parenting to be made right, then I need to be a better parent than you. If I’m trusting in my moral goodness, then I need to present a better picture of holiness than you. If I’m trusting in my group of friends, then I automatically assume that we are the good guys and they are the bad guys.
Thank God justification doesn’t work this way. It is given to us freely as a gift in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul says, “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith” (Romans 3:27 CSB).
The gospel eliminates boasting, not by telling us to stop boasting, but by undercutting the very basis of pride: We aren’t saved by anything we do. We can’t keep the law. We can’t make any claim to success on our own virtue. At our core—at our best—we are a race of miserable failures. There is none righteous, not even one.
In fact, we are so bad, Jesus had to die to save us. And that destroys the basis of pride.

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The Gospel In Jeremiah (via Graham Goldsworthy)

At MGPC we’re setting out on making our way through Jeremiah on Sunday nights. This follows on from Psalms and John’s Gospel.
Graeme Goldsworthy identifies the Gospel in Jeremiah.

We should not be put off by Jeremiah’s reputation as the gloomy or “weeping” prophet. He has much encouragement to offer the faithful. To be sure, he is remarkable for the way he reveals his feelings and the torment of his soul. This is not surprising given the nature of his message and the constant opposition by most of his fellow Israelites. Yet, even his experience of this sadness and his suffering are a foreshadowing of the anguish of Jesus as he faces even more harrowing torments, again from fellow Israelites, that lead to his death on the cross. Redemption comes through pain, not through avoiding it. The gospel is foreshadowed by Jeremiah’s message and his personal involvement in it. By his words and suffering he points to the sovereign grace of God in his control over world history and his faithfulness to his covenant that will be fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Source.


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Considering The Gospel Evidence (via Dale Ralph Davis)

The beginning of Gospel proclamation was not eye-witnesses trying to convince those who had not seen, but one group of eye-witnesses seeking to help other eye-witnesses understand what they all had seen. Even as Gospel proclamation continued on it was grounded in events that had happened and been seen and experienced.
From Dale Ralph Davis:

What does one make of all that? These were things that the early preachers of the gospel said and preached as eyewitnesses, as men who had been there. Here’s the crucial point: when they were preaching these things, they were preaching to other eyewitnesses, and they were often preaching to a lot of hostile eyewitnesses. If what the preachers were saying was not true, those hostile eyewitnesses would have exposed it as a fraud in the first century and you would never have heard of Christianity. Why didn’t that happen? Because even the hostile hearers could not dispute the truth and accuracy of what these original evangelists were proclaiming. When you preach in front of hostile hearers, you have to be careful with your facts. So, if you resist the gospel, do not claim that there is not enough evidence. There is evidence for you to deal with.

Dale Ralph Davis, True Words For Tough Times, EP Books, 2013, pg 69.


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Sometimes We Forget We’re All The Wrong Sort Of People (via Larry Parsley)

In a book of devotions drawn from the Gospel of Mark, Larry Parsley reflects on the observation that Jesus attracts the wrong sort of people, and sometimes some of us can forget that we’re the wrong sort of people too.

Parsley concludes his devotion with a story that most pastors have experienced in one form or another:

Years ago, at a heated church business meeting, an older man rose to take issue with our pastor and the many changes he had made to reach people who don’t go to church. This man complained how new neighbors from highly churched backgrounds were not interested in our church anymore. And then he leveled what he must have thought was his most devastating indictment: “Since you came to be our pastor, the wrong kind of people are coming to our church.”
Exactly.
Jesus, thank you for welcoming the wrong kind of people…like me.

Read the post at Mockingbird.


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Seeing Love Through Different Lenses (via Heidi Tai at Gospel Coalition Australia)

There are times when I wonder why I scan through so many online articles.
Then I read one like this.
Heidi Tai writes about a loving across generations and cultural expectations.
And the difference that Jesus can make in bridging those gaps.
Just go and read it.
Maybe have a tissue or two around, as well.

Growing up, my dad and I saw the world very differently. Coming from two different generations and cultures, we would clash for many years to come. As I became a teenager, our relationship became a battleground between Eastern and Western values. He would fail to meet my expectations of a loving father, and I would fail to meet his expectations of a respectful daughter. While I longed for love to be expressed through the Western form of affection and affirmation, Dad expressed love through his Eastern lens of provision and sacrifice.

Read Closing The Cultural Gap at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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What A Local Church Really Needs (via Premier Christianity)

Churches can have all sorts of assumptions about what the people who visit or regularly attend them want, and then tailor themselves to meet that felt need. And then share the Gospel. Sort of a Jesus ‘bait and switch.’
This post doesn’t take issue with excellence, but makes a heartfelt observation about what is important.
From Kimberli Lira at Premier Christianity.

When I walk into church I am not paying attention to the décor. I don’t want to smell freshly brewed coffee in the lobby. I don’t want to see a trendy pastor on the platform. I don’t care about the graphics or the props on the platform. I am hurting in a way that is almost indescribable.
Since my husband died, my days are spent working full time. My nights are spent homeschooling and taking care of two young children. I don’t have shared duties with a spouse anymore so everything is on my plate. When I go to church I desperately want to hear the Word of God.
There are days when the tears won’t stop and a trendsetting church is not what I need.
This is not a criticism of churches that have coffee bars, nice lighting and catchy sermon titles. But, in everything that is done, we need to make sure that Jesus is at the centre. It is also a reminder that there are hurting people sitting in your congregation.
There are people whose marriages are crumbling, people whose finances are deteriorating, people whose children are rebelling and people like me, whose husband has passed away after a brutal fight with cancer. And these people are not impressed with the stage lighting. They could care less about the coffee flavour. They don’t need to be pumped or hyped. They need Jesus.
My social media feeds are full of churches boasting about the trendy new initiatives they have begun. Their coffee bars and lighting don’t appeal to me.
I want to see how Jesus has changed a person’s life. I want to see the power of prayer. I want to see how the Word of God can be applied to life. I want to see how Jesus can help the hurting. I want to see how Jesus can heal the sick. I want to see how a broken heart is restored. I want to see how mourners are comforted. I want to see how lives are restored.

Read the whole post here.


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It’s Still Good News (via Michael Reeves)

The good news proclaimed at the Reformation in 1517 is still good news in 2017 and beyond.
Which is why the Reformation will never really be over, or a thing of the past.
From Michael Reeves on why the Reformation still matters:

Almost certainly, what confuses people into thinking that the Reformation is a bit of history we can move beyond is the idea that it was just a reaction to some problem of the day. But the closer one looks, the clearer it becomes: the Reformation was not principally a negative movement about moving away from Rome and its corruption; it was a positive movement, about moving toward the gospel. And that is precisely what preserves the validity of the Reformation for today. If the Reformation had been a mere reaction to a historical situation five hundred years ago, one would expect it to be over. But as a program to move ever closer to the gospel, it cannot be over.

Source