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Jesus Doesn’t Believe In You. That’s Why He Saves You. (via Chad Bird)

It’s because Jesus knows us completely that he knows how completely we need to be saved.
And that’s how he reveals the gracious magnitude of God’s love.
From Chad Bird:

Jesus knows good and well that there’s nothing inside us worth believing in. In fact, everything inside us looks absolutely untrustworthy. If anything, when the Lord peers into our hearts, he should hightail it for the hills, getting as far away from us as he can. But he’s not that kind of God. He loves before he looks. And even after he looks, he still loves. Because his love has nothing to do with us. It is not sparked by our goodness or sustained by our obedience. God is love. It’s who he is and what he does. While we were still powerless, he was powerful to save. While we were still sinners, he was still the sinless, gracious, saving God he’s always been.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pg 44.

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The Character Of Jesus Revealed On The Cross (via Fleming Rutledge)

Fleming Rutledge on Jesus’ remaining completely in character while on the cross.
And what a character it is.

Jesus waging a battle on the cross. The whole business of the two thrives dramatises the intensity of his struggle to absorb into himself the malice of those who were reviling him, while at the same time turning his attention toward the one who was looking for a work of redemption. Jesus, in his death as in his life, was entirely directed to the ultimate welfare of others. His entire ministry was directed outward from himself. The kinds of things that preoccupy you and me apparently did not enter his mind. Things like, how am I doing, did I get enough praise today, does that person appreciate me, is that other person over there getting ahead of me, am I slipping behind, am I letting people walk over me – these kinds of things had no hold on him. He was so utterly secure in himself that he was free for others in a way we can scarcely imagine. Therefore, it is exactly in character for him even in the midst of his agony to be mindful of the criminal hanging nearby. Such a thing appears to have been in his nature.

Fleming Rutledge, The Seven Last Words From The Cross, Eerdmans, 2005, p. 75.

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Instead Of Advice, Christ (via First Things)

Preaching that is full of advice about how people can live like Christians can’t transform, only preaching that points people to God’s transforming power in the person and work of Jesus Christ has the hope of change.
The conclusion of an article about Luther’s theology by Phillip Cary at First Things.

How we have always been justified by faith alone is best seen in light of Luther’s distinction between law and Gospel. Both the law of God and the Gospel of Christ are God’s word, but the former only gives us instructions while the latter gives us Christ. For the law tells us what to do, but the Gospel tells us what Christ does. The distinction grows out of Augustine’s insistence, in his great treatise On the Spirit and the Letter, that telling us to obey the law of love does not help us do it from the depths of our hearts; only the grace of Christ can give us such a heart. Luther merely adds: The place to find the grace of Christ is in the Gospel of Christ.
A great many preachers, Protestant as well as Catholic, overlook the distinction between law and Gospel, thinking they can change people’s lives by giving them practical advice—as if telling them how to be inwardly transformed could help them do it. Augustine already knew better. Luther’s addition to Augustine’s insight is merely the glad recognition that there is indeed something preachers can do to help us be transformed: Instead of advice, they can give us Christ.


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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 16

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 16

Q & A 57
Q What benefits has Christ procured by his mediation?
A Christ, by his mediation, has procured redemption,1 with all other benefits of the covenant of grace.2

Q & A 58
Q How do we come to be made partakers of the benefits which Christ has procured?
A We are made partakers of the benefits which Christ has procured, by the application of them unto us,3 which is the work especially of God the Holy Ghost.4

Q & A 59
Q Who are made partakers of redemption through Christ?
A Redemption is certainly applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom Christ has purchased it;5 who are in time by the Holy Spirit enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel.6

Q & A 60
Q Can they who have never heard the gospel, and so know not Jesus Christ, nor believe in him, be saved by their living according to the light of nature?
A They who, having never heard the gospel,7 know not Jesus Christ,8 and believe not in him, cannot be saved,9 be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature,10 or the laws of that religion which they profess;11 neither is there salvation in any other, but in Christ alone,12 who is the Savior only of his body the church.*13

*1 Hebrews 9:12.
*2 2 Corinthians 1:20.
*3 John 1:11-12.
*4 Titus 3:5-6.
*5 Ephesians 1:13-14; John 6:37, 39; John 10:15-16.
*6 Ephesians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 4:13.
*7 Romans 10:14.
*8 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Ephesians 2:12; John 1:10-12.
*9 John 8:24; Mark 16:16.
*10 1 Corinthians 1:20-24.
*11 John 4:22; Romans 9:31-32; Philippians 3:4-9.
*12 Acts 4:12.
*13 Ephesians 5:23.

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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 15

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 15

Q & A 51
Q What was the estate of Christ’s exaltation?
A The estate of Christ’s exaltation comprehends his resurrection,1 ascension,2 sitting at the right hand of the Father,3 and his coming again to judge the world.4

Q & A 52
Q How was Christ exalted in his resurrection?
A Christ was exalted in his resurrection, in that, not having seen corruption in death, (of which it was not possible for him to be held,)5 and having the very same body in which he suffered, with the essential properties thereof,6 (but without mortality, and other common infirmities belonging to this life,) really united to his soul,7 he rose again from the dead the third day by his own power;8 whereby he declared himself to be the Son of God,9 to have satisfied divine justice,10 to have vanquished death, and him that had the power of it,11 and to be Lord of quick and dead:12 all which he did as a public person,13 the head of his church,14 for their justification,15 quickening in grace,16 support against enemies,17 and to assure them of their resurrection from the dead at the last day.18

Q & A 53
Q How was Christ exalted in his ascension?
A Christ was exalted in his ascension, in that having after his resurrection often appeared unto and conversed with his apostles, speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God,19 and giving them commission to preach the gospel to all nations,20 forty days after his resurrection, he, in our nature, and as our head,21 triumphing over enemies,22 visibly went up into the highest heavens, there to receive gifts for men,23 to raise up our affections thither,24 and to prepare a place for us,25 where he himself is, and shall continue till his second coming at the end of the world.26

Q & A 54
Q How is Christ exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God?
A Christ is exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God, in that as God-man he is advanced to the highest favour with God the Father,27 with all fulness of joy,28 glory,29 and power over all things in heaven and earth;30 and does gather and defend his church, and subdue their enemies; furnishes his ministers and people with gifts and graces,31 and makes intercession for them.32

Q & A 55
Q How does Christ make intercession?
A Christ makes intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven,33 in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth,34 declaring his will to have it applied to all believers;35 answering all accusations against them,36 and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings,37 access with boldness to the throne of grace,38 and acceptance of their persons39 and services.40

Q & A 56
Q How is Christ to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world?
A Christ is to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world, in that he, who was unjustly judged and condemned by wicked men,41 shall come again at the last day in great power,42 and in the full manifestation of his own glory, and of his Father’s, with all his holy angels,43 with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God,44 to judge the world in righteousness.*45

*1 1 Corinthians 15:4.
*2 Mark 16:19.
*3 Ephesians 1:20.
*4 Acts 1:11; Acts 17:31.
*5 Acts 2:24, 27.
*6 Luke 24:39.
*7 Romans 6:9; Revelation 1:18.
*8 John 10:18.
*9 Romans 1:4.
*10 Romans 8:34.
*11 Hebrews 2:14.
*12 Romans 14:9.
*13 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.
*14 Ephesians 1:20-23; Colossians 1:18.
*15 Romans 4:25.
*16 Ephesians 2:1, 5-6; Colossians 2:12.
*17 1 Corinthians 15:25-27.
*18 1 Corinthians 15:20.
*19 Acts 1:2-3.
*20 Matthew 28:19-20.
*21 Hebrews 6:20.
*22 Ephesians 4:8.
*23 Acts 1:9-11; Ephesians 4:10; Psalm 68:18.
*24 Colossians 3:1-2.
*25 John 14:3.
*26 Acts 3:21.
*27 Philippians 2:9.
*28 Acts 2:28; Psalm 16:11.
*29 John 17:5.
*30 Ephesians 1:22; 1 Peter 3:22.
*31 Ephesians 4:10-12; Psalm 110:1.
*32 Romans 8:34.
*33 Hebrews 9:12, 24.
*34 Hebrews 1:3.
*35 John 3:16; John 17:9, 20, 24.
*36 Romans 8:33-34.
*37 Romans 5:1-2; 1 John 2:1-2.
*38 Hebrews 4:16.
*39 Ephesians 1:6.
*40 1 Peter 2:5.
*41 Acts 3:14-15.
*42 Matthew 24:30.
*43 Luke 9:26.
*44 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
*45 Acts 17:31.

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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 14

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 14

Q & A 46
Q What was the estate of Christ’s humiliation?
A The estate of Christ’s humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.*1

Q & A 47
Q How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?
A Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fulness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with various circumstances of more than ordinary abasement.*2

Q & A 48
Q How did Christ humble himself in his life?
A Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law,3 which he perfectly fulfilled;4 and by conflicting with the indignities of the world,5 temptations of Satan,6 and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.*7

Q & A 49
Q How did Christ humble himself in his death?
A Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas,8 forsaken by his disciples,9 scorned and rejected by the world,10 condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors;11 having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God’s wrath,12 he laid down his life an offering for sin,13 enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross.*14

Q & A 50
Q Wherein consisted Christ’s humiliation after his death?
A Christ’s humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried,15 and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day;16 which hath been otherwise expressed in these words, He descended into hell.

*1 Philippians 2:6-8; Luke 1:31; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Acts 2:24.
*2 John 1:14, 18; Galatians 4:4; Luke 2:7.
*3 Galatians 4:4.
*4 Matthew 5:17; Romans 5:19.
*5 Psalm 22:6; Hebrews 12:2-3.
*6 Matthew 4:1-12; Luke 4:13.
*7 Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 4:15; Isaiah 52:13-14.
*8 Matthew 27:4.
*9 Matthew 26:56.
*10 Isaiah 53:2-3.
*11 Matthew 27:26-50; John 19:34.
*12 Luke 22:44; Matthew 27:46.
*13 Isaiah 53:10.
*14 Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 12:2; Galatians 3:13.
*15 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
*16 Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:24-27, 31; Romans 6:9; Matthew 12:40.

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Man Of Our Sorrows (via Ravi Zacharias)

From a brief reflection on sorrow, Easter and life by Ravi Zacharias.

Of all the descriptions given about Jesus, there is one that unabashedly stands out to confront us. It is a description uttered by the prophet Isaiah, prodding mind and heart at once: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Like one from whom men hide their faces; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted” (53:3). In this season of Easter before us, with whatever sorrows we might be holding, it is a description all the more fitting to reflect upon.
Maybe you are at a time in your life when hurt is writ large upon your thoughts. Jesus is not unacquainted with your pain. In fact, he draws near particularly with a hand of love. Your wound may still bleed for a while to remind you of your weakness. But he can help carry the pain to carry you in strength. This could indeed be holy ground for you. It most certainly was for him.

Read the whole post here.