Posts filed under ‘Thoughts’
This was originally posted at The Biblical Recorder.
All Christians have a deep problem of the soul. We are wired by nature towards self-righteousness. We tend to view our own sin in a therapeutic way. “Well, at least I am not as sinful as most people.” However, if you and I could solve our problems with sin, what difference does it make that Christ was crucified?
Ignoring the reality of sin leads to ignoring our need for a savior.
This is the problem with the religious leaders in John 8:2-11.
Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
The Pharisees saw themselves as sufficiently righteous. In fact, their self-righteousness was so great they were ready to murder a woman who had been caught in adultery.
They had failed to see the purpose of the law. For them, God’s law was a means of earning salvation. By their own standards, they were not only righteous enough to achieve God’s acceptance, but also to exact God’s punishment on those who hadn’t.
If we think we are good enough to fulfill the law ourselves, we tend to look down in judgment on others. However, Jesus looks at the Pharisees and declares, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7).
After an honest assessment, each Pharisee dropped their stones and walked away. An honest assessment of sin brings forth a good sense of humility. We realize that the law is not meant to be a means of salvation, but a means to reveal the holiness of God and our own need of salvation from the sin deeply embedded in our hearts.
Jesus’ initial coming into the world was not to cast stones of judgment, but to cast himself towards the cross for the payment of sin. Salvation is not based on our righteousness, but His. However, he will come again one day to judge.
If we believe in Him now, we are able to go and sin no more, not as a means of salvation, but in a Spirit-filled and worshipful response to His salvation. We must realize that self-righteousness is just another sinful way of rejecting Jesus as Savior.
This was originally posted at The Biblical Recorder.
I will always remember the moment that Laura and I received Solomon into our care. We were in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Our driver came and picked us up from the guest house and drove us through the city into the hills and up to a gated house full of orphaned children. Laura and I stood outside the gate while one of the agency case workers went inside, and after a few moments, our agency worker opened the gate and walked out into the street and handed us our son.
We turned and got back into the van and got situated. As the van pulled off Solomon started screaming and crying frantically. This little child had no clue what was going on. We were pulling baby Solomon away from everything he had ever known. But after a few minutes, he reached his little arms around Laura’s neck and tightened his grip and held on for dear life.
It was moving to see Solomon hold onto Laura, but what really mattered, was Laura holding onto Solomon. Laura and I knew where we were going. We also knew that he was our son.
Solomon came to understand this reality as time went on.
Since that moment, I have never been able to read passages like 1 John 3:1-10 the same: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
As J.I. Packer once said in his classic book, Knowing God: “If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father.”
As we live the Christian life, we must realize that years may transpire before the believer who is adopted by God may know that he is adopted, have a deep sense of feeling of it. We live in the comfort and hope of our loving Father’s arms. And as we grow, that reality shapes us more and more as we head towards eternity.
Jesus Is Greater
In this video, I discuss the unique contribution that the book of Hebrews makes to the New Testament, exploring how the book weaves a beautiful tapestry of biblical theology centered on Jesus Christ.
One of my favorite accounts surrounding the birth of Christ involved a man named Simeon. Simeon was a righteous and devout man. During his life, the Holy Spirit promised him that he would not see death until he had seen the savior of the world.
In Luke 2, Simeon was lead by the Spirit into the temple. At the same time, Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the temple. It was forty days after his birth, and he was brought to the temple for circumcision as it was custom according to the law. Luke 2:28 tells us that Simeon took infant Jesus in his arms and blessed God and said;
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
What a moving moment! As Alexander Schmemann once noted, Simeon had waited his whole life for this moment. Up until this point he was restless, longing for the comfort and salvation of his people. And then, at last, the Christ child was handed to him.
In that moment, he held the life of the world in his arms.
Let us remember that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ. In the birth of Jesus, God delivered on His ancient promise to provide salvation from sin, and eternal life over death.
May we all stop today and thank God that He is a promise keeping God. The Christ child that was held in the arms of Simeon, is the same Christ that would sacrifice his life in order to deliver sinners into the loving arms of a Holy God.
“While transitioning back into pastoral ministry, how do you feel more prepared for this time around?”
I encourage you to visit the For The Church website, it is a great resource for church leaders.
I recently began a sermon series on 1st Peter at Fairview Baptist Church. This is an excerpt from the first sermon in the series. To listen or watch the whole thing, visit our website.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” (1 Peter 1:1-2)
At first glance, this seems to be a customary greeting for a New Testament letter. However, there is beautiful theological depth in every sentence of these first two verses.
Peter categorizes the recipients of this letter as God’s chosen people, spiritual exiles who are scattered throughout the world. Notice that Peter starts this letter by immediately celebrating the work of God in their salvation. They are elect exiles according to God’s foreknowledge.
Peter is not using these words to stir up a theological controversy. These words have the affectionate action of God wrapped in them. God’s has decidedly shown his favor and affection towards them in salvation.
To a church facing struggles and persecution, this greeting is a powerful reminder of reassurance. You are God’s people according to His foreknowledge!
Moreover, He has sanctified them according to His Spirit. Set apart by the Spirit, namely, for obedience to Jesus Christ no matter what circumstance life may bring. Therefore, God has not only called them out, but has also separated them out for His purposes.
Christians who are troubled by their circumstances might be tempted to doubt God’s love and care. In the midst of an uncertain and hostile world – we can rest in the certainty of the love of a sovereign God.
Don’t ever lose the wonder of your salvation. Salvation is a miraculous work of our Trinitarian God. The Father foreknows. The Spirit sanctifies. The Son cleanses. This is the ultimate foundation for our hope and encouragement.
It is no wonder that Peter then says (v.2), “Grace and peace be multiplied” to you.
What a greeting! Do not worry about the uncertainty of your circumstances, but rest in the certainty that God has called you. Moreover, God has sanctified you for a purpose.
I was recently interviewed by Christine Wicker for an article titled “Younger Southern Baptists seek a less partisan approach to political engagement”. The piece was originally posted at RNS and The Washington Post picked it up soon after. Here is one quote:
Like a lot of Southern Baptists who are struggling to keep believers and attract new ones, Capps would like to see a “convictional kindness,” an approach that’s more winsome than confrontational.
“This generation is not going to be known for standing outside abortion clinics with picket signs,” he said. “I want us to be the generation that says, ‘We will adopt these children or we’ll stand beside you and help you raise those children.’”