John Stott on Propitiation

There is no crudity here to evoke our ridicule, only the profundity of holy love to evoke our worship.

johnstott“It is God himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated, God himself who in holy love undertook to do the propitiating, and God himself who in the person of his Son died for the propitiation of our sins. Thus God took his own loving initiative to appease his own righteous anger by bearing it his own self in his own Son when he took our place and died for us. There is no crudity here to evoke our ridicule, only the profundity of holy love to evoke our worship.”

~ John Stott
The Cross of Christ, pg. 175


imageIt is of interest to note that at the inauguration of the Old (Exod. 24:1-11) and New Covenants (Matt. 26:26-29) God was with his people, and eating occurred. There is also a prospect held out for us, an eschatological feast in the New Heavens and the New Earth (Matt. 26:29; Luke 14:15; Rev. 19:9). There will be eating and feasting at the consummation. All of this is due to the blood of the Lamb, slain for sinners, in order to bring us to God. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the past, blesses us in the present, and looks to future eating, future feasting with the Lamb in all his glory.

~ Richard Barcellos

The Lord's Supper As A Means of Grace: More Than a Memory (Christian Focus Publications , 2013), 457

For the Church, the Road to the Future Leads Through the Past

Robert Webber on our disconnect with our roots.


“One of the major reasons why the church has fallen prey to a cultural accommodation is that is has become disconnected from its roots in Scripture, the ancient church and in its heritage through the centuries. This failure of the church to keep faith with its own origins and history is in and of itself a matter of cultural accommodation. For we live in a society that has lost its own heritage. We now drift in a sea of pluralism and relativism with little sense of our past.

If it is true that the road to the future lies in the past, it is also true that when the past has been lost or neglected there is no certain future. We are at that point now in Western culture, not only in the broad cultural sense but also in the church which has increasingly followed the lead of culture and lost its connection to the Christian past.”


“Hope from Psalm 71 Pt. 2”
by Pastor Jeff Ling

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A message of hope from David’s “midlife” Psalm 71

“Hope from Psalm 71, Part 1”
by Pastor Jeff Ling

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Hope from Psalm 71, Part 1


Here’s part one of our message on hope in Psalm 71. Let it encourage you today!

Jesus and the Kingdom

onwardbookJesus announced the kingdom throughout his ministry but always tied that kingdom to himself. The ethics of the kingdom, proclaimed in his Sermon on the Mount, were obviously unattainable by anyone but him. He demonstrated the arrival of the kingdom by turning back examples of every aspect of the curse. He lived among the wild beasts, with no harm (Mark 1: 13). He spoke to the winds and the waves and they silenced immediately (Matt. 8: 23– 27). He spoke and diseased retreated (Matt. 8: 16– 17). The demonic beings not only recognized his right to rule, they begged him for mercy whenever he showed up (Mark 1: 23– 24). Why? This was because, as he put it, “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12: 28). As the rightful king, Jesus reestablished human rule over the angelic and natural orders by living out the destiny our fallen ancestors forfeited. He was a wise ruler with dominion over his own appetites, with a will, affections, and conscience directed by his Father, and by the Word of his God. All this was true because he was free from the one power the evil spirits have over every other human: accusation. “The ruler of this world is coming,” Jesus said. “He has no claim on me” (John 14: 30).

Moore, Russell D. (2015-07-10).
Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel (p. 57).
B&H Publishing Group.


Doing Good to All People for the Gospel

No man or woman is outside the realm of my responsibility be kind.

Do not grow weary in well doingEach week our church family memorizes scripture together. We use the Fighter Verses system developed by Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis. (The website and apps are excellent.) Last week the passage for memory came from Galatians 6:9-10.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

It’s not lost on me how important a week it was to have this passage hidden in my heart. With the decision on marriage handed down by the Supreme Court, those who follow Christ have a unique opportunity to hear this passage in a fresh way.

Here are four important points:

1) And let us not grow weary of doing good…”

Many believers have worked tirelessly in efforts to save the unborn and to protect the sacred institution of marriage. Some have done it through prayer, some by protest and others by entering into the political process. I applaud all of these efforts. Jesus calls us to be salt and light, a prophetic voice – not raging against the darkness but seeking to light candle after candle in hope that truth will win hearts and bring increasing glory to God. It’s easy to grow weary. Some will throw up their hands and say “What’s the use?!” We flag in our determination and our hearts can grow weary as hope is delayed. (Prov. 13:12) But there is good reason not to grow weary.

2) “…for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

God is faithful and His promise is that one day the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14) This is not now or ever in question. We live, as John Piper has aptly put it, by faith in future grace. God will prevail! One day this earth will be set free from its bondage and made new. Redeemed people look forward to eternal life in a sinless, deathless, Eden. (Romans 8:18-25) Our calling is not to “fix” the world’s humanistic system. Above all, we are commanded to bear witness to the gospel as followers of Christ. (Matthew 28: 18-20; Acts 1:8)  Each of us have our own unique callings that allow us to provide for ourselves, support the common good and act as preserving salt and illuminating light in every arena of human life. God’s promise is that we will reap. We are laying up eternal treasures. We will see people laying down their arms and coming to Christ. We will see expressions, glimpses of Christ’s eternal expanding government and we will see, in God’s wise and good time, all kings and rulers bowing their knees to King Jesus. (Psalm 2:8; 22:27-28; 102:15)

3) “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone…”

Everyone. Not just fellow believers, everyone. We know this simply by the fact that Paul acknowledges a subset of everyone called the “household of faith.”  How do we do good to everyone? We do so by conviction and action. The conviction is that all men are created in the image of God and therefore they have immense value.  Our actions must reflect that value. The court majority used the word “dignity” a number of times in defending its position. Dignity is conferred by God as Creator. A court can’t give it. We are responsible to recognize it in one another.  I may not agree with your views or choices but if God created you, I am responsible to treat you with dignity.  No man or woman is outside the realm of my responsibility to be kind. It doesn’t matter what they believe or how they behave. If they let me, I must extend civility and kindness. (Col. 4:5-6; 2 Tim 2:24-26)

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. – Titus 3:1-2

How can I show kindness?

  • By watching my words. I must remember that life and death are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 12:18; 18:21) Listen more and speak with gentleness and truth. One sentence I have decided to quit using is “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Why? Because, frankly, I don’t hate my own sin enough. I like a lot of it. Until I do, I’m just going to be grateful that Jesus loves sinners like me. That’s good news.
  • By washing feet with practical acts of kindness. If you are my gay neighbor, I may not be able to do your wedding, but that doesn’t mean I can’t bring you a meal when you are sick, offer to help you with your kids or mow your lawn.
  • By defending the oppressed. You may be very zealous about your views. I understand. I am as well. But if you want to start hurling slurs, bullying , or resorting to violence against a person made in God’s image then you’re attacking me. I will defend those who are different from me. I will do good to them. I will listen. I will be willing to learn. I will serve as I am able and should the need arise I would lay down my life for them. (Even writing this I sense the glibness of it. God help me to be that person.)
  • By always telling the truth – the gospel truth. All people are in need of salvation because all have rebelled against their Creator. (Romans 3:10-18) We are deserving of eternal separation for we have rebelled against an eternal, holy God. (Romans 6:23) The good news for everyone is that God has provided an answer for humanity’s desperate situation. Jesus, the God-man, the sinless one, lived the life we could not live and then died the death we dare not die. (2 Cor. 5:16-21) He paid the price of eternal salvation for all who will put their hope and trust in Him. This gospel is man’s greatest need.  (Romans 5:6-11) When we respond to the gospel, we are made new. We can’t be happy, contented sinners any longer. I can’t be a happy liar, gossip, thief or fornicator. (Gal. 5:16-26) My soul longs for God and my happiness is found in pursuing His glory. (Psalm 16:11) The gospel calls all men to repent. It’s a call to quit forsaking His glory. It’s a call to turn away from self-reliance and independence and surrender to Christ. The beauty of Jesus, if we pursue Him, makes sin steadily unattractive.
  • By honoring marriage. (Hebrews 13:4) Let’s be honest. The church has treated marriage with disdain. When we consider our affairs, our easy divorces, our lack of church discipline, our lazy love, our capitulation to a culture of entertainment that mocks marriage, our pornographic addictions, men and women acting with childishness and vindictiveness as opposed to Christlikeness, it’s no wonder that the world mocks our defense of marriage. God have mercy on us. Don’t curse the darkness. Strengthen what remains. (Revelation 3:1-2)

3) “…especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Many are troubled and confused. Many are likely to be misled and swept away in the crumbling edifice of a weak evangelicalism. We must be willing and ready to love, correct, forgive, heal and welcome home those that return from a “far country.” Let us encourage one another to gospel faithfulness, (Acts 10:34-43; 14:1-7) to love and good works, (Heb. 13:16) to missionary zeal (Col. 4:2-6) and the willingness to sing the Lord’s song in what is increasingly a foreign land. (Psalm 137:1-4)

Featured Worship Song: Oh Praise (The Only One)

Death and hell call him Victorious!Here’s the line that grabbed me:

Death and hell call Him victorious….

What a great thought.
What a triumphant declaration!

I’m always on the lookout for songs that lift the heart in praise and help us to think theologically. That’s a a hard recipe to get right every time. Let’s face it, not every song is going to be an “In Christ Alone.” The needle may ping more toward doxology or doctrine in a given song, but as long as it’s looking to land between the two, I’m interested. Michael FarrenKrissy Nordhoff and Riley Erin have given us a lovely and moving hymn in Oh Praise (The Only One). The song is very congregation friendly – singable, decent key, etc.. and calls us to praise while reminding us that our praise is rooted in the redemptive work of Christ. I’m looking forward to sharing it with our congregation this month.  It does have the obligatory (these days) “whoaaah whoaaah” section which you keep or let go depending on your aversion to things whoawoey. Lyrics are below along with a video of a live session that really invites you to worship along.  This week the We Are Worship website is offering free downloads of the sheet music and mp3 so go get it now.

There is no greater truth than this
There is no stronger love we know
God Himself comes down to live
And make a sinner’s heart his throne

There is no deeper peace than this
No other kindness can compare
He clothes us in His righteousness
Forever free, forever heirs

Oh praise the only One
Who shines brighter than ten thousand suns
Death and hell call Him victorious
Praise Him
Oh praise the One true King
Lift it loud till earth and heaven ring
Every crown we down at His feet
Praise Him

There is no sweeter joy than this
There is no stronger hope we hold
We are His forever more
Safe, secure by Christ alone

There is no sound that’s like the song
That rises up from grateful saints
We once were lost but now we’re found
One with Him, we bear His name

recording courtesy of CentricWorship

Copyright © 2015 Integrity’s Alleluia! Music/SESAC & Farren Love and War/SESAC & Centricity Music Publishing

CCLI Number: 7030890

A Green Country

Free to use. Fits your banner area perfectly. Click here to copy.

“PIPPIN: I didn’t think it would end this way.

GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?

GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

PIPPIN: Well, that isn’t so bad.

GANDALF: No. No, it isn’t.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

The Gray Havens Offer Brilliant Songwriting on Fire and Stone

Fire and Stone CDIt’s been a long time since I shouted “Alleluia!” and began drumming my steering wheel with abandon but “Inheritance” off The Gray Havens new CD “Fire and Stone” did the trick. Grabbing hold of the “golden chain” of Romans 8: 30, songwriters Dave and Licia Radford set us at sea in a ship called “Inheritance.”

There’s a ship that bears the name Inheritance
It’s pulled by golden chains from where it ends
No sail, no need for oar
With calm assurance carries on
And those aboard the ship
Were once among the ones that scoffed at it
But not a single one was lost to it
The sealed of the Inheritance

This musical painting is a joyous declaration of God’s sovereign love for His sons and daughters.

We will treasure and we will hold on
To the light, the light before us
We’ll be confident, we’ll be bold if
If we know the light is for us

I laughed out loud in my car and started the song again. I thought “surely the rest can’t be as good as this.” Happily I was wrong.  Once out on the sea of God’s grace, the sirens begin to call. Temptation must be battled and sin must be mortified. Even so, we hesitate just to listen one more time….

One taste of the sound
From the sirens in the water
And I’m thinking I should get out
The sharpest sword and suit of armor
So I can be ready to strike
But I pause, one more time
One last taste of the sound
Then I’ll cut these sirens down
But as they sang, I forgot
They were death, so I brought them my heart
To be filled, and I followed them

(From “Sirens”)

The empty promises reveal their ugly truth. Empty mediocrity is substituted for heavenly beauty and the heart needs to find it’s way home. The chorus of the song rises like a holy choir from the ocean floor:

Hold on, Hold on, my heart
You once were full and sang of grace
Hold on, Hold on, my heart
You’ve tasted joy that’s more than this

The album, Fire and Stone, can easily be described as “indie folk/pop but it’s some of the most creative of that genre that I have heard.  The Radfords take us on an imaginative journey by sea, mountains, fairy tales and mystery. It would have been an outstanding book of poetry but the music is equally good. Here is poetry and theology blending together within infectious melody lines that bounce on a bed of shifting rhythms that never allow for careless listening. This isn’t background music, this is an adventure in lyric and music that enriches the heart and makes the imagination soar. Set sail. Marvel at God’s redeeming grace and know that He will bring you home.

The Son running toward me
The kingdom cried
Alleluia, Alleluia, Welcome home…

Drums crash, gates rising
My soul dances like fire
With stained glass we try
But even Michael Angelo could not describe
This ceiling above me
Where Angels cry
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Welcome home
Yes, I was home

(From “Under the Mountain”)