Under the reign of King Hezekiah, “the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and brought out all the debris that they found in the temple of the Lord … and carried it to the Brook Kidron … and they took away all the incense altars and cast them into the Brook Kidron” (2 Chronicles 29:16; 30:14). While these kings are remembered for destroying idols from the land of Israel, none of them could purge the hearts of the people. The righteous kings of Israel may have temporarily purged the land of idols, but King Jesus removes them from our hearts forever. As He made His way to Calvary, Jesus crossed over the Brook Kidron (John 18:1) to symbolize everything He had come to do. He was burnt, crushed, and ground by the wrath of God on the cross.
Jesus is the cure for our idolatry. God the Son took to Himself flesh and blood, so that He might bear the penalty for our idolatry in His own body on the tree. Then He rose bodily from the dead. The Father now commands us to worship a man — even the God-Man, Jesus Christ.
France’s foremost preacher of the nineteenth century, Adolphe Monod, explained the mystery of this truth in a most profound way: “I strive to live in the communion of Jesus Christ — praying to Him, waiting for Him, speaking to Him, hearing Him, and, in a word, constantly bearing witness to Him day and night; all which would be idolatry if He were not God, and God in the highest sense of the word, the highest that the human mind is capable of giving to that sublime name.”
What idols are you harboring in your heart? Are you giving affections and labors to created things? How are we to keep ourselves from idols? The remedy is only to be found in the person and finished work of Christ. He has destroyed the idols of His people, once and for all, by His death on the cross. Our sins have been washed away in His blood. He has “cast them into the depths of the sea,” even as the righteous kings cast the crushed idols into the Brook Kidron. Praise God for His righteous King and His righteous rule in our hearts!
This is the good news that is the power of God unto salvation. God’s power is communicated in the revelation of his righteousness in the gospel, and it is a power that condemns the sinner so that the sinner might recognize his need for a Savior, trust the Savior, and be saved by faith. In this gospel God’s righteousness is revealed by faith from start to finish (Romans 1:17), and this good news is a message of salvation through judgment for God’s glory.
God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment
Via: Of First Importance
This is a wonderful summary of the Trinitarian work of salvation by the great puritan John Owen:
When God designed the great and glorious work of recovering fallen man and the saving of sinners, to the praise of the glory of his grace, he appointed, in his infinite wisdom, two great means thereof. The one was the giving of his Son for them, and the other was the giving of his Spirit unto them. And hereby was way made for the manifestation of the glory of the whole blessed Trinity; which is the utmost end of all the works of God. Hereby were the love, grace, and wisdom of the Father in the design and projection of the whole; the love, grace, and condenscension of the Son in the execution, purchase, and procurement of grace and salvation for sinners; with the love, grace, and power of the Holy Spirit in the effectual application of all unto the souls of men, made gloriously conspicuous.
Quoted in A Golden Treasury of Puritan Devotion, edited by Mariano Di Gangi
I love the phrase “to the praise of the glory of his grace” because it reminds me very much of the words of the Apostle Paul in one of my favorite passages of scripture:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14, ESV)
Our good God, our overflowing God, our God of yes and amen, has always been able to promise far more than we are able to believe. I am not here speaking of unbelief, or of hard hearts, which is an other problem. I am speaking here of a true and sincere faith, a God-given faith, but one which is still finite, and which God loves to bury under an avalanche of promises. We serve and worship the God who overwhelms, who delights to overwhelm. At His right hand are pleasures forevermore — a cascading waterfall of infinite pleasures, with no top, no bottom, no back, no front, and no sides. Nothing but infinite pleasure in motion, and every one of those pleasures is attached to His promises.
God Rest Ye Merry
The worship team at Kenwood Baptist Church sang a beautiful new hymn today before communion. The hymn is titled “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery” and is on Matt Papa’s latest album called Look & Live.
Come behold the wondrous mystery
In the dawning of the King
He the theme of heavens praises
Robed in frail humanity
In our longing, in our darkness
Now the light of life has come
Look to Christ, who condescended
Took on flesh to ransom us
Come behold the wondrous mystery
He the perfect Son of Man
In His living, in His suffering
Never trace nor stain of sin
See the true and better Adam
Come to save the hell-bound man
Christ the great and sure fulfillment
Of the law; in Him we stand
Come behold the wondrous mystery
Christ the Lord upon the tree
In the stead of ruined sinners
Hangs the Lamb in victory
See the price of our redemption
See the Father’s plan unfold
Bringing many sons to glory
Grace unmeasured, love untold
Come behold the wondrous mystery
Slain by death the God of life
But no grave could e’er restrain Him
Praise the Lord; He is alive!
What a foretaste of deliverance
How unwavering our hope
Christ in power resurrected
As we will be when he comes
—Matt Papa, Matt Boswell, Michael Bleecker
© 2013 Love Your Enemies Publishing
Before all time; prior to all worlds; when there was nothing “outside of” God Himself; when the Father, Son, and Spirit found eternal, absolute, and unimaginable blessing, pleasure, and joy in Their holy triunity – it was Their agreed purpose to create a world. That world would fall. But in unison – and at infinitely great cost – this glorious triune God planned to bring you (if you are a believer) grace and salvation.
This is deeper grace from before the dawn of time. It was pictured in the rituals, the leaders, and the experiences of the Old Testament saints, all of whom longed to see what we see. All this is now ours. Our salvation depends on God’s covenant, rooted in eternity, foreshadowed in the Mosaic liturgy, fulfilled in Christ, enduring forever. No wonder Hebrews calls it “so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).
Early in your Christian life, you thought salvation was “great” didn’t you? Do you still think about it that way today?
In Christ Alone
Before the first star was kindled, before the first living creature began to sing the praise of its Creator, he loved his Church with an everlasting love. He spied her in the glass of predestination, pictured her by his divine foreknowledge, and loved her with all his heart; and it was for this cause that he left his Father, and became one with her, that he might redeem her. It was for this cause that he went with her through all this vale of tears, discharged her debts, and bore her sins in his own body on the tree. For her sake he slept in the tomb, and with the same love that brought him down he has gone up again, and with the same heart beating true to the same blessed betrothment he has gone into the glory, waiting for the marriage day when he shall come again, to receive his perfected spouse, who shall have made herself ready by his grace. Never for a moment, whether as God over all, blessed forever, or as God and man in one divine person, or as dead and buried, or as risen and ascended, never has he changed in the love he bears to his chosen.
—Charles H. Spurgeon
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. XL
When we take the history of a child of God, compressed within the short period of a single day – mark what flaws, what imperfections, what fickleness, what dereliction in principle, what flaws in practice, what errors in judgment and what wanderings of heart make up that brief history – how we are led to thank God for the stability of the covenant, that covenant which provides for the full redemption of all believers, which from eternity secures the effectual calling, the perfect keeping and certain salvation of every chosen vessel of mercy!
Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul
Via: Ray Ortlund
This is an exerpt from a great article by Jill Carattini on the conversion of Blaise Pascal, the brilliant French mathematician and physicist. You can read the entire article over at A Slice of Infinity, an online publication of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).
Shortly after the death of Blaise Pascal in 1662, a housekeeper was sorting through closets and clothing and happened to notice something sewn into Pascal’s coat. Beneath the cloth was a parchment and inside this was another faded piece of paper. In Pascal’s handwriting, on both the parchment and the paper were nearly the same words. Beside hand-drawn crosses, Pascal had carefully written:
The year of grace 1654.
Monday, 23 November, feast of St. Clement…
From about half-past ten in the evening
until about half-past midnight.
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob…
The God of Jesus Christ…
Your God will be my God.
More than 30 descriptive lines tell the story (unbeknownst to friends and family) of Pascal’s conversion to Christ. He is said to have been reading of the crucifixion when he was suddenly overwhelmed with the nearness of Christ. Pascal then meticulously transcribed the night of his conversion, his “night of fire,” as he called it thereafter, sewing it into his jacket where it would remain beside him until his death eight years later. Though the details of the story and the parchment were unknown to those around him, the change in his life could have scarcely gone unnoticed. Whatever else it marked, November 23, 1654 marked both death and life for Pascal. He reoriented all his activities (including his unparalleled work in the field of mathematics) to further serve a life of worship and service to God. He retired to the monastery at Port Royal and set to writing his Pensees, a collection of thoughts on life and theology.
The Incarnation boldly assures us that Christ is always near. The Cross assures that he can come nearer still and forgive you completely and instantaneously. He will also walk with you over a lifetime, transforming and shaping you according to the will of God. Whether by fire, water, or Spirit, in an instance of spiritual certainty or a lifetime of wordless mystery, Christ comes near not to beckon better children but to make his creations entirely new.
A Slice of Infinity
Please take a few minutes to watch this beautiful, heart-wrenching video and then give thanks for faithful brothers and sisters in Christ like Roger who endure more challenges than most of us can ever possibly imagine.
Worship is my life. God has created me to worship and Jesus paid the ultimate price; if I don’t totally worship Him its like I don’t appreciate Him dying for me, and that is so powerful. One day I will be in eternity with God.
—Roger Flournoy, Jr.
Via: Justin Taylor