Dad’s Bible

 

I was reading my dad’s Bible the other day and came upon some notes that he wrote related to II Cor 13:4 which says, “For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.”

His notes are as follows:

Because of II Cor 13:4 I need to pray daily:

1. By faith I apprehend and trust in a perfect Christ and His perfect work – but I do so with an imperfect faith. I pray that God will help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)

2. Pray in trust that God will work in you (me) both to will and to do of His good pleasure – Phil 2:13

3. As I wait in prayer before God, I need to confess the love of whatever sin I may have succumbed to as well as the fact that I have fallen.

4. Daily I need to reaffirm my comprehensive choice, solemnly made before God to live in the NEW nature and refuse to live in the OLD.

5. Daily in prayer, I need to ask God to make real in experience the fact of Rom 6:14 “Sin shall not have dominion over you.”

6. Daily in prayer, I need to ask God to “Gospelize” and spiritualize my obedience.

7. Daily I need to plead: “Lord strengthen me mightily by thy spirit in the inner man against temptations that daily come my way.

8. Daily I should review important matters for prayer – especially those for whom I have promised to pray.

He closes with the words from the hymn Not What These Hands Have Done

Not what these hands have done can save a guilty soul
Not what this toiling flesh has borne can make the spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God.
Not all my prayers and sighs or tears can bear my awful load.

Thy work alone, oh Christ can ease the weight of sin.
Thy blood alone, O lamb of God can give me peace within.
I bless the Christ of God I rest on love divine.
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.

Notes by Rev. Gerald J. Tuinstra

(Originally published January, 2005)

 

Passion of Jesus Christ

I’ve been reading a book by John Piper called “The Passion of Jesus Christ”.  An excerpt from chapter 22 is worth noting:
But what just is the ultimate good in the good news? It all ends in one thing: God himself. All the words of the gospel lead to him, or they are not gospel. For example, salvation is not good news if it only saves from hell and not for God. Forgiveness is not good news if it only gives relief from guilt and doesn’t open the way to God. Justification is not good news if it only makes us legally acceptable to God but doesn’t bring fellowship with God. Redemption is not good news if it only liberates us from bondage but doesn’t bring us to God. Adoption is not good news if it only puts us in the Father’s family but not in his arms.
This is crucial. Many people seem to embrace the good news without embracing God. There is no sure evidence that we have a new heart because we want to escape hell. That’s a perfectly natural desire, not a supernatural one. It doesn’t take a new heart to want the psychological relief of forgiveness, or the removal of God’s wrath, or the inheritance of God’s world. All these things are understandable without any spiritual change. You don’t need to be born again to want these things.
The evidence that we have been changed is that we want these things because they bring us to the enjoyment of God. This is the greatest thing Christ died for. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. I Peter 3:18
(First Published January, 2005)

Message of the Cross – Part 7

The Bible not only speaks of the Christian’s participation in the cross of Christ, but it also speaks of our having been raised with Him.

even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” (Ephesians 2:5–6, NKJV)

buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12, NKJV)

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4, NKJV)

I believe the referencee to baptism in these verses does not speak of water baptism, but of the baptism of the Spirit in which the Spirit of God places us into the body of Christ. Being part of His body therefore, we have died, been buried and raised together with Him. The passage in Ephesians even says we have been made to sit together with Him in heavenly places. This is the way God sees it. And these truths are the ground of victory in our lives.

We need to reckon or count these statements as true regarding ourselves. We are no longer under the death penalty because that penalty has already been applied to those who believe. We are therefore on the other side of death and into the resurrection side so that, as Paul puts it, “we should walk in newness of life.”

Message of the Cross – Part 6

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5–11, NKJV)

The mind of Christ was such that even though He was God himself, He purposely and consciously took the form of a bondservant and stooped down to serve us, even to the point of death of the cross. As a result, God highly exulted Him and gave Him an exulted position such that every knee will someday bow to Him.

The challenge to us is to have this kind of mind. We are to have a mind to humble ourselves and to stoop to serve others. Since Christ died for all, then all should no longer live for themselves but for the one who died for them. “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15, NKJV)

During this Easter season as we consider all the Christ has done for us to rescue us from condemnation, we should realize that we don’t belong to ourselves to live for our own agenda and own interests, but for God and others.

Message of the Cross – Part 5

knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (Romans 6:6, NKJV)

As I mentioned in one of the previous articles, the Bible teaches us that if we have trusted in Christ, we have been placed into Christ. Since that is the case, God considers us to have died with Christ when He died on the cross.

In this passage, Paul writes that when that happened, our old man was crucified with Him. By old man he is referring to the old self. Some people call it the old nature. The Bible says that “if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things are passed away and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Our passage for today, Romans 6:6, tells us the purpose for this crucifixion of the old man – that the body of sin might be done away with. Some translations say that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, or made of no effect. The ultimate goal is so that we should no longer be slaves for sin.

What we as Christians need to do is to practice believing what God says is true. No matter how we feel about our sinfulness and the power of sin over us, the Bible says that our old man was in fact crucified so that the body of sin would be made ineffective so that we would not be a slave of sin. If we find ourselves in slavery to sin, it’s because we have voluntarily yielded to it, not because it has power or authority of us.

At this Easter season, let’s remind ourselves of what God says is true – our old self has been put to death.

Message of the Cross – Part 4

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NKJV)

In this passage Paul gives us a very important truth about our relationship and oneness with Christ. Here, just as in Romans 6 and Colossians 2, Paul teaches us that we died with Christ. There are all sorts of practical implications in this truth. In this passage we see that since we have died with Christ, it is no longer we who live, but it is Christ who lives in us. As Jesus himself taught us that he is the vine and we are the branches. The life is in him.

As we live our life then we need to recognize that moment by moment our goal is to live out the life of Christ who lives in us. Our life is a life of faith in the Son of God, trusting him to live his life effectively out through us. Paul says it this way in his letter to the Corinthians: “and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15, NKJV)

I heard Kevin DeYoung quote John Calvin the other night. I think this is a fitting summary of this truth. Calvin said, “We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us according to our flesh. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God’s: let us live for him and die for him. We are God’s: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal.”

Message of the Cross – Part 3

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14, NKJV)

 

Paul’s focus on the cross was exceptional. In this verse he emphasizes that there is nothing to boast about except the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. That should be our focus as well. What is there to boast about in life? Anything we have has been given to us as a gift from God to be used for His glory (1 Cor 4:7).  We cannot boast that strengths and abilities come from inside of us because they were planted there by God.

 

Note also that the cross is a demarcation between us and the world. The cross is a turning point. Every true Christian was crucified with Christ on the cross and we have been raised with Him. At the cross the world was crucified to me and I to the world. The world should not have the kind of influence over us that it often does. John writes that if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us (1 John 2:15).

 

The cross was a place of death and we need to recognize more and more that our death with Christ there means there is a decisive separation between us and the world system. That separation from the world and to God should be lived out every day in our walk of faith.

Message of the Cross – Part 2

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:13–15, NKJV)

We’re looking at the importance of the teaching about the cross from the instructions given in the New Testament epistles. So let’s examine this passage.

  1. We as gentiles (the uncircumcised) have been, as Paul says in another place, “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12, NKJV). Paul tells us in our passage that even though we were dead and outside the covenants and without hope, God has made us alive with Christ. Christians have gone through the resurrection with Christ (Eph 2:6). Great Easter news!
  2. God has forgiven all our trespasses! If you are a Christian, let your heart rest in this truth.
  3. And finally, here is where the cross is specifically referenced in this passage. “The handwriting of requirements that was against us” has been taken out of the way. What is that handwriting? I believe he is referring to the law which is constantly accusing us of our sin. That handwriting has been wiped out and taken out of the way. It has been nailed to the cross. Crucified! And in doing this, God has disarmed principalities and powers and made a spectacle of them in triumph. You know the passage that says that we wrestle against principalities and powers. These powers have been disarmed!

All of this through the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Message of the Cross – Part 1

I thought it would be helpful to my own spiritual growth to think through the truth of the cross and resurrection as expressed in the epistles of the New Testament during   this Easter season. Our passage for today is 1 Corinthians 1:17-25.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” “but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,”  (1 Corinthians 1:18,21,23, NKJV)

If you read through this passage in its entirety, here’s what you find the Apostle Paul saying.

  1. If the gospel is preached using the wisdom of words, the cross of Christ is made of no effect. In other words, we should rely on the truth of the cross and not the cleverness or creativity of our words to get the message across (vs. 17).
  2. Those who are perishing will find the message of the cross to be foolish and nonsensical. Only when God is saving someone will it make sense at all and that will be because God’s Spirit is at work opening up the truth to them (vs 18).
  3. The world cannot come to know God through its wisdom and way of thinking. God “stooped” (my word) to using a “foolish” (God’s word) message to save people (vs. 21).
  4. To those who don’t believe, the message of the cross is either a stumbling block or foolishness (vs.23).

We are called upon to believe the truth and preach it fearlessly in spite of the inevitable and unavoidable reaction of those who are perishing.  We can’t spice it up or decorate it in any way that will make it palatable to those who are perishing. Only God’s Spirit can break through and give understanding.

 

Thanksgiving – How Important Is It?

How important can the giving of thanks be? And to whom should the thanks be directed? On TV and other media we hear comments such as, “Let’s be grateful for all we have.” Or we hear that we are truly blessed. But seldom do we hear who it is we have been blessed by or to whom our thanksgiving should be directed.

However, the Bible tells us this about God:

Acts 17:24–25 (NKJV) God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

James 1:17 (NKJV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

So it is God who deserves our thanks and since everything good comes from His hand, our thanksgiving ought to frequent because we are constantly receiving life, breath and all things from Him.

The root of all sin is lack of thankfulness and for this persistent ingratitude God has judged mankind.

Romans 1:20–21 (NKJV) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

So this Thanksgiving let’s recognize God for who He is and be overtly thankful to Him recognizing Him as our creator and the giver of all we have. And let’s joyfully worship Him together with others when our churches gather each Lord’s Day because He is worthy of all praise.