sunset-summer-golden-hour-paul-filitchkin

The Amazing Grace of Imputed Righteousness

Have you ever considered what it is about God’s grace that makes it so amazing? Do you even think God’s grace is amazing? I’m sure all of us would say we think God’s grace is pretty amazing, but do we really, fully, truly appreciate God’s grace on a Tuesday afternoon? Do we really see ourselves in such a negative light that we need radical, life-changing, amazing grace? I believe many of us are glad that God’s grace exists, and we may even be glad God has shown his grace to us. But, I fear many of us also think very little about God’s grace every day. We fail to cherish exactly what God has done for us in Christ.

Romans 5:15-17 doesn’t allow for such oversight. No Christian can seriously read these verses and shrug their shoulders in apathy. After setting the stage in verses 12-14 by outlining why our problem with sin and death is so bad, Paul moves to compare Adam and Christ to show just how amazing God’s grace truly is.

Romans 5:12-21 is about two humanities represented by two different heads. Adam represents us in sin, and Christ represents us in righteousness. We are not connected with Adam or Christ merely by way of example. We are guilty of sin through Adam’s sin and we are counted as righteous through Christ’s righteousness.

The greatest barrier to fellowship with God is not merely sin, but the sin of Adam imputed to all his children. Our guilt is not ultimately the result of our personal sins, because death reigned without specific laws or instructions to disobey. We are counted guilty in Adam, so the effects of sin are inherited by everyone, even those who do not commit personal sins.

Just as Adam’s one sin leads to condemnation, so Christ’s one act of righteousness leads to justification. The similarities are focused on the effects of one act of one man on humanity. Through the disobedience of Adam mankind receives condemnation and death. Through the obedience of Christ, mankind receives justification and life.

In Adam, though you had done nothing, you were declared a sinner. The basis of your guilt is found in the guilt of another. This doesn’t absolve you of responsibility, though. Everyone who is a sinner by connection with Adam is also a sinner by choice. Your life in Adam bears the fruit of sin.

In Christ, though you had done nothing, you were declared righteous. The basis of your righteousness is found in the righteousness of another. This doesn’t absolve you of responsibility, though. Everyone who is righteous by connection with Adam is also righteous by choice. Your life in Christ bears the fruit of obedience, righteousness, and godliness. The pursuit of holiness begins with a jettison out of the realm of death and into the realm of life.

From one man, sin, condemnation, and death dominate all of humanity. We have seen that we are guilty of sin because Adam was guilty of sin (Rom. 5:12). In Adam all sin, and in Adam all die. But Adam’s sin is not like God’s gift of grace in the work of Christ. Through just one sin, all of humanity faces condemnation and death. But even after billions and billions of sins had been committed, God still showed his grace in sending Jesus to die for our sins. God’s grace in Christ’s death is so much higher, deeper, and wider than billions of sins that come from Adam’s first sin.

While condemnation comes from Adam’s sin, God’s free gift of grace brings justification. Death reigned through Adam, but those who have been justified will reign in life through Christ (Rom. 5:17), In Adam, the news could not be worse for humanity. Sin, condemnation, and death are unavoidable realities for those in Adam. But, in Christ the news could not be better. There is an abundance of grace in Christ. Jesus has overcome everything Adam has undone.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their sons, Jude and Jack. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup

Morning Mashup 09/26

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

On the Trinity

The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything | Fred Sanders | $12.51

the-deep-things-of-god-book

Experiencing the Trinity: The Grace of God for the People of God | Joe Thorn | $7.87

experiencing-the-trinity-book

Communion with the Triune God | John Owen | $28.00

communion-with-the-triune-god

Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith | Michael Reeves | $9.72

delighting-in-the-trinity

ARTICLES

For the Bible Tells Me So | Albert Mohler

Andy Stanley does not mean to deny the central truth claims of Christianity…he affirms the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. But he does so while undercutting our only means of knowing of Christ and his resurrection from the dead — the Bible.

The Eternal Subordination of the Son Controversy: The Tension Between Bible and Doctrine | Alastair Roberts

The dogmaticians and systematic theologians have principally made their case through appeal to the creeds, patristic sources, and other important theologians from the tradition. They have discussed the deeper logic of orthodox Trinitarian theology, and have shown the ways in which the ESS position departs from it. However, their engagement with Scripture itself has been relatively slight. By contrast, Scripture has played a very prominent role in the arguments in favour of ESS.

Christian Men and Their Video Games | Tim Challies

If you’re a gamer, or a Christian gamer at least, you’ve rolled your eyes through a hundred articles by now, each one telling you why your gaming is sad, wasteful, pathetic. You’re immature, you’re addicted to pleasure, you’re a dopamine junkie. You might even have found yourself compared to a porn addict since in many minds porn and PlayStations go hand in hand. That’s not what the articles actually say, of course, but it can sure feel like it. Gamers are an easy target and a lot of people line up to take their swings.

5 Things I Learned As a Pastor’s Kid | Samuel James

Brief lessons learned from a pastor’s kid. Pastors and church members, take note.

Old, Restful, and Reforming | Jared Wilson

Jared Wilson reflects on 10 years of the Young, Restless, and Reformed movement.

Why I’m Glad We Marched and Wish We Hadn’t | George Robinson

On July 9, a handful of our staff and members participated in the Black Lives Matter march in Augusta. I’m glad they did and wish they hadn’t.

VIDEOS

Jose Fernandez Had a Special Bond With His Grandmother

 

Five Things Introverts Are Secretly Paranoid About

 

 

pexels-photo4

Grace and Peace: How God Shows His Love in the Death of Christ

Whether it is dieting, exercising, studying, or practicing, we all want to see good results. If you study for three hours every night for a test, you want to see an A+ on your paper. When you stop eating tacos and drinking Mountain Dew, and start exercising five times each week, you want to see the number on the scale get smaller each time you take that fateful step up. Results are important because they prove whether something is true or false, helpful or unhelpful, worthy or unworthy.

Paul has spent Romans 1-4 defending the truth of our sinful condition, God’s righteous response, and Christ’s gracious provision. We are guilty of sin and deserving of wrath, but in his grace, God made a way for us to be right with him. The only way to be right with God is for God to declare us righteous, and this only comes through the propitiation of Christ on the cross.

Now, Paul moves to discuss the results of justification. What does it mean for us to be justified by faith? Paul’s answer is that being made right with God means we have peace with God. Being declared righteous means we have gone from being enemies of God to friends of God. He says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

Jesus makes peace between God and man only through the blood of his cross. We are reconciled to God only through what Jesus did for us on the cross. When we were weak and ungodly, Christ died for us. Jesus didn’t die for us because he saw something special or admirable in us. Our value is not the motivation for God’s sacrificial love in Christ. God’s sacrificial love for us in Christ is the basis of our value because Christ died for us when there was nothing valuable in us. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Let’s think about God’s love for us in Christ.

Paul says God shows his love for us in the present through Christ’s death for us in the past. The way Paul said this means that God shows his love for us today and for a thousand tomorrows through one single event that occurred in the past. The death of Christ in the past was sufficient to extend God’s love to an eternal future (1 Peter 3:18).

But have you ever considered how it is that God shows us his love even today and tomorrow through something that happened in the past? It would make more sense for Paul to have said, “God showed his love for us…” But the gospel is sweeter than an expression of love through a past action. It is the promise of present and future love, which is made possible by a past action. Through the past action of Jesus’ death on the cross, God shows his love to us in the present forevermore.

How? God continuously show us his love in the death of Christ through the ever-present work of the Holy Spirit. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5). Believers have been given the Holy Spirit who continuously pours the love of God into our hearts. Like an ever-flowing spring, the Holy Spirit never ceases to pour God’s love into our hearts. Assurance of God’s love is found in a present divine demonstration through a past definitive action.

Paul has seen the results of the gospel, and like a fat man seeing the needle on the scale drop, he rejoices in what he sees. We who fought against God’s righteous will and who God righteously opposed now are at peace with God because of what Jesus has done for us. Jesus’ death on the cross puts an end to the struggle between God and man. His blood purchased peace. At no cost to you, but at great cost to God in Christ, we can be at peace with the God of the universe.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their sons, Jude and Jack. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

pexels-photo-66757

We Rejoice in Our Sufferings: Finding Right-Now Purpose and Joy in Suffering

In what does the Christian have to rejoice? What reason do we have to find joy?

The answers are endless. But when you ask questions like these against the backdrop of a dark and sinful world where unimaginable evil and suffering occurs, it can be harder to give an answer. For example, how does the mother who lost her child in a car accident rejoice in God? How does the father who loses yet another job find joy in God? How does a child of divorce rejoice in God when he has to pack up his life and move between two different worlds every week? Suffering and evil seem like an insurmountable roadblock to real and lasting joy in God.

One of the answers we give as a reason we can rejoice in God in the face of suffering is our hope for future glory.

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2).

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Pt. 1:3-6).

There is genuine hope in the future glory of God’s presence for all who stand in Christ today. Paul’s view of the eschaton is so stupendously glorious that he considers some of life’s most painful sufferings as feathers when compared to the weight of walking in God’s glory. On that day when sin and suffering are cast into a sea of fire never again to haunt us, we will look back on our hard trials as soft pillows as we bask in the glory of our God of infinite pleasure and joy.

So, if you are a Christian today, you have hope that will crush any despair created by suffering. You have hope in a future reality granted by the Lamb who was crushed for our iniquities. Suffering has committed suicide in the suffering of Christ. Suffering simply cannot stand up against the hope of the justified in the future joy of God’s glory.

All of this is true. But what about today? The “hope of the glory of God” is reason to rejoice in what is to come. But in that day, there will be no suffering. What about now, when sin and suffering still persist? What about the Christian who is not only suffering right now, but the one who is suffering right now precisely because he is a Christian? Can we find joy even in this sorrow-filled world?

Paul’s answer is a resounding, “Yes!” He writes, ‘Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Rom. 5:3-4).

Notice, Paul doesn’t say we can rejoice someday when suffering is over. He says there is a path to real joy right now in the depth of our suffering. I am convinced of the Christian worldview’s handling of evil and suffering because Romans 5:3-4 exist. Contrary to a naturalistic or nihilistic worldview, which see suffering as an inevitable and meaningless by product of world with no maker, suffering through the Christian lens is never meaningless. God uses it and even sends it to create and produce.

In this case, suffering produces endurance, character, and shameless hope. God uses suffering in the life of the Christian to make him or her more like Christ. Suffering is not the end of the story, nor is it an unfortunate and random by-product of spontaneous combustion. Suffering is part of the story of God’s redemption of the world.

Suffering is not sovereign, nor is it eternal. It is a temporary result of the fall under the sovereign wisdom and power and grace of God. Remember, Christian, that the God who will one day crush suffering forever, wields suffering today for your good and for your joy.

Those who have received God’s love are no match for the worst this world has to offer. The gospel produces fearless, courageous, joyful saints, even in the darkest night of suffering.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their sons, Jude and Jack. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

SONY DSC

Practical Lessons From Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemane is both a place of sorrow and triumph for a person traveling through the Gospels. It is a place of sorrow, because he sees the focus of the Gospels, Jesus, “being in agony [as] he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). This Jesus that he has witnessed perform many miracles and healings, while proclaiming the good news that the kingdom of God had come, is now suffering under the burden of the sin of all those who he would save. He watches this same Jesus drink the cup of the will of God down to the last drop.

Yet, it is a moment of monumental victory. Christ faces his supreme temptation of disobedience of the Father with obedience to the will of the Father. As Adam fell in the original garden, the greater Adam is victorious in his garden. The person reading the gospels goes on to see exactly what that will is: nothing short of the salvation of those who would believe on him by the death of Jesus taking upon himself all of the wrath of God. There are a few important lessons to learn from Christ’s time in Gethsemane.

  1. God’s will for you probably does not always include earthly prosperity.

One of the common distortions of the truth of God is that he always wills that you have earthly success. One of the reasons that this is a true misrepresentation of God’s character is found at Gethsemane. Christ prayed there that the cup he was about to drink from would pass from him. Yet, Christ prayed that what God had willed be done. What God had willed for Christ is that he suffer torture and death by crucifixion. By this example, it is obvious that our prayers should not be, “Lord, please give me success in my earthly endeavors.” This is a violation of Christ’s example here and in Matthew 6, where he taught his disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done.”

Part of the good news of Christianity is that God works together good things for all those who love him (Romans 8:28). We could probably express this teaching like this: A lack of a perfect life means that God has planned for you something greater than a perfect life, assuming you are his. Whether, then, it is prosperity or hardship that God sends to you, sing his praises with joy, for, no matter the earthly circumstances, at his right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

  1. Violence to other people has no place for followers of Christ.

There was a battle won in Gethsemane, and it had nothing to do with physical struggle. Jesus struggled against a greater enemy than that of man. Jesus struggled with the temptations of Satan and the weight of an unimaginable spiritual burden, and Christ overcame those enemies triumphantly. Yet, when the religious leaders entered the garden to take Jesus, he did not lift one hand against them. They came for his life, and he did not defend it. In fact, when one of his disciples tried to attack one of those leaders, Jesus rebuked him. Yet, somehow people seem to forget Jesus’ meek and mild nature.

There seems to be a growing idealization of violence among Christians towards others they do not agree with, especially against Muslims. Many people fantasize about what they would do if a jihadist walked into their room. They fantasize about violence to that person. They plan to do violence to those who want to do violence to them. This is categorically contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Jesus said that harboring this anger and hatred is as if you have murdered him (Matthew 5:21-22) and commanded his disciples to not resist the one who is evil (Matthew 5:38-42). This romanticization of violence against others is abominable and deplorable. Christianity is not a religion of violence against others. It is a religion of violence against violence against others.

  1. Trusting God means submitting to his authority.

Jesus prayed an impassioned plea that he might not drink from the cup that was coming to him. Yet, God did give Christ the cup, and Christ did drink it. Christ evidently, in his desire, did not want to take of the punishment of the cross. Yet, despite this, he humbly submitted himself to the will of the Father. Jesus regarded the Father’s authority as greater than his own desire to be free from the cup of death.

This is trusting God: placing your desires under the authority of the Lord. He is good, and his decrees are good. Your opinion of the best life for you will often be different from God’s declaration of what is actually your best life. There is only one way to live your best life now, and it is by submitting to the authority of the Father.

Gethsemane is the place where Christ sacrificed his will to the plan of the Father. In that plan, he reconciled his church to himself. He extended unmitigated grace to his beloved. He vindicated his name in righteousness. He promulgated his glory for the whole world to see. Yes, in Gethsemane, we see love in humility, and we see a model for the kind of self-sacrificing, dependent life to which Christ calls his followers.


Avery Thorn is from Belmont, MS. He is a junior at Blue Mountain College, where he is a Biblical Studies major and a History minor. He is a member of Belmont First Baptist Church. He has a passion for preaching and studying Scripture. Avery’s hobbies include exercising, music, politics, reading, writing, and making and enjoying coffee. You can follow Avery on Twitter @Avery_thorn.

pexels-photo-58557

How to Overcome Our Fear of Weakness

pexels-photo-58557It is so hard for our sinful and prideful hearts to accept the truth that God justifies by faith, not works. What should be the best news in the world to us, becomes a problem in our work-driven hearts. It is hard to believe that we can possess something as great as salvation without having to do anything to earn it. It almost feels unfair to receive such a great gift without doing something great to earn it. The biggest problem with the human heart is pride. We naturally want to brag on ourselves. The gospel puts an end to selfish bragging, and gives rise to Godward bragging. But we naturally look for any way to work for salvation to earn a reward rather than receive a gift.

One of the hardest things to do in life is admit a need for something. I watched a movie recently where one of the characters immigrated to the United States from Africa. She came from nothing, but quickly realized she came to nothing because she has no place to live. After visiting a church, one of the pastors sets her up with a roommate. In her first night at the new apartment, her roommate gives her some money, which she refuses in embarrassment. The roommate urges her to take the money and says, “Need is not weakness. Need is need.”

We are all afraid of weakness. As a freshman on the varsity basketball team, I dreaded weight lifting days because it was a constant reminder of my weakness compared to my older teammates. We want to feel strong and look strong. We actually only care if people think we are strong, even if we are weak. What the roommate in the movie gets wrong is that need is weakness. But the secret of strength is found in weakness. The only way to be truly strong is to admit you are weak.

In Romans 4:13-17, Paul argues that Abraham and his offspring did not receive the promise of blessing because he obeyed the law. The blessing of promise was given to Abraham and his descendants on the basis of his faith. And faith is always a dependence on God. It is the willingness to admit weakness. If God promised to bless Abraham and his offspring on the basis of works of the law, he would be blessing them on the basis of their own strength. This would be horrible news because of Romans 1-3, which clearly teaches no Jew or Gentile can keep the law. But the promise comes through faith, so God freely extends his blessing to Abraham and all who believe like him.

Jesus says those who are last will be first and the meek will inherit the earth, because being last and meek is possessing the child-like faith of Abraham who simply believed the promise of the Lord. Saving faith is receiving Jesus for who he is and taking God at his word. Faith is not a blind plunge into deep waters, but a form of weakness that sees need and supply. Children are unafraid of weakness. When they are in need, they look frantically for the source of supply. As a father of a 17-month-old boy and a 3-day-old boy, I can assure you little boys recognize their need and they know the source of satisfaction–her name is Momma. If they need food, they run to Momma. If they need comfort, they run to Momma. If they aren’t sure what they need, but know they need something, they run to Momma. And no one is more pleased and honored by this constant running than Momma.

You are not a failure or an embarrassment when you recognize your own weakness. Instead, you are finally on the path to find satisfaction and supply for your need. The worst thing a person can do is live in a self-imposed reality of superhuman strength and self-supply. A world in which you have no need or weakness is a fantastical self-created world out of a fear of social displacement. But the fear of weakness boils down to a basic human problem–pride. Admitting weakness, let alone embracing weakness, sends shivers down our spines. We cringe at the thought of our friends and neighbors seeing our weakness. We work our fingers to the bone, drain our bank accounts, and pile up a mountain of credit card debt in order to appear strong, stable, and successful. And the appearance is all we really care about. As long as we look strong, our inner soul-deterioration can be forgotten.

Don’t fear weakness. Embrace weakness. A downward spiral into sin begins with an unwillingness to admit weakness. Hypocrisy, self-righteousness, pride, and judgmentalism have at their root a fear of weakness. The solution is not to work harder, but to look and run to the only source of supply. Like my sons, unashamedly cry out to the one who can and will satisfy the desires of your heart. 

Strength–meaning, identity, purpose, righteousness, value, love, joy, life–is found only through weakness–faith, hope, dependence, repentance, and humility. 

Admitting your need for God to do for you what you can’t do for yourself is the first step in receiving God’s gift of salvation—the source of ultimate strength. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).

Run to Christ, the only source of supply that can satisfy your deepest needs.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

pexels-photo-41433

Steve Nash, Examples of Faith, and the Gift of Salvation

pexels-photo-41433Think of someone not in your circle of family and friends you really admire and look up to. This person could be a famous singer, athlete, actor, or actress. Growing up, I always admired Steve Nash. Steve Nash was one of the best guards in the NBA when I was learning to play basketball. Anytime his games were on TV, I was watching. I tried to play just like him. I remember wishing I was as fast as he was with the basketball. I wished I could shoot the ball as well as he did.

But I knew I could never be as good as him.

Whenever my dad wanted to motivate me to work harder and practice more, he would use Steve Nash as an example. He would say something like, “You know, even Steve Nash has to put in hours of practice.” He would give me so many reasons why I needed to work harder at my game, but only when he used my favorite player as an example did I listen to him.

Paul is doing something similar in Romans 4. He has already argued why we can’t be made right with God through our works (Rom. 3:21-26). But if his argument wasn’t enough, he adds an example that would grab the attention of every Jew. He uses Abraham as an example to show that the only way to be right with God is through justification by faith.

Using Genesis 15:6, Paul shows us that God did not enter into a relationship with Abraham on the basis of his good deeds, but instead on the basis of Abraham’s faith in the promises of God. If God had declared Abraham righteous on the basis of how well he obeyed him, then he could boast in his own righteousness. But Genesis 15:6 says that Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. This means that Abraham’s relationship with God is a gift, not a reward.

We don’t receive salvation as a reward for how good we are. We receive salvation as a gift despite how bad we are. “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup

Morning Mashup 09/12

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

The Archer and the Arrow | Phillip Jensen & Paul Grimmond | $1.99

71diprrd6sl

No Guts No Glory: How to Build a Youth Ministry that Lasts | Alan Stewart | $2.99

917kx3zvjjl

ARTICLES

Millennials Don’t Need Your Cool | Jon Nielson

That generation we call the “millennials” – individuals born between 1980 and 2000 – has been the subject of millions of words written in the recent years…particularly words written by Christians. How do we reach this generation? What are they looking for in churches? Why do so many of them, even those raised in Christian homes, seem disillusioned and frustrated with the local church?

ESV Permanent Text Edition | esv.org

All future Crossway editions of the ESV, therefore, will contain the Permanent Text of the ESV Bible—unchanged throughout the life of the copyright, in perpetuity.

Review of ‘Being There’ | Paul Martin

Dave Furman has written a helpful little book for the church. Being There is just what it sounds like—a how-to manual to care for the hurting. It may seem like this is unnecessary for Christians, what with the gospel and the indwelling Spirit and all that, but Dave has lived through suffering in the first person so he writes from the perspectives of the both a sufferer and one who has caused suffering in others.

Hell Makes Sense | Curtis Allen

One dad’s honest perspective.

What Should Happen When You Read Scripture | Aaron Armstrong

If the Word is living and active, it’s going to change us. If it penetrates to the soul, we’re going to be different. That change might take an instant, or it might take decades. But regardless of how long it takes, we will be changed. You can always count on that.

Majority of Americans Are Still Reading Print Books | Pew Research

Take that, Tim Challies.

The Christian Response to Gender Dysphoria | Andrew Walker

If God made men and women fundamentally and comprehensively different, then the idea that a man could ever become a woman (or vice versa) is simply impossible. The differences between men and women can’t be overcome simply because one person feels they’re a member of the opposite sex. Your psychology (feelings) cannot change your ontology (being).

VIDEOS

hand-microphone-mic-hold

The Gospel and the End of Self-Boasting

hand-microphone-mic-holdOne of the simple things Jude loves to do is stand on tables. The kid loves nothing more than to stand on any kind of table. Kitchen counters, dinner tables, coffee tables, side tables, end table, and TV stands are all fair game. He’s still too small to climb onto pieces of furniture, but every now and then Erica or I will pick him up and place him right on top of one of our tables. As soon as his feet his the wood, he starts to smile, giggle, and squeal with joy and excitement. You can tell he’s so proud and that he feels so big. It’s almost as if he considers it a great personal accomplishment to be so much higher than everything else. But the only way Jude could ever stand on our tables is if his (slightly irresponsible?) parents put him there.

One of the most ironic kinds of Christians is the self-boasting Christian. Christians who brag about their morality, righteousness, or relationship with God are like a toddler bragging about standing on a table. They are bragging about something they didn’t even do. Christians should be the most humble people in the world, because we have received incomparable joy at no cost. The righteousness God provides in the gospel is freely given to all who believe. It comes at great cost, but God himself pays the cost.

We receive justification through faith alone, not through works of the law (Rom. 3:28). Faith is not a means of earning salvation, but the means of receiving salvation. Salvation in Christ alone is entirely a work of God alone. So any boasting from us should be in him! When we brag about who we are and what we do, it must be rooted in what God has done for us, in us, and through us.

Christ’s death in our place removes the possibility of anyone boasting in their works as the basis of their salvation. So, when you speak with others about who you are and how you live, brag! Brag on the Lord and the great gift of grace he has given.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

pexels-photo3

Maybe the Greatest Sentence Ever Written

 pexels-photo3.jpgIt’s no secret that I am an avid reader. So far in 2016 I have read around 75 books. As helpful as I believe reading many books is to my life as a Christian, I have been helped more by paragraphs and sentences. For me, the beauty of reading is finding those few paragraphs and sentences that transform your thinking.

As great as Romans 1-3 has been, there is one sentence in this three chapter span that is greater than the rest. In the original language of the New Testament, Greek, Romans 3:21-26 is one lengthy sentence of glorious news. With the word “But” in Romans 3:21, Paul has moved from the bad news and into the good news. He is finally finished explaining the problem of God’s wrath against our sin. He has clearly argued that no one has an excuse before God and there is no escape from his judgment.

Now, we are given the remedy to our problem—the righteousness of God is revealed apart from the law. We cannot earn God’s righteousness through obedience to the law, but the good news is that his righteousness is from something outside the law—the work of Christ received through faith. How is God able to do this? Because Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was a propitiation. Propitiation is a big word that means something like, “atoning sacrifice.” When Jesus died on the cross he stood in the place of sinners and endured the wrath of God. Jesus experienced the judgment we deserve.

Maybe the best news of this entire passage comes in one sentence–Romans 3:25-26. In the gospel, God is completely just and he justifies sinners! He is both able to declare guilty sinners to be righteous sons and be righteous in doing so. God has made a way of salvation that doesn’t mock his glory or his Son or his people. He is simultaneously able to justify sinners and remain incomparably glorious and righteous. This is the gospel. Christ died for sinners, bearing God’s wrath in our place. Behold, maybe the greatest sentence ever penned:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. [Romans 3:21-26]


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.