Saturday, April 19, 2014

Can You Explain the Gospel if You Only Had a Minute?


We've been reading The Gospel and Personal Evangelism together as a family and church family.  It is a book every believer should read - yearly.

So, what if you only had minutes with someone to share the gospel?  At the grocery store or airport or if someone asked you to summarize what is the gospel?  Could you do it?  Mark Dever asks his prospective members to share the gospel in one minute or less.

Here is his answer to that question:

"The good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him.  But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him.  In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in him.  He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ's sacrifice and that God's wrath against us had been exhausted.  He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness.  If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God."

~ Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism


Related Links:
Can You Share the Gospel
The True Meaning of the Cross
The Importance of the Gospel in the Life of a Believer
Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Your Sphere of Influence
The Most Difficult People to Witness to: Your Family

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Friday, April 18, 2014

The True Meaning of the Cross

*A note from Marci: I'm sharing an email by permission we received by a dear brother in the faith.  It is a response he wrote to an email he received regarding the facts of the crucifixion that are historically accurate but void of the true meaning of the Cross.  Take in the full message of the Cross as believers, those who have repented and put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, celebrate the fact the Christ has risen from the dead - The Gospel is good news - it is the best news!



For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-4


The four Gospels focus very little time on the gruesome realities of the execution of Jesus Christ.  Isaiah 53 that was written around 700 years earlier covers more detail than all of the four Gospels combined.  The reason that the Holy Spirit revealed to us so little of the details of the historical reality of the crucifixion is that the glory of the cross does not so much lie in Jesus Christ’s physical suffering on the cross.   

At the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry the Roman Empire crucified thousands of people every year.  His suffering and death on the cross was crucial to our salvation because through His death He paid the penalty that our sins deserved which is death.  [“The wages of sin is death…”(Romans 6:23); “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”(Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11)]  The reference to blood is used throughout the New Testament to refer to the death of Christ.  But the reason Jesus’ “soul was very sorrowful, even to death”(Mark 14:34) and that He was sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and crying out to His Father in prayer the night before and that the sun was darkened for three hours while He hung on the cross was that he was bearing the full and infinite wrath of God for our sins.  This is most clearly seen in Romans 3:23-26 where it says that God put forward Christ “as propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith”.  A “propitiation” is an atoning sacrifice that satisfies God’s wrath. 

There is only one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5)  And only Christ Jesus, the Son of God could have been our substitute and reconciled us to God because He was and is both God and man.  He needed to be man so that God could “condemn sin in the flesh”(Rom. 8:3).  And He needed to be God to be able to bear the infinite wrath of God which our sins deserved.  And He needed to be God to be able to defeat Satan and conquer death.  

In our rebellion we have offended an infinitely holy and worthy God so the punishment that we deserve is infinite and an eternity in hell would still not satisfy God’s justice for our sins.  And part of God’s wrath on the cross included Christ being forsaken and alienated by God the Father as He turned His back on His Son because He is so holy that He can’t even look on sin (Habakkuk 1:13) and Jesus was bearing all the sins of all the people in the history of the world who would come to believe into Him.  

Jesus acknowledged that He was being forsaken and separated from His Father, who He had perfect fellowship with for eternity, when He quoted from Psalm 22:1 which says: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?...”  Psalm 22 as well as Isaiah 53 and many other prophecies in the Scriptures were promises from God that pointed forward to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and Jesus fulfilled all of God’s Word that referred to His first coming, and when He returns to consummate the kingdom of God on earth He will fulfill the rest of the prophecies and promises of God exactly and completely.

God is holy and righteous so He could not just forgive sin without His justice being satisfied; otherwise He would be violating His very nature and would cease to be God.  But in God’s infinite wisdom and according to the riches of His mercy and grace He delivered up His Son to be our substitutionary sacrifice so that He might be just and the justifier of those who by God’s grace are united to Christ and are “in Christ” through the miracle of saving faith in His name.(Rom. 3:26)  This is what many refer to as the “Great Exchange”.  The sins of all of those who would come to trust in Christ were counted to Him on the cross, and His perfect righteousness was counted to them through the miracle of saving faith.  

Abraham is the example and father of all those who are saved by faith in Christ alone.  Abraham didn’t just believe that there was a God, he believed God and trusted in all His promises that pointed forward to the Messiah, and God counted that faith to him as righteousness.  But even Abraham’s faith was a gift of God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-10).  Unless by God’s grace you are born again and given a new heart from God above (John 3:3; Titus 3:4-7) you will consider this message foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18).  But God’s Word is powerful and all sufficient to save through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.  Salvation belongs to God from first to last so that He alone might receive all the glory by putting His mercy and grace on display through saving unworthy and lost sinners.   


The true meaning of the cross is the heart and glory of the gospel.  And God in His infinite wisdom summed up the entire gospel in one glorious verse:  “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”(2 Cor. 5:21)  

So I finish with a doxology borrowed from the apostle Paul who launched into a crescendo of praise as he completed his treatise on the doctrines of grace in Romans 1 through 11 through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."

~ Tom Vann


"It is at the cross where God’s Law and God’s grace are both most brilliantly displayed, where His justice and His mercy are both glorified. But it is also at the cross where we are most humbled. It is at the cross where we admit to God and to ourselves that there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn or merit our salvation."~ Jerry Bridges


Related Links:
The Gospel
Tom's Favorite Gospel Tract
Granted Ministries



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Thursday, April 17, 2014

There Are No Perfect Families


Do you ever look around at the families in your church and assume they have it all together?  That their lives must be carefree and they have these perfect obedient children, problem free marriages and every day goes just as planned?  Maybe you think some of the bloggers you enjoy reading are living lives that look unattainable to the average wife and mother.  (See my post here on Encouragement Along the Way).  

We know deep down this isn't true because we live in a fallen world.  Overcoming sin in our lives is a battle we will be dealing with until the Lord calls us home.  Sin infects every home - sin infects every Christian home.  We all battle sinful attitudes, pride, selfishness, envy, discontentment, rudeness, disobedience, unloving actions and attitudes, rebellious hearts, comparison and the list can go on.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ~ 1 John 1:8

Let me turn the table a moment- do you think you're family is the perfect family in your church?  Do you compare your family to others and think, "I'm thankful we don't have the issues that family has." Hmmm - there's a statement with a familiar ring to it:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 18:10-14


Please visit me at Raising Homemakers to read the rest of the article - There Are No Perfect Families


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Capture Your Journey - My Week in Random Photos

I had a lovely week as I was able to tag along with my husband and son on a business trip to Chicago.  While they were busy with business I was able to do some shopping for my daughter and her new home at Ikea.  She sent me with a list and it was a fun time loading up some dressers and a desk for their new home.  (See Amber's post on their new home here)

I was also thankful that our new Amish built table came too - it is beautiful!  Come and take a peek at my week with me.


Swedish Meatballs with Ligonberries and Mashed Potatoes.  I was hungry and it was lunchtime when I got to Ikea - Yes, I ate it all.  



My cart already to check out.


Ha!  I got it all in - my family was a bit surprised I did it by myself.  (Actually, I was too.)



I was thirsty and my guys weren't ready to be picked up from their meeting so I stopped at the mall and had an Earl Grey Vanilla Creme from Argo Tea - it was really yummy.


Our new Amish built table - Just kidding!!


Here it is - I was bummed I didn't take a picture for this post in the daylight but I forgot.


Just a different angle.


Spring in Wisconsin - this was taken this morning.  



All my theology is reduced to this narrow compass – “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.”  ~Archibald Alexander


Joy Dare Blog


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Monday, April 14, 2014

Contentment is a Choice




Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”~ Hebrews 13:5


"Contentment won't be found in changing the things we don't like about our lives, which is what the author of Hebrews is telling us.

In his words we find why contentment is possible, even when we lack our heart's desires.  We can be content with our lives exactly as they are today because God has promised he is always with us.  Our problem really isn't that we need something we don't have; our problem is that we don't find God to be enough for us.  Many of us can't even comprehend how God can meet us in our empty places and satisfy us fully.  We are open to the idea, but we just don't see how it's possible.

Sometimes we get a wrong idea about how God satisfies us.  He doesn't come to us on our terms, taking the role of a surrogate for the things or relationships we lack.  He comes in place of those things, giving us something even better.  The whole reason we can't resonate with the words of Hebrews 13:5 is that we are bound up in the things of this life and our desires for them.  If we would just look away from those, we would find that God delights to fill up our empty places with joy, peace, guidance, love security and communion with him through his Spirit.  Once we get a taste of that we find that it is no second-best consolation prize.  We will find it to be better, richer, fuller than any earthy relationship or material blessing.

We can find this for ourselves by guarding against focusing overly much on what this world offers.  We can--and should--certainly enjoy the material things God gives us, but only if we hold them loosely.  It is the love of this world's blessings, the focus on getting them, that is the problem, not the blessings themselves.

We don't need anything more than what we have right now, today, in order to be content.  The Bible says so; therefore it must be true.  The choice is ours."

~Excerpt taken from Contentment: A Godly Woman's Adornment by Lydia Brownback
(emphasis mine)




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