O femeie creștină, victima a unui atac terorist, și-a iertat atacatorii palestinieni

marike-veldman-forgives-palestinian-attacker-israel

Marike Weldman a părăsit Olanda și s-a mutat în Ierusalim în urmă cu aproape 40 de ani, cu scopul de a adopta copii arabi.

Marike Weldman: Nu am avut bani, nu am avut nimic, decât promisiunea lui Dumnezeu din Psalmul 10 să am grijă de orfani. Așa am fondat căminul, prin credință. Am închiriat o casă și am decorat-o. Apoi au venit copiii. Timp de 32 de ani am fost o mamă adoptivă. Am avut 20 de copii de-a lungul anilor, nu au trăit cu toții în același timp în cămin. Unii au stat o perioadă mai lungă, iar alții o perioadă mai scurtă.

Viața ei s-a schimbat brusc, când doi bărbați au urcat în același autobuz în care se afla și ea. Autobuzul cu care mergea și Marike s-a oprit în acest colț. Doi palestinieni dintr-un cartier din apropiere s-au urcat în autobuzul cu numărul 78 și au început să înjunghie și să îi împuște pe pasageri. În urma atacului au murit trei israelieni.

Marike Veldman: Mi se păreau suspicioși. M-am întrebat de ce i-a lăsat șoferul autobuzului să urce. Cei doi teroriști au început să urle. Unul avea un pistol, iar celălalt un cuțit. Bărbatul care avea un cuțit a sărit la mine și a început să mă înjunghie în umăr, în piept și în mâini. Celălalt terorist s-a dus în spatele autobuzului și a început să împuște. Oamenii au început să urle. În timp ce teroristul m-a înjunghiat, am repetat în limba mea: „Doamne Isuse!”. Am spus în olandeză: „O, herre Jesus!”. M-am protejat cu mâinile mele și am tăcut. Am stat în colț. La un moment dat s-a oprit și a mers în spatele autobuzului și a continuat să înjunghie alți oameni. Deodată, am auzit un zgomot, s-a spart sticla. Ușile s-au deschis și astfel am putut ieși.

Marike a ieșit din autobuz sângerând și în stare de șoc, însă a reușit să oprească o mașină, iar șoferul a dus-o la o ambulanță. În urma înjunghierilor a avut șase plăgi și colaps pulmonar. Mulți dintre copiii pe care i-a avut în grijă au vizitat-o la spital, dar nu au vrut să fie intervievați în fața camerelor de filmat.

Marike Weldman: Primele întrebări ale copiilor au fost: „Mamă, acum ne urăști?”, „Urăști arabii?” Copiii mei sunt arabi. Întrebările lor m-au uluit. I-am întrebat pe copii cum îmi pot pune astfel de întrebări. Am o chemare de a sluji arabii, sigur că nu îi urăsc.

Marike a mers mai departe și l-a iertat pe bărbatul care a înjunghiat-o. Copiii ei i-au spus că asta nu are niciun sens.

Marike Weldman: Mi-am spus că nu are niciun sens să iert așa o persoană. Apoi m-am gândit că Domnul nostru, Tatăl nostru Ceresc ne-a iertat prin Domnul Isus. Iertarea este o alegere. Am ales să iert. După aceea, Dumnezeu te ajută. Acesta este harul Său. Această întâmplare oribilă m-a apropiat de Domnul. El s-a dovedit a fi un Dumnezeu minunat. Noi slujim unui Dumnezeu minunat. El este așa de bun.

Reclame

The Story of Esau dramatized (Dallas Seminary)

Dr. Reg Grant, Department Chair, Media Arts and Worship & Professor of Media Arts and Worship, reenacts the story of Esau, emphasizing that those who forgive pry open the door that can lead to reconciliation and peace.

VIDEO by dallasseminary

Does a Morality of Forgiveness require a God of Forgiveness? Emmanuel Katongole at Veritas

Photo credit Veritas via twitter.com

Emmanuel Katongole’s roots force him to confront some of the worst tragedies in the modern age, whether as a half-Tutsi, half-Hutu considering the Rwandan genocide, or as a Ugandan citizen facing civil war. He has participated in attempts to reconcile participants in the brutal civil war in Uganda, including child soldiers and their families, made infamous by Joseph Kony and the „Lord’s Resistance Army.” Listen to his account of the personal, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of restoration and forgiveness. From The Veritas Forum at Boston College, 2013. http://www.veritas.org/talks VIDEO by The Veritas Forum Photo credit www.bbc.co.uk

Jason Crabb – Please forgive me, I need your grace

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

My sleep is gone, my heart is full of sorrow
I can’t believe how much I’ve let you down
I dread the pain that waits for me tomorrow
When the sun reveals my broken dreams scattered on the ground

Chorus:
Please forgive me
I need your grace to make it through
All I have is you, I’m at your mercy
Lord, i’ll serve you
Until my dying day
Help others find the way
At your mercy, please forgive me

I can’t believe the god of earth and glory
Would take the time to care for one like me
But I read in the Bible that old story
How he plead for my forgiveness while he was dying on a tree

Repeat chorus 2x

Lyrics from: http://artists.letssingit.com/crabb-family-lyrics Video from  gospelhour

Please Forgive Me – The Crabb Family

Live at Brooklyn Tabernacle

Eric Ludy – The Gospel – His blood was shed for more than just forgiveness…

thanks to Denise for reminding of me of Eric Ludy’s messages. Here is one of them setapartlife

Eric Ludy:

I am going to introduce you to the Gospel right now. YOU ARE A REBEL. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not,  I’ll tell you straight up: You are a rebel against the living God. This is your natural disposition. Why? Because you were born in sin. We are in a prison cell, and it takes the awakening and the grace of God, the prevenient grace of God to awaken us to the fact that we’re lost, and that we can’t get out. We’re headed towards destruction fast.

The enemy, because of our rebellion against God, has legal rights to harm and harass our life. There you are, behind prison bars, „Help, I need help!” You can’t get out. Those prison bars are stronger than anything. There is no way you can cut them. It is impenetrable, you cannot escape. You’re doomed. Because when the enemy comes at the very end, he will finish you off because he has a legal right to do it, and he will relish every minute of it.

In strolls your intercessor. He stands between you and that accuser, and He takes the hit that was rightfully yours. He takes the blow that was intended for you. That is an extraordinary reality, that he was turned to pulp, and He actually died for you. Over your prison cell it always said: Condemned. Separated eternally from God. Guilty. And then, suddenly it switches. When you realize what Jesus Christ has done, it says: Justified, it says forgiven, redeemed.

Here’s the problem: Most of us have stopped with the good news right there. The blood of Jesus Christ has been shed. I want you to know that is unbelievable news. But, we’re still in a prison cell. We’re thanking God, but we’re still in a prison cell saying, „Thank you for forgiving me, thank you for changing the sign on the outside of the prison.

And God’s word says, „COULD YOU CHECK THE DOOR to the prison cell?” Because, my blood was shed for more than just forgiveness. Forgiveness was the avenue through which He could make the escape for us. He isn’t just interested in the consequences of the penalty of sin, HE HAS ALSO DEALT WITH THE PROBLEM OF SIN. Test the door. It’s unlocked. The door to the prison cell is unlocked. WALK OUT! Smell the open air and the freedom and liberty in the life of Jesus Christ! (from the first 3 minutes of 12).

Watch – Betrayed with a Kiss – Eric Ludy

The submissive wife by Brian Chapell (essential read)

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Eph 5:22-24).

When Fergie married Andrew we marveled at the days of pageantry surrounding the wedding, but what most of us remember is a moment when their vows were taken. Fergie was supposed to say to her groom, “I promise to love, honor, and obey…” She did say the phrase, but not without a sideways grin at the Prince that said much more. Her look could hardly have more clearly articulated the new Duchess’s thought: “You gotta be kidding. Nobody really believes those anachronisms about wifely submission anymore, and you had better not!” She repeated the vows, but with a toss of her head Fergie as clearly tossed away the content of those words without any indication of what commitments should or could take their place. In hindsight, that smirk of bemused lip service to traditions not intended to be truly honored has become a sad illustration of a royal marriage gone awry. But it is not merely royalty to whom the illustration applies.

It is my guess that if we strip away party platforms and lip service we too readily give to the official positions of our churches, political agendas, families, or traditions we will also find large question marks remain in all the thinking people about the current responsibilities of women in marriage. Hal Farnsworth, a Reformed University Ministries campus minister at Vanderbilt, tells me, “It does not matter whether the intelligent women on my campus are liberal feminists or conservative traditionalists, if you can get them to talk honestly about their deepest concerns most will say that even when they make choices according to one perspective that they constantly wonder if they are right. Deep down they are desperate for a credible authority to tell them what women are supposed to be.”

Sadly, our churches have not proved to be a credible enough authority to settle the issue even among themselves. I know of some churches that have urged women fed up with abusive husbands to leave their marriages. Others have used discipline to try to force women to submit to husbands guilty of the same offenses under the assumption that the abuse is a result of the women not being submissive enough. I hear the resultant confusion among my own relatives as women long committed to marriage and deeply desiring to honor Scripture have after decades of sacrifice cried out in emotional exhaustion and spiritual agony, “I know the Bible says to submit, but I can’t continue to live this way. I have tried, but I can’t keep on. I just can’t.”

From palaces to campuses to churches to our homes and hearts the questions echo: What really is a wife supposed to love, or to honor, or to obey? I do not have all the answers to the questions this fragmented and broken society demands that I consider. However, I do know that some of the flip answers we often give do not consider the complexity of our age, the dignity of each person, and the authority of God’s Word. Many of these principles appear in this passage which I cannot read without discovering a rather straight answer to the ultimate question we have to ask: “What is a Christian wife to be?” The inescapable answer here (for those who believe this Word is authoritative) is stated directly–a Christian wife is to be submissive. However, lest that answer merely be simplistic, we must carefully assess the requirements, nature, and goals of this submission.

The Duty of a Christian Wife
The duty to which God calls Christian wives could hardly be more clearly stated by the apostle: “Wives submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (vs. 22). However, as you well know, simply repeating the word “submit” or even giving its Greek origin (which means “to arrange under”) does not tell us all we feel we have to know. What does Paul intend for us to understand by submission?

Submission Does Not Mean “Nothing”
We know that submission cannot be an incidental term without meaning because of the comprehensive ways in which it is addressed. If we do not understand what submit means Paul first gives us a comparison analogy. Wives are to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” (vs. 22). As all persons should arrange their lives under the righteous purposes of their Lord so wives should prioritize their lives relative to husbands’ purposes in God’s kingdom. Lest that comparison prove insufficient, the apostle then adds a more compelling example of his thought based on the relationship of Christ and the church. As the church submits to Christ as its head, so wives should submit to their husbands’ headship (vs. 23-24). As the church would never think it could fulfill its purposes without submission to the holy will of its Lord, the apostle reminds women that they cannot fulfill their divine purposes if they are not submitting to the biblical purposes of their husbands. Finally, lest we assume Paul only means these standards to apply to some narrow part of life, the apostle clarifies the comprehensive extent of his instruction by saying that “wives should submit to their husbands in everything (vs. 24).” These really are comprehensive words.

The Scope of Scripture’s Witness
As comprehensive as these words appear in this place, however, we might still find a way to narrow their intent if this seemed to be an exceptional passage. Then, our culture as well as our biblical interpretation principles of letting Scripture interpret Scripture and allowing clearer passages to interpret less obvious passages might well lead us to conclude these “submission” words do not really mean anything for us. We cannot draw such a conclusion in light of the consistent commitment of Scripture to these concepts.

Note that wives are instructed three times in this passage alone to subject their priorities to their husband’s authority. Paul uses the same or related terminology about husbands and wives in at least five other books (viz. 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, and Titus). The Apostle Peter also tells wives, “be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives” (1 Pt 3:1). This “gentle and quiet spirit” Peter then ties to Israel’s earliest history saying it was with such a demeanor that “Sarah obeyed Abraham” (1 Pt 3:4-6). Paul goes back even further in the Ephesians and Corinthians passages by relating this order of family relationships to the events of creation (vs. 31). The effect of this consistent witness is to spread the instruction for wives to submit to husbands not only over one passage, but across the Pauline material, through the New Testament, to Israel’s origins and throughout humanity’s history. Submission (so comprehensive in its imperatives, scope, and duration) cannot mean nothing.

Submission Does Mean Something
The something that submission means is perhaps most obvious in light of the purpose it fulfills. Paul reminds us of this when in the same passage he refers to the genesis of the marriage relationship saying, “For this reason a man will leave his Father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery…” (vs. 31, 32). These words tell us that submission is the pouring oneself into the completion of another. It is the sacrificing of self to make a relationship, and those in it, whole. Paul says this is a profound mystery and we can well attest to that. It is so past our explaining (and yet so obvious to us) that God has made those of us not gifted for celibacy so that we are never quite whole–in our relational maturity, in our personal development, or even in our spirituality–without those he intends to complement and complete us in marital oneness.

We will look at another individual (or even at ourselves) after a few years of marriage and say, “That person has so matured, so leveled out, or become so less self-absorbed since marrying so and so.” At least, that is what we say if the marriage is functioning well. If the marriage is going poorly, we typically recognize that the self-absorption, immaturity, or character flaws may be even more prominent. When the real oneness God intends for marriage does not occur, then the people themselves become less whole. Though this is a mystery it fits precisely with the pattern of Scripture which tells us that since God made us such that marriage would make us whole, then the abuse or neglect of that union must damage us.

Ultimately it is this knowledge of the way in which our lives affect each other that directs our understanding about what the apostle says here about the mutual responsibilities of marriage. To the husband is given the authority for the sacrificial responsibility of biblical headship that is designed to lead a family in the paths of God. To the wife is committed the nurture and care to support him so that he can carry out these responsibilities. Each has responsibility for the other to the end that the family unit as a whole is whole and healthy before God. Note this goal is much clearer than a specific set of behaviors imposed on every couple despite differing personalities, gifts, and situations. We are not obligated by some simplistic imposition that determines who takes the garbage out, who washes dishes, or how many hours outside of the home a spouse may work or play without crossing some definite biblical threshold of marital correctness. The responsibilities of marriage are determined at the deepest levels of the Christian heart, and call for the most diligent, honest, conscientious questions of self-examination. The husband must not only ask, “Am I leading my family to a better knowledge of God?” but also, “Is my leadership self-serving or sacrificial?” Similarly, the wife must not only ask, “Do my actions, words, and attitudes enable my husband to lead my family to a better knowledge of God?” but also, “Have I truly in everything submitted my life to this highest priority?”

These are questions that cannot be answered by arbitrary, cultural, or merely traditional role assignments regarding such things as who gets to talk first, who writes the checks, or who gets to drive. The inappropriateness of culturally imposed rules is obvious when we understand that submission (in addition to requiring the pouring of oneself into the completion of another) involves the exercising of gifts for the glory of another. This becomes most apparent when you recognize the balanced construction of the instruction Paul gives wives and husbands in this passage. His instruction for husbands directs them to use their headship as Christ used his for the glory of his bride, the Church (vs. 25-27). The effect is to remind husbands that they must never abuse their authority so that they rob their wives of “radiance” (cf. vs. 27). At the same time wives are told not to so disregard submission that they rob their husbands of “respect” (vs. 33). Discerning how wives make sure they fulfill this obligation requires us to recognize the implications of Paul’s comparison of marriage to the relationship of Christ and the Church. The Church does not honor Christ by dispensing with the gifts and graces God provides. Rather she is called to arrange all her energies and abilities under the grand purpose of glorifying the Savior. To do less would not be submission; it would be disobedience. By this line of thought we grow to understand the wisdom of Paul’s terminology. Biblical submission truly is an “arranging under” of one’s own gifts for the glory of another. Such submission is never an abdication of responsibility for another’s welfare, nor is it an abandonment of one’s own gifts to fit a culturally determined role.

Let me indicate at least one reason why humanly prescribed behaviors are an insufficient measure of biblical submission. On a church council outside our locale there is a lay leader who asks every new pastoral candidate entering that denomination’s churches, “Does your wife submit to you?” This man’s agenda is to make each candidate prove to the council that he has control of his family the way this official thinks headship should be practiced–meaning the way he controls his own family. However, it would be tragic if candidates actually did satisfy this official.

Over the years this man’s friends have watched as his intelligent, once glowing and buoyant wife has become increasingly silent, sullen, and dowdy under his “headship.” Sadly, the more withdrawn she has become the more obnoxious, belligerent, and accusing he has become with everyone in his path. The more she retreats from her own gifts the more his faults assert themselves. You need to hear me clearly say that I am not blaming her for his faults. I am simply noting the marital results of a spouse’s suppressed gifts. Yet, despite the obvious deterioration of their Christian witness both parties in this marriage claim the wife is biblically submitting to her husband because she only talks when he allows, only leaves the home when he permits, only wears what he approves. How sad. By limiting headship and submission to a certain set of behaviors they have actually lost sight of their true biblical priorities of promoting God’s glory and, thus, they have diminished each other. I cannot prescribe the specific actions this wife should do each day, nor would I pretend to know when certain things should have been discussed between these two people in years gone by. I do know, however, (and their lives confirm this) that submitting one’s life to the good of another does not mean abandoning them to their faults, nor abandoning one’s own gifts. God does not expect anyone to minimize the gifts he grants for a worship response to his own creative character and through which he has designed the character and happiness of a marriage to mature. Submission ultimately is not the suppression of gifts but the full expression of them in behalf of another.

The Dignity of a Christian Wife
It is this expression of gifts in behalf of another that further defines submission not only in terms of duty, but also in terms of dignity. To see how biblical submission grants dignity you must examine the precise wording of this passage. Such an examination may initially yield a shock. Where our translations say, “Wives submit to your husbands” (vs. 22), the word “submit” does not appear in the original language of the text. The very word we are so ready to debate is not actually present in this verse. Interestingly its absence not only underscores the necessity of submission, it is also confirms the dignity of a Christian wife.

The Value of a Christian Wife
The place the word “submit” does appear is the preceding verse where the apostle concludes his instruction on being “filled with the Spirit,” by saying we should all “Submit to one another out of reverence to the Lord” (vs. 21). The instruction to wives then follows as only the first constituency among Christians to whom the submission mandate applies. Next will follow husbands, then fathers, then children, then slaves, then masters. The construction of the passage, thus, unfolds with the following impact:

Submit to one another…Wives, to your husbands as to the Lord (5:22-24, 33); Husbands, by giving yourselves for your wives, as the Lord gave Himself for the church (5:25-33); Children, by obeying you parents (6:1-3); Fathers, by not exasperating your children (6:4); Slaves, by obeying masters properly from your hearts (6:5-8); and, Masters, by treating slaves with respect and fairness since you are slaves of Christ (6:9).

Each person is to submit whatever gifts, rights, or authority he or she has to the good of another for the building up of Christ’s kingdom.

The reason this structure confirms the dignity of a Christian wife is that it proves that her submission does not lessen her value or diminish her place in the kingdom. All Christians are to submit themselves to the good of others whom God has placed in their lives. Although the apostle clearly assigns differing purposes to husbands and wives, he just as clearly exempts no one from the requirement of having the attitude that was also Christ’s who made himself nothing and became obedient to God’s call for selfless sacrifice (cf. Phil 2:5ff.). In Christ’s Kingdom submission does not lessen believers’ standing, it confirms their place. Christians’ responsibilities vary, their value does not. To conclude otherwise is to reason that Christ became an inferior in the Godhead when he submitted himself to the Father, or that the Spirit deserves less glory because he fulfills the purposes of the Son. By his Trinitarian nature our God has made it abundantly clear that an equality of value does not require an identity of roles.

To Respect Her Husband
Paul concludes this address to husbands and wives with the instruction for men to “love” their wives and for wives to “respect” their husbands (vs. 33). Here the apostle seems to be dealing with each gender at the weak points of our relational tendencies. Often a man’s great temptation is to use the power of his position and physique to enforce dictatorial rule or to indulge passive self-absorption. A woman’s comparable temptation is to use the power of words and emotions to diminish a husband’s influence so that she has control of the home. Paul allows neither “power play,” by commanding men to love their wives sacrificially and commending women who respect their husbands.

Something in us instinctively knows the power of the forces the apostle is seeking to curb. When Kathy and I were first married and living in an apartment in a low-income part of this city, the paper-like walls and floors of the complex gave us an ear-opening perspective on the way some people live. The vileness and violence so many of the families around us considered normal were shocking to us. Most curious was the minister’s family below us. Most of their fights were about who was the better witness. We usually tried to ignore the shouts and slaps until he started choking her so she could not respond, and then we would have to find some way to intervene. It was awful. But as Kathy and I would night after night try to close our ears to the conflict as it built, we would sometimes turn to one another and say, “Why does she taunt him so? She knows he is going to hit her.” We did not know then what we have now learned about abusive homes: that as often as a man will try to dominate a woman with his strength, a woman will try to control a man with shame.

Even if violence is not a part of your home you must learn by listening to the ways spouses try to get their way even in Christian marriages. With intimidation or intransigence that are both expressions of power, men often exert their control. Women by a look, a cutting remark, an accusation, or some embarrassing reminder, may seek to diminish a man so he becomes less sure of himself and, thus, more controllable. Sadly these factors often, then, turn cyclical as insecure men react to their sense of being diminished by becoming more dominating, which only gives a wife more opportunity to needle and shame, which subsequently triggers more abuse. When this cycle is in effect to any degree each party in the marriage is vying for power, but note Paul is crusading for love (cf. 5:1- 2). Love permits none of this grappling for spousal control. A Christian husband has no privilege to intimidate or ignore his wife; a Christian wife no right to diminish or shame her husband.

The Glory of a Christian Wife
The dignity of a Christian wife is not only spelled out in the comparison of her duty with others’ tasks, but also in the glory of the purpose God grants her. To understand the dignity of this purpose it may be helpful to compare it to the role current society sometimes advocates. Such a comparison is available in author Phoebe Hobby’s January 1994 review of current books addressed to women (as it appeared in Harper’s magazine). Hoban writes that in the past feminism has been about power and money. Now, however, she concludes-

Feminism is no longer a battle for equal opportunity in a male-dominated society, but a kind of 12-step recovery program for wounded women. There is an endless appetite for self-help books. They do not offer women still struggling in an unfair world any clarion call to arms. Instead they urge women to redefine their inner lives.

I remind you these words are not my assessment, but rather are the observations of a secular advocate of modern feminism. How sad (and revealing) that a movement with such altruistic rhetoric and so often correct pleas for justice, equality, and dignity now finds at its end that it was but another journey into me-ism. Whether this cause returns to the direction of getting more external affirmation of status or stays focused on inner healing, the result of the movement as it is currently framed is the same–a path for women that is but the pouring of one’s life and demands into the vain, cloying pursuit of “what’s-in-it-for-me.”

Whether it be a man or woman, we find nothing so detestable as a person driven by selfishness, and nothing so ennobling as a life given in service and sacrifice for others. If you can see this in the comic book life of a Donald Trump who gains power and wealth at the expense of our respect, and sense it in the life of a Mother Teresa who has the honor of the world and its rulers though she has nothing, then perhaps you can begin to gauge the dignity God grants to the wife who submits herself to the good of her husband and family. The Bible says that they will rise up and call her blessed (Prov 31:28).

Heaven’s Cheer
I sensed some of this divine pleasure at a social I attended a few days ago. There I took much delight in listening to an older couple sing their own version of “Do You Love Me” from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof. At the point of the song where the stage characters are supposed sing, “After twenty-five years it’s nice to know,” this couple substituted their own marriage’s stats and sang, “After 48 years it’s nice to know.” In a church dominated by young marriages that have not yet stood the test of years, and in which we had just that evening heard previous stories from some in troubled relationships battered by cultural influences, the enduring love of this couple was more than endearing. It was inspiring. When they hit the last notes the room exploded in a standing ovation as we cheered for a love that had so powerfully encouraged us and had so radiantly persevered in them.

We were about to discover there was more for them to endure. Just a few minutes later their 41-year-old son also went on the stage to tell us about his current battle with cancer and the hope he still claims as a result of his parents’ life of faith. After the social when I spoke to the parents privately in a remote hallway of the church, I told them I was surprised to hear the cancer report. They said the report was only days old to them as well. There had been no history or warning signs to prepare them-just an out-of-the-blue telephone call: “Mom and Dad, I have cancer.”

As they told me this account of their beloved son, the recentness of the news with its shock, grief, and fear welled in the couple. The man, usually so stoic, could not keep tears from his eyes. When his wife saw that pain and the embarrassment of his tears, she touched his arm. It was such a simple and subtle gesture, and yet you could almost see the strength flow from her as he, then, collected himself and spoke again of their faith in God’s care.

The wife, I am sure, wanted to cry as much (if not more) than her husband wanted not to cry. Knowing her as I do, tears would have been far more typical of her, and she had no less a need to be comforted by him. Yet, in that moment he needed her strength and in that reassuring touch she sacrificed the expression of her own grief to minister to his pain. In their oneness she knew just how to help him, and how to preserve his respect in the midst of her own hurting. The gesture was a duty of deep love, a dignifying of him that dignified her, and a desire to serve another nurtured through a lifetime of serving God. Who witnessed this wife’s giving of herself in that caring touch in the hall? I did, and maybe one or two others, but for her I again heard applause–another standing ovation exploding this time from the portals of heaven as its hosts rejoiced for a wife who in those moments submitted her right to grieve to her husband’s need for support. I hope with her spiritual ears she heard it, too. I pray that on that day she sensed heaven’s regard for the beauty of her service; and, I pray that on this day she, like you, will know and claim the eternal value and scriptural glory of every wife who submits to her husband out of reverence for the Lord.

Paul Tripp – Five „benefits” of unforgiveness (via) Desiring God. Cinci „beneficii” a neiertarii

Ca sa cititi in Limba Romana, faceti click pe Romanian la translatorul din partea dreapta a blogului si Google translate v-a traduce textul.

You can read the entire article here-Five benefits of unforgiveness-on the Desiring God website. If the above title sounded confusing, it’s because the benefits of unforgiveness are „dark” . You can read more from Paul Tripp on his blog here.

Paul Tripp:

Why don’t people just forgive? That is a very good question. If forgiveness is easier and more beneficial, why isn’t it more popular? The sad reality is that there is short-term, relationally destructive power in refusing to forgive. Holding onto the other’s wrongs gives us the upper hand in our relationship. We keep a record of wrongs because we are not motivated by what honors God and is best for others but by what is expedient for ourselves.

Five Dark „Benefits” of Unforgiveness

  1. Debt is power. There is power in having something to hold over another’s head. There is power in using a person’s weakness and failure against him or her. In moments when we want our own way, we pull out some wrong against us as our relational trump card.
  2. Debt is identity. Holding onto another’s sin, weakness, and failure makes us feel superior to them. It allows us to believe that we are more righteous and mature than they are. We fall into the pattern of getting our sense of self not by the comfort and call of the gospel but by comparing ourselves to another. This pattern plays into the self-righteousness that is the struggle of every sinner.
  3. Debt is entitlement. Because of all the other person’s wrongs against us, he or she owes us. Carrying these wrongs makes us feel deserving and therefore comfortable with being self-focused and demanding. “After all I have had to endure in relationship with you, don’t I deserve . . . ?”
  4. Debt is weaponry. The sins and failures that another has done against us become like a loaded gun that we carry around. It is very tempting to pull them out and use them when we are angry. When someone has hurt us in some way, it is very tempting to hurt them back by throwing in their face just how evil and immature they are.
  5. Debt puts us in God’s position. It is the one place that we must never be, but it is also a position that all of us have put ourselves in. We are not the judge of others. We are not the one who should dispense consequences for other’s sin. It is not our job to make sure they feel the appropriate amount of guilt for what they have done. But it is very tempting to ascend to God’s throne and to make ourselves judge.

The Ugly Lifestyle of SelfishnessThis is nasty stuff. It is a relational lifestyle driven by ugly selfishness. It is motivated by what we want, what we think we need, and by what we feel. It has nothing to do with a desire to please God with the way we live with one another, and it surely has nothing to do with what it means to love others in the midst of their struggle to live God’s way in this broken world.

It’s also scarily blind. We are so focused on the failures of others that we are blind to ourselves. We forget how often we fail, how much sin mars everything we do, and how desperately we need the grace that we are daily given but unwilling to offer to others. This way of living turns the people in our lives into our adversaries and turns the locations where we live into a war zone.

Yet, we have all been seduced by the power of unforgiveness. We have all used the sin of another against him or her. We have all acted as judges. We have all thought we are more righteous than the people around us. We have all used the power of guilt to get what we want when we want it and in so doing have not only done serious damage to the fine china of our relationships, but have demonstrated how much we need forgiveness.

Forgiveness Is a Much Better Way

It seems almost too obvious to say, but forgiveness is a much better way. The grace of our salvation is the ultimate argument for this truth. Forgiveness is the only way to live in an intimate, long-term relationship with another sinner. Forgiveness is the only way to negotiate through the weakness and failure that will daily mark your relationships. It is the only way to deal with hurt and disappointment. Forgiveness is the only way to have hope and confidence restored. It is the only way to protect your love and reinforce the unity that you have built. Forgiveness is the only way not to be kidnapped by the past. It is the only way to give your relationships the blessing of fresh starts and new beginnings.

Grace, forgiving grace, really is a much, much better way. So, isn’t it wonderful to know that you have not only been called to forgive, but you have also been graced with everything you need to answer this call?

© 2011 Desiring God

Marriage – Pursuing conformity to Christ in the Covenant by John Piper

via DesiringGod.org – Marriage: Pursuing Conformity to Christ in the Covenant.
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Ephesians 5:21-33

[Submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Based on Grace

You cannot say too often that marriage is a model of Christ and the church. That’s what Noël said. One of the reasons she is right is that this makes clear that marriage is based on grace. Christ pursues his bride, the church, by grace, obtains her for his own by grace, sustains her by grace, and will perfect her for himself by grace. We deserve none of this. We deserve judgment. It is all by grace.

Grace: Treating People Better Than They Deserve

For two weeks, we have emphasized that this grace empowers husbands and wives to keep their covenant by means of forgiveness and forbearance. That emphasis is at the heart of what grace is: treating people better than they deserve. This is one of the central pieces of Christian ethics:

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. . . . Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-29, 35-36)

Those commands do not cease to be demands of Jesus when we get married. If we are to return good for evil in general, how much more in marriage.

Grace: Power to Stop Sinning

That’s what we have emphasized so far in saying that marriage is based on God’s grace toward us. But now I want to emphasize another truth about grace. It not only gives power to endure being sinned against, it also gives power to stop sinning.

In all our emphasis on forgiving and forbearing, you might get the impression that none of our sinful traits or our annoying idiosyncrasies ever changes—or ever should change. So all we can do is forgive and forbear. But what I want to try to show from Scripture today is that God gives grace not only to forgive and to forbear, but also to change, so that less forgiving and forbearing is needed. That too is a gift of grace. Grace is not just power to return good for evil; it is also the power to do less evil. Even power to be less bothersome. Grace makes you want to change for the glory of Christ and for the joy of your spouse. And grace is the power to do it.

The Gospel Way to Confrontation

But we have come at this, you might say, in a roundabout way. The emphasis on forgiveness and forbearance came first, because it’s the essential rock-solid foundation for change. In other words, rugged covenant commitment based on grace gives the security and hope where the call for change can be heard without it feeling like a threat. Only when a wife or husband feels that the other is totally committed—even if he or she doesn’t change—only then can the call for change feel like grace, rather than an ultimatum.

So today I am emphasizing that marriage should not be and, God willing, need not be static—no change, just endurance. Even that is better than divorce in God’s eyes, and has a glory of its own. But it is not the best picture of Christ and the church. Yes, the endurance tells the truth about Christ and the church. But the unwillingness to change does not.

Ephesians 5:25-27: Beyond Forgiveness and Forbearance

That brings us to our text: just three verses from Ephesians 5. Consider the implications of Ephesians 5:25-27 for marriage as “The Pursuit of Conformity to Christ in the Covenant.” Listen to how these verses take us beyond forgiveness and forbearance. Listen to the way husbands are to love their wives:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Husbands Changing Wives

In Christ’s relationship to the church, he is clearly seeking the transformation of his bride into something morally and spiritually beautiful. And he is seeking it at the cost of his life. Let’s think for a moment about the implications of this passage on how a husband thinks and acts with a view to changing his wife. We will come to the wife’s desire to change her husband in a few minutes.

The first implication is that the husband, who loves like Christ, bears a unique responsibility for the moral and spiritual growth of his wife—which means that over time, God willing, there will be change.

Treading on Dangerous Ground

I realize that at this point—no matter how I come at this—I am treading on dangerous ground. I could be playing right into the hands of a selfish, small-minded, controlling husband who has no sense of the difference between enriching differences between him and his wife and moral and spiritual weaknesses or defects that should be changed. Such a man will likely distort what I am saying into a mandate to control every facet of his wife’s behavior, and the criterion of what he seeks to change will be his own selfish desires cloaked in spiritual language.

But an honest look at this text does not lead us there. It leads us to a very different attitude. Consider three observations:

1) The Husband Is Like Christ, Not Christ

The husband is like Christ, which means he is not Christ. Verse 23: “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church.” The word as does not mean that the husband is like Christ in every way. The husband is finite in strength, not omnipotent like Christ. The husband is finite and fallible in wisdom, not all-wise like Christ. The husband is sinful, not perfect like Christ. Therefore, we husbands dare not assume we are infallible. We may err in what we would like to see changed in our wives. That’s the first observation.

2) Conformity to Christ, Not to the Husband

The aim of the godly husband’s desire for change in his wife is conformity to Christ, not conformity to himself. Notice the key words in verses 26 and 27. Verse 26: that he might “sanctify her.” Verse 27: that he might present the church to himself “in splendor.” Verse 27 again: that she might be “holy.” These words imply that our desires for our wives are measured by God’s standard of holiness, not our standard of mere personal preferences.

3) Dying for the Wife

The third observation is the most important: What Paul draws attention to most amazingly is that the way Christ pursues his bride’s transformation is by dying for her. Verse 25-26: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.” This is the most radical thing that has been or could ever be said to a husband about the way he leads his wife into conformity to Christ in the covenant of marriage. Husbands, are we pursuing her conformity to Christ by lording it over her, or by dying for her? When we lead her, or even, if necessary, confront her, are we self-exalting or self-denying? Is there contempt or compassion?

If a husband is loving and wise like Christ in all these ways, his desire for his wife’s change will feel, to a humble wife, like she is being served, not humiliated. Christ clearly desires for his bride to grow in holiness. But he died to bring it about. So, brothers, govern your desire for your wife’s change by the self-denying death of Christ. May God give us the humility and the courage to measure our methods by the sufferings of Christ. (See Titus 2:14; Revelation 19:7.)

Wives Changing Husbands

Now let’s turn to the wife’s desire for her husband’s change. This is not a message about what headship and submission are. But to make the points I am making I have to touch on what headship and submission are not. I have already said that a husband’s headship is not identical to Christ’s headship. It is like it. Similarly, therefore, the wife’s submission to the husband is not identical to her submission to Christ. It is like it. When verse 22 says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord,” the word as does not mean that Christ and the husband are the same. Christ is supreme, the husband is not. Her allegiance is to Christ first, not first to her husband. The analogy only works if the woman submits to Christ absolutely, not to the husband absolutely. Then she will be in a position to submit to the husband without committing treason or idolatry.

One of the things this implies is that a wife will see the need for change in her husband. And she may and should seek the transformation of her husband, even while respecting him as her head—her leader, protector, and provider. There are several other reasons I say this.

1) Prayer: A Request for Change

One is the function of prayer in the relationship between Christ and his church. A wife relates to Christ the way the church should relate to Christ. The church prays to Christ—or to God the Father through Christ. When the church prays to her husband, she asks him to do things a certain way. If we are sick, we ask him for healing. If we are hungry, we ask for our daily bread. If we are lost, we ask for direction. And so on. Since we believe in the absolute sovereignty of Christ to govern all things, this means that we look at the present situation that he has ordained, and we ask him to change it.

I am only drawing out an analogy here, not an exact comparison. The church never “confronts” Jesus with his imperfection. He has no imperfections. But we do seek from him changes in the situation he has brought about. That is what petitionary prayer is. So wives, on this analogy, will ask their husbands that some things be changed in the way he is doing things.

2) All Husbands Need Change

But the main reason we can say that wives may and should seek their husbands’ transformation is that husbands are only similar to Christ in the relationship with their wives. We are not Christ. And one of the main differences is that we husbands need to change, and Christ doesn’t. We are like Christ in the relationship, but we are not Christ. Unlike Christ, we are sinful and finite and fallible. We need to change. That is clear and universal New Testament teaching. All men and women need to change.

3) Wives Are Loving Sisters in Christ

Another factor to take into account is that wives are not only wives, but in Christ, they are also loving sisters. There is a unique way for a submissive wife to be a caring sister toward her imperfect brother-husband. She will, for example, from time to time, follow Galatians 6:1 in his case: “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” She will do that for him.

And not only Galatians 6:1, but other passages as well. For example, both of them—spiritual husband and spiritual wife—will obey Matthew 18:15 as necessary, and will do so with the unique demeanor called for by headship and submission: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.”

The Danger of Nagging

All of this has to be balanced by the danger of nagging. It is a sad thing when a woman longs for her man to step up and take responsibility in leading the family spiritually and he won’t do it. We will talk more about that in the weeks to come. But the word nag exists in English to warn us that there is such a thing as excessive exhortation. The apostle Peter warns against this with strong words in 1 Peter 3:1. He says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” This is talking mainly about an unbelieving husband, but the principle applies more widely.

I don’t think that means a wife cannot talk to her husband. But surely it does mean that there is a kind of speaking that is counterproductive. “Without a word” means don’t badger him. Don’t nag him. Be as wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove: Discern whether any word would be heard. Mainly, Peter says to win him by your respectful and pure conduct (1 Peter 3:2).

Christ Died to Make Change Happen

Which brings us back to our text and what Paul said to husbands. Verses 25-26: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.” It isn’t only wives who seek to win their spouses by their behavior. This is the primary means by which Christ won the church. He died for her. So wives win their husbands mainly by their lives of sacrificial love, and husbands win their wives mainly by lives of sacrificial love.

Forgiving and Forbearing Do Bring About Change

Which means, when you stop and think about it, that everything I said about forgiving and forbearing in the previous two weeks turns out to be not merely a means of enduring what will not change, but a means of changing by means of sacrificial, loving endurance. Few things have a greater transforming impact on a husband or a wife than the longsuffering, forgiving sacrifices of love in the spouse. There is a place for confrontation. There is a place for pursuing conformity to Christ in the covenant of marriage. Life is not all forgiveness and forbearance. Real change can happen. Real change ought to happen. Christ died to make it happen. And he calls us, husbands and wives, to love like that.

The myths and the truths of Forgiveness – by Sam Storms

Sam Storms addresses the issue of forgiveness and talks at length about what biblical forgiveness is and what it isn’t.

“Most of the ground that Satan gains in the lives of Christians,” wrote Neil Anderson, “is due to unforgiveness” (Bondage Breaker, 194). I couldn’t agree more. It isn’t hard to figure out why, once we realize that unforgiveness breeds bitterness, resentment, anger, unkindness, and even despair. Nothing is more important for us than to know what forgiveness is as well as what it isn’t. So what I propose in this study is to look first at five myths about forgiveness; that is to say, five lies many of us have embraced about what it means to forgive another person. Then I will turn to five truths about forgiveness, or five essential elements apart from which true forgiveness will never take place.

The he goes on to list 5 myths about forgiveness:

1. Contrary to what many have been led to believe, forgiveness is not forgetting.

2. Forgiving someone does not mean you no longer feel the pain of their offense.

3. Forgiving someone who has sinned against you doesn’t mean you cease longing for justice.

4. Forgiveness does not mean you are to make it easy for the offender to hurt you again.

5. Forgiveness is rarely a one-time, climactic event.

and 5 truths about forgiveness:

1. God in Christ forgave us by absorbing in himself the destructive and painful consequences of our sin against him.

2. God forgave us in Christ by canceling the debt we owed him. That is to say, we are no longer held liable for our sins or in any way made to pay for them.

3. Forgiving others as God has forgiven us means we resolve to revoke revenge.

4. Forgiving others as God has forgiven us means that we determine to do good to them rather than evil. Read especially Romans 12:17-21.

5. God forgave us in Christ be reconciling us to himself, by restoring the relationship that our sin had shattered.

Click here to read the entire article at Acts 29 Network.

(via) Justin Taylor

But Christ Has Been Raised, You Are Not Still In Your Sins on Desiring God

John Piper, to listen to the audio click But Christ Has Been Raised, You Are Not Still In Your Sins on Desiring God.

1 Corinthians 15:17-20

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

Review

Two weeks ago we asked the question, „What is forgiveness? What does it look like when it happens?” To answer we used a definition from Thomas Watson: forgiving those who have wronged us includes

  1. resisting revenge,
  2. not returning evil for evil,
  3. wishing them well,
  4. grieving at their calamities,
  5. praying for their welfare,
  6. seeking reconciliation so far as it depends on you,
  7. and coming to their aid in distress.

Then last week we asked, „How can we do this? Where do we get the freedom and the power to act in a way that crosses our nature?” Forgiving is to a fallen human heart what flying is to a heavy human body. How can we do this flying? We took our clue from John Bunyan’s poem:

Run, John, run, the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands,
Far better news the gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings.

The gospel bids us fly—it commands us to forgive those who have wronged us. But it also gives us wings. Last week we saw two gospel wings with three feathers each in Ephesians 4:32–5:2.

Wing #1: What God did for us before we were born

  1. God loved us with a special saving love before we were born.
  2. Christ died for us with a special covenant purpose of taking us for his bride.
  3. This sacrifice for us was a sweet aroma to God and he was satisfied with it.

Wing #2: What God did for us during our lifetime

  1. God put us into a relationship with Christ so that his death and righteousness count for us.
  2. God adopted us into his eternal family.
  3. God forgave all our sins.

If we really believe these six things, if we rest in them and get our hope and our joy from them, we will be able to do the gospel-flying called forgiveness. If these things are true, we can forgive. If these things are true, we can endure anything. If these things are true, we can go on giving and giving and giving 70 times 7, because the love of God and the sacrifice of Christ and the inheritance we have as God’s children are inexhaustible.

The Resurrection: A Reward for Jesus’ Sacrifice

Now the question I ask today, on this Easter Sunday morning, is this: „If all this gospel-flying—this power to live in love and forgive those who wrong us—if this is accomplished by the love of God and the death of Jesus, then what does the resurrection of Jesus from the dead add to it?”

To answer this let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:17, „If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

If Christ Was Not Raised, You’re Still in Your Sins

To be „in your sins” is the opposite of being „in Christ.” When we are „in Christ,” we get what Christ can do for us, namely, eternal life. When we are „in [our] sins,” we get what sins can do for us, namely, eternal condemnation and death (Romans 6:20–23).

Paul says, „If Christ has not been raised . . . you are still in your sins.” We are still bearing our guilt, still under condemnation, still alienated from God, still unforgiven.

Why Is This So?

But why is this if the death of Jesus satisfied the Father (as we saw last week)? If it’s true that „every debt that you ever had has been paid up in full by the blood of the Lamb” (not the resurrection of the Lamb, cf. Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7), then why are we still in our sins if the Lamb does not rise from the dead?

The answer—or at least an essential part of the answer—is that the resurrection of Jesus is the reward of his sacrifice. And if the reward is not given, it’s because the sacrifice is deficient. And if the sacrifice is deficient, we are still in our sins.

Easter and Being Forgiving People

So you can see that the point of Easter is tremendously relevant to whether we can be a forgiving people or not. If Christ has not been raised, then all the gospel feathers in the wings that support gospel-flying (forgiving) are defective. If God will not let his own Son fly from the tomb and take his seat at the Father’s right hand in glory, it’s because his sacrifice for our sins was defective. It won’t work. We are still in our sins. John Bunyan was wrong. The gospel does not bring us better news: it bids us fly, but it does not give us wings.

So the resurrection of Jesus is tremendously important for our capacity to forgive one another. It is the reward that God gives to his Son precisely because his sacrifice is so totally sufficient for our forgiveness and for our power to forgive.

Hebrews 13:20–21a

Let me try to show some of the evidence that the resurrection of Jesus is the reward of his sacrifice. The book of Hebrews makes this plain in three different places. Start at the end of the book. In Hebrews 13:20–21a it says, „Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will.”

This sounds like Jesus died for himself. Look at it again: „[God] brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep [that is, he raised Christ from the dead] through [by means of] the blood of the eternal covenant.” Christ was raised from the dead through his own blood!

But we know from this same book—especially from this book (Hebrews 4:15; 5:9; 7:26, 28; 9:14)—that Christ was without sin and did not need anyone to die for him, not even himself! So when it says in 13:20 that God raised him from the dead „through the blood of the eternal covenant,” I take it to mean that his sacrifice so perfectly secured his covenant promises for his people that God rewarded him with resurrection to carry those promises into eternal force.

So the resurrection of Jesus validates the infinite value of the blood of Jesus. If he is raised, the sacrifice was sufficient, and you are not still in your sins. There is gospel-flying.

Hebrews 2:9b

Another text that shows this is Hebrews 2:9b, „He has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor.” There it is again: „Because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor.” The glory and honor that Jesus received in the resurrection and ascension was „because of his suffering and death.” His resurrection was the reward of his suffering.

Therefore if he has not been raised, then it is because God does not regard his sacrifice as worth rewarding. It is defective. And we are still in our sins.

Hebrews 10:12–14

We get an even deeper insight into this rewarding of the Son in Hebrews 10:12–14, „He [Christ], having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God [there’s the connection between the sacrifice and the resurrection, but he’s going to say how they are connected], waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For [crucial word! „because”] by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

Now we can see the connection between the offering Jesus made and his resurrection: Verse 12, „Having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God [he was raised!] . . . (v. 14) FOR [because] by that one offering he perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

In other words the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins was so complete that he perfected us for all time by that one sacrifice. This is awesome—all sins forgiven, past, present, future on the basis of one sacrifice. All God’s people who by faith in Jesus are being progressively sanctified now have in fact been definitively, perfected before God for all time—and that by ONE sacrifice, the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus of his own blood.

Therefore—for this reason—he sat down at the right hand of God. The resurrection was the Father’s reward for such an utterly complete and marvelous work on the cross.

If Christ had not been raised from the dead, we would still be in our sins because that would mean his sacrifice was deficient. But he has been raised and the point of all these texts is that this resurrection is the reward for his sacrifice and a validation of its utter perfection and sufficiency to make us perfect before God.

Isaiah 53:10–12

We could go to Philippians 2:6–11 and see the same thing where Paul says that since Christ emptied himself and was obedient unto death, THEREFORE God has highly exalted him and given him a name above every name.

But I think it might strengthen our faith even more if we go to an Old Testament prophecy and see the truth of Christ’s resurrection and, even there 700 years before the event, its connection to the sacrifice of Christ. Even Isaiah (53:10–12) saw that the resurrection of the Servant of the Lord would be the reward of his suffering, and the proof that his suffering was sufficient to justify his people. Notice the crucial connections as I read

The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if [note this „if”] He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days [that’s the resurrection!—”if” he gives himself as an offering], and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of [notice again the connection] the anguish of His soul, He will see it [its fruit] and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore [i.e., because he justified many by bearing their iniquities] I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong [this is the reward of resurrection], because [here it is one last time, „because”] He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.

So already 700 years before the death and resurrection of Christ Isaiah saw them and the connection he saw was that the resurrection of Christ was the reward of his sacrifice and the validation of his suffering to cover sin.

  • If he would render himself as a guilt offering, THEN he will see his offspring, he will prolong his days.
  • As a result of the anguish of his soul, he will be satisfied (with its fruit in resurrection).
  • Because he bears the sins of many, THEREFORE God will allot him a portion with the great.
  • He will divide the booty with the strong BECAUSE he poured out his life to death.

Summary

So we come back from Hebrews and Philippians and Isaiah to our original question from 1 Corinthians 15:17: If it’s the blood of Christ, the death of Christ, that covers all our sins and justifies us before God, then why are we still in our sins if the Christ does not rise from the dead?

The answer we have seen is this: the resurrection of Jesus is the reward of his sacrifice. It is the proof of how perfect and all-sufficient his sacrifice was. Therefore if God does not give the reward, it is because the sacrifice is defective and our faith is futile and we are still in our sins. The gospel gives no wings and we are left unforgiven and unforgiving.

But the message of Easter is the shout of 1 Corinthians 15:20, „But Christ has been raised.” And Paul gives the evidence for it in 1 Corinthians 15:5–8—the people Christ appeared to: individuals, small groups, a large group, many of whom were still alive as Paul wrote so that the Corinthians could investigate his claim, „But Christ has been raised.”

Therefore our faith is not futile and we are not still in our sins and we are not unforgiven and we need not be—indeed, cannot be—unforgiving. The gospel does give wings:

Far better news the Gospel brings,
It bids us fly and gives us wings.

Doubt not his sacrifice can save,
God sealed it with an empty grave.
And by his blood and life we live
And now have freedom to forgive.

The resurrection of Jesus is an exclamation point of God’s joy and celebration of all that Christ did for us in his dying. Christ is alive today for this reason: to deliver to us personally and powerfully everything he died to obtain. Including the joy of being forgiven and the doubled joy of being forgivers.

To acknowledge this and embrace it and celebrate it, would you sing with me these words (to the tune of „Be Still My Soul”):

I then shall live as one who’s been forgiven;
I’ll walk with joy to know my debts are paid.
I know my name is clear before my Father:
I am His child, and I am not afraid.
So greatly pardoned, I’ll forgive another;
The law of love I gladly will obey.

John Piper @Desiring God Website DesiringGod.org

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