Friday, January 29, 2010

The False Gospel Of Hillsong (Part 3) - We Don't Want To Talk About The Gospel

The saga continues . . .

Well Robert Fergusson did write back one more time. I have now carefully reread the legalize at the bottom of each mail. Based on this comment it would seem that I can quote Robert's mails as I was the "intended recipient":

The material contained in this email may be confidential, and may also be the subject of copyright and/or privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, any use, disclosure or copying of this document is prohibited.

Could someone please post a comment with advice regarding this. As I read the disclaimer it seems to me that only unintended recipients cannot disclose or quote it.

I want to be careful about this because I want to agitate Hillsong for one reason and not two reasons. I want to keep the argument relentlessly pointed at their shameful practices when it comes to adherence to the biblical Gospel and their willingness to edit Scripture as they please. We are to submit to Scripture. Scripture does not submit to the pragmatic practices of Hillsong. I do not want to provide an opening for them to argue about the secondary issue of copyright. If only they paid as much attention to detail when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So if I can receive further advice confirming that I am interpreting the disclaimer correctly, then I will publish Robert Fergusson's mails. I know some of you want to read them - and you may find them quite lame anyway. It would seem that his "apologetical approach" is to take his bat and go home. He seems to think that I want to argue about who belives most in repentance and the authority of Scripture - when nothing could be further from the truth. Scripture has no authority to people who vandalize it and I cannot find anything to suggest that "Hillsong" believes in preaching repentance at all. One of us believes in these things and the other doesn't. I was hopeful that he could figure this out - I thought my explanation was quite simple. Maybe Robert Fergusson is through with writing or maybe his third e-mail is delayed - perhaps he is still digging through Brian Houston's sermon archive looking for that elusive message calling sinners to repentance. Either way, I don't think I'll be hearing from him.

Nonetheless Fergusson's second mail provoked my third mail:

Now Robert, be reasonable. They are fair questions that I am asking. How can you even suggest that repentance from sin is discussed in the Gospel presentation found in the CD? I was hopeful you would address the issue - not pretend it doesn't exist! I am not suggesting I believe the Gospel more than you - I am saying that if you do believe the Gospel then you will put a stop to the false one being presented on behalf of Hillsong. Doesn't it concern you at all that Hillsong propogates information telling people to pray this prayer and then you are a child of God with no call to repentance from sin. No mention of the cross. No mention of our guilt. Please tell me this is of concern to you as a preacher of the Gospel?

Cameron

Based on feedback, this series has revealed to me that Hillsong is a far bigger sacred cow than I ever imagined. A sacred cow that needs to be carved up and barbequed. This isn't over . . .

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The False Gospel Of Hillsong (Part 2) - Defending Heresy

The saga continues . . .

My previous post included my first e-mail that I sent to Hillsong church. I sent it to their salvation e-mail hotline, prayer@hillsong.com, which you would think would be 911 for lost souls on the brink of hell. Well, it turns out that my first mail, was responded to very promptly with an "out of office auto-reply". The lights were on but no one was home! I was given another e-mail address to try so I sent it there. This time I didn't get an out of office auto-reply, instead I got several days of silence.

Finally, after several days, Pastor Robert Fergusson wrote an e-mail to me. If you don't know who he is then let me explain it this way - If Brian Houston were Captain Kirk then Robert Fergusson would be Spock . . . I'm sure that analogy is somehow flawed but I think you get the point. It would seem that my unanswered e-mail had been busy working it's way up the chain of command and had finally reached the appropriate level of spin doctoring expertise.

I will only quote a portion Fergusson's e-mail:

The material contained in this email may be confidential, and may also be the subject of copyright and/or privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, any use, disclosure or copying of this document is prohibited. If you have received this document in error, please advise the sender and delete the document.

This email communication does not create or vary any contractual relationship between Hillsong and you. Internet communications are not secure and accordingly Hillsong does not accept any legal liability for the contents of this message.
Please note that neither Hillsong nor the sender accepts any responsibility for viruses and it is your responsibility to scan the email and any attachments.

Hillsong


If only they were as detailed and meticulous about the Gospel of Jesus Christ! What I can say is that Pastor Robert was polite and diplomatic. He assured me of Hillsong's committment to truth and said that their gospel presentation did contain repentance because the words "change" and "forgive" were used (can someone please tell me where I missed that definition in the Bible?). Furthermore, I can say that Fergusson did not have a single word to say about Hillsong's editing of Scripture - the case in point being 2 Chronicles 7:14. I guess they didn't deem that to be of major importance. Clearly, they hold to a different heirarchy of importance than Scripture does!

What follows is my second attempt at discussing their version of the gospel and their willingness to selectively edit Bible verses (much akin to using liquid wite-out as a highlighter pen).

Dear Robert, I am honored that you would take the time to write to me. I do know of you as an author and seem to recall that you are from the UK. I hope I'm right about that.

I am from Australia (though I now live in Denmark) and my background is in the AOG movement. I am aware that Hillsong cops it's share of criticism - much of which is unfounded. I know that most of the controversy swirls around money and the use of it. Conspiracy theories abound as much as the wild imaginations of their originators. I realize that you probably get asked many "loaded questions" with an agenda bent on discrediting the Hillsong church. I would hope that you would not categorize me among these people but would biblically consider the objections I raise. They pertain to the purity of the Christian Gospel of which I preach both in the pulpit and on the street. And my questions have no grounding in personal credibility but in the authority of Scripture - which the Hillsong website professes: "We believe that the Bible is God's Word. It is accurate, authoritative and applicable to our every day lives". So please, regardless of what you think of my personal credibility, I ask that you give my words merit on the basis of their alignment to Holy Scripture.

I must be clear from the outset that I am very critical of the gospel proclaimed by Hillsong that I have been exposed to in both print and audio form. In my travels I have spoken with members of Hillsong church which has only served to increase my concerns about the gospel that is preached there. Also, a good friend of mine, while filming a reformation documentary in London, bumped into and interviewed some leaders from Hillsong London in which they were unable to clearly articulate the Christian Gospel - this again was more fuel on the fire in prompting me to write. I believe that God made His Gospel knowable for a wretch like me and it is a subject/discussion that does not require top level theologians to discuss at the basic level. I have just completed a series on my blog which you are welcome to critique entitled "The Anatomy of the Gospel". Based on Scripture and, to a lesser extent, church history I have asserted that all Gospel proclamations must include:

1. Who God is - His Holiness (Romans 1:18-20)
2. Who man is - sin must be clearly defined in order to show us our sinfulness (Romans 3:10-23)
3. Judgment - heaven and hell - God must judge because He is good, loving, and righteous and we are not (Rev 20:12-15)
4. What Christ has done - the cross and the resurrection - that Christ died to endure God's wrath in the place of sinners and credit sinners with His righteousness - He rose from the dead confirming that He is God and made satisfactory payment for our sins. (Rom 3:24-26)
5. How man must respond - repentance from sin and faith towards Christ (Acts 20:2-21)

Now I could have targetted any one of those five points as the presentation in the CD liner notes was sadly lacking on all five. But I zeroed in on repentance as it is clearly affirmed by Hillsong's own doctrine statement.

I should apologize for a typo in my original mail concerning 2 Chronicles 7:14. I will correct it here as it pertains to my assertion that the necessity of repentance is being both denied and avoided in the thousands (maybe millions) of CDs distributed to the general public under the Hillsong banner. Here is how my mail should have read:

I noticed on the back cover of the CD liner notes a quotation of 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

By checking in my Bible I found this verse to be incomplete and is missing the words in bold letters:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Can you explain to me why you deleted the line from that verse that speaks specifically about repentance? I hope you agree that it is very serious indeed to add to or delete information from sacred Scripture.

Robert, there is no excuse for taking a scalpel to Scripture like this. It is bad enough when people quote verses out of context. How much worse to delete words out of a verse and print it as if that is what 2 Chronicles 7:14 says. The text does not even contain a ... to show that the verse has been abbreviated. I don't blame you for this and realize that you cannot possibly know everything that goes on in a ministry as large as Hillsong. But neither can I see how you could possibly defend this as a professing Christian preacher.

And there is no way that the words "change" and "forgive" (as found in the CD liner notes "prayer") remotely resemble repentance from sin in their context. Please read it again remembering that the faith statement says that people "must repent of sin" in order to receive forgiveness. Repentance is never mentioned and neither is sin. Robert, please take this seriously as a steward of the Gospel. If people must repent of their sin in order to receive forgiveness but the CDs that are sold say nothing that remotely resembles that they are giving false assurance. Please, I beg you, listen to your conscience. Please change your literature to reflect this truth and make sure that your preaching is consistent with this.

The Gospel is not about happiness but righteousness. People must come to Christ seeing their unrighteousness and need for righteousness found only in Christ's atoning sacrifice. A failure to talk about sin and the need to repent from that sin is short changing the glorious Gospel at its foundational level.

Sincerely
Cameron Buettel

Fergusson wrote back again, and I'll talk about that in my next post on Friday. Suffice to say it reminds me a lot of Bill Clinton and the marijuhana he smoked but never inhaled!

The effects of this false gospel, that Hillsong propogates, are becoming far reaching. What follows here is a tragic video from Hillsong showing how to innoculate children to the true Gospel . . .



Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, January 25, 2010

The False Gospel Of Hillsong (Part 1) - Houston We Have A Problem

Hillsong church in Australia is one of the largest, if not the largest, distributor of "worship music" in the world and have multiple "worship conferences" each year with tens of thousands in attendance. Pastored by Brian Houston, their message is far reaching. And as I found by reading their message - it is no cause for celebration.

In my previous post, I discussed the content of the "CD liner notes" found in a Hillsong CD. As an Australian, I am sorry for the scale and scope of the gospel according to Hillsong - for it is a gospel with no saving power.

I have attempted to engage in a private dialogue with the "powers that be" in Hillsong church but to no avail. One of their main preachers did write back to me (you will hear more about that on Wednesday), but suffice to say that his e-mails were full of diplomacy and lacking in theology.

This post is not about grinding an axe or discussing the scandals of moral failures. Nor is it a discussion on the financial activities of Hillsong church, though there are those who contend that the economics are a by-product of a false gospel. What follows is my inititial correspondence with Hillsong in the attempt and hope that maybe we could engage in a productive discussion on the purity of the Gospel. So please read on with a heart for those who are lost and deceived, and a desire for the Gospel to thunder once more in pulpits around Australia.

To whom it may concern at Hillsong church,

I recently read through the CD liner notes of your "Hillsong Live - Mighty To Save" CD. In it I found an explanation on how to become a Christian.

Here is what it said:

Our prayer is that you would discover the Author of Love . . . Jesus. His life and death represent the greatest gift of love the world will ever see . . . a gift for you. All you need to do is accept it . . . a brand new start to a life lived in relationship with God. Meeting God is as simple as praying a prayer . . . asking Jesus to meet you right where you are. If you are not sure that you know God, and that you are going to heaven, then make this your prayer today . . .

Dear Lord Jesus

I need You . . . I need Your grace to forgive me and I need your love to change me. Thank You for your amazing love. Thank You for giving me life and eternity. But above all, thank you for dying on the cross for me.

I accept You as my Lord and Saviour. Now I'm a Christian, which means You live in me.

I belong to You. I will live my life for You and I will love You forever . . . Amen.


Now I am concerned about several things lacking in this presentation including Who God is, defining what sin is, that we must all be judged, and why Christ needed to die on the cross. These all give me great cause for concern with the gospel you are proclaiming. But I want to zero in on one particular issue. On your website you have a statement of "what we believe" which says this:

We believe that in order to receive forgiveness and the 'new birth' we must repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and submit to His will for our lives. (http://myhillsong.com/what-we-believe)

Can you please explain to me why repentance is never mentioned in the gospel presentation in the CDs you sell but your website says that "in order to receive forgiveness and the 'new birth' we must repent of our sins"? Can you tell me which one version is the correct one?

Adding to this I noticed on the back cover of the CD liner notes a quotation of 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

By checking in my Bible I found this verse to be incomplete and is missing the words in bold print:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Can you explain to me why you deleted the line from that verse that speaks specifically about repentance? I hope you agree that it is very serious indeed to add to or delete information from sacred Scripture.

I am very concerned about this. I'm sure you would agree that the stakes are high and it is imperative that we get the Gospel right. Eternal destinies hang in the balance. The Apostle Paul said:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).

I would appreciate your response as to where Hillsong church actually stands on repentance, and that you would promptly ammend your website or the CD liner notes that you publish. I am writing to you first to give you opportunity to clarify your position before I discuss this publicly on my blog.

Sincerely
Cameron Buettel

They did write back, and so did I, and you'll hear all about that on Wednesday in Part 2.

Go On To Part 2

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Answer To Wednesday's Question - How Hillsong Edit God's Word

In my last post I asked the following question about the Scripture quote of 2 Chronicles 7:14 on the back cover of the booklet in The Hillsong CD "Live - Mighty To Save" CD.

See if you can figure out what is wrong with this Bible quotation:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Did you work out the problem with this verse, as quoted by Hillsong church? It's actually been edited. This perverted verse is incomplete and is missing the words marked in bold print:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

If you remember from my previous post, I discussed the complete absence of repentance from Hillsong's gospel presentation, even though their faith statement maintains the necessity of repentance. The failure to preach repentance from sin is not only plain wrong, it is also blatantly hypocritical of their own theology, and possibly explains the missing words from 2 Chronicles 7:14 - words that speak specifically of repentance.

This is just plain disgraceful but I don't think we'll see sackcloth and ashes on sale in the Hillsong bookshop anytime soon. There is no excuse for taking a scalpel to Scripture like this. It is bad enough when people quote verses out of context. How much worse to delete words out of a verse and print it as if that is what 2 Chronicles 7:14 says. The text does not even contain a ... to show that the verse has been abbreviated.

In closing I wanted to submit another verse for Hillsong to consider in their next Scripture vandalism project:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book (Revelation 22:18-19).

I have maintained radio silence for too long about the false gospel that Hillsong propogates on such a massive scale in the land of my birth. I will continue on Monday where I will be discussing my private correspondence with Hillsong church. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Gospel According To Hillsong

I am often asked about Hillsong church in Australia pastored by Brian Houston. To Americans, and most others outside of Australia, the church is known almost exclusively for their very popular "worship music". Their CDs are marked by outstanding musicianship, high quality vocal performances, and excellent production values. It is one of those rare places where Australians have become the benchmark in mainstream evangelicalism.

To Australians, Hillsong represents far more than music. It is the flagship congregation of the Pentecostal churches within Australia. It has spawned other Hillsong "franchises" both in Australia and around the world. Their success at drawing large numbers of people, coupled with their affluence, has caused nearly every other Christian denomination (or movement) to sit up and pay close attention. It is a testimony to their influence that so many churches around Australia, Pentecostal or not, aspire to Hillsong's prestige and success.

They have had their share of scandals due to the moral failures of three high profile figures. However, far and away most of the criticism aimed at the Hillsong empire centres around their financial dealings - some of this criticism is warranted and some is seemingly driven by jealousy. But what grieves me most, as an Australian, is the almost total lack of debate on the gospel they preach. This augers poorly for the future of Christian denominations in Australia when the purity of the Gospel is not the central agenda - it doesn't even seem to be on the agenda! I have had many years of bewilderment living in Australia because of the sheer lack of interest in discussing this issue among both clergy and laymen.

We have just had a summit in Copenhagen by a bunch of guys worried that their car exhaust is melting the polar ice caps when there is no way of knowing if they are having any effect whatsoever. How much more should Christians be concerned about creating a climate where false teaching can flourish. And this is precisely what happens when the purity of the Gospel is not actively contended for.

This post has been delayed due to finishing my previous series "The Anatomy Of The Gospel" and also because of my ongoing private correspondance with Hillsong church. There is much to discuss and much to be revealed over the coming days. But for now I want to ask you, the reader, to take on my discernment challenge. I will now present Hillsong's gospel presentation as found in their "Live - Mighty To Save" CD. What I want you to do is measure it against my "Anatomy of the Gospel" series where I established the following "five pillars" of presenting the Christian Gospel - The Holiness of God, The Depravity of Man, The Necessity of Judgment, The Work of Christ (Atonement and Resurrection), and the Human Response that this Demands (Repentance and Faith). You can also measure the "gospel according to Hillsong" against their very own (hard to find) faith statement (click here).

The gospel according to Hillsong:

Our prayer is that you would discover the Author of Love . . . Jesus. His life and death represent the greatest gift of love the world will ever see . . . a gift for you. All you need to do is accept it . . . a brand new start to a life lived in relationship with God. Meeting God is as simple as praying a prayer . . . asking Jesus to meet you right where you are. If you are not sure that you know God, and that you are going to heaven, then make this your prayer today . . .

Dear Lord Jesus

I need You . . . I need Your grace to forgive me and I need your love to change me. Thank You for your amazing love. Thank You for giving me life and eternity. But above all, thank you for dying on the cross for me.

I accept You as my Lord and Saviour. Now I'm a Christian, which means You live in me.

I belong to You. I will live my life for You and I will love You forever . . . Amen.


So how do you think that stacks up against the biblical Gospel? And one final thing for today - that same CD has the Bible verse 2 Chronicles 7:14 quoted on the back page . . . but something is not quite right. See if you can figure out what is wrong with this Bible quotation:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Stay tuned for Friday where I will give my verdict!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Devastation Of Haiti And The Sovereignty Of God

Most of us have been stunned at the scale of devastation in Haiti. We should certainly be in prayer, particularly for our Christian brothers and sisters in Haiti. Giving is another area and one that requires wise stewardship of the Christian. Here is an article from the 9 Marks blog (the ministry of Mark Dever) which suggests a good place for our money to be well spent in Haiti in a way that honors God and is ultimately used in the furtherance of the Gospel while providing immediate relief to those suffering:

Haiti Relief - The Baptist Haiti Mission
by Ryan Townsend

Friends,

Most of you have heard by now about the terrible earthquake in Haiti that has devastated the country. Some news agencies are estimating human loss at 500,000 souls. Please be in prayer for the people, specifically the believers, over these next few days. Many folks are still stuck in collapsed buildings and will begin dying without water or air. And the danger of looting and violence is very real. May God use this to turn many to himself.

Since we can't jump on planes and get down there to help out, the best thing we can do right now is fund good ministries that are on the ground. With all the confusion of who to support, I wanted to make you aware of a ministry, the Baptist Haiti Mission, that I'm confident will use funding in a competent manner both to relieve physical suffering and to give clear biblical witness to Jesus Christ.

The Baptist Haiti Mission is right in the center of the chaos and is doing amazing work. They could use our support. You can read about them and donate on their website http://www.bhm.org. You can see regular updates about the disaster here. Here's one sobering fact from their homepage this morning:

"The BHM hospital at our headquarters in Fermathe is overflowing with earthquake victims. We are the only hospital serving the surrounding rural mountain villages."

There are multiple buttons you can press to donate funds to them, if the Lord is leading you to help relieve suffering in Haiti during this crisis.


It is also important to explore and develop a theological response to tragedies like Haiti. How we should respond at the theological level? It has been common in my recent witnessing encounters to hear objections to God, or His existence, due to the devastation in Haiti. I thought it beneficial to revisit two articles on the question of God and suffering, written soon after hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans.

The first article was written by Tony Campolo and the title reveals Campolo's trainwreck theology:

Katrina: Not God's Wrath--or His Will
The Hebrew Bible doesn't say God is omnipotent. When disaster strikes, he cries with the rest of us.


I have only one word to describe commentary like this - disgust! How dare Campolo redefine the God of Scripture. This comment alone confirms Campolo as an idolater. In a lame attempt at defusing the idea of God having wrath, and delivering false comfort to those hurting, Campolo is willing to present to us a false god who is not all powerful and cries himself to sleep over all the evil that he cannot stop.

Campolo's assertion about omnipotence only serves to show that he is a sociologist masquerading as a theologian. The word omnipotence might not be mentioned in the Bible (the word e-mail doesn't appear either) but the truth of it is clearly taught. For the sake of time I will quote just two:

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11).

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things (Isaiah 45:7).

Campolo continues:

Certainly, God would not create suffering for innocent people, who were - for the most part - Katrina's victims.

Perhaps we would do well to listen to the likes of Rabbi Harold Kushner, who contends that God is not really as powerful as we have claimed. Nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures does it say that God is omnipotent. Kushner points out that omnipotence is a Greek philosophical concept, but it is not in his Bible. Instead, the Hebrew Bible contends that God is mighty.


I have set aside the coming weeks to compare my "Anatomy of the Gospel" series with gospel presentations used by certain ministries. Here, Campolo flunks with flying colors on the very first point in my "Anatomy of the Gospel" series - The character and nature of God.

Fortunately, after Campolo managed to disturb wrestless souls even more, John Piper came to the fore. He wrote beautifully of God's Sovereignty in even the seeming worst of humanitarian disasters:

On his 89th birthday (August 31) NPR Senior News Analyst, Daniel Schorr, observed that President Bush had “staked out a non-position” on the debate between evolution and intelligent design. Bush had said that “both sides ought to be properly taught in the schools of America.” Then, with manifest scorn, Schorr linked the devastation of Hurricane Katrina with the concept of intelligent design: “[Bush] might well have reflected that, if this was the result of intelligent design, then the designer has something to answer for.”

No, Mr. Schorr, you have something to answer for, not God. God answers to no man. Come, Daniel Schorr, take your place with Job and answer your Maker: “The Lord answered Job [and Daniel Schorr] out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. . . . Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed”?’” (Job 38:1-3, 8-11).

Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Shall the pot say to the Potter, “This is an unintelligent way to show your justice and your power? Come, Maker of heaven and earth, sit at my feet—I have lived 89 years and have gotten much wisdom—and I will teach you—the eternal God—how to govern the universe”?

No. Rather let us put our hands on our mouths and weep both for the perishing and for ourselves who will soon follow. Whatever judgment has fallen, it is we who deserve it—all of us. And whatever mercy is mingled with judgment in New Orleans neither we nor they deserve.

God sent Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. He did not suffer massive shame and pain because Americans are pretty good people. The magnitude of Christ’s suffering is owing to how deeply we deserve Katrina—all of us.

Our guilt in the face of Katrina is not that we can’t see the intelligence in God’s design, but that we can’t see arrogance in our own heart. God will always be guilty of high crimes for those who think they’ve never committed any.

But God commits no crimes when he brings famine, flood, and pestilence on the earth. “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” (Amos 3:6). The answer of the prophet is no. God’s own testimony is the same: “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7). And if we ask, is there intelligent design in it all, the Bible answers: “You meant evil . . . but God meant it [designed it] for good” (Genesis 50:20).

This will always be ludicrous to those who put the life of man above the glory of God. Until our hearts are broken, not just for the life-destroying misery of human pain, but for the God-insulting rebellion of human sin, we will not see intelligent design in the way God mingles mercy and judgment in this world. But for those who bow before God’s sovereign grace and say, “From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever,” they are able to affirm, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:36, 33). And wisdom is another name for intelligent design.

No, Daniel Schorr, God does not answer to us. We answer to him. And we have only one answer: “Guilty as charged.” Every mouth is stopped and the whole world is accountable before God. There is only one hope to escape the flood of God’s wrath. It is not the levee of human virtue but the high ground called Calvary. All brokenhearted looters and news analysts and pastors are welcome there.


Thanks to Piper for reminding us of Who God is, who we are, and where true comfort lies - in the Sovereignty of God.

On wednesday, we will take a look at the gospel according to Hillsong.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Biblical Defence Of The 5 Pillars (Part 5)

In my previous series, "The Anatomy of the Gospel", I broke down the Gospel message into five basic components (as an attempt at constructing a helpful witnessing framework) and called them the "Five Pillars of the Gospel". This is the fifth and concluding part of a series of posts in which I will have biblically defended each of the "five pillars" I laid out as the fundamental elements necessary to faithfully proclaim the Gospel.

DEFENDING PILLAR 5 - THE HUMAN RESPONSE THE GOSPEL DEMANDS

Jesus death for sins was an act of salvation. To receive God's gracious gift Scripture explicitly teaches that:

Truly, then, God overlooking the times of ignorance, now He strictly commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day in which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He appointed, having given proof to all by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).

Repentance is necessary in order to receive salvation - therefore it is a necessary component of the Gospel we proclaim (Next week I will reveal the stunning hypocrisy in the famed Hillsong church, Australia, concerning the necessity of repentance). This repentance from sin and turning away from is also a turning to Christ in saving faith in order to receive salvation.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).

And how I kept back nothing that was profitable, but have shown you and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:20-21).

Some people claim that faith alone, as mentioned in Ephesians 2:8, negates the need to repent. But we must remember our hermeneutical rule mentioned way back in part one of this series:

Scripture cannot contradict itself - therefore in understanding any portion rightly, it must harmonize with the rest of Scripture.

So do the following two statements of Jesus contradict each other?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). (emphasis mine)

unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3b). (emphasis mine)

Regarding salvation the Scriptures always speak of faith (believing) or repentance or both. This is easily harmonized when we remember that repentance is turning away from sin and faith is turning towards Christ. As Todd Friel says "They are the two wings of the same bird that fly us to the Savior".

Jesus Himself said that:

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24a).

It is not possible to embrace Christ whilst still embracing our sin. Turning to Christ as our new master demands that we turn our back on the old carnal life. This is not to suggest that Christians don't sin - but it is to suggest that we have a new relationship with sin. Our flesh and our spirit are engaged in constant war and we are not living in a lifestyle of continual, wilfull, habitual sin.

In conclusion to the subject of man's necessary response to the Gospel we must clearly state that - a failure to preach God's requirement for men to repent and believe is a failure to preach the Gospel.

So all these 5 pillars:

PILLAR 1 – THE HOLINESS OF GOD
PILLAR 2 – THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN
PILLAR 3 – THE NECESSITY OF JUDGMENT
PILLAR 4 – THE WORK OF CHRIST
PILLAR 5 – THE HUMAN RESPONSE THE GOSPEL DEMANDS

are all essential elements of a faithful proclamation of the Gospel.

Next week I will begin applying this benchmark to certain well known public Gospel proclamations to see how they measure up. The purity of the Gospel is so sacred that we cannot afford to sanitize this discussion or be bogged down in diplomacy. The Bottom Line will be speaking up!

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).

Go Back To Part 4
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Biblical Defence Of The 5 Pillars (Part 4)

In my previous series, "The Anatomy of the Gospel", I broke down the Gospel message into five basic components (as an attempt at constructing a helpful witnessing framework) and called them the "Five Pillars of the Gospel". This is the fourth part of a series of posts in which I will biblically defend each of the "five pillars" I laid out as the fundamental elements necessary to faithfully proclaim the Gospel.

DEFENDING PILLAR 4 – THE WORK OF CHRIST

Christ died for our sins. This is what we call penal substitutionary atonement. To be right with God we need pardon for our sin. As impossible as that is we also need something else. We need righteousness to enter into eternal life and God’s presence. Let’s take a look at Proverbs 17:15. Just stop and meditate on this for a moment.

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD (Proverbs 17:15).

This verse reveals the heart of the problem. If God pardons a sinner He becomes an abomination. This is why the Gospel is not about us telling God we’re sorry and being forgiven. God is bound by His law to punish sin. Do you see this problem?

There was only one way and that is why He is the only way!

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

Now the only way that God can forgive sinful men is if God who made the law and God who demands satisfaction, if He Himself comes down, and pays the penalty. This is why God became a man, Jesus Christ, and fulfilled the whole law. So that He could be condemned as a just man, in order that the wicked could be justified. Here is where we find God’s love.

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 Corinthians 5:21)

John Macarthur comments on this verse:

As Christ was not a sinner, but was treated as if He were, so believers who have not yet been made righteous are treated as if they were righteous.

Here we see what we call imputation. Jesus takes the sinner's punishment and credits him with His righteousness. The great exchange in order that we may inherit eternal life. This righteousness is a legal statement, not an injection of righteousness or infused righteousness as the Catholics teach:

"Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification." (Catechism of the Catholic Church par. 2023)

The righteousness Paul speaks of is not an infused righteousness but an imputed righteousness. It is a righteousness that is a credit to your account – something that you can never take credit for. You don’t become a better man. You become a bad man saved by a good God. Macarthur continues in his commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:21:

Christ bore their sins so that they could bear His righteousness. God treated Him as if He committed believers’ sins, and treats believers as if they did only the righteous deeds of the sinless Son of God.

Why not let Paul Washer elaborate far better than I ever could (the guy in the video holding the cross is my good friend Tony "The Lawman" Miano). . .



We can take confidence in this truth because Christ rose from the dead defeating death and proving his Divinity. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was proof of God's satisfaction with Christ's penal substitutionary payment (Rom 4:25).

On Friday I will close this series with a biblical defence of PILLAR 5 – THE HUMAN RESPONSE THE GOSPEL DEMANDS.

Go On To Part 5
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Friday, January 8, 2010

A Biblical Defence Of The 5 Pillars (Part 2)

In my previous series, "The Anatomy of the Gospel", I broke down the Gospel message into five basic components (as an attempt at constructing a helpful witnessing framework) and called them the "Five Pillars of the Gospel". This is the second part of a series of posts in which I will biblically defend each of the "five pillars" I laid out as the fundamental elements necessary to faithfully proclaim the Gospel.

DEFENDING PILLAR 2 – THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN

I Corinthians 15:3 states that Christ died for our sins. The obvious implication here is that we must be sinners if Christ died for our sins. Scripture teaches mans depravity on many occasions - here are some examples:

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)

As it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 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 (Romans 3:10-23)

Ok, so maybe Paul could say something so brutal to our fragile self esteem, but surely not Jesus . . . then check the verses that immediately follow John 3:16:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:17-20)

Does the natural man know he is a sinner (as Joel Osteen suggests) therefore nullifying our need to preach on sin and define it. Absolutely not. Mr Osteen clearly hasn't visited any prisons recently because if he did he would have found a building full of self professed wrongly convicted people. Indeed the Scripture teaches that "every man proclaims his own goodness" (Proverbs 20:6) and is "clean in his own eyes" (Proverbs 16:2). That he "suppresses the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18) and has a heart that is "deceitfully wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9).

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

If we are to teach that Christ died for our sins then we must define what sin is:

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)

And how do we come to a knowledge of our sin:

if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." (Romans 7:7b)

A faithful proclamation of the Gospel, therefore, must present men as sinners and bring this knowledge by the use of God's law.

So the law functions first of all to kill me, to end my self creation - all attempts to write my own life movie and reinvent my character. The gospel inserts me into a new script: "alive in Christ" (Michael Horton - Christless Christianity p129).



On Monday I will continue with a biblical defence of PILLAR 3 – THE NECESSITY OF JUDGMENT.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Grace Gems - The Deceitfulness Of Sin

Grace Gems is a vast treasury of writings and excerpts from Reformers,Puritans, and other great godly people from history. My wife and I are both on the mailing list and we receive precious spiritual food from them every day (Click here to sign up for Grace Gems). Yesterday's Grace Gem by Jeremy Taylor was a very sobering reminder of the ever present peril of sin and how it attacks by stealth - so much so that I am posting it here today:

"Lest any of you be hardened through the
deceitfulness of sin!" Hebrews 3:13

First sin startles him,
then it becomes pleasing,
then easy,
then delightful,
then frequent,
then habitual,
then confirmed!

Then the man is impenitent,
then obstinate,
then resolves never to repent,
and then he is damned!

"For the wages of sin is death!" Romans 6:23

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Biblical Defence Of The 5 Pillars (Part 1)

In my previous series, "The Anatomy of the Gospel", I broke down the Gospel message into five basic components (as an attempt at constructing a helpful witnessing framework) and called them the "Five Pillars of the Gospel". I have recently received correspondence concerning this series of posts questioning what basis I have for defining the Gospel message as something that should contain:

PILLAR 1 – THE HOLINESS OF GOD
PILLAR 2 – THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN
PILLAR 3 – THE NECESSITY OF JUDGMENT
PILLAR 4 – THE WORK OF CHRIST
PILLAR 5 – THE RESPONSE IT DEMANDS

I can only commend people for being Bereans and testing what I have to say. "The Bottom Line" is a blog which regularly puts "Christian teaching" under the blowtorch scrutiny of Scripture. Therefore it would be inconsistent, were I not willing to subject myself to the same scrutiny. So what follows is my biblical defence of the use of these five pillars as the critical core elements of Gospel proclamation.

First up consider these two important passages of Scripture:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. 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 15:1-4).

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

It is important to remember that 1 Corinthians 15 is meant as a defence of the resurrection, hence it has a major emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and briefly deals with the other issues when defining the Gospel. Nonetheless I can still make my case for defending my "five pillars" from 1 Corinthians 15. Additionally, it is worth paying close attention to Galatians 1:8-9. It is here that Paul goes on to say that there is only one Gospel, it is the Gospel that Paul preached, and preaching any other gospel is a damnable offence. Purity is, quite clearly, extremely important with the Gospel - it is life or death, heaven or hell! We must get it right.

We must also remember this simple rule of hermeneutics:
Scripture cannot contradict itself - therefore in understanding 1 Corinthians 15 rightly, it must harmonize with the rest of Scripture.

DEFENDING PILLAR 1 – THE HOLINESS OF GOD

In 1 Corinthians 15:3 we see the two characters of pillars 1 (The Holiness Of God)and 2 (The Depravity Of Man) - God (as Christ) and man (our sins) are presented in the roles of redeemer and criminal respectively. We also see that this message submits to "accordance with the Scriptures". In other words, Paul's terms of reference ("Christ" and "our sins") can be safely defined within the entire counsel of Scripture. We can know that God's Holiness, His character, and His nature, must be understood rightly because 1 John 2:22-23 teaches:

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:22-23).

This stresses the importance of knowing God rightly and defining Him rightly. That is why we call Mormonism a cult - because even though they name the name of Jesus, they define Him not as fully God but as a brother of Satan (among other things). So the God Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15 must be understood and presented rightly (as Scripture does) in order for a sinner to be rightly saved. I am not suggesting that to be saved you must understand and know every attribute of God - we cannot do that. After all, who can fathom the Trinity? But conversely, it is damnable to consciously deny God as He is presented in Scripture - which Bishop TD Jakes does, for example, when he denies the three distinct Persons of the Trinity by describing them as three manifestations (http://www.thepottershouse.org/v2/content/view/18/32/). This is a heresy that was denounced in the fourth century AD by the Athanasian Creed (http://www.ccel.org/creeds/athanasian.creed.html). TD Jakes' modalist presentation of God is clearly not the God of Scripture and therefore an idol.

The Christ Who dies for our sins in 1 Corinthians 15 is God incarnate, "the Holy one of God" (John 6:69). The God of the Bible is Holy and unlike anything in the universe. He is the creator and sustainer of all things (John 1:3). He is so powerful that He spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1). He is so huge that he measures the entire universe with the span of His Hand (Isaiah 40:12). He is so detailed that he numbers the hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). He is so just and righteous that He must punish all sin against Him (Genesis 18:25, Isaiah 13:11). He is so loving and merciful that He withholds his judgment giving us time to repent (2 Peter 3:9). Many people and religions use the Name of God, but in defining Him differently they commit the sin of idolatry.

On Friday I will continue with a biblical defence of PILLAR 2 – THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN.

Go On To Part 2
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Monday, January 4, 2010

The Anatomy Of The Gospel (Part 7)

PILLAR 5 – THE HUMAN RESPONSE THE GOSPEL DEMANDS

Jesus death for sins was an act of salvation. To receive God's gracious gift Scripture explicitly teaches that:

Truly, then, God overlooking the times of ignorance, now He strictly commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day in which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He appointed, having given proof to all by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).

Repentance is necessary in order to receive salvation - therefore it is a necessary component of the Gospel we proclaim. This repentance from sin and turning away from it is also a turning to Christ in saving faith in order to receive salvation:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).

And how I kept back nothing that was profitable, but have shown you and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:20-21).

Some people claim that "faith alone" in Ephesians 2:8 negates the need to repent. But we must remember this hermeneutical rule: Scripture cannot contradict itself - therefore in understanding it rightly, it must harmonize with the rest of Scripture. As we harmonize all of Scripture we can clearly see that sometimes only faith or belief is mentioned, sometimes only repentance is mentioned, and sometimes both are mentioned (see the verses quoted in this post).

By harmonizing all of these (rather than focussing on a single verse) we can see that the salvation call is a call to turn away from sin in repentance and a turning to Christ in faith – trusting Him alone to save us. The turning to Christ (faith) necessitates a turning away from our carnal affections (repentance). Man cannot serve two masters. As Todd Friel says; "Repentance and faith are two wings of the same bird that fly us to the Savior".

This salvation is ultimately a work of God. Both repentance (Acts 11:18) and faith (Ephesians 2:8) are works of God. We cannot come to God unless the Spirit draws us (John 6:44). We are not saved by praying a prayer or walking down to the front of a church. It is God who saves. It is God who gives us a love for His law and a desire to live in holiness. It does not mean we stop sinning but it does mean we have a new relationship with sin manifest in a love for God's law and a desire to obey it:

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

Scripture is clear! Baptism won’t save you, Confirmation won’t save you, praying a prayer won’t save you. We must be born again – and it is a transforming work of God. Does a tree become an apple tree because it has apples on its branches? Or do the apples on the branches reveal what the tree always was. Does the fruit of the Holy Spirit make us a Christian. Or does the fruit of the Holy Spirit reveal that our new birth is real.



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Friday, January 1, 2010

The Anatomy Of The Gospel (Part 6)

PILLAR 4 – THE WORK OF CHRIST

I must say from the outset that I am incapable of discussing this subject and doing it justice. It goes so far beyond my sinful flesh and tiny brain. I cling to the hope that God will be glorified in my human weakness.

To be right with God we need pardon for our sin. As impossible as that is we also need something else. We need righteousness to enter into eternal life and God’s presence. Take a look at Proverbs 17:15. Just stop and meditate on this for a moment.

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD (Proverbs 17:15).

This verse reveals the heart of the problem. If God pardons a sinner He becomes an abomination. This is why the Gospel is not about us telling God we’re sorry and being forgiven. God is bound by His law to punish sin. Do you see this problem?
There was only one way and that is why He is the only way!

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12)

Now the only way that God can forgive sinful men is if God who made the law and God who demands satisfaction, if He Himself comes down, and pays the penalty. This is why God became a man, Jesus Christ, and fulfilled the whole law. So that He could be condemned as a just man, in order that the wicked could be justified. Here is where we find God’s love.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

John Macarthur comments on this verse:

As Christ was not a sinner, but was treated as if He were, so believers who have not yet been made righteous are treated as if they were righteous.

Here we see what we call imputation. Jesus takes our punishment and credits us with His righteousness. The great exchange in order that we may inherit eternal life. This righteousness is a legal statement, not an injection of righteousness as the Catholics teach. Your righteousness is a credit to your account – something that you can never take credit for. You don’t become a better man. You become a bad man saved by a good God. Macarthur continues:

Christ bore their sins so that they could bear His righteousness. God treated Him as if He committed believers’ sins, and treats believers as if they did only the righteous deeds of the sinless Son of God.

This doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement is under continual attack today. There are those who prefer to downplay penal substitutionary atonement to emphasize
1. Christ defeating the forces of darkness or;
2. Christ identifying with us and our suffering by going to the cross.

These ideas are the most popular in Denmark right now. How often do you hear Jesus referred to as an example to follow. While there is an element of truth to these ideas:

1. Hebrews tells us (Heb 2:17) that Jesus is a compassionate intercessor having tasted of the human experience.
2. Jesus did come to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8).

But these ideas fall so far short of what the good news really is. The major reason Jesus came, to bring salvation, was because He is not like anybody and nobody can really be like Him. No one could keep the law, and no one could suffer God’s wrath. There are some ways in which I try to follow Jesus’ example but I am a hundred times more greatful that He fulfilled the law that I had broken and suffered the punishment that I deserve. There is the real good news.

There are also those within the emergent movement who totally deny Penal Substitutionary Atonement altogether. Steve Chalke calls Penal Substitutionary Atonement a form of cosmic child abuse:

... a form of cosmic child abuse - a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed. (The Lost Message Of Jesus p182)

And Brian McLaren had these shocking words to say . . .



The root of all these attacks on this doctrine lies in the earlier mentioned pillar 2 – the depravity of man. We live in a culture that is therapeutic and egotistical. A culture that inflates people’s self esteem, but never lays blame at anyone's feet. And if churches want to accommodate those people, they can try and do it by getting rid of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. Because to teach that you have to teach why Christ had to take punishment that we deserve which, in turn, means that you have to present man as a criminal and not a victim.

Did you ever wake up in the morning and wonder “where did all the stars go?” Did they all just disappear? No – but we only ever see them shining in their glory against the background of a dark night sky. And the cross of Jesus Christ shines in its glory against the dark background of our sin against Him – and it was only when God helped me to see the awful darkness of my sin against Him that I could start to see the depth of His love for me in sending Jesus Christ.

What was the one thing Jesus feared? It wasn’t the Jews – he fearlessly humiliated them in public. It wasn’t the Romans – our Lord looked Pilate square in the eye and told him that the only reason the Roman Governor had any power over God in flesh was because God had given him that power for that moment (John 19:11). Jesus did not fear Satan for he overcame and rebuked him in the wilderness. What was the only thing that Jesus feared - when he prayed in the garden. It was the cup, the cup of God’s wrath (Luke 22:42). How terrifying must God’s wrath be if our Lord asked for another way. How serious must God’s Holiness and man’s sinfulness be if this was the only way that payment could be made.

We must preach the cross as the place where the perfect righteous Lamb of God drank the cup of God’s wrath in our place. The key word in this is “propitiation”. Both John and Paul speak of it.

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 (Romans 3:24-25).

The word propitiation means a “sacrifice that takes away sin and satisfies wrath” (James White, The God Who Justifies, p194). This is wonderful news and something that true Christians get excited about. God no longer has wrath aimed at those who he saves because Christ has taken it in their place.

And the resurrection is the proof of God’s satisfaction with Christ’s payment. Isn’t it great to hope in a resurrection body (Romans 4:24-25)?



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