Episode 25: Sovereignty and Salvation

Sermon text here

This week’s song: Truly You Are the Son of God by the Loverlies

I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about the truth of God’s sovereignty in all things, and in salvation in particular.  Honestly, it serves as a foundation stone of my worship of God.  I am compelled to kneel at the throne of a God who is truly, fully, the King of all creation.  And yet He is not just a distant monarch, some far off potentate who sends in messengers to remind us all that He’s in charge.  He is my King that knows me, that made me, and has His perfect purposes for me.

I talked last week about resting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  This truth of God’s sovereignty is the root of that work: because God is king of all things and because He is the one who gives purpose and motion to everything, He can use the most tragic and wicked event of man’s rebellion–regicide–to become instead the perfect payment for sin that covers all those who claim the name of Christ.

So what does that mean to me?  He still seems far off a lot of times.  That can be true, though personally I can only say that when I have been undisciplined in pursuing prayer and the Word, and instead toying with the foolishness of sin.  Yet even in that He hasn’t been far, and has never been slow in answering calls for help.  Day by day we all depend on God’s sovereignty, but how much do we take for granted?

We turn on the news and hear one distressing thing or another, and the temptation is to fret, to fear and worry, to complain.  For the believer this is deadly to our work as “ministers of reconciliation.”  I do not believe that we can both preach a bold and true Gospel that calls all people to turn away from their sin and look to Christ, to the healing and restoration that comes from trusting in Him and His perfect sacrifice, while at the same time engaging in hand-wringing about politics.  Don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics.  But we can vote, and discuss, and disagree, without fearing.  What cause do we have to fear when we have a God who is truly over all and Who has no other who can hope to oppose Him?  We already know the truth:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.–Romans 8:28-30

This is work that is completed and fulfilled in the eyes of the Father, founded on the finished once for all work of the Son, and carried out in our lives through every circumstance by the Spirit.  The holy, just, loving, infinite-personal Trinitarian God of the universe really is in charge.  So, American voters: it’s true that it looks pretty likely that either way we’re going to end up with a wicked ruler.  I would agree with many that we are seeing the judgment of God coming on this land that has embraced so much wickedness.  But even in that we remember that God retains His remnant and cares for them perfectly.  We remember that His Word never goes forth without accomplishing His purpose.  And we remember the bold words of a man whose life ended under a Roman blade:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:31-39

So we worship, we work, we rest, and we run the race set before us.  So leave the worry and fear behind, brothers and sisters, and let God’s sovereignty over everything–especially over you–be the constant reminder that leads you to worship and rejoice.

Episode 24: Jesus About His Father’s Business

Sermon text here

This week’s song: May the Mind of Christ My Savior by Dust Company
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There are a lot of themes I could draw from this week’s sermon, but for me personally, the one I draw based on where I am struggling right now is in resting in God in all things, and letting that rest be based on the knowledge that God is the perfect Provider.  On one hand, someone may be tempted to look at Jesus as He passed through a life full of hardship and say “Well, of course He was able to live and trust perfectly–He was God!”  But He was also fully man, and felt the same weakness of body that we do.  He hurt, He hungered and thirsted, He was tempted.  The writer of Hebrews wrote of the importance of seeking to fully rest in God’s promise, which is in God through the perfect work of Jesus as our great high priest, saying:

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.–Hebrews 4:11-16

Jesus set the standard for relying on God perfectly, but more than that, He has covered for all the times I don’t.  And ultimately, He has enabled me to look at each day, each frustration and challenge or each joy and moment of excitement, and live open-handedly with it.  Every day believers endure very real strife and turmoil, but because Jesus went about His Father’s business and in fact made it the center of His life and work, we can take rest in God knowing that He understands, that He has endured perfectly, and that He has made the way ready for the children of God.

So I can take that heavy theological truth, and apply it to a daily frustration at work, or a problem at home, or any of a million other things I may encounter in life, and walk through it not fearfully, but resting in the knowledge of God’s goodness and providence in all things.  Easier said than done?  Of course it is!  Saying is always easier than doing.  But I can endure hardship knowing that God uses it all for my good and His glory, and I pray each day that I will have eyes focused on the cross and a heart full of love and grace.  And God’s good mercy has continued to provide perfectly.

Episode 8: The Blind Beggar

Sorry for the production delay, but we are finally here with episode 8!  Thanks to all our amazing fans for following us on Facebook and Twitter, and the sermon you helped us pick was number 266, The Blind Beggar.  This one made me consider my own testimony as I recorded it, and it was a stark reminder of God’s grace in my salvation.  It is also a reflection on our own society and the need for those to go forth and preach: this man, as the preacher says, was not someone who had watched Jesus perform miracles, or followed him around as a disciple.  He probably sat in the same area day in and day out, begging, maybe hearing stories about Jesus, yet when he was told that Jesus was walking by, he knew to do nothing less than run straight to the only one who opens eyes and transforms hearts.  I pray this episode blesses you, and I hope you’ll watch for the next one–possibly a new discussion episode!

Episode 6: Jacob and Esau

If you are like this humble podcaster you are quite possibly a theology nerd, and as a card-carrying one I attended the debate between Dr. James White and Leighton Flowers on the soteriology represented by Romans 9.  In honor of that we present a sermon based on one of the most controversial texts in that passage; sermon text can be read here.  But wait: there’s more!  Stay tuned…