Episode 35: The Glorious Gospel

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.-1 Timothy 1:15

There is so much that could be said about this verse.  It is, perhaps, one of the phrases of Scripture that could be said to best describe the whole of a Christian’s confession and walk: the command to listen and believe, the confession of faith in the one hope any man has in this life or the next, coupled with the cry of insufficiency and guilt.  It seems that the Gospel is always that dual cry–I am unworthy, I am a sinner, I hope in Christ alone!

And hope is what I want to talk about a little here, in the context of everything that we’ve been going through lately.  I started working on this episode over a week ago and it’s taken me a while to have the time to finish everyone and do the editing I needed to do.  In that time, the US inaugurated a new president, that president has begun to take actions in his new office, and the reactions I have seen in the media and amongst my friends have been…well, I don’t think “shocking” is the right word.  But I think words like “disappointing” and “frustrating” are up there.

It is not my intention to support or attack Donald Trump.  Neither is it my desire to discuss the ins and outs of particular political issues.  What is my desire, is to speak firstly to my brothers and sisters in Christ on both sides of this issue, and then to my friends who are not of the body of Christ.

My brethren: come on, guys.

I don’t mean to make light of this or act like it’s no big deal, because it is.  This life, this world is real, and everything we do has consequences.  You, I and Trump will stand before God to account for our lives and how we used what He has given us.  At the same time, I feel that both Trump supporters and detractors within Christianity have forgotten something very important: namely, the source of our hope.  This is true no matter which side you find yourself on.  I have seen his detractors absolutely lost, awash in despair and fear–and these are Christians.  Yes, my friends, I know many of you believe that supporting a liberal political agenda in certain areas automatically makes you a heretic who would just as soon attend a Unitarian Universalist church as believe in the God of the Bible, but it has been to my great blessing in my time living here in Denton to get to know many men and women who I disagree with on particulars of law and government, and who worship the one true God with me every week.

And at the same time, I see Trump-supporting evangelicals who are being very unloving and unkind to those who are not, by posting nasty memes and jokes, attacking and fighting extensively online, and in general not displaying an ounce of the grace they have been shown by our King.  That is inexcusable, and deserves rebuke.  You are living as though the hope you have in this life and for the future of this country lies solely in the hands of Donald Trump.  Let me assure you right now: that is untrue, and if you truly believe that, you are hoping in something foolish.  Not because Trump is or isn’t good, but because he is another sinful human who will ultimately only be able to accomplish what God allows him to.

Put not your trust in princes,
    in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
    on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
    who executes justice for the oppressed,
    who gives food to the hungry.-Psalm 146:3-7

We do not hope in a man who is going to be dead some day.  We don’t hope in a man who is dead already.  Nor do we simply hope in some kind of theoretical idea that may or may not actually be true or realistic.  We hope in Christ, and Christ alone.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.-1 Peter 1:3-9

So am I saying that we should just give up on caring about politics?  No, certainly not.  But we need to be very careful that as Christians, we do not engage this debate as unbelievers who have no hope beyond this life.  We can engage each other in love, we can show tenderness, mercy and even, yes, weakness, knowing that even if what we go through leads to suffering, it is suffering that leads to greater joy.  We ought to follow our consciences, we ought to make our cases boldly and with truth in hand, recognizing that ultimately both the left and the right in this country have at their core a humanist line of thinking that believes, “If I use the power of government in just the right way, I can perfect man at last.  We can be free from pain and want, we can live perfect comfortable lives and be happy forever.”

Ultimately, neither will be able to achieve their goal, as long as that hope is based in humans and not in Christ alone.  When Christ is King, all other things fall into place perfectly, rest and work and pain and joy all function in their right way, until the time comes for Jesus to set all things right, to wipe every tear and judge every injustice.  We cannot, and should not, use the tactics of secular humanists, because those tactics insult the truth of the Gospel.  I would be talking for hours here if I detailed this more, but I want to move on to my friends who have not believed the Gospel.

My message to you is not largely different, except that I do not bring with it an expectation that you will hope a certain way.  Rather, I bring an invitation, a command even: repent, of your sins, your fears, and your faithlessness, and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He alone is King, and Savior, and Friend to all who are hurting and in need.  Do not rage against the truth.  Do not fear the One who made you.  I am calling you to let go of your foolish ideas of autonomy for yourself, and realize that you are much more “you” that you could ever be when you are with your Father, who made you and knows you.

This too shall pass, for good or ill.  Trump will leave office one way or another, and someone else will be there.  If God is willing, this country will see another day and will repent of the wickedness that is spread across the land in so many hearts.  I sincerely hope, because of the hope I have in Jesus, that you will be one who turns in faith in our living hope, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Sermon text at the Spurgeon Archive

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Episode 32: Christ’s One Sacrifice for Sin

Sermon text here.

This week’s song: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God by Jarod Grice

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.  Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world.  But as it is, he has appeared once for all, at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of those realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.  Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins?  But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.  For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written off me in the scroll of the book.'”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.”  He does away with the first in order to establish the second.  And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifices for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.—Hebrews 9:24-10:14

I don’t normally start out with such a long passage, but I thought it was necessary in light of my reasons for choosing this sermon and in light of what we are remembering when we call October 31 Reformation Day.  For some, the idea of such a day is simply a historical occurrence, when a monk named Martin Luther brought what was essentially a call for the academic equivalent of a football game to the public’s attention.  Luther wasn’t trying to set the world on fire, and he wasn’t even trying to criticize the Pope (at that time, at least).  He was trying to bring challenges to public debate on very important issues.  But what those 95 theses became as they spread across Germany was the spark that lit the fuse on a powderkeg piled up on Rome-controlled Europe by godly men like Jan Huss and William Tyndale, men who saw the truth of Scripture even in the face of a Roman Catholic Church that was (and still is) trying desperately to obfuscate it for their own power’s sake.

And that brings me to the reason that I wanted to read this particular sermon on the 499th celebration of the beginning of the Reformation: there were many issues that were debated over and that served to demonstrate the rot at the foundation of the Catholic Church.  But the very root of it, and the issue which was foundational to the Protestant return to biblical theology, was the completeness  of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross in paying for sin on behalf of His people.  Rome taught, and continues to teach at least as its official dogma, that Christ essentially made a way for us all to have right standing before God, but that the way we truly achieve that standing is through participation, for our entire lives, in the sacraments of the church.  Even then, that is not sufficient in Rome’s view, for all but the purest of saints do not go directly to heaven after death, but instead go to purgatory to endure satispassio, the suffering that is part of atoning for sin.

The sale of indulgences was one of the major issues that led to Luther’s actions.  Indulgences were (and are, though today they are not given the same way they were in his day) a “get out of purgatory but not for free” card, or at least a way to cut the time of relatives there shorter.  But Scripture makes no such claims about Christians and their sins.  It is why I chose this sermon, and why I chose to use such a large passage of Scripture: Hebrews, by its testimony to the completed work of Jesus on the cross and His place seated at the right hand of the Father, completely repudiates the idea that there is any longer any sacrifice or suffering for sin on behalf of those for whom Christ worked.  It is, in fact, an insult to Christ as Savior to say that you believe you need to add anything to what He did.  The author of Hebrews makes it clear:  Jesus paid the price, completely and utterly, and there is no work left to be done.  Paul takes this argument on fully in his writings to both the church of Rome and the church of Galatia, and if you haven’t taken the time yet to read those books, you should.  The truth of the gospel of Jesus, that we can rest completely in His work and that in Christ, there is no fear of any judgment but only peace with God, is life to us, and is the message I want to bring through this episode.

The Reformation began as a man standing upon the convictions of his conscience, that he would not be convinced of anything but what Scripture pointed to, and that he would trust fully in the strength of God in the face of governments and church leaders who threatened life, limb and livelihood.  I wanted to read this sermon because it is important for us to remember this truth, and just as much it is important for us to prepare to do the same thing.  The world echoes the same lies it did in Luther’s day and that it has since sin first cracked the world’s joy and fractured our relationship with God in the garden: you can have your own way, because the real source of wisdom and goodness is you.  You can do what you want, because ultimately your heart is the arbiter of good.

But yet we continue to find, as we run after this mythical realm of perfect peace coexisting with everyone pursuing the natural desires of their hearts, that all we find there is sadness, heartbreak, and ultimately death.  Our hearts cannot bring us happiness, all they will do is hand us a broken cup to try to satisfy our thirst.  In the end, we as Christians cannot agree with what the world wants, because we know it ends in death and hell.  We want to see those around us set free from these lies, and find the truth, because in that truth is life as it was truly intended for us by our Maker.

So  no matter the human orthodoxy demanded of us, the believer ought to reject it, and stand on his conscience and the convictions of God’s own Word.  God has worked perfectly in the sacrifice of Christ to pay for our sins, and all those who trust in Christ have, right now, perfect union with Jesus and right standing as holy before God, able to go to Him in prayer for everything.  If you do not know Jesus, if you do not trust Him, then I urge you to do so right away.  Go to the Bible and read, see the words of God to His people, and find healing there.  If you do know Jesus and trust Him, then let me remind you: do not fear anything the world threatens in the face of our rejection of their sinful desires.  God is faithful, and even death itself cannot separate us from Him, but in all things we can rejoice and live lives to His glory.

Episode 31: Paul’s Persuasion

Sermon text here

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

I want to start by reading the fuller context of our verse this week, from Romans 8:31-39:

What then shall we say? 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 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.

This passage is about hope.  Where do we place our hope?  I actually decided to read this sermon several weeks ago, but between my life being extremely busy right now and the ongoing production of the Morning and Evening podcast, I have had less time lately to produce regular sermon episodes.  But it is oddly fortunate that I should end up reading a sermon on this passage the week that we spend time recalling the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.  I do remember where I was, and what I was doing, and more than that I remember how I felt afterwards.  I wanted to put my hope in American might, and American goodness, and certainly now I realize that was foolish in many ways.

I recommend listening to John Piper’s sermon from that week, which is, not coincidentally, also on this same passage from Romans.  He reminds his listeners who are still reeling from the shock of the attack, that they cannot put their hope in anything that is here on earth, because it will ultimately fail them.  The words painted on the side of his church—“Hope in God”—have never rung more true, and the reason why is etched plainly in the lives of so many saints before us who have endured suffering for the sake of Christ: His love is unstoppable, irresistible, and perfectly sufficient for all things.

My fellow American Christians, I think it is safe to say that many of us feel very frustrated as we see a culture that has, for centuries, endured and enjoyed great bounty courtesy of a society informed and structured largely according to the Christian worldview if not according to submission to Christ, surrender that worldview en masse and replace it with evil, selfishness, and insanity.  There is a tendency to fear, both losing one’s place, as well as losing “the culture war.”  My brothers and sisters, the only war that really matters is already won.  The Victor stands at the right hand of God now, waiting for the time when His enemies will be made a footstool for His feet.  Meanwhile, we here continue, no matter who is elected president and no matter who is allowed into your public bathroom, to have the duty and joy of serving our fellow man as ambassadors from the living God, as ministers of reconciliation come to  bring the call to repent and turn to Christ, to find that true and neverending, never-damaged love.  Brethren, let us embrace that, though the world should hate us, though our flesh should fail us, though the devil should assault us, let us know that God is truly God and move forward in obedience and love.

Recommended this week:
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Check out the Morning and Evening podcast at TheologyMix.com

Episode 16: Mediation of Moses

Sermon text here

This sermon was a special request of a listener, and I can only hope that I’ve done even a little justice to how this sermon has sounded in his head.  Of course, more than my own voice, the voice I pray that he and all others hear is the Holy Spirit, convicting, teaching, rebuking, and building up in love.

And I know all of that was true for me even as I read through it.  This sermon brings to mind many things for me, firstly a conviction of the way I pray for those around me.  I know that my heart for my neighbor has not been a boldly praying one as it should be, and that I personally need to come outside the typical box that so many Americans fall into, where we find our comfortable spot and sit there, happy to not have to deal with the mess around me.  But what that attitude shows, is that I don’t truly live in light of the magnitude of the mercy shown to me by God.  I want my life to be a grand reflection of the deep thankfulness of a man who has been given back his life by a Judge who had a properly rendered death sentence before Him…and yet, not only did He commute that sentence, but adopted me as His child and granted to me an inheritance beyond any I could ever conceive.

This is a truth I want to affect every inch of my being.  I want my thought patterns, my desires, my actions and day to day life to reflect this.  I am aware of the inconsistencies that I continue to carry with me day by day, and yet God’s mercies continue and renew daily.  The Father’s call never changes, the Son’s atonement and intercession never changes, and the Spirit’s loving conviction and renewing never stops.  I look forward to growing deeper in this.

And believers, brothers and sisters, this is something I hope will be true of all of you.  We live in a time that seems to be becoming more dangerous and uncertain, and where that danger is not located “over there” thousands of miles away, but is right here, right now.  Yet the responses I see from Christians are, to put it simply, disheartening.  I desire justice to be done.  I desire the innocent to be protected, and I too burn with anger when I see innocent children being murdered, or the cackling madness of ISIS terrorists as they brag about their latest atrocity.

But my brothers and sisters, we cannot afford to let that change the way we look at the people around us.  We can’t let it cause us to take joy in their destruction, nor to react with a spirit of fear to them.  Firstly, recall that you and I are just as deserving of the justice of God as they are, and it has only been God’s mercy upon us that lets us stand anywhere but directly in the place of judgment.  If we are to live and act consistently with the truth we have been convicted of by God’s Word, then we must walk in obedience to Jesus’ command to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us.  I know that this thought causes me to reflect more before pressing that share button, or commenting on a post.  I hope I will come to live more consistently with this.

Episode 15: His Name – the Mighty God

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.–Isaiah 9:6

Sermon text here

I’m excited to close out this 3 part series, the first one I’ve done for this podcast, with a reflection on who Jesus is, and why understanding that is so important to me.  My mom gave me several books by renowned Christian author and philosopher Francis Schaeffer, and in the last year or so I started to go through them alongside some other works.  One thing that stuck out to me was his use of the concept of “the infinite-personal God.”  This was in contrast to, say, the pantheons of other religions like the Greek gods who may be personal in a sense that they are distinct and can communicate directly with people, but are most assuredly not infinite; or the ideas present in Eastern mysticism of losing one’s consciousness to a universal will present in all of nature.  The God of the Bible, the God we worship, most assuredly has a universal will, yet He is separate from His creation.  But even with that separation, He is also immanent–He is in direct communication with His creation.  The god of deism who sets the world on its axis and wishes it well, the “blind watchmaker,” he is not personal.  But we don’t worship that God.  We worship the infinite-personal God, who is Trinity in unity:

God has communicated to man, not only about the cosmos and history, but also about Himself.  And God’s attributes so communicated are meaningful to God, the author of the communication, as well as to man, the recipient of the communication.  What God has revealed concerning His attributes is not only meaningful below the line of anthropology.  The line of anthropology is not a brazen heaven, which cannot be penetrated, over our heads.  The God who has spoken is not the unknowable infinite above the line.  The God who has created man in His own image communicates true truth about Himself.  Therefore, this need not be thought of as only an existential experience or contentless “religious ideas.”  We have true knowledge, for as the Scriptures say so simply and overwhelmingly, when God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone, or when Jesus spoke to Paul on the Damascus road in the Hebrew language, they use a real language subject to grammars and lexicons, a language to be understood.–Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There, 1968, p. 96

If there is one thing I have derived from these three sermons, it is this: Jesus Christ stands as the perfect image to us of that infinite-personal nature of God.  He demonstrates His infinitude in His complete mastery over creation, and Scripture identifies Him consistently as Yahweh–as being “very God of very God.”  Yet He condescends to become human, to lower Himself from His rightful position to take on the lowly form of a servant for the sake of His people:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.–Philippians 2:5-11

As a man Jesus had family, He had friendships and led disciples down a difficult path that ended with what can only be described as both the darkest and brightest moment in human history.  The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the perfect marker of the infinite-personal nature of God, and of the importance God sets upon creation.  He does not set up a fantasy world where things don’t really matter, but He has created a world that He then entered into to achieve perfect unity with His people.

And in pondering this, in dreaming of a day in the future when this will be a reality and not just a far-off concept, I am compelled to worship God.  I worship Him because He is God.  He is the mighty Lord of all creation and the Maker of everything, and yet He is seeking after the lowly, the brokenhearted, those scarred with sin and in need of the healing hands of the Great Physician.  And I worship Him because He has come to call me into that relationship.  I long for the day that it is truly fulfilled.  For now I taste my Lord’s goodness through His constant provision, through His Holy Spirit guiding me and changing me bit by bit, yet I also mourn the separation of being here and not fully with Christ.

And having said that, I want to briefly talk about a subject that is right up on us: thanksgiving.  As of the time of this blog post we are a mere three days from what is most certainly one of the biggest family holidays of the year.  But it has taken on a very odd tone: a holiday meant to commemorate God’s great provision for this country has taken on instead an air of pure consumption, both literally and metaphorically, as we prepare to make major purchases and flood retail stores staffed with bleary-eyed workers hoping to make it through the day without being trampled.  As believers what I hope we would do on this day, is remember that we have everything because of God’s great grace to us, and His love for His people that leads Him to not sit far off, inaccessible to all, but to commune with His creation through the incarnation of His Son and the sending of His Spirit.  Let us remember that truth, and pray our great thankfulness for this to His holy name.

Episode 10: The Very Friend You Need (Luke 7:34)

Christ is truly the friend of sinners, yet this idea has been maligned, twisted, and abused so much over the years.  In this sermon we discuss in depth the truth of Jesus’ friendship for the sinner in need!  Listen above and subscribe on iTunes and Soundcloud!

Sermon text is here.

ADDENDUM:

After doing the episode and spending time thinking about the topic, I wanted to turn back to this and expand the subject, and have my own say on what it really means to say that Jesus is the friend of sinners, and that Jesus is my friend.  We typically think of “friend” in a very non-committal way, but when we say that Jesus is a friend of sinners in the sense that Spurgeon exegetes the text to understand, we see that we’re not thinking of “friend” in the standard American sense, where He is some acquaintance we are on generally friendly terms with and who we might invite over for a party to watch a football game.  This is a relationship that Christ takes very seriously, and furthermore, it reveals that only by realizing our deep need for that friendship, can we come to Christ in search of it.

I am very aware of my deep-seated need for that very friendship.  The Holy Spirit has been gracious enough to me to open my eyes to my nature as a broken sinner, who has nothing good to offer and who has been trying to live for so long under my own power and for my own glory.  Let’s look back at the passage in question:

“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like?They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”–Luke 7:31-35

I’m using the fuller context to show the contrast and hypocrisy of the Pharisees, as well as to discuss how I can to understand my own deep-seated need.  There was a time, I would have been like those men, standing there looking judgmentally at these people who are doing exactly what they should be doing: coming to Christ, bringing their sins, their fears, their needs, and thought to myself “How clever am I, that I have managed to make something of myself!  Look at these screwups, I’m so much better off than them.”  All the while, like the Pharisees, hiding my sin and pretending nothing is wrong, a whitewashed tomb.

But thank God for His mercy even to the prideful and foolish, and thank Christ for His friendship to the sinner.  I am a man who needs it desperately, because in Christ I have the One who made me, who knows me and is the source of my very identity and being.  In Christ I have life, a real life that leads to life beyond just pursuing my next whim.  These sinners and tax collectors who came to Christ and gathered around Him, who invited Him into their homes, were people who were very well-acquainted with sin and with pursuing their desires, and they had tasted the bitterness of unfulfillment it brings.  They had seen the death and pain it wrought in their lives.

In the church today it is important for us to keep our balance, with the fulcrum point of our lives being the Gospel first and foremost.  The Gospel brings us daily reminders of what is ultimately true: man is sinful and rebellious against God by His nature, but God is both just and merciful.  He sent His Son to pay the price for all those who believe in Him by dying on the cross, He conquered death in rising again, and He stands at the right hand of the Father as the perfect high priest who can say of His people, “I have covered their sins, I have atoned for them, they are of Me and have life in Me.”  But the desires of our flesh are always trying to pull away from this center that destroy’s man’s self-aggrandizement, and move to one of two equally wrong positions: either self-righteous Pharisaism, where behavior and moral assent are more important that repentance and faith, or simply rejecting God altogether.  Both entail a foolish belief in man’s autonomy, and both rebel against who we were made to be: created in the image of God, made to know Him and have our fullest life in knowing Him.

Jesus Christ is the friend of the sinner who cries out to Him for mercy.  He is the friend of the sinner who has had his heart broken by the Word of God taught to him by the Holy Spirit and needs to be lifted up.  He is the friend of the sinner who, like the blind man from a couple sermons ago, cries out “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  That mercy is readily and lovingly given.  Cry out for it, my friends, and know His peace.