Five Points Blog

God Gives Life

Out of his great love and rich mercy God has made us alive when we were dead! “Even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved“ (Ephesians 2:5).

Because of our sin and the sin of our first ancestor, Adam, we are all born into death. A curse covers humanity like a blanketing fog. All are born into sin and therefore sin. This is why we die twice, both physically and spiritually. This is also why Jesus could instruct his followers, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead” (Luke 9:60). There are vertical corpses, those walking about yet dead in relation to Christ.

But for some, those of God’s free choosing, he overcomes death and makes alive. Because of God’s great love, a love that surpasses his love for the world, and owing to his rich mercy, a mercy both boundless and priceless, God made these objects of mercy to live!

By what warrant can a holy God make the dead live? By exchanging the death of his Son for the life of his enemies. It is our trespasses, our sin, that cause death. When our sin is forgiven, we live. Romans 5 makes this clear, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (v.10). Christ’s death purchases life for those to whom God grants mercy.

God gives life. He owes it to no one; it flows from his great mercy. He does so for the purpose of love. He achieves all this by the great exchange of his Son’s life for ours. If you have it, cry out for joy and for witness. If you don’t, cry out for mercy. God will hear and give life.

Our Joy & God’s Glory

At the end of Jesus’ prayer in John 17, we read that his final and highest desire is for all of his disciples to enjoy the triune relationship of love that the Father, Son, and Spirit have enjoyed for all eternity. Commenting on John 17:21, 23 in one of the greatest theological works, The End for Which God Created the World, the eminent theologian Jonathan Edwards writes:

[T]hose elect creatures ... must be viewed as being, as it were, one with God. They were respected as brought home to him, united with him, centering most perfectly in him, and as it were swallowed up in him so that his respect to them finally coincides and becomes one and the same with respect to himself. The interest of the creature, is, as it were, God’s own interest, in proportion to the degree of their relation and union to God. Thus the interest of a man’s family is [looked] upon as the same with his own interest because of the relation they stand in to him, his propriety in them, and their strict union with him. 

But consider God’s elect creatures with respect to their eternal duration, so they are infinitely dearer to God than a man’s family is to him. What has been said shows that as all things are from God as their first cause and fountain, so all things tend to him, and in their progress come nearer and nearer to him through all eternity, which argues that he who is their first cause is their last end.

What Jesus and Edwards hold out to us—and an unbelieving world—is the perfection of our joy and the full communication of God’s glory through our eternal union with God. Our joy and God’s glory are not opposed. They are intimately united through our intimate union with God.

This is what Jesus asks the Father to accomplish through his work. This is what disciples of Jesus are sent into the world to declare.

Join us this Sunday for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the joy that is ours because of our intimate union with the triune God.

Dead to the Law, Alive to Christ

The New Testament is virtually silent on the subject of tithing. Apart from Jesus affirming tithing (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42), tithing is not specifically mentioned. Why is this so, when it is so clearly affirmed in the Old Testament? Abraham, Melchizedek, the Exodus, and throughout Israel’s history, offering a tenth of all that God has given to worship him was the norm. But why is this not carried over to the New Covenant?

The answer comes under the umbrella idea of how Christians should relate to the Old Testament law. The Old Testament law, of which tithing was a part, no longer controls us who are under grace. In its place has come the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2, I Corinthians 9:21). We have died to the law and live to Christ.

You can see this clearly in Romans 7:4,6, “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God...But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”

In the New Covenant we’ve been turned away from law keeping and toward obedience to Christ by the Spirit all for the cause of love.

Being born again, we should cherish our freedom in Christ so highly, value our riches in God so highly, and enjoy our forgiveness of sin so highly that we would love to give freely in
his name. In other words, the better promises of the New Covenant calls for greater giving than merely the tithe of the Old Covenant.

In Sunday’s message we’ll reflect on how cheerful stewardship of God’s money springs from our love for Jesus Christ. 


Not “Of” But “Sent Into”

In our desire to guard against the allure and temptations of this world and our similar pursuit of holiness, Christians have used the rallying cry “in this world, but not of it.” It’s an effort to capture the pilgrim principle that this is not our home, and we are just passing through.

But Jesus wants more from us than that.

As our Lord drew an end to his final teaching, highlighting the most important things his disciples needed to remember, he asked the Father to prepare us for a greater mission than just hanging on until we pass into glory or Jesus returns.

As Jesus interceded on behalf of his own, he set the course for us. Consider how D.A. Carson explains it in his commentary on John 17:18-19:

The Son sanctified himself … he set himself apart to be and do exactly what the Father assigned him. Now he prays that God will sanctify … the disciples. In John’s Gospel, such ‘sanctification’ is always for mission. …

[In consecrating himself,] Jesus dedicates himself to the task of bringing in God’s saving reign, as God’s priest (i.e. his mediator) and prophet (i.e. revealer); but the purpose of this dedication is that his followers may dedicate themselves to the same saving reign, the same mission to the world (v.18).

Jesus certainly yearns for us to not be “of the world” (John 17:16), but we are not merely “in it.” Instead, we have been sent into the world. 

We have our marching orders. We have our example. Let’s give ourselves to it.

The Measure of Love and Mercy

Have you ever paused to measure how rich we are in mercy and how great is God’s love? Both are infinite realities. That is, it will take an endless eternity to explore their bottomless depths. Yet as the sun-pierced shallows of a great ocean are of the same waters as the 7-mile depths, so the mercy and love of God you bathe in now are of the same ocean we’ll enjoy for eternity.

How rich is God’s mercy? How great is his love? One measure is to see how much they have overcome. Paul wrote, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us” (Ephesians 2:1-4).

The richness of God’s mercy is measured by all he has forgiven. And the greatness of God’s love can be seen in the lengths to which it has gone to reach us. We ran far away from God, dead in trespasses and sins. Yet God’s mercy outruns us in our sin! We boast in our greatness, yet our lives are as a vapor. But God, in the sheer greatness of his love, rescues us from the morbidity of our sin and makes us alive in his Son, Jesus Christ. 

How rich is God’s mercy! How great is his love for all those who trust in his Son!

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