Five Points Blog

Christ Preaches Peace


Jesus Christ is a preacher. He preaches to Jews and to Gentiles, drawing out his own beloved people from every nation on earth. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:17).

How does Christ preach? What does is his voice sound like? The word Paul uses in the above verse is not the common word for preaching. It is, rather, the word for preaching good news. It literally means “good newsing.” When did Christ preach this way? Some say when he walked upon the earth in his brief 3-year ministry. That’s true. But that cannot be all that Paul has in mind here because he pictures Christ preaching to those who are far and those near. 

The preaching Paul has in mind is Christ making his appeal for peace through the gospel going out, especially through his apostles. I get this from 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Paul views his own preaching of the gospel as God making his appeal through a mere man. When Paul gives the gospel, he is imploring the lost on Christ’s behalf.

Paul takes on the title “ambassador.” Like a man who is a citizen of a far away country comes in the official capacity to speak for the king of his country, so Paul is called to speak terms of peace on behalf of Jesus Christ to a lost and guilty world.

Each time you read the Bible, Christ is present, by his Spirit, proclaiming peace to you in the words the prophets and apostles have written. Do you hear the Preacher’s voice as you read?


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Christ Our Peace


Sin breeds war. Because of sin we are at enmity with God. And because of sin we find ourselves at odds with each other. Sometimes this antinomy enflames into full-blown warfare. Yet, even in the most harmonious human relationships, sin lurks beneath the surface. In our total depravity it cannot be otherwise.

Jesus Christ alone makes peace in our relationship with God and in our relationships with each other. Paul famously proclaims, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). And to the Ephesians he levels the power of the cross horizontally, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).

Until we have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ we cannot experience the full depth of true peace with one another. 

How does our Lord achieve such bidirectional peace? The answer is he becomes our peace. Notice in the verse above that he himself is our peace. The two peoples, Jew and Gentile, are made one in his flesh. Christ doesn’t just make peace; he is our peace. He is the one new man in whom we are united. 

As each is united to Christ, those once estranged are bound together in him. The wonder of our spiritual union in the Church mirrors the wonder of our union in Christ. Both are miraculous. Both are eternal. And both give glory to God.

How would you look at the saints differently if you were to fully grasp how much it cost our Lord to create and connect us?  

How is the Holy Spirit of God exalting Jesus Christ, the great Peacemaker in your affections?

 


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am.


To Remember or Forget


“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:11-12).

Is it wiser to remember our past or forget it? The question arises because Scripture enjoins both. Here in Ephesians 2, Paul commands that we remember who we were before the miracle of the new birth. But in his letter to the Philippians, Paul models godly forgetting: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (3:13). Is it best to remember or to forget?

My answer is this: viewing past sin in light of God’s grace defangs its shame and renews forgiveness so we can press forward unashamed and with joy. Holy remembering serves joyful forgetting. It’s both.

In his omniscience, God is aware of all things. There is no such thing as divine amnesia. Yet in remembering all things, he does not hold them against us when we are in Christ. The Psalmist makes this clear,

“Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!” (Psalm 79:8-9).

Once bathed in such gracious atonement, I am freed to hear and obey our Lord’s command, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). 

So in Christ, it’s both—holy remembering serves joyful forgetting. All praise to the Lord!

 


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am.


God-Made


“Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

So much of life begins to fall into perfect order when we remember that we are God’s by virtue of his making us.  

As Paul says to the Ephesians, “We are his workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10).  We are the sheep of his pasture. More than a shepherd, he owns the land and the animals in a far deeper way than Da Vinci owns the Mona Lisa. Da Vinci didn’t fashion the pigment, brush, canvas or human subjects. All is God’s because God created all.

Being his, we know we are cherished by him. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). And his delight for those reconciled to him through trusting his Son, Jesus Christ, far surpasses his love of all persons. “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight” (Psalm 16:3). “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Being made, owned, esteemed and chosen by God, surely his design and instructions for your life could not be improved upon! In a very real sense, your life is the best of all possible lives. O, I know suffering threatens this belief. But for the believer, affliction is a servant not a tyrant. Suffering takes orders, it doesn’t give them.

So what word has God instructed you to obey in your life that you are now resisting because you aren’t fully convinced of his loving ownership and kind sovereignty?


As We Forgive Our Debtors


“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12

Forgive us our debts: In Matthew, sins are called debts, because they expose us to condemnation at the tribunal of God, and make us debtors; nay more, they alienate us entirely from God, so that there is no hope of obtaining peace and favor except by pardon. For, though the righteousness of God shines, to some extent, in the saints, yet, so long as they are surrounded by the flesh, they lie under the burden of sins. None will be found so pure as not to need the mercy of God, and if we wish to partake of it, we must feel our wretchedness. 

As we forgive our debtors: This condition is added, that no one may presume to approach God and ask forgiveness, who is not pure and free from all resentment. And yet the forgiveness, which we ask that God would give us, does not depend on the forgiveness which we grant to others: but the design of Christ was, to exhort us, in this manner, to forgive the offenses which have been committed against us, and at the same time, to give, as it were, the impression of his seal, to ratify the confidence in our own forgiveness [and to] remind us of the feelings which we ought to cherish towards brethren, when we desire to be reconciled to God. And certainly, if the Spirit of God reigns in our hearts, every description of ill-will and revenge ought to be banished. The Spirit is the witness of our adoption, (Romans 8:16) and therefore this is put down simply as a mark, to distinguish the children of God from strangers. The name debtors is here given, not to those who owe us money, or any other service, but to those who are indebted to us on account of offenses which they have committed.

John Calvin, The Lord’s Prayer Commentary 


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am.


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