Five Points Blog

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.


Grace Makes Everything a Gift

Ephesians 2:8 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”

God’s grace makes everything a gift, including the faith to trust him for that grace. In other words, even our faith is his doing (Philippians 1:29). 

One frequent question of this verse is, “what does this refer to?” Is grace a gift alone, or is faith a gift, or are they both together the gift Paul has in mind? I believe it’s the latter. Our entire salvation, including God’s grace and the faith to receive it, are a gift from him.

Consider the fact that Paul had just used the same phrase in verse 5 to exult over God waking us from the dead by the new birth. When Paul sees the miracle of regeneration he thinks grace!  This is why we consider faith to be just as miraculous as grace. It comes to us when we are dead. No dead person believes. Belief happens only after new life has been granted!

In other words grace is not the only gift of God; faith is a gift too. This is humbling. Few people, even Christians, are eager to be told they can do nothing to contribute to their salvation, but it’s true. 

Yet indescribable joy rises in our hearts when it dawns on us that God receives all the glory for giving us both grace and faith. Worship wells within. Praise for sovereign grace effuses from our lives.  We depend on God for all things and he receives all the honor and glory for being our sole Supplier.

The very nature of God’s grace makes everything a gift, including faith to receive.

 


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the grace and faith granted to us by God.


Multiplied Grace

God saves us by grace and for grace. Notice how grace surrounds the believer in Ephesians 2:5-7, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Grace is the power that saves us when we are dead in sin, and grace is the goal of that salvation; “That in the coming ages he might sow the immeasurable riches of his grace.” Grace is both the ground and goal of our existence. 

We often think grace is pardon, and it is. Ephesians 1:7 reads, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”  Grace forgives sin, but grace is much more than forgiveness, as wonderful as that is. Grace is both pardon and power. 

Grace is power to serve. “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching” (Romans 12:6-7). We are what we are by the powerful grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10).

But the fresh observation I made from Ephesians 2:7 is that grace is also our final purpose. It is our raison d’etre, the climax of our existence. We were justified by grace’s pardon. We serve Christ now by grace’s power. And we will forever exalt and exult in grace as the pinnacle of God’s riches. Like molten lava, grace consumes sin. It rolls on in fiery power and makes towering mountains in the sea.

So live now as you will then, to the praise of God’s glorious grace!


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the power and pardon that is ours because of God's grace.


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.


Grace Makes Everything a Gift

Ephesians 2:8 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”

God’s grace makes everything a gift, including the faith to trust him for that grace. In other words, even our faith is his doing (Philippians 1:29). 

One frequent question of this verse is, “what does this refer to?” Is grace a gift alone, or is faith a gift, or are they both together the gift Paul has in mind? I believe it’s the latter. Our entire salvation, including God’s grace and the faith to receive it, are a gift from him.

Consider the fact that Paul had just used the same phrase in verse 5 to exult over God waking us from the dead by the new birth. When Paul sees the miracle of regeneration he thinks grace!  This is why we consider faith to be just as miraculous as grace. It comes to us when we are dead. No dead person believes. Belief happens only after new life has been granted!

In other words grace is not the only gift of God; faith is a gift too. This is humbling. Few people, even Christians, are eager to be told they can do nothing to contribute to their salvation, but it’s true. 

Yet indescribable joy rises in our hearts when it dawns on us that God receives all the glory for giving us both grace and faith. Worship wells within. Praise for sovereign grace effuses from our lives.  We depend on God for all things and he receives all the honor and glory for being our sole Supplier.

The very nature of God’s grace makes everything a gift, including faith to receive.

 


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the grace and faith granted to us by God.


Multiplied Grace

God saves us by grace and for grace. Notice how grace surrounds the believer in Ephesians 2:5-7, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Grace is the power that saves us when we are dead in sin, and grace is the goal of that salvation; “That in the coming ages he might sow the immeasurable riches of his grace.” Grace is both the ground and goal of our existence. 

We often think grace is pardon, and it is. Ephesians 1:7 reads, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”  Grace forgives sin, but grace is much more than forgiveness, as wonderful as that is. Grace is both pardon and power. 

Grace is power to serve. “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching” (Romans 12:6-7). We are what we are by the powerful grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10).

But the fresh observation I made from Ephesians 2:7 is that grace is also our final purpose. It is our raison d’etre, the climax of our existence. We were justified by grace’s pardon. We serve Christ now by grace’s power. And we will forever exalt and exult in grace as the pinnacle of God’s riches. Like molten lava, grace consumes sin. It rolls on in fiery power and makes towering mountains in the sea.

So live now as you will then, to the praise of God’s glorious grace!


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the power and pardon that is ours because of God's grace.


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.


Grace Makes Everything a Gift

Ephesians 2:8 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”

God’s grace makes everything a gift, including the faith to trust him for that grace. In other words, even our faith is his doing (Philippians 1:29). 

One frequent question of this verse is, “what does this refer to?” Is grace a gift alone, or is faith a gift, or are they both together the gift Paul has in mind? I believe it’s the latter. Our entire salvation, including God’s grace and the faith to receive it, are a gift from him.

Consider the fact that Paul had just used the same phrase in verse 5 to exult over God waking us from the dead by the new birth. When Paul sees the miracle of regeneration he thinks grace!  This is why we consider faith to be just as miraculous as grace. It comes to us when we are dead. No dead person believes. Belief happens only after new life has been granted!

In other words grace is not the only gift of God; faith is a gift too. This is humbling. Few people, even Christians, are eager to be told they can do nothing to contribute to their salvation, but it’s true. 

Yet indescribable joy rises in our hearts when it dawns on us that God receives all the glory for giving us both grace and faith. Worship wells within. Praise for sovereign grace effuses from our lives.  We depend on God for all things and he receives all the honor and glory for being our sole Supplier.

The very nature of God’s grace makes everything a gift, including faith to receive.

 


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the grace and faith granted to us by God.


Multiplied Grace

God saves us by grace and for grace. Notice how grace surrounds the believer in Ephesians 2:5-7, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Grace is the power that saves us when we are dead in sin, and grace is the goal of that salvation; “That in the coming ages he might sow the immeasurable riches of his grace.” Grace is both the ground and goal of our existence. 

We often think grace is pardon, and it is. Ephesians 1:7 reads, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”  Grace forgives sin, but grace is much more than forgiveness, as wonderful as that is. Grace is both pardon and power. 

Grace is power to serve. “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching” (Romans 12:6-7). We are what we are by the powerful grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10).

But the fresh observation I made from Ephesians 2:7 is that grace is also our final purpose. It is our raison d’etre, the climax of our existence. We were justified by grace’s pardon. We serve Christ now by grace’s power. And we will forever exalt and exult in grace as the pinnacle of God’s riches. Like molten lava, grace consumes sin. It rolls on in fiery power and makes towering mountains in the sea.

So live now as you will then, to the praise of God’s glorious grace!


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the power and pardon that is ours because of God's grace.


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.


Grace Makes Everything a Gift

Ephesians 2:8 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”

God’s grace makes everything a gift, including the faith to trust him for that grace. In other words, even our faith is his doing (Philippians 1:29). 

One frequent question of this verse is, “what does this refer to?” Is grace a gift alone, or is faith a gift, or are they both together the gift Paul has in mind? I believe it’s the latter. Our entire salvation, including God’s grace and the faith to receive it, are a gift from him.

Consider the fact that Paul had just used the same phrase in verse 5 to exult over God waking us from the dead by the new birth. When Paul sees the miracle of regeneration he thinks grace!  This is why we consider faith to be just as miraculous as grace. It comes to us when we are dead. No dead person believes. Belief happens only after new life has been granted!

In other words grace is not the only gift of God; faith is a gift too. This is humbling. Few people, even Christians, are eager to be told they can do nothing to contribute to their salvation, but it’s true. 

Yet indescribable joy rises in our hearts when it dawns on us that God receives all the glory for giving us both grace and faith. Worship wells within. Praise for sovereign grace effuses from our lives.  We depend on God for all things and he receives all the honor and glory for being our sole Supplier.

The very nature of God’s grace makes everything a gift, including faith to receive.

 


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the grace and faith granted to us by God.


Multiplied Grace

God saves us by grace and for grace. Notice how grace surrounds the believer in Ephesians 2:5-7, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Grace is the power that saves us when we are dead in sin, and grace is the goal of that salvation; “That in the coming ages he might sow the immeasurable riches of his grace.” Grace is both the ground and goal of our existence. 

We often think grace is pardon, and it is. Ephesians 1:7 reads, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”  Grace forgives sin, but grace is much more than forgiveness, as wonderful as that is. Grace is both pardon and power. 

Grace is power to serve. “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching” (Romans 12:6-7). We are what we are by the powerful grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10).

But the fresh observation I made from Ephesians 2:7 is that grace is also our final purpose. It is our raison d’etre, the climax of our existence. We were justified by grace’s pardon. We serve Christ now by grace’s power. And we will forever exalt and exult in grace as the pinnacle of God’s riches. Like molten lava, grace consumes sin. It rolls on in fiery power and makes towering mountains in the sea.

So live now as you will then, to the praise of God’s glorious grace!


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the power and pardon that is ours because of God's grace.


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.


Grace Makes Everything a Gift

Ephesians 2:8 reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”

God’s grace makes everything a gift, including the faith to trust him for that grace. In other words, even our faith is his doing (Philippians 1:29). 

One frequent question of this verse is, “what does this refer to?” Is grace a gift alone, or is faith a gift, or are they both together the gift Paul has in mind? I believe it’s the latter. Our entire salvation, including God’s grace and the faith to receive it, are a gift from him.

Consider the fact that Paul had just used the same phrase in verse 5 to exult over God waking us from the dead by the new birth. When Paul sees the miracle of regeneration he thinks grace!  This is why we consider faith to be just as miraculous as grace. It comes to us when we are dead. No dead person believes. Belief happens only after new life has been granted!

In other words grace is not the only gift of God; faith is a gift too. This is humbling. Few people, even Christians, are eager to be told they can do nothing to contribute to their salvation, but it’s true. 

Yet indescribable joy rises in our hearts when it dawns on us that God receives all the glory for giving us both grace and faith. Worship wells within. Praise for sovereign grace effuses from our lives.  We depend on God for all things and he receives all the honor and glory for being our sole Supplier.

The very nature of God’s grace makes everything a gift, including faith to receive.

 


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the grace and faith granted to us by God.


Multiplied Grace

God saves us by grace and for grace. Notice how grace surrounds the believer in Ephesians 2:5-7, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Grace is the power that saves us when we are dead in sin, and grace is the goal of that salvation; “That in the coming ages he might sow the immeasurable riches of his grace.” Grace is both the ground and goal of our existence. 

We often think grace is pardon, and it is. Ephesians 1:7 reads, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”  Grace forgives sin, but grace is much more than forgiveness, as wonderful as that is. Grace is both pardon and power. 

Grace is power to serve. “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching” (Romans 12:6-7). We are what we are by the powerful grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10).

But the fresh observation I made from Ephesians 2:7 is that grace is also our final purpose. It is our raison d’etre, the climax of our existence. We were justified by grace’s pardon. We serve Christ now by grace’s power. And we will forever exalt and exult in grace as the pinnacle of God’s riches. Like molten lava, grace consumes sin. It rolls on in fiery power and makes towering mountains in the sea.

So live now as you will then, to the praise of God’s glorious grace!


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we consider the power and pardon that is ours because of God's grace.


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