Amazing love!

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain-
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?                                          
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace-
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray-
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

What a fantastic hymn off adoration. This hymn by Charles Wesley is a great exaltation of the glorious Salvation found in Jesus Christ. This oh to familiar hymn is great because of its catchy tune and well known lyrics, but how often do we look at what they mean, where are their basis in Scripture and what glorious truths does it point us to.

The hymn is made up of four verses which goes through systematically the redemption of a sinner. The first verse:

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain-
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

The first verse and indeed the Chorus tell of the great love which God has for us, so much so that he came and died for us. The great line of “For me, who him to death pursued?” this great line tells of Christ’s love for us, that he loved us even to the point of death. This line reminds us of the famous quote from Johns gospel:

John 3:16

For God so loved the World, that He sent His only Son.

This first verse of praise is summed up by God’s love for us. This self Sacrificing “Agape” love is God’s motive for setting us free from the power of Sin. The reason he came to save us through Christ is as it says in John 3:16 “For God so Loved the World.”

The second verse:

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace-
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

This verse for me is all about the second line “ So free, so infinite His grace”. The salvation that we have from sin is nothing we have deserved. We are sinful and do not deserve to be saved, we choose to turn away from God until by God’s infinite grace, we turn to God and look to Him as our saviour. For inspiration from Scripture we turn to Pauls fantastic words on Grace from the book of Romans:

Romans 3:22-24 (ESV)
For there is no distinction for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

We have all sinned, and all of us have fallen short of the the Glory of God, but God has justified by grace, he has justified us when we do not deserve it, this is done as Paul says through Jesus Christ. So once again Charles Wesley has captured a great theme of the Bible, Grace.

The third verse:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray-
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

The third verse, the penultimate verse brings us to the moment of redemption. the moment when one is saved, when they trust and believe in Jesus’ name. The chains which Wesley mentions here are the chains which hold us because of Sin, the hold which sin and the Devil has on our lives. Wesley talks here of when we believe, the chains fall away, we are free! The freedom which is found in Christ. The freedom of Salvation.

From Scripture we see:

 

Romans 8:2 (ESV)

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

We have been set free from death, by the Spirit of Life, that is the Spirit of Jesus, that means that we have been set free from death and have been set free to life. This is the glorious truth of the Gospel. That through Christ we are redeemed from death and set free in to life.

The fourth verse:

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Here we reach the climax of the hymn but also the climax of the story of redemption. We have reached the point of redemptions story which means as Wesley says “Bold I approach th’eternal throne” Because of Christ we are made righteous, righteous enough to enter the throne room of Heaven not because of anything which we have done but because of the works of Christ.

We see in Scripture:

Revelation 19:4-5
4And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” 5And from the throne came a voice saying,“Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him,small and great.”

This glorious picture of the throne room with which those who trust in Christ are welcomed to join in, is a picture of how this story of redemption concludes. It comes to the point where having been saved we join as one to worship and give glory to God in the throne room. Somewhere we never thought we could be, But God in his infinite grace has welcomed us to join Him in the Throne room to glorify Him.

I hope you have enjoyed this look into the story of redemption make clear through the aid of Wesley’s hymn as it points us to parts of Scripture which explain to us the great story of redemption.

God bless,

Gareth.

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The greatest Christmas present.

 

 

 

It’s Christmas time again, it comes around every year, shops are packed with people, Christmas music playing everywhere and TV channels taken up mostly with Christmas films. Then someone comes along and makes a video or writes a blog saying:

Put Christ back into Christmas.

Save Christmas!

In this post I am, in a way, asking for those things… but I am not here to attack the commercialisation of Christmas. Instead, I will try to make clear some truths about Christmas. That, yes indeed we want Christ back in Christmas, but not just little baby Jesus meek and mild. We need to think of Jesus as Lord and saviour, King of kings.

I will base a lot of this post around the verse:

 
 
1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)

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

 

Yes Jesus did come as a baby but we cannot and should not stray away or dwell on that which will take us from the real reason of Jesus’ coming and that he was to be a sacrifice, as a sacrifice for our sins, so that in his coming he would save all those who trust in him. We must remember this “oh so familiar story” of a child being born in Bethlehem but see it as the coming of a king, The King of Kings, the coming of The Lord of the Earth, the one who would come and save all those who believe in him. We must stick to this, we must not stray or focus for too long on little baby Jesus, but see what this whole event points to…

It points to the child who is a king.

It points to a child who will become a sacrifice.

If you are reading this and you are a non believer you may be sat there wondering, “What is this guy going on about?” But I am saying that to a non -believer Christmas is a time of a hope, that because we are all sinners and we all mess up, that God did not just sit back and watch us destroy ourselves but instead gave us hope.

Hope in Christ…

 

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

6 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 Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This child mentioned in this passage is the hope of our salvation, this child is Jesus, prophesised 400 years before Jesus was born. At Christmas time, at the time of Jesus’ birth he had the expectation of being the messiah/ the saviour resting on his shoulders. 33 years later at the cross Jesus has the sins of the whole world upon his shoulders. So that all those who trust in him will be saved. God gave this the greatest Christmas present, this amazing gift of mercy and forgiveness out of love for us.

 

John 3:16 (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

So to sum up if you are a believer reading this, stay steadfast and firm to this truth, that Jesus’ coming was the beginning on the steps towards salvation. But don’t sit back this Christmas, tell people about God’s greatest gift, this Christmas share this gift with others, tell others of the love that Christ has for them. If you are a non-believer reading this, please trust in the hope found in Jesus, trust that in him your sins are forgiven. In Jesus you are saved.

Trust the hope of Christ this Christmas.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Gareth

 

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I Could Do A Better Job Than That!

We can not avoid in the news today yet another disaster. Another killing. Another case of child abduction or abuse. This can and does put people off the idea of God. It is easy when you see these things to wonder “if there is a God, why is he idly  watching by? letting these things happen?”

The answer to this is Sin.

The effect of sin is bigger than the damage it has on humans, but also its impact on creation. We live in a fallen world. A world which could be perfect but because of sin is marred.

So where did this all start then, well in Genesis 3.

 

Genesis 3: 17-19

17And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

In this passage then the key verses are 17-18. Because of the sin of taking from the tree of knowledge which God told Adam and Eve to not take from, God cuts them off from all the potential knowledge and power of the tree but also because of their sin informs them that certain things will not work in creation as well as they had done before “The Fall”. When God created the world he declared it good having made it perfect. But now, “Post Fall” the world is not so good, the word used in verse 17 “Cursed” meant the ground was now not considered good but instead fallen, broken.

The way to imagine all this is that now the world is sick from sin. It needs to be given a cure to the disease of sin.

Sin is the cause of all the pain and suffering, all the natural disasters, Pre-fall there is no sign of hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis and suffering and death. It is only after sin entered the world that the world becomes broken, becomes fallen and imperfect. Soon following the first sin is the first murder, so powerful is influence of sin.

So the reason for all the shocking things that we see on the news are because of the fallen world we live in, because of the sin of our first parents Adam and Eve.

But does this mean God has done nothing about it?

No… Quite the opposite.

 

 

Romans 8: 18-23

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

 

God had a plan. A rescue plan for creation and for us. One in which he would give his only son up for us and creation.  God saw the effect and damage that sin had on the world. To tackle the infection of Sin, God sent his only son to be a sacrifice for our sins. He came to make us and the world right with him. Jesus came to take away the power of sin by dying on our behalf.

Jesus came to make us and creation righteous. Righteous meaning right with God.

In the passage above we see that as we look and long for the return of Christ, the one who has taken the punishment for our sins, so does creation, it “waits with eager longing”. Creation looks for a release from the bondage of sin just as much as we do.

Does all this mean then that as soon as you become a Christian there is no suffering in your life and in the world around you. Well no. Until Christ returns again there will be death, and there will be natural disasters and famine. But when Christ comes again and we are taken to Heaven we will be in a place of no more tears and no more sorrow. 

 

 

Revelation 21:1-4

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

This glorious picture of what life will be like when Christ returns, shows us that there is hope. There is hope and an end to suffering. We know that through Christ and only through Christ can the world be healed more importantly only through Christ can we be forgiven “healed” of our sin.

God bless.

G.

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Do You Love me?

This Week draws an end to my look into the Gospel of John. In this Post I’m going to look at the last passage of the Gospel with you, and hopefully it is food for thought for you too.

Many clever people I have been reading this week have been telling me the significance in this passage of the choice of Greek word that Jesus and Peter use in this passage and what that means. Well I’m not going to go too deep into the Greek really, because I think the point Jesus is getting across, is he is asking Peter “Look do you love me!”….. “I mean do you really Love me”…. and this question is so important! It’s a question we ask new Christians, A question we ask mature Christians. This question is so important. And not because our answer suggests anything of our salvation, that if we Love Jesus enough we will be saved, because we are just great at loving Jesus, No, actually it shows our understanding of the act that does save us, his sacrifice on the cross. I mean the Love that Jesus has for us to come down and die for those who believe in him, is an incredibly passionate self-sacrificing, perfect Love. And why do we love Jesus, because he came down and died for us. And we don’t love him like a warm cuddly your my best friend sort of Love we love him in the same way he loved us, though it will be an imperfect love because our own self-seeking sinful heart may get in the way of us truly loving Jesus in a self-sacrificing way not for our glory but for his.

So having heard of the love for Jesus,

the second thing to notice is the cost of that Love.

Look at what develops from the questioning of Peters Love.

John 21:18-19

English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)

18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter, having just told Jesus He loves him, is greeted with the news that he will die for Christ, to the glory of God. Peters love for Christ, the love that brings Glory to God will lead Peter to his grave. Now this sounds quite bleak. But we all have a call on our lives, the call on what God wants us to do. If we love Christ and want to see Him glorified, then we should show that in Love for him, the fact that we would be willing to do anything for him. This may scare a few of you, I mean feel bad for Peter he has just been told straight out at a BBQ at the beach, yeah well you’re going to die for me. But when you think that Jesus Came and through Love gave his life as a ransom for many, it puts a call on our lives into perspective…. But Jesus I don’t want to go minister to those people over there, they are just to awkward, to difficult, the questions they ask just too hard is what you say…. Well Then Jesus would just point to his hands and his feet. For him his love for us lead him to the cross. So out of love for him we should want to serve his will and see him glorified more and more.

So we Love Jesus because Jesus Loves us so much so that he died for us, there is a cost to this Love but then when it is Put into perspective against Jesus’ sacrifice it makes you think of the cost of your love for Jesus.

Thirdly, the truth of this love.

We Move on to the final few verses of Johns Gospel, look at Verse 24-25

John 21:24-25

English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)

24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

my question to you having read those verses, have you ever had those times where you just sit there and go you know, I don’t think you Love me!

You couldn’t love me?

why would you love me?

Well John tells us in verse 24 that the testimony given in this Gospel is truth. That means every verse of this Gospel is true, from the baptism of Jesus right the way through all the miracles to the crucifixion of Jesus. Including this passage, let me read it to you  AS THE FATHER HAS LOVED ME SO I HAVE LOVED YOU, NOW REMAIN IN MY LOVE. And following on from that GREATER LOVE’ HAS NO ONE THAN THIS: TO LAY DOWN ONE’S LIFE FOR FRIENDS. YOU ARE MY FRIENDS IF YOU DO WHAT I COMMAND. That’s taken from John 15: 9-14. That’s truth. JESUS LOVES US! Take comfort from that! So when the questions like: I don’t think you Love me! You couldn’t love me, why would you love me. Delve into the word of God, for it is all true. You will realise Jesus loves you more than you could even begin to imagine, that’s the chain breaking truth of the gospel, the love that Jesus has for us.

So then to conclude:

I do hope you have been able to take something from this talk, that we should Love Jesus, and not in a warm and cuddly sort of way but in a self-sacrificing way, like he did for us. That because of that self-sacrificing love there is a cost, but when we look at the cost, compared to the cost that Jesus undertook on the cross, it puts it into perspective. Then there is the truth of the Love, that when you doubt that Jesus loves you, maybe you have a sin bearing heavy on your life, or you are feeling depressed, run in to the arms of Jesus as, you see in scripture that he loves you so much more than you could comprehend.

Yours In Christ

G.

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So Another Week in Ministry!

Hello all, from my last post you will be able to gather i was preaching at my Home church on The Good Samaritan, which went down very well from the response i got. Certinaly was an encouragement for me, but also it challenged many people which was great. Praying that God works there. So this week ahead of me has been shaped really around a chapter from the John Piper book Pierced by the word. especailly on the disscusion of Assurance. the point that stood out to me was the following:

Assurance is a fight to the day we die.

Fight the good fight of Faith. Take Hold of the Eternal Life. (1 Timothy 6:12)

I have Fought the good fight, i have finished the race, i have kept the Faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

 

This is not me telling anyone i am dying, i am (praise God/God willing) a healthy 20 year old, but i will be visting people this week, who are in there 90’s and have fought the good fight and have run the race, so this means they have the assurance that they are safe in Christ. Their Lifes are testimony and as i meet with them, they may be questioning the end, i will encourage them, and i encourage you, that it is not all a mystery, it is Gods will for us to have assurance, as the point is made in Hebrews 6. But that by no means makes it easy for them, or those left behind. Because of that we need to cling to the Cross of Christ, trusting in the sacrifice on the cross, which Saves all who trust in it.

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God Bless

Gareth