Friday, February 23, 2018

Both the Spirit and the Word

1Jn 1:6  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1Jn 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1Jn 1:8  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In preaching on the subject of how the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to both convert us and sanctify us, I have used the illustration of a washing machine.  Our dirty minds and hearts are the dirty clothes that need cleansing, the soap is the truth of the blood of Christ that not only washes away our guilt but casts light on our sin so that we will believe what the Bible says and not what sin says and so this helps us clean up our lives so we live for the Lord.  The water is the Word, water that conveys the truth to us so it can do its work.  So the Holy Spirit is the agitator that gives power to the Word so it can transform our minds.

This might be a little convoluted but I think it stresses the need for both the Holy Spirit and the Word in both conversion and sanctification.  This is important since many fall into error because they want to emphasize or even ignore one over the other.  Let me press the illustration a bit further to show what I mean.

What would happen if you put your dirty clothes into the washer added soap but no water?  Not much.  You can agitate the clothes with the dry soap and expect no change.  This is what happens with many churches that emphasize the Holy Spirit with little to no biblical study; such as many charismatic churches.  They have a lot of agitation, emotionalism, but there isn’t much truth to direct the emotion and so it is misdirected and won’t help much when their emotions are under attack during trials.  They know much of experience but know little of God and his will.  They know a little about the Spirit and a little about the blood but how it all works together under duress is sometimes lost. 

The Spirit’s job is not to excite us but to help us understand and apply truth.  When we understand the Truth our own emotions will excite us.  The gospel is the good news of how our guilt can be alleviated.   We are saved by grace, through faith.  But what causes us to quit believing in this world and ourselves and start believing the gospel?  The Holy Spirit awakens us so that we believe the Truth!  He gets us to trust in Christ by shining the truth into our darkened minds and enabling us to flee to the cross and thus our sins are forgiven.  So he doesn’t “clean” us without us believing Truth and acting on it.  His work isn’t mystical in that he just does it all for us, but he brings us to the point that we actually believe the Word and live according to its truth.

What does the Word of God have that can convert and sanctify us?  In both cases it is truth.  Why did you go to church last Sunday?  It was knowing where the world is headed and that you have been saved by Christ and wanting to hear from your Savior, etc.  In other words, it was knowing truth.  Why does the drunk or drug addict or businessman or pleasure seeker stay home or go to work or play?  Because they believe sin’s lie that they are more important than God, and not the Word.  The Spirit has given us ears to hear and hearts to obey.

Let’s press the illustration the other way.  What happens if you dump dirty clothes into the machine, turn it on but don’t add water?  Not much.  To me this is the error that the Hyper-Calvinists fall into because they put all the emphasis on the Spirit’s work and power but don’t feel it is necessary for us to do anything.  But this ignores the need for the cleansing work of Truth.  The Spirit converts us by teaching us of the deceitfulness of sin and the sufficiency of the Cross and enables us to believe Truth and act upon it.  He doesn’t work apart from the Word.  I have met Hyper-Calvinists who have told me the Holy Spirit doesn’t need the gospel to save people; he doesn’t need us to respond by faith; he can do it all without means.  But that is just not biblical.  Another form of this is that the Holy Spirit believes for us or that he gives us Jesus’s faith.  One form of this is also the Deeper Life Movement where we are told to “Let go and let God”.  But the Bible doesn’t say that Jesus’s faith saves us but our faith is the means by which we are justified.  Notice in the above passage that we are to use truth to live for the Lord.  “Walk in the light” is another way of saying this.

We need both the Holy Spirit and Truth in order to be saved and to grow in our faith.  One alone would just produce emotionalism and mysticism; the other alone produces dead orthodoxy.    

Jesus teaches us that both of these will work in unity in Joh 16:13  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. Joh 16:14  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

The Spirit doesn’t magically make us holy, he uses the Word, 1Pe 2:2  Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.  He gives us hearts that want to love Christ and so hear what he says that we might do his will, Eph 4:30  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Let's Be Reasonable!

Rev 1:8  "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
Rev 1:18  and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Rev 21:6  And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
Rev 22:13  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

I choose the above verses to show how the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is eternal.  We could add Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Joh 1:2  He was in the beginning with God. Joh 1:3  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  John connects all these verses back to Genesis 1:1 and to the Triune God himself.

What is sadly interesting is that when we quote such verses and make such points the atheists, who are by definition naturalists, accuse us of making a religious statement; something that they would never do supposedly.  Except this is just another hypocritical, self-deceiving assumption of those who hate God.  For example here is what Carl Sagan, perhaps one of the most well know atheists, said of the universe, “the cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.   Now that sounds almost identical to the verses above from Revelation.  The atheists assume that when we say it about Christ we are being religious; when a naturalist says it he is being scientific.  But it doesn’t take a high school degree to see how illogical such thinking is.

We are often criticized for using God as the “God of the gaps”.  By which they mean we use God to explain things we don’t understand.  For instance, how did the universe come into existence?  God created it.  They would say but that is a statement of faith by which we have no proof and so they look for physical proof and deny anything so “spiritual” or religious.  But it should be obvious that Sagan is using something to gap his ignorance as well.

I would contend that the statements of Carl Sagan and those of that ilk are exactly the same as the ones in Revelation, except much more illogical.  They are saying that the universe is either eternal or came from nothing.  So either the universe is a god that is unthinking and uncaring; that it is just matter; or they are trying to get us to believe that nothing produced something.  Either way, this is a “religious” statement in that you are expressing a belief.  Carl Sagan wasn’t at the beginning of anything and so to make such a statement is a wild guess at best.  But it is absurd since any rational person knows that unconscious matter cannot be eternal; it had to come from something and certainly nothing cannot produce something.  Such statements can never be more than a guess since no one was at the beginning; not one other than the One who created everything!  If a Christian suggested this they would be dismissed at once as a lunatic.  Yet similar “lunatics” are allowed to teach our children such nonsense. 

How much more logical is it to assume that someone who existed before anything else and with wisdom and power beyond anything we have created it?  Fundamentally it is the same reasoning of Carl Sagan only much more reasonable.  And, in fact, the Bible tells us that all men know this to be true but sin causes them to reject it,

Rom 1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Rom 1:19  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Rom 1:20  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Rom 1:21  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Rom 1:22  Claiming to be wise, they became fools.

Carl Sagan like all of us before God saved us was a fool who thought himself wise.  Unfortunately for him, he knows better now but it is too late; he’s dead.  May we learn to think through the foolishness of this world and teach our children how to think and pray that God will shine his light and wisdom in our hearts.  2Co 4:4  In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Just before his death, knowing that he was dying, Ted Koppel asked Sagan if he had any pearls of wisdom for the human race.  “We live on a hunk of rock and metal that circles a humdrum star that is one of 400 billion other stars that make up the Milky Way Galaxy, which is one of billions of other galaxies, which make up a universe, which may be one of a very large number, perhaps an infinite number, of other universes.  That is a perspective on human life and our culture that is well worth pondering.”  He also wrote, “Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.  In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”  This is why all of this matters and we must make the effort to show how the Bible answers these questions and objections.  This is about the person of God, not about science.  You won’t answer to science!  Such thinking leaves mankind without hope and without the salvation we so desperately need.  It is hardly a “pearl of wisdom” but it is the best a mind in darkness can come up with.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Spies or Citizens?

1Pe 1:1  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

Peter’s first epistle is written the Christians to encourage them to be patient when they aren’t being treated fairly through persecution and also to persevere through the everyday trials of life.  He uses the term “elect exiles” which immediately points out that we are to see our purpose in this life differently than the lost around us.  We are in a sense alien life forms.  We look like the average human being but our true home is up above and our loyalty is not to this world but to our Supreme Leader who sent us here for his purposes and there is a day of reckoning coming in which we will have to give an account to our time spent in this “foreign world”.  We are in the world but not of the world because we live for a different cause than the lost; we live for a God that this world rejects.

I think Christianity can also be compared to being a spy sent by a government to infiltrate a country they are at war with.  A spy participates in the activities of the country he is in but not for the same reason the normal citizens do.  He is there to undermine and compromise the country he is in for the good of his homeland.  What he cannot do is to forget why he is there and get a job and start living for the good of that country and become a loyal citizen and fail to send back reports to his government.  Everything he does is to be with his homeland in mind and if he gets so caught up in his “cover story” that he doesn’t have time to his undercover work, he basically becomes a traitor to those that sent him.

So it is also a little like an undercover cop sent into deep cover to infiltrate a criminal organization.  The whole organization is illegal and it is just a matter of time before it is all going to be brought to justice.  He is there to help this along, and it would be against his whole reason for being undercover if he actually started helping the organization in its criminal activity and failed to report back and follow orders from his boss.

The point I am trying to illustrate is that very often Christians forget who sent them into the world and why they are here and they start to act like all the rebels around them.  We get so caught up in life that we don’t work for our homeland and our King.  Of course, one big difference between my illustrations and being a Christian is that we aren’t undercover spies.  We are here to tell everyone that they are in a rebellious kingdom that is going to be destroyed.  We are to tell them that this whole crime family is about to be arrested and condemned and that they had better get right with the Law Giver before it is too late.

Peter, Paul and Jesus all make the point that this will turn most citizens of this present world into our enemies but don’t worry this is all part of the plan.

Joh 15:18  "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. Joh 15:19  If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Joh 15:20  Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

Joh 16:1  "I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. Joh 16:2  They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. Joh 16:3  And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.

1Th 2:14  For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 1Th 2:15  who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 1Th 2:16  by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!

It is our duty to think and act like we are citizens of heaven and not of this world or we undermine our message that this world is going to be judged.  How can we who are dead to sin continue to live in it?  If we tell the lost that this world is passing away and we live like there is nothing or no one more important then why should they believe what we are saying?  

1Jn 2:15  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1Jn 2:16  For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 1Jn 2:17  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Unable and Unworthy

2Sa 9:3  And the king said, "Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?" Ziba said to the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet."

Tucked away in the OT is an account of the kindness David showed to Mephibosheth, one of Jonathan’s sons.  Every time I go through this passage I see something of the grace that God shows sinners that I can identify with and reminds me why I must love the Lord with all of my heart.

This time I noticed that there were two things about Mephibosheth that removed any chance of him doing anything for David to earn his favor.  He was from a cursed family and he was crippled in both feet.  Without doubt these two things are mentioned in this passage to point to the fact that I also was from the wrong family and enslaved to sin and unable to do anything that pleased God.

Mephibosheth’s grandfather was Saul who had been rejected by the Lord and eventually killed in battle.  It was typical for a new king who had disposed the previous one to kill his relatives lest they lead a rebellion to take back the kingdom.  Mephibosheth realized this as is seen in the humble, fearful way he approached the king, 2Sa 9:6  And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, "Mephibosheth!" And he answered, "Behold, I am your servant."

We are all born into a cursed family line as well.  Our “grandfather” dared rebel against the King and brought condemnation upon us all.  The Bible says that the sentence of death hangs over everyone born from the first Adam.  But like Mephibosheth, we are also born of one who has a special relationship to the king, 2Sa 9:1  And David said, "Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?"  Jonathan was also born of Saul but he had entered into a previous covenant with David which promised life to all his descendants.  So while condemned by the first Adam, Saul, he gained pardon by being from the second Adam, Jonathan.  What a marvelous picture of Jesus born in the line of Adam but also being God pleased the Father in a way that no sinner ever could.

That took care of Mephibosheth’s first problem, wrong family, but what about his inability to please the king; his lameness meant he had nothing to offer King David.  We read that he was given a powerful servant that was commissioned to take all of Mephibosheth’s possessions and bear fruit for David, 2Sa 9:9  Then the king called Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, "All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master's grandson. 2Sa 9:10  And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master's grandson may have bread to eat.

So God gives us his Spirit to work in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  He takes what we were born with and empowers us to use it for the Lord and no longer for sinful purposes.

In fact Ziba played a big part in bringing Mephibosheth to David to begin with, 2Sa 9:4  The king said to him, "Where is he?" And Ziba said to the king, "He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar." 2Sa 9:5  Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.  Ziba was sent and brought Mephibosheth to David.  As with our salvation this story is all about what David did for Mephibosheth, not what Mephibosheth did for David.  

I praise and thank the Lord that when I was both helpless and cursed, unable and unworthy, he sent his Son to bring peace and his Spirit bring me back so I can now eat at the King’s table and serve him with a new heart.  All glory to God!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Love and the Local Church

Joh 13:1  Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
Rom 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …Rom 8:38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, Rom 8:39  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.

There is something about biblical love seen in the way that the Lord loves us that helps us understand how we are to love one another.  In turn this should help us realize when someone does not love us when perhaps they say they do. 

We see in the above verses that God has set his love on us and has determined to do us good and he will never stop seeking our good.  So true love comes with commitment.  It is not merely a feeling but a decision to seek the good of its object no matter what the personal cost.  Anything less does not reflect God’s love; any love that is only good as long as the object maintains some level of performance or attraction is a defective love.

So girls, if that boy won’t put a ring on your finger and soon afterward say “I do”, they do not love you.  They might be strongly attracted to you but attraction comes and goes.  They might like you and want to spend time with you but only if the conditions are right.  If they are unwilling to commit to you for life, to live with you, to support you, to care for you, to commit to the children they have with you, then they are in essence saying that they love themselves more than you and will keep you around only as long as they can get what they want out of you.  True, godly love commits and then sees it through until death as Jesus demonstrates in John 13 above. 

There are a lot of Christians who would fully agree with my application of true love in marriage but then balk when we start to try and be consistent and love the church in the same manner.  Just like the man who holds his girlfriend at arm’s length and won’t join her in marriage so that he can keep his options open, so many saints treat other Christians in the local church with the same cavalier attitude.

We don’t want to be held accountable for the way we live; we don’t want to get involved in what is often messy relationships with God’s people.  We just want to walk in on Sunday morning, hear an “inspiring” message that meets my needs and then not see anyone until the next week.  So there is no way we are going to join the local church and be under the leadership and accountability of others.  It isn’t surprising that a lot of guys have the same attitude towards the “ole ball and chain”.  Commitment is a four-letter word today because we think we are losing our freedom when in fact we are losing things far worse such as a deep, satisfying relationship that only comes in life-long commitment and that is only the beginning.

It is funny that we are happy to have Jesus commit to us and enjoy all the benefits we get from him, but we don’t want to commit to his body, the church.  The problem is that the Bible doesn’t let us off the hook, 1Jn 4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  1Jn 4:20  If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1Jn 4:21  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother

We might think that we can love the saints but not commit to them; we think we can love them from afar as in Sundays only, etc.  But again, the Bible says we have to sacrifice for them, 1Jn 3:16  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  Can I really say I love someone when I refuse to even join the church and commit myself to them; especially when God defines love as being willing to lay down my life for the object?  If I won’t even lay down my life to the extent of joining the church because I am afraid of commitment and accountability there is no way I am going to lay down my life in death for you.

Jesus Christ demonstrated his love and committment for us by going through the worse experience it is possible to be in, the cross and the separation from the Father, and if our love and commitments don’t look the same by at least committing ourselves to the care of other Christians in the local church then there is a problem.  If I love you, I will commit myself to you and sacrifice myself for you.

Notice this commitment in the early church,

Act 2:42  And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Act 2:43  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. Act 2:44  And all who believed were together and had all things in common. Act 2:45  And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Act 2:46  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, Act 2:47  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. 

It was this type of joining together that brought about the salvation of souls, vs. 47.  May God take away our fierce love for self that must remain independent, in control, and uncommitted and work in us a spirit that gives of oneself to each other.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Making Our Calling and Election Sure

2Pe 1:10  Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

It is amazing how many Christians have been deluded into thinking that in order to make it to Heaven all one has to do is believe some facts about Jesus Christ.  It comes from a misunderstanding of being saved through faith.  Salvation is a process by which we are legally justified but also we are transformed within when the Holy Spirit gives us a new heart; we become new creations.  For many the transformation passages are ignored and the “by faith” passages are taken with little thought about what else is taught in the Bible.  This is called “Easy Beliefism”.  It is the idea that all I have to do in order to be saved is to trust in Jesus’s death for me.  The problem is that even lost people can believe facts about Jesus.  This is where the doctrine of Total Depravity comes in.  Only those regenerated by the Spirit can exercise faith that saves and once he does this the individual is never the same.

When God saves a person they become new creations and are being transformed into the image of Christ, Rom 8:8  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom 8:9  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Rom 8:29  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers

We see in 2 Peter 1:10 that it is this transforming work that gives us evidence that we are indeed saved from our sins, not just in our sins.  To miss this point has caused many to presume that they are saved and has no doubt led many to Hell.   When I was younger I remember hearing preachers like Curtis Hudson say that if you want to have assurance you need to write down the date you were saved in the front of your Bible and you could look at that and know you are saved.

This is fundamentally absurd.  It is like saying that if you want to know if you are alive then you need to look at your birth certificate!  I think it is safe to say that if you have to look at your birth certificate to know if you are alive or not, you are probably dead.  How about looking to see if you are breathing or if your heart is pumping?  Notice that Peter says that if you are practicing these qualities you will never fall; you will prove your calling and election.  Therefore, if you don’t see evidence of these qualities in your life the assumption is that you are not called and elected. 

I recently heard of a church bragging that David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam murderer, had walked the aisle at their church when he was eight so they knew that he was saved.  A pet monkey can walk a church aisle!  Our spiritual birth certificate is being sealed with the Holy Spirit, and he doesn’t lead us to murder people.  Proof of life is doing living things.  If my life is dominated by sin and not by Christ, if there is no spiritual “wiggling and struggling” going on, no signs of spiritual warfare, no battle against sin, no driving love for Christ then I am much better off assuming I am lost than spiritual sleepwalking until I am cast into Hell.

Some tell us to look to the cross and not your life for assurance but Peter says look at both.  Election is what God did apart from us; calling is what God does in us.  Both are two sides of the same coin of assurance; one side is security and the other is evidence.  One alone is presumption and there is no hint in the Bible that it is okay for saints to presume they are saved without evidence.

Let us strive to hear the “Well done good and faithful servant”.  Christ is talking to saints, not to himself.  Jesus heard the well done while he was on earth, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.  That is my security.  At the judgment true saints will be told that there was enough evidence in their lives that proves they are sheep and not goats.  That is my assurance.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Forgetful God

2Pe 1:5  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 2Pe 1:6  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 2Pe 1:7  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2Pe 1:8  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.2Pe 1:9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

In the above verse Peter is telling us that Christians who are not progressing in the Christian life, who are not making an effort to be conformed to the image of Christ by supplementing their lives with the qualities found in verses 5-7, have forgotten why they were saved.  They are acting like they have not been cleansed from their sins by the death of Jesus Christ.  This condition makes one ineffective and unfruitful as vs. 8 states. 

The Bible teaches that Christians must be able to forget the sins committed before we were saved and move forward.  Their guilt is covered by the blood of the cross so that we are free to enjoy and serve the Lord, Php 3:13  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, Php 3:14  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  How could Paul who had murdered Christians ever get over that and serve the Lord?  By understanding that those sins have been forgiven and are no longer being held against him.

So obviously at the same time we must never forget what the Lord did for us in saving us by grace.  Had God not stepped into his creation and provided righteousness and atonement for us, we would be lost.  This creates in us a humble heart of love and thankfulness that recognizes that all we are, have and will have is found in the cross work of Jesus.

The Bible also speaks of God forgetting and remembering things.  We know that God never forgets anything so therefore he never has to remember anything because all knowledge is ever present in his mind.  But this is worded in the Bible for us so that we can relate to how he thinks about us and cares for us.  Let me give a couple of examples.

We can forget our sins because God has forgiven them in the cross and sometimes this is referred to as God forgetting our sins, Isa 43:25  "I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.  Jer_31:34  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."  This is quoted in Hebrews 10:17 so we know he is referring to the New Covenant.  Mic 7:19  He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.  In Micah the idea is that they are so far removed that they are no longer remembered by the Lord.  The idea in these verses is that God no longer holds them against us so that for all practical purposes they have been forgotten.

But there is an interesting passage in Isaiah that connects the Lord’s forgetting with his remembering.  The context of Isaiah 49 is looking forward to the Gospel Age when the Lord sets up his kingdom through Gospel preaching.  But in Isaiah’s day things look rather bleak and they wondered if God would ever send the Messiah and set up the kingdom.  We see this in vs. 14, But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me."  But Yahweh answers in an interesting way, Isa 49:15  "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Isa 49:16  Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

How is it that we can be assured that God will never forget his children, that he will always love us and keep us with him forever?  Because he has something to look at for all eternity that will not allow him to forget.  Jesus will always bear the marks of the cross in his hands as a reminder to God and to us that our sins have been paid for and can no longer separate us from the love of God!  Of course, the Father doesn’t need a reminder but he is illustrating how there is no way he will forget the sacrifice his Son made for us.

Rom 8:34  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.  Rev 5:6  And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 

Jesus will always bear the marks of the cross as a reminder to us and to the Father of his perfect sacrifice.  They have been engraved in his hands as an eternal reminder.  What a God we serve!