Don’t Rush by Good Friday


Pretty gold crosses dangling on shiny chains have a narcotic effect on our thoughts about the Cross. So do two thousand years of time’s passage and five thousand miles of distance. Our sanitized crosses fall far short of the gut-wrenching realities of crucifixion. What the Gospels say in four icy words, “and they crucified Him” (Mark 15:25), would have been emotionally devastating to behold, much less endure.

Of all the big deals in theology, the biggest deal is the Cross of Christ and all it means. So Jesus gathered his ragtag followers and turned a Passover meal into an endless commemoration of that dark day soon to dawn.

Jesus is into commemorating because we are into forgetting. “Never forget,” he said.

As we move from Good Friday, into Easter, it’s crucial we re-calibrate our hearts to this mother of all theological messages.

Scripture contemplates the Cross in five little words: “Christ died for our sins.” Christ died — that’s history; we could have seen it with our eyes had we been there. For our sins — that’s theology. It requires a revelation of God. Let’s open our hearts this season to the brutal realities of these words.

Christ Died (History)

Medical experts have reconstructed the physiological effects of this horrific Roman death by torture. Though they don’t all agree on the various details, they all affirm agonies beyond comprehension.

Scourging. So Pilate too Jesus and scourged him, the Bible simply says (John 19:1). To scourge means to skin alive with a whip. The beating was made worse by bones or weights embedded in the whips tail. Deep bruising, rib fractures, and open lacerations would result.

The Crown of Thorns. Most likely, the crown of thorns would have been shaped more like a cap than a circlet, and would have covered the whole head. Matthew explains that soldiers “took the reed and struck Him on the head” (Matthew 27:30), in effect hammering the spikes into Christ’s scalp. Excruciating pain would have followed.

Never forget the price Jesus paid.

Nails. The spikes were made of iron and about four to five inches long. The force used in driving the nails would have caused searing pain throughout his body. Given what Jesus had already endured, shock was inevitable. As soon as the body’s full weight transferred to the nails through his hands and feet, Christ’s already horrific pain would have been magnified to levels beyond words.

Death. The two little words, “Christ died,” pack enough punch to send the devil tumbling head over heels across the cosmos forever. Christ died because his work was finished. He paid the price. He satisfied justice. He died the death we deserved.

In all this, He was nobody’s victim.

The next time you partake of the Communion cup and bread, stop and take a breath. Bring your mind back to that awful day. Block everything out long enough to remember the Lord’s brutal death.

This is the fountainhead of all grace. This is the Cross. This is what God did for you when Jesus died.

Yet, none of his physical sufferings compared to the pains about to come.

For Our Sins (Theology)

What could be more painful than the tortures, the beatings, the crown of thorns, and the nails through his hands and feet?

Our sins.

When our sins were laid upon him, that’s when Jesus cried out.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46)

For Jesus, no physical suffering compared to being forsaken by God—a black-box mystery, a breach in the eternal fellowship between Christ on the cross and his Father in heaven. This is impenetrable darkness. Bow in wonder and keep silent.

Why did God forsake him?

Because God was judging him for the sin of the world. Damning him. Condemning him. Christ died for our sins. For my sins. For yours.

By the blood of His Cross, you’ve been redeemed (1 Peter 1:18–19), reconciled (Colossians 1:20), forgiven (Ephesians 1:7), brought near to God (Ephesians 2:13), cleansed in conscience (Hebrews 9:14), been made satisfactory to God (by propitiation, Romans 3:25), and declared good enough for God forever (by justification, Romans 5:9).

It was his death—not his life, not his teachings, not his miracles, not his love—that shoved darkness into a bottomless pit and rescued your sorry soul forever. Yes, these wonders of the life of Christ dazzle angels and demons, yet they were nothing if not a prelude to his death.

Let’s not rush through Good Friday. Let’s not forget the Ground Zero of our salvation — the birthplace of grace, and the foundation of the church.

Christ died for our sins.


[adapted from Grace Intervention]


The Cross

iPad“Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you.  It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’  Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross.  All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary.  It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”

[John R. W. Stott, The Message of Galatians (London, 1968), 179.]

As a pastor, I tailor my instruction to the audience.

Sometimes, I’m talking to people who are broken and desperate. They need to be built up, as Jesus did for the woman caught in adultery. Continue reading

Secure Forever, part 1

Can a Christian lost his/her salvation? I’ve had a lot of questions about this topic lately, so here goes. I’m reposting these on my Facebook Author page too, and I’d love for you to go there and click the like button. Thanks.

Sooner or later, every believer in Jesus Christ must come to grips with one all important question: Who will bear the burden of my eternal life? Or we might ask, On whose shoulders will rest the weight of bringing me to God and ultimately getting me into heaven?

Scripture supplies a most magnificent answer: Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalms 55:22, NKJV).

In its short form, Eternal Security means “once saved, always saved.” It means that you cannot lose your salvation; even if you tried. What a wonderful confidence we can have! The biggest question of life — Where will I spend eternity? — has been answered once for all.

Definition: Eternal Security means that if you are truly saved, you can never be unsaved, not even for a moment. God will not permit it. He has set your foundation upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and since God will not permit Christ to be shaken, he will not permit you to be shaken either.

Many believers, even godly Christians and scholarly Christians, do not believe in eternal security. They admit into their concept of salvation certain conditions under which you might lose it. I would ask, What good is a salvation that is not really a salvation? But we won’t get into all the problems with the other position… (maybe later? depends)

Here are some definitions of eternal security from some Bible teachers.

  • Charles C. Ryrie. Eternal Security: The work of God which guarantees that the gift of God (salvation), once received, is possessed forever and cannot be lost.
  • Harry Ironside [for many years pastor at Moody Church]. When we speak of the eternal security of the believer, what do we mean? We mean that once a poor sinner has been regenerated by the Word and the Spirit of God, once he has received a new life and a new nature and has been made partaker of the divine nature, once he has been justified from every charge before the throne of God, it is absolutely impossible that that man should ever again be a lost soul.
  • Augustus Hodge. They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectively called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. [a definition of perserverance]
  • R.T. Kendall [who succeeded Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel, London]. We are not saying once saved, always obedient. We are not saying once saved, always perfect. We are not saying once saved always godly. It is once saved, always saved.

These are excellent definitions for Eternal Security. I am convinced that Eternal Security is best understood from the divine perspective. In other words, this is far more something about God and what he does than it is about us and what we have. Therefore based on Psalm 55:2 and many other Scriptures, here is my simple definition of Eternal Security.

ETERNAL SECURITY MEANS that God himself bears all the burden for me to be secure forever.