For the last few weeks, and continuing this weekend at our Good Friday and Easter services, we’ve been singing this modern hymn in our worship gatherings at Capitol City. The song was inspired by this excerpt from a sermon by John Newton:
Are not you amazed sometimes that you should have so much as a hope, that, poor and needy as you are, the Lord thinketh of you? But let not all you feel discourage you. For if our Physician is almighty, our disease cannot be desperate and if He casts none out that come to Him, why should you fear? Our sins are many, but His mercies are more: our sins are great, but His righteousness is greater: we are weak, but He is power.John Newton
I pray that these words will stir your affection for Jesus this Holy Week.
Martin Luther called justification by faith the “chief article” of the Christian faith, the doctrine upon which “the church stands or falls.” That the holy, righteous God of all justifies freely according to his grace those who trust him in faith is sublimely good news.
Yet, because of sin, we are always leaning away from justification by faith and toward some form of self-justification. Our hearts are so corrupt that we drift away from the justification offered in the gospel and toward many expressions of justification by works. How?
I’ve been encouraged this week by this new(-ish) song from The Norton Hall Band. I pray that it will encourage you, as well.
When considering the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8), we infer quickly that God is not like the unrighteous judge. Jesus intends for us to come to this conclusion: And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Luke 18:7). In other words, if even this unrighteous judge who neither fears God nor respects man gives people justice, how much more will God – who is holy and righteous and perfectly just – grant justice to his chosen people?
God is not like the unrighteous judge.
But often when this parable is explained, it seems that Christians are left with the impression that we should be like the persistent widow.
I often joke that Kristen and I only see about one movie per year (in a theater), whether we need to or not. That sentiment says more about our stage of life than it does our interest in movies. We love movies, but the cost and time commitment a trip to the theater requires make those trips a rarity.
We will, however, make a trip to see the movie Unplanned. I hope you will, too.
Adoniram Judson was the first overseas missionary from the United States. In 1812, when he was 23-years-old, he sailed to Burma to take the gospel to people who had never heard it. With him sailed his wife, Ann – to whom he had been married for twelve days on the day they departed. Ann would never return home. They both gave their lives – their talents – to see Christ treasured in Burma, serving there until they died.
Christian history is littered with people who thought they knew exactly when and exactly how Christ would return. All of them have been wrong. Furthermore, those who continue to prognosticate about these things will always be wrong. After all, Jesus himself said: Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only (Matt 24:36). Idle speculation about the time of Christ’s return is foolish, and we should avoid it.
But my concern here is not only for those who are drawn toward idle speculation about the timing of Christ’s return. My concern is for all of us, and for the deeper, universal impulse such idle speculation reflects.