yet not I, but through Christ in me

In Colossians 1, Paul tells the church in Colossae that his aim in ministry is to present them mature and complete in Christ. He punctuates that statement with one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith, claiming that he toils and labors to that end in his strength and through Christ’s strength in him: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col 1:29).

I toil, with all his energy, Paul says.

One of the beautiful realities of the Christian life is that we are never alone. Though we are called to strive and contend for faithfulness and endurance, we never do so apart from Christ’s power working in us. Ephesians 1 reminds us that Christ’s power working in us is the same power by which he was raised from the dead! If you are in Christ, his resurrection power is then in you, working as you endure in the faith.

Recently a friend introduced me to City Alight, and their modern hymn Yet Not I, but Through Christ in Me. I think it beautifully and simply captures these ideas so well.

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his mercy is more

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.

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two sides of the same coin

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?

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our access to God

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.

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planning to see unplanned

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.

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can you consent to all of this?

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.

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