Tag Archives: God’s grace

Unchanging Grace

When darkness hides His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging Grace…

Perhaps it’s best to start at the beginning. My younger brother, Camie, was born when I was almost eleven years old. To my little girl self, it was as if my mother had gifted me with a real, live, breathing baby-doll. I think this is part of the reason why I cherish my relationship with him so much.

My brother is now, of course, a grown man. He is the kind of man people are drawn to. Everybody loves Camie. He remembers people’s names. Grocery clerks, bank tellers, his kids’ friends and their parents. To my brother, there are no strangers. He is easy-going. He makes people feel comfortable and at ease. And he makes people laugh. Oh how he makes people laugh! He is fiercely protective over his children and loyal to his wife. My brother loves Jesus. My brother is a good man.

In November of 2014, Camie was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus or esophageal cancer. Esophageal cancer is rare and in Camie’s case, was a risk factor because of another disorder he had coped with for many years, achalasia of the esophagus (inability to move food down the esophagus). We are thankful that my brother’s cancer was treatable. But, the treatment for his cancer has been so very difficult.

Chemo devastated him. Radiation not only burned away the cancer, it cooked his esophagus and rendered it useless leaving him unable to swallow even his own saliva. He has not been able to take anything to eat or drink by mouth since late December of 2014. There have been multiple hospital stays. Several 911 calls and ambulance rides. Too-numerous-to-count blood transfusions. Bouts with neutropenia, dehydration and nausea. Weight loss. Extreme fatigue. Delays in treatment. Financial concerns.  And there was a frightening incident when a bleeding ulcer had to be cauterized.

After all that came the actual surgery. It was a twelve-hour operation involving three surgeons. They removed his esophagus and used the small bowel to fashion him a new one. Three weeks in the hospital and then home. The surgery was successful (thank God the cancer is gone!), but the recovery has been agonizingly slow and incredibly hard. And, it is ongoing.

There have been dark moments during this whole ordeal for all of us, not least of all for my brother. As for me, I have cried out to God and prayed and prayed and prayed some more. There have been tears and sleepless nights and times when I wanted to smash my fist through a wall.

But, looking back, there is an important truth that has sustained me. The Grace of God that was so obvious in the many mercies, answered prayers and kindnesses shown to us by family, friends and medical personnel is the same Grace that rescued us when humanly speaking, we had come to the end of what others or even we ourselves could handle. When there was nothing anybody could do, there was Grace.

This is no cowardly, weak-kneed Grace. It is Grace with a steel-spine. Grace that refuses to bend under pressure. There were times when my faith faltered and my hope sank. But even in the midst of despair, God’s stubborn Grace dug in deeper and gripped me tighter. The anchor held.

In spite of my failure to trust God completely in this trial, I have found that God’s Grace is enough. It has been enough looking back, and so I believe it is enough for whatever lies ahead. It is enough for me, and it is enough for my beloved little brother.

And so I have found the truth of these words to be a soothing balm to my embattled soul:

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


From Darkness to Light

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Prison cell

Prison cell (Photo credit: decade_null)

The soul of man can never truly be happy apart from the light. The rich man dwells in darkness the same as the poor man. Give him possessions, or take them all away. Allow him a measure of fame or make him live a life of loneliness and despair, afford him great knowledge or leave him in ignorance, it matters not. Apart from God’s gracious calling, the rich and poor, the celebrity and unknown, the intellectual and the ignorant all walk in darkness still.

I was once a companion of darkness. I was at war with God because He is light. I opposed the truth, preferring the lie. In imminent danger, I was powerless to see my true condition because darkness cloaked the sin that ruled my heart. It was the worst possible combination, ignorance and peril. I was as a blind man navigating the slippery slope of a precipice from which there could be no rescue.

But Hallelujah! God in His mercy has shone a great light! The Gospel! The very power of God unto salvation for those who believe.

Thirty years ago the Father of lights graciously revealed to me my true condition. And, in His great mercy; He illumined my way. For, how hopeless would I be today had He stopped short of offering me the remedy for my sin, the antidote to darkness! Jesus, the light of the world!

The love of God broke through the gloom. I saw my sin. I saw His Son.

God calls His children to communicate His goodness to a world lost in darkness. And so I proclaim to you the excellencies of the One who dwells in unapproachable light. The one true and living God who calls you today for the sake of His own dear Son.

Is He calling you out of the darkness that blinds you? Open your eyes to His marvelous light! Listen to Him! Believe in Him!

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)

and

May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints of the light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:11-14)

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Reading You Your Rights

Dear Reader,
This entry is quite long, but really worth reading and thinking about. I believe that the doctrine of Justification cannot be over-emphasized and when understood correctly, frees the recipient to live a life of joyful obedience before God. Also, these notes really do not do justice to Pastor Milton’s sermon. As soon as it is available on the CFBC website, I plan to listen to it again! File this this message under: “Life Changing Sermons”.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie

Sermon notes – Pastor Milton Vincent – September 19, 2010

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 
  – Romans 5:1-2

Six Rights that God gives to you now that you are  justified by God in Christ:

1.  You have the right to make a big deal about justification.
–  Justification is one of the first things Paul wants to talk about in his letter to the Romans. (See Rom. 1:17; righteousness=justification).
–  Paul takes 50+ verses to talk about Justification (Rom. 3:21 – 5:21).
–  If you remove Justification by faith, the church would die.
–  If you get the doctrine of Justification wrong, you get everything wrong.
–  Be a student of Justification. Make a big deal of it. Learn all you can about it.

2.  You have the right to rejoice in your Justification.
–  We exult (Rom. 5:2, 3, 11). All present tense. We continually exult (rejoice).
–  Take the time to gaze at Justification. Celebrate it.
–  If you exult in and gaze at Justification, you will catch yourself being sanctified.

“When we feed on, remember, and live in accordance with our justification, it mortifies our idols and fills us with an inner joy and desire to please and resemble our Lord through obedience.”   -Tim Keller

3.  You have the right to believe that Justification is yours since you have believed in Jesus.
–  Justification is an instantaneous, legal act of God in which He:
      a.  decides to forever think of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us AND
      b.  declares us to be righteous in His sight
–  Justification is largely in the mind of God and how He looks at us. Our sins are gone and He sees Christ’s righteousness as our own!
–  God binds Himself to this decree of Justification. He says (as it were), “I will never allow anything into your life or to come between us that is not governed by Justification.
–  We will never be able to self-generate Justification (i.e. good works).

How do we get Justification?
Justification is found in Christ (Rom. 3:24).
Justification is bought by Christ’s blood (Rom. 5:9 – costly!).
Justification is proved by His resurrection (Rom. 4:25).
Justification is acquired by faith (Rom. 5:1; 3:21, 22; 4:5).

4.  You have the right to enjoy peace with God as a result of your Justification.
–  See Rom. 5:1
–  With Justification comes peace and friendship with God.

5.  You have the right to believe you are under God’s Gracious favor at all times because of your Justification.
–  We can come into God’s presence (God, the KING and JUDGE of the universe!) through the entry point of Justification, but we never have to leave! (Rom. 5:2)
–  We get to live forever in God’s presence because of our Justification.
–  As a Justified one, you are always under God’s gracious favor.
–  God’s Grace is not only undeserved, but ill-deserved (meaning we deserve the opposite of His Grace and Justification).
–  Justification has NOTHING to do with our performance.
–  We cannot affect our Justified status by our performance, it is ALL GRACE!
–  We are under God’s favor all day, every day.
–  Jesus did it. He maintains it, completely and totally. Our job is to live and celebrate in our Justification.
–  Even on our best days we do not deserve our Justification. Even when we sin, our Justification remains intact. When we do sin, God favors us so much that He chastises and disciplines us. He only disciplines those he favors and loves (Heb. 12).

The doctrine of Justification rightly presented poses this question: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Rom. 6:1) The answer is: “By no means!” (Rom. 6:2) If we really understand, celebrate and believe the doctrine of Justification, it will make us run from sin and want to love and obey God.

6.  You have the right to exult in the hope of the Glory of God because of your Justification.
–  (See Rom. 5:2)
–  In Justification, we are caught up in exulting in God’s Glory as revealed in:
      a. creation (The heavens declare the glory of God…Psalm 19)
      b. the Gospel (2 Cor. 4)
      c. Christ’s coming (Mark 13:20)
      d. Our glorification (Col 3:4; Rom. 8:30). We will fully realize God’s plan for us.

Praise God for His gift of Justification! Amen!


God’s Relentless Love

“God’s love is relentless in its determination that we be cured of our sins, at whatever the cost to us or to Him.”  -C.S. Lewis

Plumb the depth of our sin with the plumb-line of Christ’s suffering; mark the breadth of His love for us by His willingness to exact the price. The cure for sin cost God dearly. It was put on display by the bloody sacrifice of His only begotten Son.

And what does it cost us?

On the other side of redemption, perhaps a lifetime of obvious sin and ruinous living is the pathway to the cross. For others, it is a terrible awareness that their lives are like whitewashed tombs, appearing beautiful on the outside but inside full of dead man’s bones and all uncleanness.

On this side of our salvation it costs the denial of self, taking up our own cross daily and following Him. A willingness to identify with His suffering may be the price we pay. The oft times arduous way of sanctification. Perseverance until the end. A life of obedience. The mortification of the flesh. But, whatever the cost to us, it pales in significance to and hinges entirely upon what He has already done for us. 

Either way, understanding that our sin affliction can only be cured by the excruciating death of the One Innocent God-Man should humble us.  

God’s love hounds us from the day we are born until the day we die. God’s love follows us into eternity. It is all adamant mercy and obstinate Grace. It is audacious in scope, resolute in its efficacy, and finds its full expression in the Glory of the Gospel.

Praise God for His relentless love!

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

(See: John 1:16-17; 15:13; Matthew 23:27; Rom. 3:23-24; 5:6-8; I Peter 2:21; Luke 9:23)


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