Tag Archives: salvation

Grace, Grace, Glorious Grace!

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God’s Grace is immense. It spans the universe. His Grace lends significance to everyday life. Grace plucks the sinner from the mire that is despair and sets him on a wide place, the Rock that is Jesus Christ. Grace asks no favors; it is the favor of God. God’s Grace is deep. God’s Grace is wide. It is also pointed and precise. A blade that cuts to the quick, then heals and quickens. Grace preserves, transforms, destroys and builds up. Grace is the hammer that softens the blow. Grace does not flinch at the truth. It is safe and predictable. It is dangerously wild. God’s Grace reaches to the heavens. It stoops low to illumine the dark hearts of men. Grace is freely given, yet its worth is incalculable. Grace sentences the God Man to a tortured death on a wooden cross. Grace absorbs wrath. Grace gives life. Grace will have its way. Persistent, constant, irresistible Grace!

Oh, to be the recipient of such a Grace as this! And so I am. Herein lies a mystery. How can it possibly be? By Grace the Son is my salvation. By Grace I am the object of the Father’s love. Grace invites me to fellowship with the Spirit. Bound by Grace, I am a willing slave. Utterly dependent, I am set free. Saved by Grace, unto Grace, and for the glory of God. In and of myself, I stand empty-handed save for God’s wondrous, astonishing Grace!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  2 Cor 13:14

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


That Summer of 1981

candles

You also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead. Romans 7:4

I began that summer as the younger brother in Luke’s telling of the prodigal son. Arrogantly self-indulgent, I thought myself autonomous. But looking back, I see that sin ruled the day and I was enslaved to it. I tried in vain to break the cycle of sin and guilt by constructing my own morality. But that just set the cycle spinning over and over again.

I don’t remember the exact moment or the date in time that God’s love broke through to me. But I do know there dawned a revelation in my heart and mind that I had come to the end of myself.

At first, I was like an unruly child sitting on her father’s lap. I fought against him, alternating between fury and fear at the thought that anyone or anything would dare to hold me down. But, the more I struggled, the tighter he held me, and he did not let me fall.

I barely understood what was happening, but I did know this: a thirst for the goodness of God washed over me, and I began to experience a strange new freedom from the sinful desires that had for so long held me captive. For the first time in my life, I caught a glimpse of the beauty of truth and it was very much unlike the fleeting substitutes and lies I had often entertained.

Who was this ridiculously demonstrative, wildly benevolent King of the Universe who would sacrifice His perfect, beloved and only begotten Son for sinners yet sinning, for the ungodly still reveling in their ungodliness? What outrageously extravagant Love was this? And, how could it possibly be that this God (who is bigger and deeper and wider than I could ever have imagined back then) would have any interest in a rebel like me?

I died that summer, but slowly. My will, once so strong, began to melt and mingle with His. My heart, once so hardened, softened and became more malleable. Little by little, I relaxed into His Grace, surrendered to His mercy and yielded to His Love. I came to realize that I belonged to another and not myself.

He became my Abba Father.

That summer of 1981, the fullness of salvation was finally and fully revealed to me in the person of Jesus Christ. God’s Grace did its work and I ceased from mine.

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


How People Get Saved

Sermon Notes-Pastor Milton Vincent
July 1, 2012-Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church

Text: Romans 10:9-15

The Essence of Salvation: God gives a person righteousness, deliverance, and satisfaction in Jesus. (See Romans 10:9-11)

Righteousness: Salvation is God giving to a poor, lost sinner, righteousness. His record of sin is wiped clean and he is clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ.

Deliverance: God saves from something, from sin’s guilt and power, condemnation, wrath, hell, and a meaningless and hopeless life.

Satisfaction: We are sure to be let down if we put our confidence in things and people. God promises that when He is done doing what He wants to do in us through His Son, we will not be ashamed that we have put our trust in Jesus.

A FIVE-FOLD EXPLANATION AS TO HOW IT IS THAT HIS SALVATION GETS TO PARTICULAR PEOPLE

1. This salvation comes to those who call upon Christ.
…for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. (Rom. 10:12-13)
-We don’t just wake up one day saved, delivered, justified.
-It is people who cry out to Jesus who get saved.
-Salvation does not come from within, but from without and only through Jesus.
-Salvation is for those who stop calling upon anything or anyone else besides Jesus.

2. Those who call upon Christ do so because they believe in Christ.
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?… (Rom. 10:14)
-Calling on Christ without believing would be meaningless.
-Belief is the fuel that drives the prayer of calling upon the Lord.
-Belief in Jesus is more than a bare believing of facts about Him.
-It is seeing a need for the Savior and withdrawing trust from themselves, anything or anyone else and putting trust in Jesus.
-It is believing and trusting that Jesus has the power and desire to save.

3. Those who believe in Christ do so because they have heard the gospel of Christ.
…And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?… (Rom. 10:14)
-This is God’s plan- through hearing.
-See Acts 11:14; 1 Cor. 1:21
-Hearing words, a message, is the means God uses to bring people to belief in His Son.
-Not a list of do’s and don’t’s, but a piece of news that comes to us about Jesus.

“Faith indeed comes of hearing. Do not imagine men will be saved any other way.” -Newell

4. Those who hear the gospel of Christ do so because someone preached it to them.
…And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Rom. 10:14)
-Preacher=Heralder, someone who announces a public message.
-Herald: someone who acts as a messenger of a king or commander.
-“…the herald announces no word more or less than he is bidden to announce and alters and changes nothing.” -Lenski
-There are many who don’t like certain parts of Scripture. but it’s not our luxury to pick and choose and preach only the parts that we like.

“The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news.” -Tim Keller, The King’s Cross

5. Someone preaches the gospel to them because he is commissioned by God to do so.
And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Rom. 10:15)
-The sovereign God who is utterly sovereign in salvation has so structured things that He uses people to preach the Good News.
-God is the sending agent. He is behind it all!
-How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! This comes from Isaiah 52. The Jews imagining the heralds running over the mountains to make the announcement that their Babylonian captivity is over. The dusty feet of the heralds would be beautiful to them.
-The idea is, how beautiful are the goings of those who bring the good news of the Gospel.
-We go to bring the Good News of salvation because we are sent by God.
-See Mark 16 and Matt. 28.


Am I In Jesus? (Re-post)

It’s been a busy week, and I haven’t had a chance to write a post for Gospel Apprentice. When this happens, I usually repost something from the archives. This is one of those times. Our son, Eric wrote this in February, 2010. I will only add this:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
3 John 4

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

Here’s the post:

The following post was written by our youngest son, Eric van Baarsel. Thanks, Eric for contributing to Gospel Apprentice!

The most important question you can ask yourself in life is, “Am I in Jesus?” So, what I want you to do right now is ask yourself, “Am I in Jesus, and if so, on what do I base my answer?” My biggest fear is if someone thinks they know Jesus, but in reality they don’t know Him. Jesus said, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you…’ ” (Matthew 7:22-23) Please don’t be one of the many who this will happen to on the day when you stand before Almighty God! So, my goal in this article is to give you a better understanding of who Jesus Christ is, who you are, and finally what He did for you.

First, we must try to get a glimpse of who Jesus is. Jesus is the Son of God and the world was created through Him (John 1:10). He is part of the Holy Trinity, God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus was sent into this world and was born from the virgin Mary, so we see Jesus is fully God and also fully man at the same time (Matthew 1:18). Jesus experienced many of the same things we do. He had and loved friends and family, felt hunger and pain, joy and happiness, shed tears and knew sadness. And even “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15b) Jesus never sinned once and was completely blameless.

In Revelation 4:8 it says, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was , and is, and is to come.” If you look closely you will see something interesting in that verse. First of all, today when we are trying to emphasize something in our language we will underline and/or bold the phrase or word that we are trying to emphasize. In Greek, which Revelation was written in, they would repeat the word they are trying to emphasize. So, the writer of Revelation was really trying to make a point here. So, you may wonder what does it exactly mean to be Holy? It means that He is completely spotless, absolutely perfect, and has never done anything that is wrong (I John 1:5). All it takes to be the opposite of holy is just a single sin. It is impossible to fully understand how holy Jesus is because of how sinful we are. Also, God is all-knowing (omniscient, Psalm 139:1-5), is present everywhere (omnipresent, Jeremiah 23:24), and all-powerful (omnipotent, Luke 1:37). Although I listed several attributes of God, there is still so much more to be said about God that even if I wrote twenty more pages on His attributes I wouldn’t even come close to how big He is.

Now that we have had a glimpse of who Jesus is, we now must look and see who man is. “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) So, clearly we see that God brought us into this world, and we were made in His image. He did this so that we may bring Him glory (I Corinthians 10:31). Before sin ever came into the world, man had a perfect relationship with God. but Adam and Eve sinned against God and brought suffering, wickedness, and death into the world. Sin caused a separation between God and man because God’s holiness does not fit with our wickedness. Because Adam and Eve were of the family of men and so are we, we inherited the sinful nature. Although we inherited Adam’s and Eve’s sinful nature, we are still accountable for our sin. Every one of us has sinned against God and deserve eternal punishment in hell for our actions. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) God absolutely hates sin, we see this in Hosea 9:15. “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there. Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house I will no longer love them; and all their leaders are rebellious.” The gravity of our sin is unfathomable. John Piper describes it like this: “The height of your sin is measured by the dignity of the one you are sinning against, and it is an infinite dignity.” So, we see that we are wicked creatures who are sinning against the absolutely Holy God. Because of this, we deserve death (Romans 6:23).

Now that we see how Holy God the Almighty is, and how sinful and evil we are and how we deserve eternal punishment for our transgressions, we must come to the understanding that we are facing a huge problem. In the Old Testament (before Jesus was sent into the world) men would have to find a spotless lamb and slaughter it to cover their sin. The blood of the animal temporarily (because this had to be done again and again and again) provided forgiveness for their sin (Leviticus 4:35). “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all sins are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22) So we see that the only way for our sins to be forgiven is by the shedding of blood This is where Jesus comes in. God sent Jesus as our spotless lamb, but instead of only taking care of our sin temporarily, Jesus’ sacrifice takes away all of our sins permanently (Hebrews 7:26-28, John 1:29)!  Do you see how beautiful this is? We as men are evil and wicked and deserve eternal punishment and God sent His perfect and only Son to die for us! Jesus was crucified on the cross and God poured out His wrath that we deserve for our sin on His only Son so that we may be saved. After His death on the cross, Jesus then rose again, conquering death. This is what Jesus came for (Matthew 16:21). Only the blood of Jesus takes away every sin that we have done and He is the only way to be saved. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) The blood of Jesus is a gift to us from God to wash away our sin.

You might be wondering how you can receive this awesome gift. Jesus said to believe in Him and you will be saved (John 3:16). This is by faith alone that you are justified (Romans 5:1). You can’t do anything to earn your salvation (good works), it is by God’s grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). You must see your need for repentance, that you are wicked and need a Savior by trusting in Jesus alone to become saved. Luke 13:5 says, “I tell you, no! but unless you repent, you too will perish.” I pray with all my heart that you accept this truly beautiful and prefect gift by putting your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

You might be thinking that you already know this and you are saved which is great! But, there are a few ways that you can test yourself just to see if you are truly in Jesus (2 Peter 1:10). Matthew 7:16 says, “you will know them by their fruit.”  So, do people see that you are producing fruit? If someone were to look at your life will they see that you have a passion for Jesus? Also, do you hate and fight your sin? In Psalm 97:10 it says, “Let those who love the Lord hate evil…” Also, what is Jesus to you? Do you believe in Him just so you won’t go to hell? Some people think Jesus is simply a ticket out of hell. Or, do you want Jesus just so that you will have good health or nice things? These are NOT the reasons why you should want Jesus The center of why you should want Him is because of your love for Him for what He has done for you! So, the ultimate question that I have left to ask you is ARE YOU IN JESUS?

In closing, I hope that this helped in any way possible and that you will think about your relationship with Christ. I pray that if you are not in Jesus that this will help give you an idea of what Jesus has really done for us!

Finally, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)


Confessions of a List-Maker

I am a list-maker.

Each morning, I write out my “To Do” list for the day. It may look something like this:

-Make dentist appointment
-Mail bills
-Grocery Shopping
-Drop dog off at the groomer
-Call Mom

Well, you get the idea. I’ve been a list maker for as long as I can remember. Almost anything can be turned into a list. In school I listed my homework assignments. I’ve made pros and cons lists, baby name lists, Christmas card lists, and I wouldn’t dream of shopping without a well thought out grocery list.

While it may be helpful in accomplishing short-term goals for the day; I can think of at least two negatives to list-making.

One, it’s not a good idea to be tied too closely to a list. Sometimes things come up and if I’m too intent on accomplishing my list, I end up frustrated. Or worse, I may miss a blessing, or being a blessing to others, because I am too fixated on my own agenda. Blessed are the flexible!

Second, I have found that my desire to grow in faith and obedience to the Lord is actually thwarted by my propensity to reduce everything to a list. In the past, I have actually made lists such as this:

-Spend 30 minutes reading the Bible
-Spend 30 minutes praying
-Tell at least one person about Jesus today
-Count to ten to keep from responding in anger
-Don’t yell at the kids
-Respect my husband
-No complaining

Well, maybe not on paper exactly, but these were the kinds of things that I kept running as a sort of mental obedience list in my head. The problem is, obedience lists don’t really work, especially when it comes to a real and lasting change of heart.

If I were able to accomplish this kind of list on any given day, I would feel as if God was pleased with me. At this point, feelings of superiority and pride would often rise up causing me to sin even as I thought I was doing so well. If I were to fail, which is so often the case, I beat myself up, sure that God was angry with me. Fear of divine punishment would often be the result.

Keeping the obedience list is not only frustrating, but exhausting. Not to mention downright impossible if I’m banking on my own merit and strength.

The beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus kept the obedience list perfectly on my behalf.

For our sake he made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.   (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The truth of the Gospel is that Jesus’s death on the cross satisfied God’s judgment against me, and He bore the wrath that I deserved for my sins.

[I am] justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith…  (Romans 3:24-25)

The miracle of the gospel is that I am free from the burden of earning and maintaining my salvation; it is a gracious gift from my Heavenly Father.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The reality of the Gospel is that Jesus is my righteousness; my mood and bravado are no longer dependent on my own merit, but on the excellency and sufficiency of Christ.

…Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.  (1 Corinthians 1:31)

The interesting thing is that when my heart and mind are set on the goodness of God as revealed in the Gospel, and when I’m walking in gratitude with the realization of all that Jesus has done for me; I find that the natural outcome is a joyful desire to obey the One who loved me unto death, the One who calls me daughter and friend, the One who freed me from the power of sin and death.

And when I do sin, the necessity of the Gospel is real.

…But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  (1 John 2:1)

The good news of the Gospel is that because of Jesus, I am neither a slave to sin nor am I reduced to hopelessly counting on my own effort to keep the obedience list.

So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed! (John 8:36)

What about you? Are you trusting in self-righteousness, your own ability to check off the items on your obedience list? Or have you trusted that your sin debt has been paid in full? Listen to Jesus’ final words from the cross: 

…”It is finished…” (John 19:30)

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


Indications That God Is For Us, Part 3

Sermon Notes, Pastor Milton Vincent
February 26, 2012-Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church

Romans 8:28-30

3 MORE INDICATIONS THAT GOD IS FOR US WHO ARE HIS PEOPLE

First 4 points, Review:
1. God causes all things to work together for our good. (v.28)
2. God intentionally knew us long before we knew Him. (v.29)
3. God predestined us to be transformed into Christ’s image. (v. 29)
4. God predestined us to Christ-exalting community. (v. 29)

5. God effectually called us to salvation.

Effectual call: “an act of God the Father, speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel, in which He summons people to Himself in such a way that they [willingly] respond in saving faith.” (Wayne Grudem)

-God made our salvation happen.
-Whatever this call it:
is a call that goes to the predestined. (v. 30)
is a call that results in justification and glorification. (v. 30)
is a call that puts a person inside the promise of v. 28.
-There is a general Gospel call, but this is different.
-It is a powerful, life-giving call which when delivered accomplishes the very thing it calls forth from the recipient.
-See John 6:44, John 15:16 (not denying the called made a willing response)
-We cannot take credit for our salvation.
-See Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 1:24
-This effectual call is an indication that God is for us.
-God determined the day of your salvation before the foundation of the world.
-We did not choose God because we are better, smarter, more noble etc. than others.

6. God justified us.

Justification: “…an instantaneous legal act of God in which He, (1) decides to think of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in His sight.” (Wayne Grudem)

-The doctrine of justification shows God is for us.
-Justification primarily occurs in the mind of God as He decides to forever think of your sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as yours.
-God keeps your justification ever before His eyes.
-God never looks at us apart from our justification or thinks any thoughts about us that are not governed by our justification.
-We live in the good of Romans 5 because of our justification!
-It does not mean that we turn a blind eye to sin.
-The doctrine of justification gives us courage to look at our sin honestly because we know that it is God who has justified us.
-Romans 8:1 is what Paul reminded himself of when he was in Romans 7 seasons.
-Believe it! God paid a great price to show us His “for-ness.”

7. God will glorify us.

Glorification: All that God does by way of transforming us into the likeness of His Son, culminating in the raising and glorifying of our bodies at the resurrection.

-God has never justified anyone whom He won’t glorify.
-Justification + Glorification = Unbreakable chain.
-See 2 Cor. 3:18; We are being transformed from glory to glory
-See Rom. 3:23; 5:2; 8:17, 21
-He will bring it to pass that we will be glorified, body and soul.

But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. 1 Cor. 2:9


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