Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Unconvincing Resurrection

In my devotional time this week, I read the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. This parable describes a dialogue between two men who have died. The rich man who lived a selfish life by ignoring the needs of others was now begging mercy from the poor man whom he had refused to serve. It is an interesting account, but what caught my eye was the very last statement made by Abraham.
The rich man, seeing that his plight was permanent, requested that someone warn his brothers who were still living so that they would not make the same mistake resulting in the same eternal torment. He justified the request by saying,
"if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent." (Luke 16:30)
In response, Abraham said to the Rich Man,
"If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead." (Luke 16:31)
Having just celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ this past Sunday, this passage gave me pause. I thought about our message of hope that we have in Jesus Christ because of His victory over sin and death. I considered all the people who come to church for this special occasion that may never enter the doors of a church outside of this holiday. As a pastor, I think about the responsibility I feel to communicate with utmost clarity the message of salvation through faith in Christ alone. Like Lazarus, I want to believe that if people understand what Jesus did on the cross and the miracle of His rising from the dead...surely they will repent and believe.
But then I am reminded, if we don't acknowledge the message of truth that speaks to our need for a Savior, the resurrection itself has no direct impact on our life. In other words, if we don't recognize our need for a Redeemer, we can hear the story a thousand times and never be changed. The life and death of Jesus Christ only matters when it becomes personal - when we understand what we lose without Him and what we gain because of Him. We simply don't see the miracle unless we need the miracle.
I believe we often experience the greatest work of God in our life at our greatest point of need. We are lifted up only when we bow in worship. God is opposed to the proud but He gives grace to the humble.
“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ” (Hebrews 4:16, NASB95)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Prayer of Praise

O Lord God,
Teach me to know grace precedes, accompanies and follows my salvation,
that it sustains the redeemed soul,
that not one link of its chain can ever break.

From Calvary’s cross wave upon wave of grace reaches me,
deals with my sin,
washes me clean,
renews my heart,
draws out my affection,
kindles a flame in my soul,
consecrates my every thought, word, work,
teaches me thy immeasurable love.

How great are my privileges in Christ Jesus!

Without Him I stand far off, a stranger, an outcast; in Him I draw near and touch his kingly scepter.
Without him I dare not lift my guilty eyes; in him I gaze upon my Father-God and friend.
Without him I hide my lips in trembling shame; in him I open my mouth in petition and praise.
Without him all is wrath and consuming fire; in him all is love, and the repose of my soul.
Without him is gaping hell below me, and eternal anguish; in him its gates are barred to me by his precious blood.
Without him darkness spreads its horrors in front; in him an eternity of glory is my boundless horizon.
Without him all within me is terror and dismay; in him every accusation is charmed into joy and peace.
Without him all things external call for my condemnation; in him they minister to my comfort, and are to be enjoyed with thanksgiving.
Praise be to thee for grace, and for the unspeakable gift of Jesus.

Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision