Confident Faith - May 2018

Even back in the dark ages of 1965, the world knew love was the answer. Dionne Warwick sang "What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love" to great acclaim. But there are two loves - the John 3:16 love of God and the love of men. Which does the world really need?

Two Loves

There is a love always giving. There is a love that only takes.

There is a love suffering wrong. There is a love that demands it's way.

There is a love building up. There is a love that tears down.

There is a love leading to freedom. There is a love that enslaves.

There is a love cherishing truth. There is a love that deceives.

There is a love opening blind eyes. There is a love that hates light.

There is love running. There is love indignant.

There is love encouraging. There is a love that crushes the bruised reed.

There is love courting your soul. There is love skin deep.

There is a love spanning eternity. There is a love the span of dust.

There is true love hanging on a cross. There is love of men, a better hate.

Who will show the world the more excellent way?

Harold

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Confident Faith - April 2018

The Scandal of Sheer Grace

I am continually and overwhelmingly amazed by Grace. At this Easter season I want to share an article by Trevin Wax. The article may be found here - https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/scandal-sheer-grace/

Two criminals hang next to Jesus. One mocks him, but the other recognizes his innocence. And the repentant criminal, an outcast from society and written off by everyone (whose name we don’t even know) receives eternal life. He reaches out in faith to the Savior suffering next to him and hears, "Today you will be with me in paradise."

The salvation of the thief on the cross gives hope to every sinner. It’s an astounding picture of the sheer grace of God. This account tells us that even the worst of the worst—someone guilty of countless crimes—can receive forgiveness through Jesus and access to God. The cross of Christ gives anyone who repents—including the vilest offender—a pardon.

Two Scandals: Exclusivity and Forgiveness

In our day, it’s distasteful to believe the traditional Christian teaching that Jesus is the only way to God. There must be other ways! Surely a good person who doesn’t do too many bad things in this life isn’t going to face judgment after death, right? People in our day find it offensive to believe that good people who die without trusting in Christ will face eternal condemnation.

Perhaps we should counter that objection with a bigger one: That’s only half of it! Yes, Christians believe that a nice, moral person who dies without Jesus is lost forever. But you know what else we believe? The worst criminal in history who dies as a repentant person, trusting in Jesus, is saved.

Consider the example of Jeffrey Dahmer, the notorious serial killer who murdered and dismembered 17 men and boys. His crimes are the most horrifying things you can imagine. They defy comprehension. Dahmer was captured in 1991 and imprisoned. He died in 1994 when a fellow inmate beat him to death. But before he died, when he was in prison, it is said he repented of his sinful past and put his faith in Christ.

Could it be possible that Jeffrey Dahmer, one of the most evil men to ever live, was granted eternal life? And could it be possible that a sweet old lady who never trusts in Christ would face judgment?

If that scenario bothers you (because you think the awful criminal deserves eternal judgment, but the kind, decent woman deserves eternal life), you haven’t truly grasped just how radical the gospel of grace is. It means that, deep down, you still think good people go to heaven and bad people to go hell.

But the gospel shatters that whole way of thinking. Scripturally speaking, there are no good people. We all have sinned. We have turned away like sheep and gone astray. We all have raised a fist toward our Maker to say, "I want my life my way!"

The radical message of the gospel is that our problem—sin—is worse than anything we could ever imagine. But also that the solution—grace—is better than anything we could ever deserve. Through repentance and faith, any sinner no matter how great the offense receives access to God through the cross of Jesus Christ. Hell is full of people who think they deserve heaven. Heaven is full of people who know they deserve hell.

We’re all criminals, and we’re all on one side of the cross or the other from Jesus. Either we’re like the criminal who mocks the Savior and trusts in himself, or we’re like the criminal who whispers: "I deserve this fate. Remember me, Lord, in your kingdom."

The cross gives anyone who believes access to God through repentance and faith. It isn’t the magnitude of the crimes, but the magnitude of God’s grace that matters for salvation.

Torn Curtain and Divine Access

The Gospel of Luke tells us that when Jesus died, the curtain was torn. The veil in the temple that separated the holiest part of the temple from the rest of the building was ripped from top to bottom, in order to signify that anyone could now come into God’s throne room of grace. Hebrews 10:19-22:

"Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus—he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh)—and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water."

Charles Spurgeon put it this way:

"There is an entrance made for the greatest sinners. If there had only been a small hole cut through it, the lesser offenders might have crept through; but what an act of abounding mercy is this, that the veil is rent in the midst, from top to bottom, so the chief of sinners may find ample passage!"

Access is available to all. The worst offenders. The most evil of sinners. Mercy and grace and forgiveness—all available through the cross of Jesus. He has taken the judgment that the worst sinner deserves. And that’s the scandal of sheer grace that should drive us to our knees in gratitude and worship.

Harold

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Confident Faith - May 2017

Post Easter thought on the importance of the Resurrection.

When you buy a house or a car, there's a transaction that occurs. Two people sign a bill of sale. You sign accepting the property in exchange for your payment, and the seller signs accepting your payment and tranferring the property to you. There's no deal unless both buyer and seller sign.

There was a transaction as Jesus suffered on the cross, but it was an unseen one occuring in heaven. Jesus was buying our sins and their death penalty in exchange for the payment of his perfect blood. He signed the transaction that his side of the deal was done when he uttered the words, "It is finished" (John 19:30).

In the physical world, people only saw a man die by crucifixion for the crime of blasphemy. He had claimed to be God, did what only God had the right to do, and accepted praise rightly due God alone. Justice was served.

The rocks stopped shaking. The skies cleared. The dead man was placed in a tomb. People went home to celebrate Passover. The world thought all was the same it had been.

Then, the third day, God signed the transaction. He affirmed Jesus' identity and worthiness to take our sins, proclaimed justice satisfied, and set us free from the penalty of our sin by killing death through Resurrection! "He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25, HCSB). Without the Resurrection, we are not justifed in Jesus' sacrifice.

Both parties - Son and Father - had to sign the transaction. There had to be both a Cross and a Resurrection - else "... if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17, NASB95).

Where you see a cross, also see an empty tomb.

Harold Henderson

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Confident Faith - March 2018

Has Yesterday's GOD Grown Bigger Today?

My goal when I teach or speak is for people to see GOD as bigger - more wonderful, more beautiful, more trustworthy, more glorious. Living in the reality of an ever greater GOD is an essential element of building a confident faith.

One habit for making GOD bigger each day, is to live with anticipation and expectancy of fellowship. We follow a GOD who wants to be found and honors the sincere seeker.

Daily Bible STUDY (not just skimming the Word) is a common element. The Bible is where GOD speaks to us. GOD will not speak from any other source in contradiction to that written in the Bible when properly translated and understood.

Regular commitment to a local body of Christ (church) is essential, not optional. We grow in our vision of GOD through interaction with one another. This is a real GOD working out in real lives.

Beauty is another common revelation. Who is not enthralled at a beautiful sunset? Do you not feel the awe of the masterfully painted scene calling you to Him? There's the beauty and power of music. How wonderful that the mathmatical precision of music perceived by ears stirs wonder in hearts - think "Hallelujah Chorus." Even scientists look with suspicion on mathmatical equations solving great mysteries if they are not "beautiful."

Stories of heroic sacrifice move me. The story of the Parkland High School coach who took many bullets protecting his students is an example of supererogatory (look it up) love that evolution cannot explain. There are the stories of missionaries who leave home, parents, children, and everything familiar to bring the Gospel to foreign - and often hostile - lands. Many have died after long or short sojurns planting seeds with little visible return only for us to see great later harvests from their faithfulness. What a cloud of witnesses!

Perhaps our least favorite way of seeing a greater GOD is when we actually comprehend our sins as darker, deeper, and more devilish than we ever imagined. Did you not feel this in Brother Gevan's comments about the cup Jesus asked not to drink from - the cup of MY sins? As John Newton said, "But I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour." I think the sense of Newton is that Christ, in saving us, is an even greater Savior than we could ever imagine -- and that He should grow greater and greater every day in reaching to my deeper and deeper chasm of sin. Some might see this as ugly, but I see it as the most beautiful, undeserved love.

We all try to fit GOD into our box. Fortunately for us, GOD is in the box busting business. He cares enough about us that He will not stay in such small confines. If we are open and actively seeking, He is ever revealing a bigger GOD for our confidence in Him to grow.

Harold Henderson

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Confident Faith - February 2018

Here's one of the best Pro-Life articles I've seen in a long time. It reveals the gut level inconsistency of killing the unborn.

Abortion Justifications Flip Moral Reasoning Upside Down

by Amy Hall/Stand to Reason (str.org)

Unfortunately, in the last few years we’ve had more than one opportunity in this nation to ponder this question: Why are we more grieved and outraged when a child is murdered than when an adult is murdered, even though both are valuable human beings? As I’ve watched, listened, and considered, three reasons have come to the forefront:

  • The child didn’t have a chance to live his life.
  • We feel a special responsibility to protect children because they’re dependent on us.
  • The more innocent the human being, the more deeply we grieve the crime perpetrated against her.

The younger the child gets, the more our horror increases: A high school bus is hit by a drunk driver, and we mourn; elementary school students are murdered by a gunman, and we have national grief; babies at a daycare are targeted by a terrorist, and our shock and anger at the heinousness of it consumes us. The horror increases as the age decreases...until we reach the womb. Then suddenly, all our moral reasoning is flipped on its head.

Once we go back in age beyond that magical point, we use those same three reasons not to condemn abortion, but to justify it:

  • Instead of opposing abortion because a child has her entire future outside the womb taken from her, we justify it by saying she didn’t yet have any "interests" since she wasn’t aware of what she’ll be missing.
  • Instead of opposing abortion because of our keenly-felt responsibility to protect the most defenseless of children, we justify it by saying their total dependence on us is parasitical and therefore we have a right to deny our consent for them to depend on us.
  • Instead of opposing the violent actions of abortion taken against the most innocent of us, we justify it by comparing those unborn children to violent attackers from whom we have a right to defend ourselves.

Do you see the ridiculousness of this? If it’s a tragedy when a five-year-old loses the rest of his life, isn’t it an even greater tragedy when an unborn baby loses every experience waiting for him outside the womb? A five-year-old has seen much of what life is about, though only for a short time. An aborted baby has had even that short time stolen from him. It’s the very fact that an unborn child has not had a chance to become aware of his objectively real interests that makes his death more tragic, not less.

Why are we not consistent on this moral principle of increased horror with decreased age? It makes no sense to arbitrarily flip this principle upside down and use the very points that normally condemn violence against the young to justify it.

Harold Henderson

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