Tag: <span>confession</span>

The evangel is life changing. The gospel is God’s truth that raises men from the dead and gives them new and eternal life. It is also a call to be generous with our lives unto death.

We have been working our way through the parts of the name of our church, partly for those who are newer to the flock and partly because some reminders never outgrow their usefulness. That the gospel calls us to a life of dying to bring life is as useful as a heartbeat.

Last Lord’s Day I emphasized that those who are forgiven in the evangel must forgive. We are not saved because we forgive, but we forgive because we are saved. We forgive because of God’s grace to us; grace from above doesn’t turn into works-based forgivers below.

One realization requiring my repentance a number of years ago—repentance because I needed a change of mind—related to talk about incarnating or embodying the gospel. The gospel is news, how can you “do” a message? More strictly, the gospel is about the divine Logos taking on a body and spending it to death as a sacrifice for sinners. But I’m a sinner, so my death can’t redeem anyone. All of that is true.

And it is also true that God’s Word calls us to live out the gospel.

2 Corinthians 4:10-12, “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies…always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh (in carne nostra mortali). So death is at work in us, but life in you.”

These are death brings life statements. We incarnate, we put flesh on, the story. It’s not redemptive, but reflective.

This explains another comment by Paul in Colossians 1:24, “in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” Perhaps better than any apostle, Paul knew and taught the exclusivity and effectiveness of Christ’s work on the cross. And because of that there is a life of dying that belongs to believers.

It means, among other things, that husbands sacrifice for their wives first (Ephesians 5). It means that parents don’t have kids in order to be served but to serve. It means shepherds go out front, they don’t demand commitment and sacrifice so that they don’t have to.

The evangel begets a cycle of giving with the mind of Christ, where good news leads us to do new goods for one another.

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No true church exists without the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sin destroys our fellowship with the Triune God and ruins relationships between one another. Death is separation, and spiritual death is not only separation from God but disregard for His Word and enmity toward His person.

No man can work his way to God. The wise of the world can’t philosophize their way to Him. There are no quests, no treasures, no mutilations that earn salvation from God. Dead men are, by definition, incapable of making themselves alive. The gospel, the good news, is that Jesus died, was buried, and on the third day rose again so that any who believe in Him might be forgiven of their sin, cleansed of their guilt, and reconciled to the Father.

The Latin word for gospel is evangel, from the Greek word * εὐαγγέλιον* (euaggelion). It is the message of divine, free forgiveness in Christ.

Christians, by definition, are those who believe this gospel. Christians are the forgiven. Christians, sadly, often sin by refusing to forgive others.

The Evangel in Trinity Evangel Church was largely chosen because of seeing this sort of failure to forgive from professing Christians, and committing ourselves to obedience on this front. Paul told the Colossians, “as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13). It’s a big as. Jesus told a parable about the servant who was forgiven much who refused to forgive one who owed him little (Matthew 18:21-35). Jesus taught us to pray, “forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

We thought about being “Evangelical,” but that is too mushy a category anymore. Evangel takes just a little more effort to say, and so to think about. Forgiving just as we’ve been forgiven is supernatural, it is beyond the ability of the flesh, and it absolutely must be proclaimed and practiced by us because our sins are forgiven for His name’s sake (1 John 2:12). “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Forgive your spouse, your children, your brother, your mother, your neighbor. Forgive as you’ve been forgiven.

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I mentioned last week that since we’ve been seeing a number of new families, not just over the last few months, but even over the last year, we want to communicate some of the core things we care about. Even for those who’ve been here many years, well-placed reminders can be edifying.

The name of our local church has reminders built in. The Trinity reminds us that God is the God of love and fellowship. While the realities of Father, Son, and Spirit, co-equal and co-eternal, can be hard to wrap our minds around, it does explain what God wants with us and for us. He wants our fellowship, not just our collection of facts.

At first I planned to spend one week on each of the three parts of our name, but there really is more about the Trinity that is important to apply.

The doctrine of the Trinity is an antidote to idolatry (we learn to exalt the true God), and to the Pharisaism of religious correctness (we learn that the true God wants our love that comes from knowing the truth). It is also the place to start to pull down the errors of identity politics, bigotry, intolerance, and envy.

Identity politics is a new name for an old sin: hating our brother, hating our neighbor, and justifying ourselves by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). We need to be “woke” as much as we need a rusty nail to pierce the arch of our left foot, except the nail might be better. Our job is not to find the most oppressed people group, even less to make our case that we are the most oppressed people group. We ought not look for the most superficial things about us and divide up into respective tribes. Our need is to worship the Triune God.

Each Person of the Trinity has a different role, and they don’t compete or complain about it. The Spirit doesn’t envy the Son’s incarnation, the Son doesn’t chaff against the Father’s authority to delegate, the Father neither wishes that He could be another person or that He’s better than the Son and the Spirit.

Because the world was made and is sustained by the Trinity, male and female don’t need to complete, they complement one another. Because of Him, the eyes and the hands have crucial jobs for sake of the body. Because of Him, we know that “different” isn’t an enemy by default, whether the person has more money or darker skin. Because of Him we know that unity does not require conformity. Because of Him, we know that none of it works if we don’t start by submitting ourselves to what He’s elected.

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We recently had our annual church leaders’ retreat, and in addition to giving thanks for signs of God’s grace among us, we usually spend at least a session discussing any existing or expected challenges. One crossover item, a reason for thanks and for planning, relates to the increase in the number of persons that have been joining us for our corporate worship.

Where to seat everyone is not the biggest question (though those watching in the basement would probably rather not be). How to transmit the heartbeat of this church body, and the lifeblood of our liturgy, these are more important “building” concerns (1 Corinthians 14:12; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Our church is almost 10 years old. All of the men who decided to start it are still attending, and I think more excited about how God has grown us. Because we started it, we gave it a name: Trinity Evangel Church. We named it on purpose.

Every Christian must agree to the doctrine of the Trinity. We are baptized into “the name,” singular, “of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19), one God in three Persons. Each Person of the Trinity is fully, simultaneously, and eternally God, united in one purpose. God has never been alone. That is key. There has never been a moment of existence with only one person. This is why we can say that God has power and wisdom but that He is love.

When God made Adam, He assigned Adam to name all the animals before pointing out to Adam that it was not good for him to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Male and female are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), which means that human beings are made for relationship.

This holds true between God and men as well. This is the problem with sin. Sin separates our fellowship. God sent His Son to die on the cross not primarily so that we could be correct, but so that we could share communion with the Trinity. Our worship on Sundays requires the truth, but the end of our worship is not knowledge, it is love and identity and reconciliation, being made one in Him (John 17:3, 20-21).

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In Revelation 12 we learn that the dragon is an accuser, that he criticizes and condemns the brothers day and night before God (Revelation 12:10).

On one hand, it seems brash. Imagine the chutzpah it takes to come into God’s presence and start charging God’s chosen people with fault before God.

On the other hand, Satan accuses based on God’s own standards. Satan is a liar, but his accusations have an appearance of legitimacy based on God’s law. The “brothers” aren’t guilty of disobeying the devil, they are guilty of disobeying the holy One, and the devil knows it.

Satan doesn’t have to make up things about us. Since he isn’t omniscient, we probably know more than he does about our guilt. Since God is omniscient, He certainly does. What can we do?

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3)

None is righteous, no, not one. (Romans 3:10)

But no accusation is more powerful than Christ’s atonement. Every so often I talk with someone who thinks that his or her sin is too much for Christ to forgive. They believe their sin is too wicked or that they’ve sinned too repeatedly. Whether or not the devil himself is at work directly, or working through his spirit in the world, or even working through someone else taking on that spirit, it’s easy to listen to the accusations.

The good news is that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). The law convicts us, the Spirit points out our disobedience, but the gospel announces justification and reconciliation. “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses again them…. 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 5:19, 21).

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We are always under threat of being devoured. Peter told his readers that the devil prowls around looking for prey (1 Peter 5:8). He is our ancient foe who seeks to work us woe (Martin Luther). In this spiritual battle, remember that being devoured can happen in small bites, and it always starts in the soul.

Being conformed to this world is a way of being devoured (Romans 12:1-2). Taking on the feelings and the envy in the name of “good” will eat a woman to death. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Fill your head with truth.

Learning to scoff is also a way of being devoured (Psalm 1:1). You don’t have have to leave the comforts of your own house for these classes anymore. You can tune in, subscribe, follow, and hit like on a steady stream of wicked counsel, including fearful panic. It’s not CHAZ, it’s CHAFF (Psalm 1:4). Men are consumed by their own complaints which they call “wisdom.”

Fight back, in and from your heart. This is why we should meditate day and night on God’s law (Psalm 1:2). Those who prosper are not the ones who are caught up on their social media feeds, but those who drink from the fountain of God’s Word. Let it wash you. Let it satisfy your thirst. Let it work you you green leaves and fruit in season (Psalm 1:3). Let it work in you courage.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8–9)

We’re 2/3rds through the #SamePageSummer Bible reading plan, and almost 2/3rds through the calendar year. But who knows how far along we are in the spiritual battle. Fasten on the belt of truth by reading Scripture (Ephesians 6:14). Get blessed and bold by getting the Bible into you.

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It’s exciting that it’s almost time for elections. Our state’s primary voting is due Tuesday, and there’s a sense of optimism that maybe enough of “the people” are exasperated enough to vote for change.

Our republic system of government, wherein we have the opportunity (in most cases) to elect our leaders, is a fruit of freedom, and that freedom is a fruit of free men, and free men are a fruit of the gospel. It’s not that voting is a Christian principle per se, but representative authority is God’s own idea.

Plus, to be able to participate in the election of those representatives, and persuading others to vote, may feel a little less futile. There is a sense of possibility for better among us on the cusp of elections. Of course, it seems likely that some of the reason why it’s so crazy is because some powerful people are trying to mess with the elections. Apart from repentance, we certainly deserve more judgment, no matter how we vote.

But the two most important elections occurred before our lifetimes. If you are a believer, God elected You to salvation. Who can bring a charge against you now (Romans 8:33)? The governor can only ruin your business, and your breathing, but he can’t ruin your eternal reward and inheritance. The most important election is when God elected His Son to the throne. Loud voices declare the reality in Revelation 11:15, and God’s people have been singing about it ever since Psalm 2.

Kiss the Son lest He be angry. He will inherit the nations. God elects everything that happens, and this is good news. Worship Him in His sovereignty, and continue to put your hope in Him, even as you put the marks on your ballot.

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Church, let us pray.

Two Sundays ago I talked about praying, in particular, the case of praying for common grace in our culture. One of the passages that I think commends that idea is the beginning of 1 Timothy 2.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior (verses 1-3)

The start of the next paragraph continues beating the same prayer drum.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. (verse 8)

These sorts of prayers should always be made. Consistently our elders include prayers for our government in their corporate supplication. I always pray for our nation and unbelieving neighbors in my corporate prayer of confession for similar reasons. We believe that it is an appropriate time, a more desperate time, for the whole body to be called to prayer, even fasting.

Next Sunday evening (August 2) we have a scheduled service. Though we haven’t finished our series on Kuyperian spheres due to canceled services over the last few months, we plan to continue and extend those messages in the fall. But the elders desire to call the whole church to pray this week and then all together next Sunday night.

It will be different than our previous corporate prayer nights. We will concentrate prayers on our nation, our state, on the executive and legislative and judicial branches, on the upcoming election for various offices and laws. We will pray for grace, for them, for us.

I plan to fast for breakfast and lunch Thursday through Sunday. I would encourage you to join me in making devoted effort to prayer. May God help us.


For reminders about fasting in particular, here are two messages I preached about The New Wine of Fasting – Part 1 and Part 2.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about common grace the last couple months. Common grace includes undeserved good gifts from God to those who won’t worship Him. He makes the sun and rain fall on the unjust (Matthew 5:45), and gives them spouses and kids (Psalm 17:14) and paychecks and a glorious variety of imperial IPAs. He also gifts them with a level of restraint on their own sin, at least to some degree and for some time.

While looking around at what appears to be a decreasing amount of common grace in our culture, at least in terms of morals and values and reason/logic, I’ve wondered if we as Christians should pray that God would give more common grace? Or should we pray for redeeming grace, for saving grace, that deals with their greatest need, not just for what makes a stable society?

Why not both? Only a rocks-for-brains hyper-Calvinist wouldn’t pray for spiritual revival. Of course we pray for God to grant repentance and faith in His Son. But we are also instructed to pray “what we may lead a peaceful and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2:2). The prayers are actually for sake of “kings and all who are in high positions,” that they wouldn’t be stupid, capricious, little bossy-pants waiting to blow.

Our country’s common grace has been quite chunky in our short history, bringing blessing to many who weren’t believing in Jesus. And we can pray for more as it makes men more accountable to God. Asking for common grace for our neighbors isn’t asking for their comfortable ride to eternal hell, it’s remembering that “God’s kindness is meant to lead…to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

So Christians always have a word for unbelievers. Is your life heavy with judgment? See God’s holiness and repent from your transgressions. Is your life filled with good? See God’s generosity and repent from your ingratitude.

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Solomon once wrote that in much wisdom there is much vexation. The more you know, the more you know what could be better, what has been lost, and how difficult it is to hold on to what is good.

You are a flock that has much knowledge. You have been given much, taught much, grown much. I myself have said before that, for my part, I would love to make you the right sort of discontent with less. May your expectations for grace and blessing never diminish.

But, this does put us in a higher level test; we’re in corona graduate school. We are not, for the most part, wondering whether to confess or deny that Jesus is Lord. We’re at the point of seeing how that confession defines our science and politics and businesses and neighbor relations and submission to rulers who aren’t submitting to constitutional laws.

You are among people who read the Constitution, like, the actual words and stuff. You are among people who have their eyes open, who have maturity to make their own decisions rather than be told by the National Guard to stay home. You know that freedom involves risk, that petty rules increase the ineffectiveness of the rules, and that rulers rarely go back to Civics after driving the Lexus of power.

So, Christians, you must be ruthless in mortifying your own will. You must not tolerate the anger of man in yourself. You must resist the worldliness of anxious rage, of woke self-righteousness, of grievances par excellence.

We cannot be the fellowship of (better informed) grievances, the FoBIG, even though it is grace that enables us to care how bad it is. I am exhorting you to fellowship in grace. Expose lies and oppression because you know that Jesus died for your lies and hurtful motives.

It’s one thing to be criticized for being a bunch of complainers it’s another thing if we’re not confessing our sin to Christ.

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