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Monday, December 7, 2015
Ester took this photo early yesterday morning from our church parking lot. There was a thick fog but the brilliance of the sun breaking through outlined the buildings and fields as we traveled to church, and it was an amazing sight to behold.
Click on photo for larger version
"Thine All Sufficient Merit"
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"He (God) made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9).
We are saved by God's mercy, not by our merit
by Christ's dying, not by our doing. *¹
We had a beautiful frosty and foggy morning yesterday. In fact as we prepare today's message we have similar conditions. Brooksyne alluded to the fog many drove through to get to church and shared some thoughts as she led in the worship service concerning the events in our life that appear foggy. She referred to a period in Bible history known as the intertestamental period when the faithful awaited the first advent (coming) of the promised Messiah. Some have called this the "Silent Period" since there were no Biblical books or history written for 400 years following Malachi's ministry. This was very likely a foggy period for the faithful as they awaited their long expected Messiah.
Among the songs we sang yesterday was "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" written by Charles Wesley. Like so many of Wesley's texts, this song alludes to one or more Scripture passages in virtually every phrase. The dual nature of Advent is reflected, in which we remember Christ's first coming even while looking for His promised return. Stanzas 1 and 2 recall Advent prophecies in the Old Testament; Stanza 3 speaks of Christ's birth and kingdom, and Stanza 4 is a prayer inviting Christ to set up His throne right within our hearts.
The lyrics are loaded with spiritual truth, but one line that especially grips my heart each time we sing it are the words in the fourth stanza: "By Thine all sufficient merit." These words have a rich theological meaning expressing what is known theologically as imputed righteousness. That is, Christ's righteousness is reckoned (imputed) on our behalf. It is His merit and not our own which is the basis of our salvation. And His merit is all sufficient, once for all, nothing more needed!
The Creator Worship blog elaborates on this concept, "We speak of Christ’s all sufficient grace though never frequently enough. It occurred to me that we would never have that grace if it were not for His all sufficient merit. In what respect is it all sufficient? His merit is sufficient to raise sinners who trust Him to His glorious throne where He sits at the right hand of the Majesty on High. I am there positionally now and bodily one day to worship and thank Him for His all sufficient merit that bought His all sufficient grace for me."
These are a number of Bible texts that teach imputed righteousness and we link to a list below. However today let us consider our first daily text. "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Bible teacher Phillip Hughes states regarding this passage, "In these few direct words the Apostle sets forth the gospel of reconciliation in all its mystery and all its wonder. There is no sentence more profound in the whole of Scripture; for this verse embraces the whole ground of the sinner’s reconciliation to God."
C.H. Spurgeon explains, "Christ was not guilty, and could not be made guilty; but He was treated as if He were guilty, because He willed to stand in the place of the guilty. Yea, He was not only treated as a sinner, but He was treated as if He had been sin itself in the abstract. This is an amazing utterance. The sinless one was made to be sin."
Probably the most famous verse on grace in the Bible is Ephesians 2:8,9: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast." Here we see a clear distinction between God's grace and man's works (our merits). All of this grace was given to us in Jesus Christ. We could not earn it; we did not merit it. This is the grace of God! It is truly a result of Christ's all sufficient merit. So next time you sing joyfully and thankfully declare:
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Gracious Father, through no merits of our own, but because of Your great compassion and our surrendered will, we are redeemed and receive full benefits as Your children. For while we were still helpless and living in sin, Jesus demonstrated His love for us when He died for our sins, even while we were defiant in our trespasses and sins. No treasure or gift can compare with the gift of salvation freely given to all who will receive Your Son who did not come to condemn the world but came that the world through Him might be saved. Thank You for accepting the all-sufficient merit of Jesus who gave His all-sufficient mercy that we might receive His all-sufficient forgiveness and receive eternal life. Amen.
*¹ From the "Our Daily Bread"
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D.J. Paglia was guest speaker at our church yesterday and I was asked to introduce him. Ester photographed this photo as I was praying for him before he shared his sermon. I met D.J. (Doc) right after moving to Lancaster County in 2001, introduced by our mutual friend Don Musser. He has remained very active in ministry since "retiring" after serving a congregation in North Carolina over 25 years ago. He and his wife Anna Mary also serve as corporate chaplains to a local cabinet company.
Although now in his late eighties D.J preached a powerful sermon reminding the congregation that God is in control. This was the first time I ever heard him preach and his sermon was amply sprinkled with Scripture verses he had memorized.
D.J. broke his pelvis several weeks ago but seemed to get around just fine yesterday.
Yesterday Nelson, who owns an orchard, brought apples to share with the congregation and displayed them nicely at the church entrance. What a pleasant sight as you enter church and even more pleasant as people lined up to fill their bags! We had some crispy York apples for breakfast this morning and they were very good!
The Pierce kids munching on their apples!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus " Video Glenn Ellyn Chorale (Traditional version)
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
"This Is Love / Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" Video Paul Baloche & Kathryn Scott
"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" Video Sandra McCracken & Derek Webb
I found two additional stanzas for "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" written by Mark Hunt:
Joy to those who long to see thee,
Dayspring from on high, appear
Come thou promised Rod of Jesse,
Of thy birth we long to hear!
O’er the hills the angels singing news, glad tidings of a birth
“Go to him, your praises bringing
Christ the Lord has come to earth.”
Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end;
By his life he brings us gladness,
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number, born within a cattle stall;
This the everlasting wonder,
Christ was born the Lord of all.
"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" (Instrumental) Video Casting Crowns
"Why does Christ's righteousness need to be imputed to us?" Teaching from GotQuestions.org
The Creator Worship blog article quoted from above.
"The Sufficiency of Christ's Obedience in His Life and Death" Article by Pastor John Piper
Scripture verses on imputed righteousness
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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