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Sunday's Hymn: Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above

Sing praise to God who reigns above, the God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love, the God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul is filled and every faithless murmur stilled:
To God all praise and glory.

What God’s almighty power hath made His gracious mercy keepeth,
By morning glow or evening shade His watchful eye ne’er sleepeth;
Within the kingdom of His might, Lo! all is just and all is right:
To God all praise and glory.

The Lord is never far away, but through all grief distressing,
An ever present help and stay, our peace and joy and blessing.
As with a mother’s tender hand, God gently leads the chosen band:
To God all praise and glory.

Thus, all my toilsome way along, I sing aloud Thy praises,
That earth may hear the grateful song my voice unwearied raises.
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart, both soul and body bear your part:
To God all praise and glory.

Let all who name Christ’s holy name give God all praise and glory;
Let all who own His power proclaim aloud the wondrous story!
Cast each false idol from its throne, for Christ is Lord, and Christ alone:
To God all praise and glory.

Jo­hann J. Schütz

Other hymns, worship songs, sermons etc. posted today:

Have you posted a hymn (or sermon, sermon notes, prayer, etc.) today and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by contacting me using the contact form linked above, and I’ll add your post to the list.


The Cross of Christ: The Salvation of Sinners  

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted on a reading from John Stott’s The Cross of Christ as part of Reading Classics Together at Challies.com. This week’s reading was Chapter 7, The Salvation of Sinners

In this chapter, Stott examines four images of atonement: propitiation, redemption, justification and reconciliation. I’d heard the word metaphor used in regards to the different ways of viewing the atonement, but I’d not heard anyone use the term images. I like it, because these are all different ways of seeing one multi-faceted act, and describing them as images is a perfect way to express this.

I was also pleased to see that Stott relies on (and recommends) Leon Morris’s work when explaining what the four images of atonement tell us. Morris’s work is still one the best resources we have on the atonement and I’d like to see it read more.

Instead of giving a summary of the whole chapter, I’m going to focus on a few things this chapter teaches us about justification. Stott chooses four of the phrases Paul used in regards to justification and tells us what we can learn from them.

  1. Justified by his grace. This phrase explains the source of justification. It comes to us from God’s undeserved favor.
    Self-justification is a sheer impossibility (Rom 3:20). Therefore, “it is God who justifies” (Rom 8:33); only he can. And he does it “freely (Rom 3:24, dōrean, “as a free gift, gratis”), not because of any works of ours, but because of his own grace.
  2. Justified by his blood. This phrase shows us the ground of justification. Justification is based on Christ’s work.
    When God justifies sinners he is not declaring bad people to be good, or saying that they are not sinners after all; he is pronouncing them legally righteous, free from any liability to the broken law, because he himself in his Son has borne the penalty of their law-breaking.
  3. Justified by faith. Faith is the means of justification. “[F]aith’s only function is to receive what grace freely offers.” And since faith is only the means of justification—not the ground—it is the only means of justification.
    For unless all human works, merits, cooperation and contributions are ruthlessly excluded, and Christ’s sin-bearing death is seen in it’s solitary glory as the only ground of our justification boasting cannot be excluded.
  4. Justified in Christ. This phrase points to the effects of our justification. It “points to the personal relationship with him which by faith we now enjoy.” Justification “cannot be isolated from our union with Christ and all the benefits this brings.”

There you are, just a short summary of a section of what Stott teaches us about justification in this long and meaty chapter. Next up is chapter 8, The Revelation of God.


Thankful Thursday


What blessings have I had this week? Well, for one thing, at this time last week I was travelling, sick, and wondering how I was ever going to get through the next week and get all the things done that I needed to do. But here I am, a week later, at home, done with my four dental appointment (They all went well enough, including the surgery.), the garden is in, all the vegetables are washed and stored, and the house is once again in decent order. It is only all taken care of by the grace of God and I am thankful.

I’m thankful, too, for vets and their medicine, because even though Leroy doesn’t live with me anymore, I still think he’s a pretty great cat. He jumped on a hot wood stove earlier this week and burned all four feet, which is, apparently, a more serious accident than you might think. After an overnight stay in the kitty hospital, he’s back home and mending nicely, thanks to a little morphine and antibiotics. And especially thanks to our heavenly Father who gives wisdom to veterinarians and directs their healing hands.

I have so many other blessings I could list, too, but I’ll just go straight to this biggie: I’m thankful for my dad and the testimony of his life. I’m thankful for the hope of eternity with him and with my heavenly Father. Once again—because I think I’ve said this before—I’m thankful for those mysterious words from 1 Thessalonians: “so we will always be with the Lord.”

Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others.


My Dad Was A Cowboy

As you know, my dad passed away on September 10. At the memorial service, there was mention of his past as a cowboy, and I remembered this old post from the old blog. Originally there was a photo of my dad as a young boy dressed up like a cowboy, but that’s gone now, and I can find neither the photo nor the scan of the photo to upload to this repost, so I’ve had to make do without it.

When my sons were little, they wanted to be pirates or superheroes. When my dad was little, his dream was to be a cowboy. My boys dressed up as pirates and superheroes, but my dad dressed up as a cowboy. I have a photo of him as a boy dressed in chaps and a bandana, holding a lasso, looking pleased with himself.

My boys haven’t grown up to be pirates or superheroes, but my dad did live out the dream he had as a little boy living on a farm in western Kansas. After he served in the military, he worked on a ranch in Kit Carson, Colorado. He loved his work riding the range and he didn’t plan to ever be anything but a cowboy.

But sometimes other dreams take you by surprise. One day my cowboy dad was listening to the radio. I don’t remember the name of the program he was listening to, but it included a presentation of the gospel. The Spirit “blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes,” and that day the Spirit blew across the open range of Colorado and a cowboy was reborn.

Before long, the cowboy had a different dream, and he became a student at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennesee. Next he was a pastor of a little church in Belleview, Idaho; then a student again (this time at Wheaton College in Illinois); and after that a pastor and professor in northern Minnesota. He’s now retired from teaching, but he still lives in Minnesota, where he co-pastors a little country church.*

What happened to the cowboy dream? The interest didn’t die, at least not completely. My dad bought a horse in Minnesota, but once the horse was thoroughly trained, the fun went out of it for him. My family sometimes went to Idaho in the summer so my dad could help out on my uncle’s ranch, but though he really loved those breaks from his work and study, the cowboy life wasn’t his dream anymore. He had a new dream: to be a servant.

I wonder what the Spirit can make of former pirates and superheroes?

*He was still working in that little church up until a few weeks before he died, still living out his servant dream. You can read a few tributes to him here.


Round the Sphere Again: Justification

Just As If
“Covered in his seamless righteousness, Jesus’ perfect obedience becomes ours (Jared Wilson).” 

Not My Own
I spent part of today listening to this (Phil Johnson).

Have you ever thought about the question, “How was that publican justified?” Jesus specifically says, “He went down to his house justified.” What justified him? I’ll tell you. There’s only one possible answer. Her received a righteousness that was not his own. It was an alien righteousness. It came to him from an external source. Just like, Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” That is the righteousness which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God which depends on faith. That is the only ground on which any of us can ever stand before God. We can’t engineer a sufficient righteousness of our own. If Saul of Tarsus couldn’t do it, you and I for sure can’t. And that is exactly what Scripture tells us over and over again. We must seek a righteousness that is not our own, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.

It’s impossible to grow tired of hearing the good news of imputed righteousness. Really.