Counseling One Another

Helping you grow in God's all-sufficient truth and grace

Counseling One Another

June 30, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on The Holy Spirit’s Power to Convert Sinners

The Holy Spirit’s Power to Convert Sinners

Continuing our thoughts from yesterday’s post on the brightness of gospel light in an ever-darkening world, let’s think about the power of the Holy Spirit to take that same gospel and employ it to rescue sinners out of sinful lifestyles and make them right with God. In 1 Corinthians 6:11, the apostle reminded the believers in Corinth that some of them had been rescued from lives of deep sinfulness (sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, theft and greed, drunkenness, reviling, and swindling) and, therefore, as new creations in Christ they must never return to them. The words “Such were some of you” (6:11) are a bold declaration of the power of the gospel to change lives and lifestyles.

The next word, “but,” highlights a strong contrast between what they were in the past and what they now are in Christ: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This is conversion. This is a turning from sin to God. This is what God’s transforming grace looks like. Gordon Fee writes,

For Paul there is to be the closest possible relationship between the experience of grace and one’s behavior that evidences that experience of grace … But those who concern themselves with grace without equal concern for behavior have missed Paul’s own theological urgencies. It is precisely for these reasons that the warning texts in Paul must be taken with real seriousness. Security in Christ there is, to be sure, but it is a false security that would justify sinners who have never taken seriously “but such were some of you.” That is to whitewash the sinner without regeneration or transformation; Paul simply would not understand such theology.

Some of the believers in Corinth had been rescued from the sins mentioned. Some had been guilty in experience, but all of them possessed the depravity capable of such living. Maintaining this mindset will help us to always minister grace to fellow sinners rather than display a harsh spirit even when God’s Word calls for firm rebuke. Paul describes the transforming work of God in three ways.

God Regenerates Dead Sinners and Forgives

God breathes His life into sinners by the washing of regeneration. Some in Corinth were “washed.” The aorist tense refers to a decisive action in the past. In other words, at the moment God brought spiritual life into these dead sinners, there was a complete washing. Titus 3:5–6 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” The Apostle John refers to Christ as the One who loves us and “released us from our sins by His blood” (Rev. 1:5). We must never disconnect forgiveness from the atoning work of Jesus or we lose the only biblical ground of grace. Forgiveness is free to us, but it was not free for God. It cost the life of His only Son: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Biblical forgiveness is the release of a debt. It is the removal of guilt accumulated before God. The conversion of some in Corinth was the beginning of a brand new life; their past was wiped away or cast “into the depths of the sea,” as Micah prophesies (7:19). “Forgiveness is clearing the rubble of the past so that something fresh and fine may be built in its place.” That is exactly what God does when He saves a sinner and begins a lifelong process of remaking him or her as a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

God Sets Sinners Apart as His Own Possession

Not only does God hurl a sinner’s past into the ocean of His grace, but He also sanctifies the sinner for Himself. “Sanctified” (1 Cor. 6:11) comes from a Greek word that means “to make holy” or “consecrate.” It comes from the root hagios, the word for “holy.” In other words, God calls sinners out of their sin and sets them apart for the purpose of reflecting His holiness in the world. God “saved us and called us with a holy calling” (2 Tim. 1:9).

Sanctification speaks not only of our immediate setting apart at the moment of conversion, but also of God’s ongoing work of spiritual growth in our lives. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). Sanctification, growth in holiness, is the expectation of the Spirit’s work in a believer’s life, “without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Millard Erickson defines sanctification as “the continuing work of God in the life of the believer, making him or her actually holy,” so that the saved sinner bears “an actual likeness to God.”

The believer’s sanctification is threefold: sanctification is positional, in that it refers to God’s calling apart a sinner to Himself (Gal. 1:6); it is progressive, in that it refers to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, conforming him or her to the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 3:10); and is ultimate (glorification), in that it refers to the day when the believer’s standing and present state become one, being completely holy on that day in glory (1 John 3:2; 1 Thess. 5:23).

God Declares Sinners Righteous in Christ

Not only does God regenerate and sanctify sinners, but He justifies them as well. Justification is the legal act whereby God declares the sinner righteous on the basis of empty-handed faith in the all-sufficient death and resurrection of His Son (Rom. 4:25; Phil.3:9). “Legal” is an important word in this definition because it emphasizes the fact that justification is not experiential. Instead, it is an announcement in the “courtroom of heaven.” Justification is not the act whereby God makes us holy; that is sanctification, which is a process. In contrast, justification is a one-time event that forever changes the sinner’s standing before God based on imputed righteousness alone.

Imputed righteousness is the perfect righteousness of Christ credited to our “spiritual account” as a gift of God’s grace, received by faith, at the moment of conversion. A key verse is 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” God the Father imputed our sin to Christ while He hung on the cross. Then the Father judged Jesus in our place as if He were the guilty one. When we believe in Christ and trust in His atoning work on our behalf, the perfect righteousness of God’s Son is imputed to us in place of our sin. God then declares us righteous, treating us as if we had perfectly obeyed His law just as Jesus did. This is the wondrous exchange! As a result, “those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17), “through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Rom. 5:2). This is all of faith, not by works: “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Rom. 3:20); “we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom. 3:28); “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal. 2:16). However, this justification is inseparably married to a living faith that produces works that glorify God (John 15:8; Eph. 2:10; the book of James).

Regeneration, sanctification, and justification—together, these three works of God shout triumphantly of the power of the Holy Spirit in conversion. Charles Hodge says of the Corinthians, “they had been converted, or completely changed. They had put off the old man, and put on the new man. Their sins, considered as filth, had been washed away; considered as pollution, they had been purged or purified; considered as guilt, they had been covered with the righteousness of God.” As we obey God’s command to make disciples of Jesus Christ, we must tell people the truth about how God views sin and, at the same time, hold out hope to those in bondage. For such were some of us.

[This blog post is adapted from Counseling One Another: A Theology of Inter-Personal Discipleship, published by Shepherd Press.]

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June 29, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Gospel Light Is Brightest When It Gets Darker Outside

Gospel Light Is Brightest When It Gets Darker Outside

light in darknessLast week’s Supreme Court decision in favor of homosexual marriage is one that grieves the heart of any true Christian. It brings grief because we know the Scriptures are true when it says that sin is a disgrace to any nation (Proverbs 14:34). But it also grieves us because we are sinners who have experienced the transforming power of the gospel and, therefore, also know that the hearty approval of sin does not do the sinner any favors. Instead it only leads to a deeper hardening of the heart away from God, and a searing of the conscience that cries out its warnings concerning the consequences of rebellion against God. So we grieve, but we do not grieve without hope. Why is that? Because we know that Jesus Christ and His gracious gospel always win. He will win the victory when He returns and He will win now, though it rarely appears that way from the horizontal perspective. We know this because we believe it by faith. Therefore, my prayer for the true church continues to be the same as it has been for decades: “Lord, awaken us. Since judgment shall first come to the household of God, awaken us to our own sinfulness and give us the gracious gift of repentance that we may know You more deeply, obey the Word more faithfully, love others more authentically, and announce the good news of Christ to the nations more fervently.”

Let Us Not Lose Gospel Perspective

You see, one thing that is true of the true church is that we never lose hope, ultimately. Yes, we get discouraged, even angry, but we do not lose hope if our eyes of faith are focused where they should be—on the glory of the risen Christ. And we never lose our perspective when we remember that Jesus will come again to judge the world and claim His bride and when He does He will set all things right. Therefore, let us not lose hope. Let us not lose gospel perspective. Let us remember that the gospel always shines brightest when the world is darkest. Yes, the world is running rapidly downhill toward destruction, but that is because the world is made up of sinners who, in their independence from God, are desperately trying to fill their lives with things that will never satisfy. Until they find rest in Jesus who invites all sinners to find rest in Him (Matthew 11:28), folly will abound still more and more. What is needed now is the same thing that has always been needed, a firm belief in the power of the gospel to transform sinners from the inside out.

Let Us Resurrect the Doctrine of Conversion

Authentic biblical ministry stands in awe of the power of God’s gospel to convert thoroughly sinful men and women from thoroughly sinful thoughts, actions, motives, emotions, and desires to Spirit-generated new creations that reflect the beautiful love and holiness of Jesus Christ—the Lord we are called to follow. God’s vision for making disciples; therefore, requires a theological understanding of the nature and effects of sin and of the work of His sovereign grace; not merely to reform sinners, but to regenerate, redeem, rescue, and thoroughly recreate them by reclaiming them for His own possession. Therefore, we must be convinced that, in order for any natural-born rebel who is against God’s divine sovereignty to come to the place of voluntarily submitting his or her will to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and, as a disciple, obeying His commands, a supernatural revolution must take place in the inner person. Nothing short of an extraordinary work of God via the wonder-working power of the gospel message is required—a work called “conversion.”

A biblical illustration of conversion is seen in the body of believers that God redeemed in the thoroughly sinful city of Corinth. Noted for its immorality, the city contained the temple to Aphrodite, the goddess of fertility, which housed 1,000 temple prostitutes. Its reputation was so well known that to commit sexual immorality was to “corinthianize.” G. Campbell Morgan described Corinth as one of the greatest cities in the Roman Empire, “characterized by wealth, luxuriousness and lust, by extreme cleverness and the arguments of its philosophers. The language used then was supposed to be the highest form of the Greek language. There was a phrase of the time, ‘To speak as they do at Corinth,’ which meant they spoke with accuracy and beauty, and with artistic finish. Corinth was the centre of everything intellectual, on the level of their own philosophies; but it was rotten at heart, utterly corrupt, given over to every manner of lasciviousness.” The good news is that God in His mercy chose to save some out of this corruption.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

These are words of hope. “Such were some of you” (v. 11) is a bold declaration of the power of the gospel to change lives and lifestyles. The next word, “but,” highlights a strong contrast between what they were in the past and what they now are in Christ. This is conversion. This is a turning from sin to God. This is what God’s transforming grace looks like. Let us remember that conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit through the faithful proclamation of the gospel, the light of which can only be seen in the dark.

Tomorrow, we will consider the three miraculous works of the Spirit that take place upon conversion to Christ.

[Much of the content of this blog post is adapted from Counseling One Another: A Theology of Inter-Personal Discipleship, published by Shepherd Press.]

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June 15, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on “Counseling One Another” Now Available as eBook

“Counseling One Another” Now Available as eBook

It’s a pleasure to inform you that a revised and updated edition of the book Counseling One Another is now published by Shepherd Press (originally 2009 by Day One Publications) and is available in eBook form. Print copy will be available in a few months.

This paradigm-shifting book helps believers understand the process of being transformed by God’s grace and truth, and challenges them to be a part of the process of discipleship in the lives of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Counseling One Another biblically presents and defends every believer’s responsibility to work toward God’s goal of conforming us to the image of His Son—a goal reached through the targeted form of intensive discipleship most often referred to as counseling.

All Christians will find Counseling One Another useful as they make progress in the life of sanctification and as they discuss issues with their friends, children, spouses, and fellow believers, providing them with a biblical framework for life and one-another ministry in the body of Christ.

ENDORSEMENTS

This book gets it right! Comprehensive and convincing, Counseling One Another shows how true biblical counseling and preaching fit hand-in-glove. Those who preach, teach or counsel regularly are sure to benefit greatly from this helpful resource.
Dr. John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA

Paul Tautges is fast becoming one of the major names in biblical counseling and pastoral ministry. His Counseling One Another blog and his blog posts and book lists at The Biblical Counseling Coalition are much sought-after resources. They are on the cutting edge of what the Evangelical church needs today to advance God’s work in our broken world.
Bob Kellemen, Executive Director of The Biblical Counseling Coalition

A gathering storm surrounds the day in which we live, a dark hour in which the absolute sufficiency of the Scripture has come under attack. But how refreshing—and rare—to see a book like this that asserts the irresistible power of God’s Word to develop true discipleship by the sovereign working of His Spirit. This is not a ‘trendy book’ like so many, blown about by the prevailing evangelical winds. Rather, here is an anchor for authentic ministry that will stimulate real spiritual growth in God’s people. May the Lord set an open door before this book and use it to affect the lives of many.

Dr. Steven J. Lawson, One Passion Ministries

The ministry of counseling has for too long been relegated to the professional counselor. Paul Tautges brings the biblical command for discipleship right back to the local church and to all believers. He takes the word “counseling,” a word often perceived as being for professionals only (and threatening to average church laymen), and helps to reduce that fear, encouraging believers to fulfill their responsibility by uniquely redefining this ministry biblically as intensely focused and personal discipleship. Rather than send people who are struggling spiritually, socially, and emotionally to a limited group of professionals, Tautges makes the case theologically that all church members have the responsibility to disciple one another and restore hurting people. He makes it clear that it is not just pastors who are responsible for counseling, but it is a “one-another ministry” for all who claim the name of Christ. Counseling One Another is a must-read for all pastors and believers who take Matthew 28 and discipleship in the local church seriously.

Dr. Ron Allchin, NANC Fellow, Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Center, Arlington Heights, Illinois, and author of Ripening Sonship

Like their pastors, most Christians have adopted a professionalized or psychologized view of counseling that naturally excludes uneducated laity. This is why I believe that this book, Counseling One Another, addresses a serious deficiency in the discipleship ministry of Christians within the church. It advocates a radical departure from the status quo and a return to an authentic personal ministry of the Word among Christians through discipleship counseling. It effectively lays the theological foundation for Christians regaining the New Testament priority of addressing personal soul troubles with biblical counsel.

Dr. John D. Street, Chair, Graduate Program in Biblical Counseling, The Master’s College and Seminary, Santa Clarita, California

Get Counseling One Another from Shepherd Press or Amazon.

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June 2, 2015
by Paul Tautges
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Keeping a Journal Is Like Filling Your Pantry

This past Saturday morning, I revisited Lamentations 3:22-25, which has been a significant source of soul food for me over the years. These four verses contain promises and statements about God which are simply amazing in their simplicity and yet deep in their application. Read them.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.

As I meditated on these verses once again, I jotted down in my journal five simple truths that become, for us, stones in the foundation of God-centered faith.

  1. God’s promise-keeping love never stops being displayed toward His children.
  2. His mercies never end.
  3. Like manna was provided each morning to the children of Israel in the wilderness, a new supply of God’s mercies are given to us each morning. His faithfulness toward us is great.
  4. The Lord is good toward those who wait for Him to act and seek Him while they wait. Waiting and seeking, seeking and waiting, delights the Lord.
  5. It is good to wait on the Lord to act. His timing is always precisely perfect, never early and never late.

As we journey through life with Christ, we need to take moments to stop and remind ourselves of truths like these. As we feed on the Word of God each day, we continue to mine fresh truths which speak to our hearts and renew our minds. But the longer we walk with the Lord we also find there are key passages of Scripture that we find ourselves returning to—over and over again. This is one of the soul-strengthening benefits of journaling. By jotting down spiritual lessons that we are learning from God’s Word we store up for ourselves a spiritual pantry to feed upon at other times when the supply feels low. If you are not in the habit of journaling during your daily devotional time, I encourage you to consider starting. You will soon find a rich supply of food for your soul in times of need.

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May 26, 2015
by Paul Tautges
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One Sure Way to Be Unhelpful to Others

One of the most important, yet most neglected, biblical principles to remember when counseling others—especially married couples or others who are experiencing conflict—is found in Proverbs 18:17, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” This truism serves as a warning to all of us to avoid hasty conclusions, which lead to giving hasty (and usually bad) counsel.

No good marriage counselor will listen only to the husband or only to the wife, but will seek the perspective of both. Likewise, no good counselor of those experiencing conflict will listen to only one party, but will seek to understand both parties involved. No legitimate peacemaking role can be played by someone who is so foolish as to think there is only one side to any story. Therefore, understanding and applying Solomon’s teaching is so very important to our ministry of counseling one another. Let’s think about what some faithful commentators have written about Proverbs 18:17.

While explaining the meaning of this proverb, John Kitchen writes, “The first evidence always sounds like the only evidence until further investigation takes place. The two lines of this proverb form one continuous sentence. The context appears to be that of a court of law, yet the principle of the proverbs applies far more widely. The law demanded that judges impartially hear both sides of a dispute (Deut 1:16). This is also essential for a parent, counselor or pastor—anyone who deals with people. Listening before forming a fixed opinion is mandatory, if justice is to be done (Prov 18:2, 13).”

As cross referenced by Kitchen, verse 13 of the same chapter is directly connected to verse 17. Proverbs 18:13 states, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” “Some folk,” writes Kitchen, “think it a mark of wit and intelligence to always have a quick retort to any question or a hasty answer to settle any dispute. This proverb declares that such quick wittiness is, in fact, a sign of dimwittedness. It is a sign of a man’s ‘folly and shame,’ not his cleverness. He reveals that his great preoccupation is not in hearing and understanding, but in showing off his own supposed insight (Prov 18:2). Because of this propensity, he is vulnerable to the loudest and quickest to speak their mind (Prov 18:7; 20:25).”

Allen Ross also wisely contends, “The proverb reminds us that there are two sides in any dispute (legal, domestic, or religious) and that all sides is a dispute must be given a hearing.” To which Bruce Waltke agrees that “the proverb teaches the equality of disputants and instructs the disciple not only to hear both sides of an argument but to demand direct cross-examination before rendering a decision.”

William MacDonald’s counsel to us is simple and practical: “A man should get all the facts before giving his opinion. Otherwise he will be embarrassed when the full details are made known. There are two sides to every question: every divorce, every quarrel, etc. Don’t agree with a person if you have not heard the other person’s side.”

If, in our attempt to be peacemakers, we reach conclusions and make judgments without taking time to practice biblical love, by seeking out and listening to both parties involved, then we are not wise counselors at all, but extremely foolish. Instead of helping the people we claim to care about we do more damage by becoming part of the problem rather than the solution; instead of serving God as a true peacemaker, we serve the flesh and do the devil’s work.

[Originally posted February 19, 2013]

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April 29, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Sinclair Ferguson on Learning Contentment

Sinclair Ferguson on Learning Contentment

It is not uncommon for one chapter to be worth the price of a book. I said that to myself when I finished reading “Learning Contentment,” the tenth chapter in Sinclair Ferguson’s Deserted by God? But then, right after I said that, I realized I had said it several times before—while reading the same book. Pastor Ferguson’s walk through several of the Psalms is a treasure for any believer who is enduring times of affliction and wondering where God is in all of it.

In Chapter 10, “Learning Contentment,” we are led through Psalm 131 in order to learn how and why God sent David to the school of contentment. One point in particular meditates on the first verse, “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high.” Here, Ferguson concludes, David reveals that “he no longer assumes that he knows what is best for himself. This is not to say that his ambitions were necessarily wrong. Many of them were excellent in themselves. There is nothing wrong in aiming high. But David is now concerned that his heart should be set only on what pleases God, and on the purposes which God has for him. He had begun to appreciate a divine logic, which Paul would later underscore: since everything we have, are, or accomplish is because of God’s grace, and leaves us nothing to boast about in ourselves, why do we still go on boasting as though these were our own unaided achievements (see 1 Cor. 4:7)? It is not only illogical, but ugly to do so.”

Ferguson continues illustrating from the life of David, but then touches briefly on Moses and Joseph, too. This is really good stuff, so good that I will continue by quoting a larger portion than I usually would quote from a book.

“David’s life provides a perfect example of what he is talking about here. No doubt, from the moment Samuel had anointed him to be the future king, the seed of godly ambition had been sown in young David’s heart. He had been given an intimation of future greatness. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him and his heart was set on gaining the throne (see 1 Sam. 16:12-13). If it is a noble thing to set one’s heart on being an overseer (1 Tim 3:1), it is surely at least as noble to desire to be a king when God has called to that service. But it is ignoble if that desire puffs us up with self-importance rather than humbles us with a deep sense of privilege. Sadly, that is all too common, even in those God eventually uses.

Joseph seems to be have been guilty of pride and discontent when as a teenager he received prophetic intimations of his own future greatness. Instead of being humbled and asking God to keep him for such service, he boasted insensitively to his brothers (see Gen 37:5-11). It was only after many years of discipline, loss, and specific disappointments that Joseph could be trusted with greatness.

Even Moses’ usefulness seems to have been crippled at first by similar proud impatience. Stephen explains that when Moses killed an Egyptian who was mistreating an Israelite, he ‘supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand’ (Acts 7:25). Moses, too, would face many years of patient discipline until he learned to be content as a humble shepherd in the desert. That made him the meek man who was fit for the greatness God gave him (see Num. 12:3). Certainly in earlier years he could not have said, ‘My heart is not lifted up.’ In fact, his ‘heart’ was ‘raised too high.’ It took great loss and disappointment to empty Moses of Moses.”

And so it is with us. Contentment is a hard lesson to learn, but God’s grace and patience endure as He sends us to the school of contentment so that we become more useful to Him, less filled with ourselves and more filled with Him.

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April 20, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on How Deep the Father’s Love for…Me

How Deep the Father’s Love for…Me

The Holy Spirit often leads me to use hymns for the purpose of self-counseling. Today, I’m counseling myself with the lyrics of “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.” But, since this is self-counseling, I change “Us” to “Me” for the purpose of meditation and personal application–keeping myself in the love of God (Jude 21).

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

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April 13, 2015
by Paul Tautges
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Sovereign Over Us

No matter what valley the Lord is taking, or has taken, you through, let your heart and mind be counseled by the Spirit-filled lyrics of this song. Don’t be surprised if the refrain brings you to tears.

There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

You are wisdom unimagined
Who could understand Your ways
Reigning high above the Heavens
Reaching down in endless grace
You’re the lifter of the lowly
Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me
And Your promises are my delight

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good
You turn it for our good and for Your glory
Even in the valley, You are faithful
You’re working for our good
You’re working for our good and for Your glory

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

[Listen to this song here.]

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April 3, 2015
by Paul Tautges
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Why Did God Kill Jesus?

When the Old Testament prophet Isaiah predicted the suffering of Messiah he said, “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief” (53:10). Why? Why would God the Father be pleased to kill His only begotten Son? The verse goes on to answer that question, “If He would render Himself as a guilt offering.” God was pleased with the obedience of Jesus and the price He willingly paid for the guilt of our sin.

  • God was pleased to display His love for us.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). The required payment for sin is death. Jesus paid that price by dying on the cross and enduring God’s wrath against our sin.

  • God was pleased to raise His Son from the dead.

On the cross Jesus cried, “It is finished.” The debt for sin was paid in full. Three days later, He rose from the dead to prove it. He now lives, and offers eternal life to those who will repent and trust Him. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Rom 10:9-10).

Have you placed the eternal well-being of your soul into the hands of God by trusting in Jesus? If not, cry out to Him today. Jesus said, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37).

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April 1, 2015
by Paul Tautges
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The Triune God Hears and Knows

In prayer we tell God nothing He does not already know. Instead, our prayers acknowledge our awareness of something He has always known and that we regularly forget—that we need Him and cannot live without Him. We need understand more about this God to whom we pray and on whom we depend. Our God is triune, a unity of three persons, with each person playing a role in our every act of prayer.

Father. Prayer touches the tenderness of the heavenly Father’s heart like nothing else, bringing him delight as he comes to the aid of his children (Matthew 7:11).

Son. Each time we pray we demonstrate our dependence on Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God, who is the way, truth, and life—the only way to the Father (John 14:6).

Spirit. The Holy Spirit carries our prayers to the Father’s throne of grace, interpreting our heart’s unutterable longings (Romans 8:26). This is the God who knows us and our struggles far better than we do ourselves.

Today, what burdens do you carry on your heart and mind? Know that God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ hears you when you cry out to Him, the Son of God mediates for sinners who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit translates your heart’s cry according to the will of God.

(Excerpted from Brass Heavens: Reasons for Unanswered Prayer)

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