Jesus said that everyone who sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34). But we have been set free, or redeemed, from sin and death through the payment of a price-the very blood of Christ. We now stand forgiven according to the lavish grace of God who not only sets us free, but reveals how He is bringing all things together under the Lordship of Christ. Jesus is the organizing principle of the universe, and He is able to free completely those who look to Him for grace.
As Luke begins to develop his portrait of Jesus, he begins at the beginning, and gives us an account of the birth of John the Baptist and his cousin, Jesus. Luke weaves together the two accounts to show that even though John the Baptist is a great figure in the outworking of God’s redemption, Jesus is the greatest figure. He alone is the Son of the Most High and the new king, who will occupy the throne of David forever. His kingship and kingdom, foretold long ago, have important applications for us today.
The doctrine of election, or predestination, is highly controversial. Surrounded by misunderstanding on one side and resistance on the other, it often remains an unpolished jewel in the crown of Christian theology. But Paul was not ashamed of the sovereign grace of God. It was the foundation of his eternal life, hope, and praise, and it may be ours as well through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
First century Ephesus was a commercial, religious, and cultural powerhouse, but its man-centered nature made it a place of great exploitation, idolatry, and debauchery. To His beleaguered church in Ephesus, God sent word of His amazing grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. Through the Son whom He loves, He was establishing, uniting, and transforming His people- a work that He continues to this day!
Luke’s gospel gives us a particular portrait of Christ. Why did Luke write it? How did he get his information? How trustworthy is his account? How can we benefit from his approach? These are the questions we’ll be exploring in Luke’s prologue to his gospel.
God knows the struggles we face in this life. The afflictions, the concerns, the sorrows. We often find ourselves besieged from without and disheartened from within. But just when we’re at our lowest point God gives us what we most need: A renewed vision of Himself! As the apostle John discovered, nothing is more glorious or soul-restoring than a glimpse of the power, beauty, and perfection of our Triune God. The One who reigns on high rules over all creation and refreshes the souls of those who look to Him for grace.
“Epiphany” is a word used to describe a life-changing realization that has just dawned on you. In the Church calendar, it’s used to describe the life-changing revelation of Jesus Christ to the gentiles, as seen in His appearing to the wise men. Celebrated twelve days after Christmas, Epiphany is great opportunity to take stock of where we stand before the King of glory. Are we seeking Him? Are we trying to use Him for our own purposes? Are we worshipping Him? True joy is found in giving our lives to the One who first gave His life for us.
Jesus uses a couple of parables to teach us important lessons about prayer, specifically that we should be persistent and insistent in our prayer life. And while these approaches may be counter-intuitive, the Lord wants us to engraft them into our regular prayer life.
One of the most amazing things about Jesus’ final encounter with Peter is that He not only forgave his betrayal, but restored him to a position of leadership. Christ’s love is so deep that it that it not only saves us, but restores us to the places God intended for us from the beginning. Part of the good news of Advent is that there is no life so lost or broken that it cannot be restored by the love of Christ through His work on the cross.
Jesus was not known for aggressive behavior, but following His triumphal entry He zealously drove merchants out of the temple area, overturned the tables of the moneychangers, and barred people from carrying merchandise through the temple courts. What would ignite such a response from our Savior? Nothing short of love for the lost, whose access to the atoning grace of God was being blocked by commercial interests. Our Lord’s first advent was marked by a passion to reach the lost; a passion He imparts to us as we await His second glorious advent.