Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It’s A Good Thing

“In his book By Grace Alone, Sinclair Ferguson identifies four major ‘fiery darts’ Satan uses to unsettle believers and rob them of their assurance and peace in the gospel:
·   Fiery Dart 1: ‘God is against you,’ Satan says. ‘He is not really for you. How can you believe he is for you when you see the things that are happening in your life?’
·   Fiery Dart 2: ‘I have accusations I will bring against you because of your sins,’ Satan argues. ‘What can you say in defense? Nothing.’
·   Fiery Dart 3: ‘You can say you are forgiven, but there is a payback day coming—a condemnation day,’ Satan insinuates. ‘How will you defend yourself then?’
·   Fiery Dart 4: ‘Given your track record, what hope is there that you will persevere to the end?’ Satan asks.”[1]
The enemy uses every trick in his effort to get us to doubt our Salvation. One of his most successful lies is fiery dart number one. Haven’t you heard people talk about God as though He is just waiting for us to screw up so He can keep us out of Heaven? It’s almost like the heathen practices where, if we want God’s blessing, we have to appease Him in some way.

Thankfully, because of Jesus’ life and death, we know that’s just not true.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17
Now, fiery dart number two, on the other hand, is 100% true – he has a record of every sin we’ve ever committed. And without Jesus, we have absolutely no defense. Without Jesus we are doomed.
“Satan has an accurate knowledge of the sins that he has tempted God’s people to commit, and he urges his accusations against them, declaring that by their sins they have forfeited divine protection, and claiming that he has the right to destroy them. He pronounces them just as deserving as himself of exclusion from the favor of God. . .  But while the followers of Christ have sinned, they have not given themselves up to be controlled by the satanic agencies. They have repented of their sins and have sought the Lord in humility and contrition, and the divine Advocate pleads in their behalf. He who has been most abused by their ingratitude, who knows their sin and also their penitence, declares: ‘The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan. I gave My life for these souls. They are graven upon the palms of My hands.
They may have imperfections of character; they may have failed in their endeavors; but they have repented, and I have forgiven and accepted them.’” (Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 588, 589)
Fiery dart number three is not far from number two, but Satan brings in the threat of a condemnation or judgment day to up everyone’s anxiety. He has made sure that when most of us, even those of us who claim to rest our assurance of salvation in Jesus, experience some sense of foreboding when we think about a day of judgment. The enemy has twisted and clouded the purpose of the judgment so much that most of us don’t see the promise of freedom within it.

The pre-Advent Judgment, something that is going on right now, is described by Daniel.
“I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.” Daniel 7:21-22
“A judgment was made in favor of the saints…” Does that sound like condemnation? It doesn’t to me. It sounds like Jesus showing God each of our records wiped clean because we have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice in payment for the wages of our sins.
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had pass over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26
As for the last fiery dart, well, we know that Jesus will ensure that anyone who loves Him will spend eternity with Him. He has paid the price for us to enter God’s Kingdom.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3
“For many Americans, the college admissions process is an oppressive and extraordinarily stressful area of life. A number of years ago, I watched as two best friends, Wayne and Dave, applied for early admission at the same college. That December, Wayne was accepted and Dave was deferred. The next four months, during which Dave waited for the final ruling, looked very different—and very similar—for each of them. … No longer under the watchful eye of the all-important transcript, Wayne decided to branch out in his extracurricular activities. He started a band and got into rock-climbing. He even pioneered a program teaching underprivileged kids in the community how to climb. … Meanwhile, Dave got involved in a bunch of extracurriculars … that he thought might boost his chances at getting into his dream college.
“By the end of the semester, Dave was exhausted, and Wayne was full of energy. Although Dave did well and kept up his GPA, Wayne got the best grades of his high school career! Freed from having to play it safe, he wrote his papers about topics he was genuinely interested in, rather than the ones he thought the teacher would appreciate, and it showed on the page. Their paths may not have looked very different to the outside eye, but one of these guys was carrying a burden of expectation and one wasn't. No wonder it felt like such a slog.
“The fruit of assurance in Wayne's life was not laziness but creativity, charity and fun. Set free from the imperative to perform, his performance shot off the charts. Set free from having to earn his future, he enjoyed his present. Set free from the burden of self-focus, he was inspired to serve others—and without being told he needed to do so!"[2]
Because of the pre-Advent judgment, we can live like Wayne, free in the assurance of God’s love for us.

[1] Sinclair Ferguson, By Grace Alone (Reformation Trust, 2010), p. 68
[2] Tullian Tchividjian, "Grace and the Summer of George," Liberate: Tullian Tchividjian blog (4-19-13)

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