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O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

God promised to bring salvation through His Messiah as far back as humanity’s first sin in the garden. From that time forward, God gave hints as to when and how He would turn that promise into reality, but it wasn’t fast. Humanity waited at least 4,000 years from the time of the fall to the time of the Christ. Some waited eagerly, looking forward to the time when salvation would be realized and faith would become sight, but many others lived in indifference, as if God’s promise to save meant nothing or perhaps wasn’t true at all. This kind of indifference leads to doubt, which eventually produces rebellion against God, who calls His people and all people to make Him the focus of their trust and the object of their hope. One specific person who rebelled in this way was King Ahaz of Judah. His refusal to trust tested God’s patience and brought the prophecy of sure judgment on the rebellious house of David. But even in the bad news of judgment, the hope of the Messiah, Emmanuel, shone bright. God provided another piece to the puzzle, another hint at when and where, so that those who obediently believed might continue to hope and trust. May we join those who believed, and may we long for Emmanuel to come again. Read More

The Messiah's Authoritative Delegation, 1

Don’t you wish you had the gift and authority to cast out demons and heal every disease? What Jesus accomplished through his disciples in Matthew 10 was truly astonishing. Their excitement, passion and boldness must have surged to new highs after the gifting and support they received from Christ Himself. It is not difficult to wishfully contemplate the amount of good we could do if God would only give us the right amount of resources or the charisma and intellectual ability to change lives and reach the nations of the world. But the truth of it is, God is not impressed with résumés, and He does not depend on the eloquent speaker or the deep pockets of a benefactor to do His work. Our accomplishments and abilities do not justify our worthiness, and our accolades cannot merit us any greatness. Jesus chose and empowered twelve ordinary men as His ambassadors. But as Paul reminds us, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong…” (1 Cor. 1:27). Read More

The Messiah's Authoritative Forgiveness

That God offers forgiveness for free is a fact that we believe, but it’s one that can be hard for people to accept. The reality of our sinfulness complicates this for us in a couple of a ways. Some of us may think that we are too bad to deserve God’s forgiveness. Now on one level, this is right: Of course, we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness; that’s why it’s grace. But on another level, this is wrong because we try to punish and condemn ourselves with guilt thinking we might appease the wrath that we know we deserve. This is a mockery of God’s forgiveness and mercy. On the opposite extreme, some of us think that we are too good to need forgiveness. This stems from an inflated view of our own self-righteousness. We compare ourselves to tax collectors and sinners and miss the fact that Jesus Christ came to call sinners to repentance. This amounts to a gospel denial, because it denies that the core gospel truth of human sinfulness applies to us personally. We must fight both of these unbiblical attitudes toward God’s forgiveness so that we might accept the free offer of imputed righteousness through Jesus Christ. May God make us aware of our sinfulness and His grace in forgiveness so that His glory might be magnified in our salvation. - Pastor Rory Martin Read More