DashHouse.com

The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

The Pain of the Cross

  • if you like pain, there's something wrong with you
  • yet the truth is, nobody will ever experience the sort of pain Jesus did on that Good Friday so long ago
  • as Jesus came closer to the cross, his suffering intensified
  • he told his disciples:
  • (Matthew 26:38) Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death."
  • Jesus was in anguish over his approaching death - not only the physical pain, but the separation from God, and the pain of bearing the sins of the world
  • I think it's safe to say that nobody will ever experience the sort of pain that Jesus did

  • I'd invite you to consider with me four types of pain that Jesus experienced at the cross
  • these come from Wayne Grudem's study of the Atonement in his Systematic Theology
  • THE FIRST TYPE OF PAIN JESUS EXPERIENCED WAS PHYSICAL PAIN AND DEATH
  • some people have died pretty awful deaths
  • the Bible never claims that the physical death that Jesus experienced is more painful than what anyone has ever experienced
  • but make no mistake: death by crucifixion was one of the most horrible forms of execution ever devised by man

  • Mark says curtly:
  • (Mark 15:24) And they crucified him.
  • if you lived at that time, you would have a pretty vivid picture of what crucifixion involved
  • now we have some idea, but the ugliness of that death is somewhat lost on us
  • death by crucifixion essentially involved slow death by suffocation
  • the criminal being crucified would have his arms outstretched, and a nail would be driven through the wrist, through median nerve, the largest nerve going from the hand
  • the pain would be worse than that terrible pain felt when you bang your funny bone - you know how painful that is
  • the two feet would be placed together, one on top of the other, and a nail would be driven through them
  • the cross would be raised, and the criminal would have a choice
  • either he could support most of the weight of his body with his arms, in which case his chest cavity would be pulled upward and outward, making it difficult to breath
  • or, when the criminal finally had to breath, he could push himself up with his feet, which would be excruciatingly painful, because it put all his weight on the nails holding the feet, and pulled upwards on the nails that went through the wrists
  • don't forget that the criminal's back had been torn open repeatedly by a previous flogging, and it would scrape against the cross with every breath
  • eventually, amid great pain, the one being crucified would die of asphyxiation
  • you wouldn't want to die that way!

  • in some cases, crucified men would survive for several days, nearly suffocating but not quite
  • the English word "excruciating" comes from "the cross"
  • this is the physical pain that Jesus experienced for you and for me

  • but this wasn't the only type of pain that Jesus experienced
  • HE ALSO EXPERIENCED THE PAIN OF BEARING SIN
  • how do you feel when you have sinned?
  • many of us know the anguish of letting God down
  • we feel terrible, even tortured when we carry the weight of a terrible sin
  • even more so when the sin is a significant one
  • and this only intensifies as we grow closer to God

  • remember that Jesus was perfectly holy
  • Jesus hated sin with his entire being
  • yet, out of obedience to the Father, and out of love for us, Jesus took upon himself all the sins of those who would one day be saved
  • he took upon himself all the evil against which his soul rebelled
  • every sin of every person who would one day believe was born on that cross by Jesus
  • (Isaiah 53:6) We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
  • (2 Corinthians 5:21) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • (1 Peter 2:24) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
  • as the hymn says:
  • He took my sins and my sorrows; He made them his very own.
  • He bore the burden to Calvary and suffered and died alone.

  • I have a friend who is allergic to animal hair
  • we were walking through the Canadian National Exhibition's farm exhibit when she started to gasp
  • we had to get out of that building pretty fast, or she literally would have died
  • her system reacted so strongly to animal hair that she couldn't stand to be around animals for even a few minutes
  • the reaction that God has to sin is much stronger than that
  • God can't abide being in the presence of sin
  • he hates it!
  • and yet Jesus willingly took upon himself our sins - all of our sins - just so that we could be forgiven by God

  • not only did Jesus experience physical pain and the pain of bearing our sins,
  • JESUS ALSO EXPERIENCED THE PAIN OF ABANDONMENT
  • you know when I really need my friends?
  • in times of trouble
  • when we are going through difficult times, that is when we really need our friends
  • Jesus was going through his darkest hour, and he cried out to his closest friends for their support:
  • (Mark 14:34) "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
  • and they let him down
  • his friends deserted him

  • when he was arrested, do you remember what happened?
  • (Matthew 26:56) Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
  • these are the disciples of whom it is written:
  • (John 13:1) It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
  • these disciples, to whom Jesus had revealed his love, now turned their backs on him and left him

  • even worse is the abandonment of the Father
  • from eternity Jesus had joined uninterrupted fellowship with the Father
  • even on earth, his deepest joy was his fellowship with the Father
  • it was the one unfailing source of inward strength in and joy in a life filled with sorrow
  • when Jesus bore our sins on the cross, he was abandoned by the Father, who is "of purer eyes than to behold evil" (Habakkuk 1:13)
  • he cried out:
  • (Matthew 27:46) About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
  • he was abandoned, temporarily, by his own heavenly Father, for the first time in eternity
  • one preacher put it this way: "His body was being destroyed in the worst possible way, but that was a flea bit compared to what was happening to his soul."

  • if a mild acquaintance denounces and rejects you - so be it
  • if a good friend does the same, the hurt is much worse
  • but if your spouse walks out on you, that's even more devastating
  • the longer, deeper, and more intimate the relationship, the more tortuous the separation
  • the Son's relationship with the Father was eternal and infinitely greater than the most intimate and passionate human relationship
  • when Jesus was cut off from God, it caused pain in him that none of us can imagine

  • so Jesus experienced physical pain and death, the pain of bearing sin, the terrible pain of being abandoned by his friends and God
  • AND JESUS ALSO EXPERIENCED THE PAIN OF THE WRATH OF GOD
  • God is angry with sin
  • and when Jesus bore the guilt of our sins upon the cross alone, "God the Father, the mighty Creator, the Lord of the universe, poured out on Jesus the fury of his wrath: Jesus became the object of the intense hatred of sin and vengeance against sin which God had patiently stored up since the beginning of the world" (Wayne Grudem)

  • Romans 3:25 says:
  • (Romans 3:25 NLT) For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made write with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was entirely fair when he did not punish those who sinned in former times.
  • it's a myth that God simply forgot about sin and the punishment for sin in generations before Jesus
  • he had forgiven sins, but stored up his righteous anger, generation after generation
  • at the cross all the fury of this stored-up wrath was unleashed against Jesus
  • the pain would have been immense

  • the Bible says:
  • (Hebrews 10:31) It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
  • Jesus fell into the hands of the living God, in all his anger
  • he became the propitiation for our sins
  • propitiation is a word that means "a sacrifice that turns way the wrath of God, thereby making him favorable toward us"
  • God demanded that sin be paid for
  • and Jesus paid for the sin

  • Wayne Grudem writes:

    To bear the guilt of millions of sins for even a moment would cause the greatest anguish of soul. To face the deep and furious wrath of an infinite God for even an instant would cause the most profound fear. But Jesus' suffering was not over in a minute - or two - or ten. When would it end? Could there be yet more weight of sin? Yet more wrath of God? Hour after hour it went on - the dark weight of sin and the deep wrath of God poured over Jesus wave after wave. Jesus at last cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Why must this suffering go on so long? Oh God, my God will you ever bring it to an end?

  • this is the payment that Jesus made on our behalf on the cross

  • Jesus bore the punishment for us when he died
  • you can see that his death involved much more than physical agony
  • he also suffered from the weight of our sins, abandonment, and the fury of God

  • now think
  • Christ bore all the guilt of our sins
  • the bore the full wrath of God against sin, and the penalty that we deserved
  • if you are a believer, your account has been marked "paid in full"
  • as the song says, "Jesus paid it all; all to him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow"

  • think about what made him bear all this suffering
  • it was your sins and my sins
  • the Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 that we are all sinners
  • (Romans 3:23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  • heaven saw this sin-problem and its tragic consequences:
  • (Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • this is a gift offered to us all
  • I read an article by Mart DeHaan this week that tells us about this free gift:
  • it's a gift offered to all
  • God offers this gift to everyone
  • he is no respecter of persons
  • he does not defer to wealth or poverty
  • he doesn't favor good looks or plainness
  • he doesn't care if you're intelligent or average
  • he offers this gift to every person of every nation and social status

  • this gift is needed by all
  • all of us need this gift, because no one can merit eternal life
  • all of us from birth have been guilty of rebellion against God
  • nobody could come up with a substitute for this gift

  • this gift cannot be deserved
  • there is nothing we can do to earn the mercy, love, or forgiveness of God
  • Paul wrote:
  • (Ephesians 2:8) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--
  • (Ephesians 2:9) not by works, so that no one can boast.
  • no one can earn the gift of salvation
  • (Romans 4:5 NLT) But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work.

  • this gift has been paid for
  • the gift which we can't earn has been fully paid for and is available in our name
  • all legal debts can be cancelled as soon as we accept the offer
  • here's the deal:
  • "Christ's life for our life; his righteousness for our wrongs; his purchase for our willingness to be bought, released and adopted into the family of heaven"

  • this gift must be accepted by faith
  • there is only one condition for receiving this gift: belief
  • we must believe that we are sinners; that Jesus Christ died for our sins; that God wants to give life and forgiveness to all who will believe that Christ died for their sins
  • without faith, we cannot receive this gift
  • only those who trust God can know that he is their only hope for eternity

  • Jesus suffered the pain of the cross to give us this gift
  • thank God that he loved us enough to do this for us!
  • the question for you is clear:
  • will you accept this gift?

The Grace of God

  • please open your Bibles to Ephesians 2
  • (Ephesians 2:6) And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
  • (Ephesians 2:7) in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
  • (Ephesians 2:8) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--
  • (Ephesians 2:9) not by works, so that no one can boast.

  • in his book The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey tells the story of a friend who works with the down-and-out in Chicago:

    A prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter - two years old! - to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. For one thing, it made me legally liable - I'm required to report cases of child abuse. I had no idea what to say to this woman.

    At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, na?ve shock that crossed her face. "Church!" she cried. "Why would I ever go there? I was already felling terrible about myself. They'd just make me feel worse"

  • the crying need of this world is to understand God's grace
  • the woman in this story needs God's grace, and she also needs to find a church that believes in and lives God's grace
  • Jesus is never recorded as using the word grace, but his life was full of it
  • he was friends with prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners
  • he pardoned a woman caught in adultery
  • he exhibited God's kindness to people who only deserved judgment

  • this morning - one week away from Easter Sunday - we're going to look at one of God's most surprising qualities
  • it's a quality, that if properly understood and lived out in this church, will draw person after person into this church and into the kingdom
  • it's my goal this morning to clearly communicate what God's grace means
  • this morning I'm going to preach the gospel of grace that is so easily misunderstood, and highlight one of God's amazing attributes - his grace
  • grace means that God deals with his people not on the basis of what they deserve, but according to his goodness and generosity
  • but I'm going to go further than this definition and tell you exactly what grace means
  • three things:
  • NUMBER ONE: GOD'S GRACE MEANS THAT WE DON'T HAVE TO EARN OUR SALVATION
  • another version renders Ephesians 2 this way:
  • (Ephesians 2:8 NLT) God saved you by his special favor (grace) when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
  • (Ephesians 2:9 NLT) Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
  • (Ephesians 2:10 NLT) For we are God's masterpiece.

  • you see, this is completely contrary to human thinking
  • in life, everything is predicated on performance
  • we're taught as children that if we want something, we have to earn it
  • as adults, if you want a promotion, you need to put in long hours and extra effort
  • if you want a sales award, you've got to post the numbers
  • if you want to succeed, we're told that we have to make it happen ourselves

  • we approach God in the same way
  • we think we have to somehow earn salvation by our righteous deeds
  • the only problem is what the Bible says about our righteousness:
  • (Isaiah 64:6) All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
  • to paraphrase Isaiah, our most righteous acts - our Sunday best - are like service station "grease rags"
  • they're dirty laundry
  • noble deeds could never get us into heaven, no matter how hard we try
  • our efforts fall pitifully short

  • then God comes along and says, "My grace means you don't have to earn salvation"
  • Philip Yancey writes:
  • God dispenses gifts, not wages. None of us gets paid according to merit, for none of us comes close to satisfying God's requirements for a perfect life. If paid on the basis of fairness, we would all end up in hell. In the words of Robert Farrar Capon, ‘If the world could have been saved by good bookkeeping, it would have been saved by Moses, not Jesus.'

  • you need to realize that this is different from every other religion
  • only the God of the Bible says that we don't have to earn our salvation
  • during a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if anything, is unique to the Christian faith
  • they began eliminating possibilities
  • is it the incarnation? other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form
  • is it the resurrection? once again, other religions had accounts of gods appearing in human form
  • eventually, C.S. Lewis wandered into the room
  • "What's all the rumpus about?" he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity's unique contribution among world religions
  • Lewis responded, "Oh, that's easy. It's grace."
  • the conferees had to agree
  • "The notion of God's love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct of humanity. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of karma, the Jewish covenant, and Muslim code of law - each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God's love unconditional" (Philip Yancey)

  • (Titus 3:3) At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
  • (Titus 3:4) But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
  • (Titus 3:5) he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
  • (Titus 3:6) whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
  • (Titus 3:7) so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
  • God saved us - not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy!
  • we don't have to earn salvation!

  • many people try to earn salvation by their good deeds
  • but no matter how many good deeds we accomplish, it's still not enough
  • along comes God, and he says, "I'll give you my Son, to earn salvation on your behalf. Salvation, adoption into God's family, and eternal life are my gifts to you - completely free of charge"
  • that's some offer
  • listen: fact number one is that God's grace means that we don't have to earn our own salvation
  • Christ has already done that for us

  • NUMBER TWO: GOD'S GRACE MEANS THAT WE DON'T HAVE TO WORRY THAT OUR SINS ARE TOO GREAT
  • Martin Luther wrote to his friend:
  • "If you are a preacher of grace," he said, "do not preach a fictitious, but a true, grace; and if the grace is true, carry a true, and not a fictitious sin. Be a sinner and sin vigorously..."
  • and then he wrote, "It is sufficient that we recognize through the wealth of God's glory, the lamb who bears the sin of the world; from this, sin does not sever us, even if thousands, thousands of times in one day we should fornicate or murder"
  • are you shocked by what Luther wrote?
  • "sin boldly...for sin does not sever us, even if thousands, thousands of times in one day we should fornicate or murder"
  • L uther was using hyperbole to make an important point: sin can never overpower God's grace
  • we never have to worry that our sin is too great for God's grace

  • most of us know the embarrassment of bouncing a check
  • but God has no problem covering his checks
  • God's grace is so inexhaustible, so unlimited in its supply, that it never runs out
  • (Romans 5:20) But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.
  • this could literally be translated, "Where sin abounds, grace super-abounds"

  • someone asked theologian Karl Barth what he would say to Adolf Hitler, and he replied: "Jesus Christ died for your sins"
  • Ron Nikkel, who heads up Prison Fellowship International, gives a message to prisoners in which he says:
  • "We don't know who will make it into heaven. Jesus indicated a lot of people will face surprises: ‘Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven.' But we do know that some thieves and murderers will be there. Jesus promised heaven to the thief on the cross, and the apostle Paul was an accomplice to murder."

  • grace has no limit!
  • we never have to worry that our sins are too great!
  • Paul wrote:
  • (1 Timothy 1:13) Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
  • (1 Timothy 1:14) The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
  • (1 Timothy 1:15) Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.
  • one of the devil's most dangerous lies is that our sins are too great for God's grace
  • let me tell you this morning - God's grace has no limits!
  • no matter what sins you have committed, in the distant past or even in the recent past, God's grace is able to cover those sins and more
  • wouldn't it be great if we preached this message loud and clear, so that prostitutes, thieves, and immoral people would realize that we have good news for them
  • what an amazing fact, that our sins are never too great for God

  • NUMBER THREE: GOD'S GRACE MEANS THAT WE DON'T HAVE TO LIVE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE BY OUR OWN EFFORT
  • there are a lot of people who believe we're saved by grace, but once we're saved, they act like we live the Christian life by human effort
  • they believe that we're saved by grace but live but live by effort
  • but Paul wrote to the Galatians:
  • (Galatians 3:3 NLT) Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

  • have you ever seen a church that tries to live by external rules - do this, don't do that
  • at one time, the list included coed swimming, wearing shorts, jewelry, or makeup, dancing, bowling, and reading the Sunday paper
  • the old Baptist creed, "We don't smoke, we don't chew, we don't go with girls who do"
  • do you know the problem with these rules?
  • if rules were enough, we wouldn't need grace!
  • we certainly weren't saved by works, and we're not going to live the Christian life by conformity to external standards!

  • some people have gone to the other extreme, and said that since we're saved by grace, we can live however we want
  • they haven't read Romans 6 or Titus 2:11-12
  • God accepts us the way we are - but he certainly doesn't want us to stay that way

  • but don't ever try to live the Christian life on your own effort!
  • don't ever become enslaved to manmade rules!
  • having been saved by grace, don't begin to live the Christian life on the performance treadmill, thinking that you can earn God's favor by your acts of righteousness
  • as Philip Yancey writes:
  • "Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more - no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries and divinity schools, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less - no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love"

  • the key is to love God; everything else falls out from that
  • both Jesus and Paul summed up all the law in the simple command, "Love God"
  • Augustine made the famous statement, "If you but love God you may do as you incline," and he was making a good point
  • what God calls us to is not a set of external standards
  • he calls us to a divine love, out of which our good works will naturally follow - apart from human effort

  • if we properly understand God's grace, we'll get of the performance treadmill
  • let me ask you some questions, taken from Jerry Bridge's book, Transforming Grace
  • these questions will reveal if you're trying to live the Christian life on your own strength
  • you know you don't understand God's grace when...
  • you live with a sense of God's disapproval
  • you feel sheepish bringing your needs before the Lord when you've just failed Him.
  • you think of His grace as something that makes up the difference between the best you can do and what he expects from you.
  • you feel you deserve an answer to prayer because of your hard work and sacrifice.
  • you assume that 1 John 1:9 no longer applies because you've sinned too much.
  • you feel more confident before Him if you've been faithful with your Christian disciplines (prayer, quiet time, witnessing, etc.).
  • you can't honestly say you see yourself as "blameless" in His eyes.
  • you don't really believe He likes you.
  • you can think of someone to look down on.
  • you shy away from asking God for things because you think it annoys Him.
  • you think of the Christian life as "the cost of discipleship" rather than the chance to experience an unending supply of His goodness toward you.
  • you fear that the day may not go as well as expected because you missed your quiet time.
  • you assume you can do something to make God love your more or less.
  • you believe you've been called into His service because of your worthiness or qualifications.

  • don't think you can please God by human effort; receive his grace and the power to live a holy life from him
  • don't try to live the Christian life on your own strength, or accept when others impose external man-made religious laws on you
  • (Galatians 3:3 NLT) Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

  • a man who was used to chopping trees down by hand went to a hardware store
  • the owner said, "We have this new power saw. With this saw, you can cut down thirty trees a day instead of the three you're doing now"
  • the man said, "Are you serious?"
  • "Yes, thirty trees a day with this power saw"
  • the tree-cutter said, "I'll take one"
  • a week later, he came back
  • "Why did you sell me this piece of junk? It took me a week to cut down one tree with this piece of junk. I was better off using my old axe!"
  • the store owner said, "Let me see it"
  • he took the saw, pulled on the cord, and it started right away with its motor roaring
  • the man jumped back and asked, "What's that noise?"

  • you don't buy a power saw so you can go out and put even more effort into cutting down trees
  • you don't receive God's free gift of grace so you could continue trying to live life on your own
  • receive God's gift today - not only for salvation, but to live a life that's pleasing to him

  • that's God's amazing grace
  • three facts:
  • number one: God's grace means that we do n't have to earn our salvation
  • number two: God's grace means that we don't have to worry that our sins are too great
  • number three: God's grace means that we don't have to live the Christian life by our own effort

  • in church we sing, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me"
  • do you really know the grace we're singing about?
  • are you open to this grace - a grace that's so amazing, it seems scandalous?
  • will you open your heart this morning and take in this grace in its richness, its fullness, and its pardon?
  • let's pray

Adapted in part from Our God is Awesome by Tony Evans