In light of the news that Mother Teresa has been approved for sainthood by Pope Francis, I would encourage you to read this article by Tim Challies. It is a short, understandable description of both the Roman Catholic process of sainthood as well as the Bible’s teaching on the topic.
I would draw your attention to his summary: “We are saints who have no need of saints. All who have believed in the gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone have already been declared saints by God (see Romans 1:1-7, 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, 2 Corinthians 1:1-2, and Ephesians 2:19-21). We are God’s holy people, called by him and to him. Jesus Christ is the full and final mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5) who invites us to confidently approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) believing that his Spirit is already interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:26-27). We are the saints of God who have no need for the intercession of saints who have gone before.”
This is truth that we should never forget. It should cause us to rejoice. If you have repented and believed, then you are a saint – a holy child of God set apart by Him and for Him. He has called you out of the world and brought you out of darkness into light, and now – like the tribe of Levi in the Old Testament – you are able to come directly into the holy places of God and serve the Lord. By His grace – apart from your works – God has made you a saint.
This truth should also cause us to strive for holiness. We should be holy because God is holy, and He has called us to be holy. We should strive with all we have to be what He has declared us to be. When we see Him, we will be like Him, and if we truly believe that, we should purify ourselves now (1 John 3:2-3).
And this truth should cause us to love Christ more. He is the One who intercedes for us and has opened the curtain of heaven so that we might come in. We have confidence to enter the holy places because of the blood of Jesus. That blood is enough. That blood is all we need. And that blood is ours by grace through faith.
Life is full of details and little things. Everyday we do a thousand “insignificant” things without really thinking a lot about them. Usually, we also do a number of things that are more “important” and “significant”. Typically, we devote far more time and energy to thinking about the things we deem “important” than to the things we consider “insignificant”. While understandable, this sort of approach to life can cause us to forget a key Biblical reality: God cares deeply about how we do everything – great or small, “important” or “insignificant”.
Continue reading Yes, It All Matters
If you have time, I would encourage you to read this meditation on the nature of true community by Burk Parsons – editor of Tabletalk magazine and copastor (alongside R.C. Sproul) of St. Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, FL. It is excellent and will not take too much of your time.
If you’re not able to give it a read, I would highlight just a couple of particularly exceptional parts for your attention. These are good reminders for any child of God and member of His flock.
Continue reading What Is Real Community?
Obedience can be hard sometimes. It can be hard to forgive someone who has wronged you, and it can be even harder to forgive them “seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22). It can be hard to love enemies (Matt. 5:43-48). It can be hard to show patience and kindness toward people (1 Cor. 13:4) – especially when they do not deserve it. Yet God calls His people to do all of these things.
Though much could be said about this struggle, there is one thing in particular that we often seem to forget: these things are not struggles for God at all. Interestingly, many of the very commands God gives us are things God has already done Himself. He does not call us to act contrary to His own actions but rather to be holy as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16). Why does that matter? Because too often, our struggle is made more difficult by failing to realize the grace we have received. Obedience is fueled by meditating on the grace God has lavished on us rather than by simply focusing on the demands He has placed on us. So take a moment this morning to consider how God has loved you.
Continue reading God Is Not Like Us…Thankfully
Where does love come from? The question may seem too philosophical for some people, but it is a legitimate question. Especially for a Christian, the question is essential because the most important commandments we have received are “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor” (Matt. 22:34-40). Those commandments alone make love a priority for Christians. So how do we get it? Where does it come from? Maybe you love God truly and faithfully but would like to love Him more. Maybe you know you should love Him but simply cannot seem to “work it up”. Maybe you desire to love other people more but struggle to know how to do that. If any of those are true of you, I pray that you would consider this truth: Love – at its core – is the natural human response to what we believe is most valuable.
Continue reading You Love the Things You Treasure
According to the Bible, Demas was a man who professed faith in Jesus Christ and joined Paul as a “fellow worker” for the gospel. He (twice) merits mention at the close of Paul’s letters as one who sends greetings to the recipients (Col. 4:14; Philemon 23-24). Sadly, however, those are not the only times Demas appears in the Holy Scriptures. In 2 Tim. 4:9-10, which was one of the last things Paul ever wrote, Paul says that “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” The one who seemed to begin so well stumbled – forever or not we do not know, but the Scriptures are clear that, at some point, he walked away.
Continue reading Lessons from Demas
The Christian life – as most Christians will tell you – is a life of faith. It is by grace through faith that we are saved (Eph. 2:8). We know that a person is not brought into a right relationship with God by works but through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:16). And even after we are initially saved, the life we live is lived by faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20). We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).
But what does that mean? That question can be a bit harder to answer. There are numerous places you can go in the Bible that will provide some guidance, but fundamentally, the Bible’s answer seems to be that faith is living as if the words of God are true. Put differently: faith is living in light of truth that we cannot see.
Continue reading Remember the Things You Cannot See
Grace and peace to you today! It was good to talk to you last week and hear directly from you about the difficulties you are facing. As I told you then, if I could snap my fingers and end your suffering, I would, but as both of us know, this is not our world. It is not our will that reigns supreme. I know the temptation to doubt God and be angry with Him is very real, but do not listen to the lies of the evil one. Do not let his whispers go unchallenged. Take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17) and strike back. Fight the fight of faith by taking God’s Word and using it as the weapon it is. I have prayed that God would work that in you. I have prayed that God’s voice would ring louder than the voice of doubt and despair. I don’t simply want to pray for you though – as powerful as that is. I want to do my part to help you and to encourage you so that you are not hardened by sin’s lies (Heb. 3:13). I want to do my best to point you to parts of God’s Word that you can use to fight in the midst of your struggle.
Continue reading Letter (to a Fellow Jar of Clay)
Hey friends – I hope this letter finds you well. I was writing because I heard of your most recent struggles and difficulties. Friend, I am so sorry for all that is happening. God calls us to “weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15), and – believe me – we have wept with, and for, you. I cannot imagine the struggle this is. Please know that we pray for you regularly, and I know others are praying as well. Even when we cannot be present with you, our hearts are certainly with you. Please know you’re not forgotten.
Continue reading Letter (to a Suffering Saint)
I hope this letter finds you well. I realized recently that it has been a while since we have talked, so I figured I would write you. First, I wanted to make sure you know that I still pray for you on a very regular basis. I am grateful for the growth I see in you and for the effort I see you making. It seems evident that God is working in you both to want what He wants and to do what He wants. I pray that God’s Spirit would continue to show you ways to grow as well as give you the desire to pursue that growth. I have no doubt that is what He will do. Second, I wanted to take the opportunity to encourage you in your faith by reminding you of some basic parts of the Christian life.
Continue reading Letter (on Living the Christian Life)