Posted in forgiveness, free grace, irresistible grace, justification, robe of righteousness, salvation, witness, wrath

Mr Lamb’s Robe Store

Scene, busy shopping mall. It’s so large that many people are lost. They look at the map in the central courtyard with the dot “you are here,” but many still don’t know which way to go. Others become distracted by the many choices. Still others sit in the courtyard just lazing away the day.

In a nearby clothing shop, two people browse the racks of robes on a rounder. They are called Sinner and Saved. Saved is a salesperson, trained and ready to explain any aspect of anything about the robes on display.

Saved: May I help you?
I think I would like one of these robes, they’re so white and beautiful. Are they silk?
They’re fine flax, plus other threads extremely rare and unique because they’re imported from a remote location.
It looks shimmery…
That’s because the Light reflects on it, through it, and off it. Some call this garment “Woven Moonlight” from the Grace line. It comes with a lifetime guarantee. It will never wear out.
That would be something, I hate going to the store to buy robe after robe. No robe I buy ever seems to last and I always end up cold and chilly in my house.
So, would you like one?
I don’t think I can afford it.
You can. It’s free.
No way! You mean just get one, put it on and walk out of here?
Yes, but there is something you need to do first before it can be put on.
I knew there would be a catch. You’re probably going to tell me I have to work for you for fifty years or something, like an indentured servant.
No, there’s no works involved.
Where are the lawyers, you’ll have me arrested if I take one for free.
The owner of this store has plenty of robes and is perfectly willing to give them away. There is no Legalism here.
I’ll get back to the robe in a minute, but I want to know this. Who in his right mind would give away his inventory? How does he stay in business? This is crazy!
I agree, it is unusual. There is no other store in the world which does this. This is certainly an exclusive shop.
But how can the owner stay in business?
He is extremely wealthy. And he wants to share his wealth. Again this is unusual. No other store owner in the world gives freely and doesn’t take.
Wait, I thought you said there was a catch. What is it?
No catch, but you do have to say you’re sorry before you can put on one of these exclusive robes.
Say I’m sorry for what???
For all your crimes against the owner of this store.
Whatchoo you talking about? I never done nothing to this guy!
Well, you have. If you ever even took a paperclip home from work, you’ve been stealing.
What does that have to do with the owner of this store?
He owns the paper clip. He owns everything. I told you he is very wealthy.
I knew this was too good to be true, I’m leaving.

Sinner leaves and walks to the next store. He is gone for hours. Eventually, he returns.

Ah, sir, so glad to see you again. What brings you back into our exclusive store?
I looked at every other robe in the mall. None are as good as this one. Once I saw the white gossamer shimmering threads, so delicate but so strong, I knew that no other could compare. Tell me more about this garment being free but having to be sorry first…
Well, you have committed crimes against the owner of this store, Mr Lamb, who owns the inventory of White Robes. Every time you stole, cheated, lied, even unknowingly, you sinned against Him. He owns all that is on the earth.
I’ve gotta know, who is this man?
He’s God.
God?! Like the Man Upstairs?
He is not a man, and though he is in heaven he is also on earth, in the form of His Spirit.
I think this God talk is kind of crazy but I admit His robes look different from all the others.
I’m wearing one.
You? You’re wearing regular clothes.
Yes but have you ever heard of layaway? My robe is on deposit, the Spirit is the deposit of the guarantee of being given one when we get to heaven. You will inherit His wealth, and the robe comes with it. (Ephesians 1:14)
Doesn’t a dad have to die in order for the kids to inherit?
He already died. He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins, paying the debt you racked up, and the debt of all mankind. (John 3:16). In addition, He endured all the Father’s wrath for these sins, poured out onto the Son. I mean didn’t your dad get angry when you messed up? (Romans 1:18)
LOL, he sure did. When I was a kid I took his keys and drove the car, and I crashed it. Cost him a lot of money. He was so mad he used his belt on me for the first and only time. It hurt. I still have the scar from one of the welts.
Well, imagine how angry the Father is over your crimes against Him, and though His anger is controlled, it is there and poured out on the Son on behalf of you. He bore your stripes so you can live right. (1 Peter 2:24). The Son died. He sure did. However the good news is, He didn’t stay dead. Satisfied with His Son’s sacrifice, God resurrected the Son to eternal life.
Who is the Son?
Jesus.
I knew it, you’re a Jesus freak!
That I am, proclaiming His excellencies to call you from darkness to his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9).
When I was looking at all the other robes I was thinking about the paper clip. You know, um, I have done worse than taking a paper clip. A lot worse. When I committed them I didn’t know he was the owner of all the earth. (Psalm 24:1).
Well, you did. Just looking at the creation makes you know He created it. (Romans 1:19)
OK, you got me. I guess I lied again just then. I am surely without excuse. (Romans 1:20). What a miserable human being I am. I thought I felt bad before looking at the other robes, which suddenly looked like filthy rags next to this one, (Isaiah 64:6) but now I feel terrible seeing myself next to it. (Isaiah 6:5). I’m hopeless.
Yes, you are- out there. (Amos 5:20). In here, you have the deposit guaranteed, the robe of righteousness, the Spirit in you to strengthen you, Jesus to look forward to, and all hope and all wealth. As a matter of fact, all things will be yours, including eternal life. (Romans 8:24).

A rotten tomato splats against the store window, dripping down, with some youth running away shouting, “Your store is stupid and so are you!”

A few women wander in, but they stop only inches inside the threshold. One says, “This place smells horrible! Like garbage! And the clothes are all weird and shiny. Let’s go, Myrtle. We can check out the store that has grey robes. I hear they’ve got 50 shades of them!” They hustle out.

Sinner says,
Why’d they do that? You’re just standing here, minding your own business!

That happens a lot. Pay no mind. We don’t bother to fight against flesh and blood, but fight against what drives them. It’s their conscience. “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 2:14-16). With you, your thoughts are accusing. With them, they are trying to defend themselves and so they lash out.
Accuse is a good word. I feel a great heaviness on me because of all the wrong I’ve done. The more I look at the robe the more I see myself as a sinful man. (Luke 5:8). I couldn’t get it out of my mind these past few hours. (Romans 2:15). As much as I didn’t want to come back in here, I felt like I had to. (Ephesians 2:1–10).
You’re almost ready for a robe, I think. I’ll go get one in your size. While I’m gone, why don’t you speak with the Owner, and tell Him how you feel?
You mean on the phone? Or an intercom?
Just speak with your mouth, He will hear you. (Romans 10:9).

A few minutes go by. When the salesman returns, the Sinner is beaming.
I talked with Mr Lamb! He heard me, I know He did. He said He forgives me of my crimes against Him. There were a lot. Once I got going I hadn’t realized how many times I broke Mr Lamb’s law. But He said He would throw my sins away as far as the east is from the west. He said I’d receive a robe when I get there. He said I might have to pay for my past sins, endure the consequences you know, but He would always be with me and never forsake me. I believe Him I believe it down to my bones.
That’s wonderful! I’m so pleased!
You know, this is so weird. This place is right in the mall but I’d never seen it before today. I come here every week but I never saw it. And the owner is rich but wiling to give it all to us. He doesn’t make money, he gives it. He covers us with his garment which was made at great expense and gives it away free. All we have to do is be sorry for our sins and believe in His death, burial and resurrection. I can’t believe my whole life I thought Mr Lamb as a jerk.
That’s because you’re a new creation now. The Spirit is already inside you, helping you. He is the Helper. He’ll strengthen you in faith, change you from the woeful man you were into the righteous man you are now and will become. (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Hey I’ve got to tell this news to my family. I’ll come back and we’ll talk more, OK?
Sure, Godspeed!

Sinner Child of God knew exactly what to do and exactly where to go before he headed home. The bible store …

Posted in atonment, bible, justification, thief on the cross

Lessons from the Thief on the Cross

Jesus was crucified between two criminals, one to His right and another to His left. (Luke 23:33). They were thieves. (Matthew 27:44).

One of the criminals who was hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

What was the forgiven thief’s name?

[crickets]

We don’t know, do we? When we look at the passage, often what is looked at, rightly, is the Lord’s compassion for man that He would ignore His own pain and minister to the sinners. Also, people use the text as proof that one can be justified without having done works such as baptism or partaken of the Lord’s Supper.

But what I’d like to look at is the man’s anonymity. All we know of him is that he is called The Thief on the Cross.

How would you like to be forever known by your sin? A thief. Forever.

There were others known by their sin, forever nameless in the bible. For example, there was–
–The Adulteress (John 8:3)
–The Serial Co-Habitating Woman at the Well (John 4:18)

What we know is that in the last moments of His incarnation, the last sinner whom Jesus justified was a thief. That’s what makes the thief special. He is forever identified with his sin. Not his name, not His socio-economic status (Rich Young Ruler, The Rich Man and Lazarus) not his race (Syrophoenician Woman). He was a thief, a criminal, and unnamed.

What makes the thief not-special is that you or I could have been that person on the cross next to Jesus just as easily. Having broken some Jewish Law or a Roman civil law, you or I could be executed for our crimes too. All crimes are sins against God. You could be —

–The Lustful Woman on the Cross
–The Liar on the Cross
–The Greedy Defrauder on the Cross
–The Hypocrite on the Cross
–The Embezzler on the Cross
–The Porn Addicted Man on the Cross

Forever identified not as a person by your sin. Indeed, the other thief is forever identified by his sin at this moment, he died not believing.

However, the thief’s notability is that he was the LAST person to be identified by His sin. Why? Colossians 2:13-14 says

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

The thievery is nailed to the cross, but the thief is alive! He is restored! He has a name! We will know him in heaven!

The atoning work of Jesus Christ is full of mercy, grace, and compassion, of which we startlingly see demonstrated by the conversation between the thief and the Messiah. Our sins are forgiven, and we are no longer known as sinners with names such as The Thief, the Adulterer, The Liar. We are known to Jesus as children of God, washed in His blood, made alive via the cross, where our sins are still nailed. The anonymous now have a name, and the dead shall live.

Hallelujah!

Posted in glorification, justification, salvation

We are dragged toward salvation

I’m watching Columbo on Netflix. One of my favorite episodes was Swan Song, starring Johnny Cash. The show opens with Cash singing “I Saw the Light”. When I saw this show last, I was not saved. I remember loving the song, and searching the internet for the lyrics. I found them,

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve wandered so aimless, life filled with sin
I wouldn’t let my dear Savior in
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night
Praise the Lord, I saw the light

I saw the light, I saw the light
No more darkness, no more night
Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord, I saw the light

I’ve walked in darkness, clouds covered me
I had no idea where the way out could be
Then came the sunrise and rolled back the night
Praise the Lord, I saw the light

Just like a blind man I wandered alone
Worries and fear I claimed for my own
Then like a blind man who God gave back his sight
Praise the Lord, I saw the light

When death takes me down and I breath here no more
My anthem will sound on that eternal shore
When I join with the angels in heaven on high
Singing “Praise the Lord, I saw the light”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wondered, ‘what did it mean?’ I liked the tune, but what was the reference to darkness and light all about?

Well, the Light found me and I became saved. Now I know what it means.

Isn’t it fun to look back and see the steps He used to draw us to Him? He surely pursues us, even drenched with sin as we are.

I review my life before I was saved and I can clearly see the people and the incidents He used to bring me along, ever closer to the cross. GotQuestions asks,

What does it mean that God draws us to salvation?
“Answer: The clearest verse on God’s drawing to salvation is John 6:44 where Jesus declares that “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” The Greek word translated “draw” is helkuo which means “to drag” (literally or figuratively). Clearly, this drawing is a one-sided affair. God does the drawing to salvation; we who are drawn have a passive role in the process. There is no doubt that we respond to His drawing us, but the drawing itself is all on His part.”

The essay continues in explaining His drawing of us. I was glad to read that, because I know I was not ‘drawn’, I know I was dragged. LOL. I mentioned that once to a Christian friend. I’d said, “He dragged me kicking and screaming to the cross.” My friend has replied, “Of course He didn’t drag you!” But He did. I knew He did.I remember those last three years before I was saved distinctly and I felt like I was being dragged. Further, even now I know I never would have come on my own unless He had brought me. Now I can read it for myself in John 6.

Our sin is so pervasive, it can only be the power of God to drag us out of it. Not that God struggles with bringing us to salvation, but that we struggle against it so much. I wish more people understood how firmly sin has us in its clutches, and how much we like it there.

I enjoyed learning the word helkuo, and that it means drag. Here is a bit more from GotQuestions about that word and its use in bringing us to salvation:

“Helkuo is used in John 21:6 to refer to a heavy net full of fish being dragged to the shore. … Clearly the net had no part in its being drawn to the shore … Why does God need to draw us to salvation? Simply put, if He didn’t, we would never come. Jesus explains that no man can come unless the Father draws him (John 6:65). The natural man has no ability to come to God, nor does he even have the desire to come. Because his heart is hard and his mind is darkened, the unregenerate person not only doesn’t desire God, but is actually an enemy of God (Romans 5:10). When Jesus says that no man can come without God’s drawing him, He is making a statement about the total depravity of the sinner and the universality of that condition.” More at link.

So you get saved by His power. You’re justified, the Judge has pardoned you. Now what?

GotQuestions explains spiritual growth
“When the transformation of salvation takes place, spiritual growth begins. The Holy Spirit indwells us (John 14:16-17). We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old nature is replaced with a new one (Romans 6-7). Spiritual growth is a life-long process that depends on our study and application of God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and our walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). As we seek spiritual growth, we should pray to God and ask for wisdom concerning the areas He desires us to grow in. We can ask God to increase our faith and knowledge of Him. God desires for us to grow spiritually, and He has given us all we need to experience spiritual growth. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can overcome sin and steadily become more like our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.’

Sometimes I like to look at the glossy magazines’ photos of Before and After. You know, when they take a regular looking woman and they make her up and dress her and she looks totally different. But that change is only external. I love to think about the Before and After of our salvation. If we could see how putrid sin is and how ugly it makes us, before, and how beautiful we will be after glorification…now there is a real Before and After. I can’t wait to see my friends in their eternal state when the rapture comes. How beautiful they will be and how pure their soul will shine, inside and out. We will have had our sin-nature removed and been changed into incorruptible bodies with full and complete access to God in person.

I look forward to that day! I pray for that day! I hope you do too.