An Early Valentine

By Pastor Bill Morgan – Grace Churches

A minister once stated “The Cross is the pulpit of God’s love.” God’s love for all mankind finds it’s climax – it’s epicentre at the cross of Calvary, where the Son of God sacrificed His sinless life in order to appease the wrath of God by making an atonement for sin. God’s Valentine to us would have a picture of three crosses with our Lord Jesus Christ in the middle of two criminals. Below the picture, on the front of the card would be the inscription: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

On the inside of the card on the left side we would read: “HOW GREAT A LOVE, AND ITS PROVISION”. How great? “Greater love has no man than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). It’s provision? “But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we should be saved by His life. For God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (Romans 5:8, 10). (2 Corinthians 5:21)

God, in His Valentine card to His special creation is informing us that He and His Son devised a plan whereby we could be forgiven of all of our transgressions and acquitted of all our guilt. One of the great themes of the Bible is that of Redemption whereby God gives instruction concerning our true spiritual condition, that of being lost and separated from God due to our sins.

Inside on the right side of the card there would be another statement: “TO BE MY VALENTINE, YOUR RESPONSE MUST BE: REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL!” “. . . .that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame’. For the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Mark 1:15). (Romans 10:9-13)

May our response be to choose life rather than death!

“FOR THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH, BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.”

THE BIRTH OF CHRIST — INEXPRESSIBLE JOY!!

“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem . . . . to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child . . . . And she brought forth her firstborn Child and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn.  Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields . . . .and behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them . . . . Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of GREAT JOY which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”  (Luke 2:4-11). (Bold print mine)

This historical account of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, taking on the form of a man, was the fulfillment of a prophecy made some 4000 years earlier, when Adam and Eve committed the sin of disobedience and needed a Saviour to restore them to God’s favour by forgiving them of their sin.  Jesus Christ entered our world specifically to save us from our sins.  The Apostle Paul relates this great truth.  “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the foremost.”  (1 Timothy 1:15)

Having the assurance of being at peace with God through the pardon of our sins causes an explosion of joy that is just impossible to completely explain!!   “That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, you love.  Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”  (1 Peter 1:7-8). God promises this joy to each person who will respond to His offer of mercy!  “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardons iniquity . . . . He will not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.”  (Micah 7:18). To those who respond by repenting, we read:  ‘For the joy of the Lord is your strength.”   (Nehemiah 8:10). “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost”. (Acts 13:52)

On the cross, Jesus Christ saw all those who would repent of their sins and trust in Him as their Saviour, and it brought great joy“Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 11:2)

THE GREATEST HARROWING CRY EVER !!

By Pastor Bill Morgan – Grace Churches

“Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’  Some of those who stood by, when hey heard that said, ‘Look, He is calling for Elijah!’  Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed and offered it to Him to drink, saying, ‘Let Him alone.  Let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.’  And Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed His last.  Then the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this Man was the Son of God!’”  (Mark 15:33-39)

We have in this Scripture the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  All deaths are solemn events.  Nothing in the whole history of a man is as important as his end.  But never was there a death of such arresting moment as that which is now before us.  In the instant that our Lord drew His last breath, the work of atonement for the world’s sin was accomplished.  The Kingdom of Heaven was thrown fully open to all believers.  All of the solid hope that a person might attain in this life is traced back to the giving up of our Lord’s life on that cross.

There were also two visible signs which accompanied our Lord’s death.  One is the darkening of the sun for the space of 3 hours from noon until 3:00 p.m.  The other is the tearing of the veil (curtain) which divided the Holy of holies from the holy place in the Temple.  Both were miraculous events.  Both were calculated to arrest the attention of the whole multitude assembled at Jerusalem.  There were probably few homes in Jerusalem that first Good Friday evening in which people would not be saying: “We have heard and seen strange things today!”

What do you say when you read this historical event depicting God (the Father) forsaking God (the Son)?  The Bible states that the Father bruised His Son!  “Yet we esteem Him (Christ) stricken, smitten by God (the Father) and afflicted . . . . Yet it pleased the Lord (the Father) to bruise Him (Christ); He has put Him to grief.”  (Isaiah 53:4,10)  Our Lord’s tormenting cry on the cross came as a result of His Father turning away from Him for a moment of time when He punished His Son for the sins of God’s sheep so that reconciliation between God and man could be realized.  The Apostle Peter, speaking of Jesus Christ states:  “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.  For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”  (1 Peter 2:24-25)

Have you returned to God through the repenting of your sins and believing that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the Son of God who died to pay the price of your sins?  The centurion who stood by the cross was persuaded!!  “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” We will suffer the punishment for our own sins if Jesus Christ has not substituted His life on that cross for our life!  By faith alone we will be counted as righteous – the moment we believe who Jesus Christ is and what He offers to do on our behalf.  Listen to what God the Father has done to His Son in order that we might be made righteous!  “For He (the Father) made Him (the Son) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  (2 Corinthians 5:21)  Our Lord died and was buried on Friday and He arose from the dead on Sunday to give full proof that He was the Son of God as He claimed – as Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

The entire Bible was written so that we would believe this truth concerning God’s Son and what He sacrificed for us in order that we would be forgiven of all our sins and be granted eternal life!  “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this Book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.”  (John 20:30-31)  That harrowing cry from a crucified Saviour is to inform us of the demands and the grace of a holy and loving God.  May we each find mercy – there at the cross!