Tools for God’s People

Justification and Sanctification

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In order to guard against the error of easy-believism (aka antinomianism) on the one hand, and the constant temptation to return to the legal mind—attempting to seek or maintain God’s favor through our works—on the other, it is of utmost importance that we continually remind ourselves of the nature of justification and sanctification as taught in scripture, and as reclaimed and heralded in the Protestant Reformation. Concerning the matter of justification (how a sinner is made righteous before God), the Reformed tradition organizes the doctrine around five main distinctives, i.e. the “Five Solas” of the Reformation. The Five Solas proclaim that one is justified by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (Sola Fide), in Christ alone (Solus Christus), for the glory of God alone (Soli Deo Gloria), according to Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura).

Scripture, being God’s perfect self-revelation to man, is the sole authoritative basis on which we form these doctrines (Isa 8:20; LBC 1.1, 6, 10). As previously detailed, Scripture is abundantly clear that sinners are justified, sanctified, and glorified by grace alone. “Salvation is of the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9) And God’s gracious salvation is for His glory alone (LBC 5.1). Our God reserves for Himself alone the honor of being the Redeemer of His church. God alone is glorified in the merciful salvation of sinners, and He will not share His glory with another. With the corruption of our natures reaching to every faculty we possess (Rom 3:9-19; LBC 6.2-5, 5.5, 9.4-5, 11.5, 13.2-3, 15.2, 16.5), and God’s holiness being exalted above the heavens (Isa 6:1-8), we could not make a single contribution toward our own righteous standing before the Lord, even if we desired to (Rom 3:20; LBC 7.1-2, 16.5). Scripture is abundantly clear—every person whom God justifies, He sanctifies (Heb 12:14, 10:14), leading to an imperfect yet growing dependence upon and submission to Christ (Eph 4:11-16; Phil 3:8-14). These things have major implications for how we view things such as the assurance of faith, and the ministry of the church.

Solus Christus

In His humiliation, incarnation, perfect obedience to the law, vicarious death and resurrection, ascension, session, intercession and advocacy, Jesus Christ has perfectly accomplished everything that is needed for the salvation of every sinner who is united to Him through faith (LBC 3.6, 7.1-2). There is absolutely nothing to add to the utter sufficiency of who Christ is, what He has done, what He is now doing, and what He will do when it comes to salvation. Salvation is in Christ alone, from beginning to end. He alone gets the honor of doing the saving (LBC 8.1), He is perfectly suited to the task (LBC 8.2-10), and His heart toward sinners is one of mercy, kindness, and limitless, reproachless generosity in gifting us the benefits He has won on our behalf (Rom 5:8-10; Heb 4:15; 1 Tim 1:15-16; Tit 3:3-7; Mk 2:17; Mt 9:13, 11:19, 28-29; Isa 40:10-11, 55:1-7). In fact, He is more willing to shower us with His infinite mercy than even the most humble person is to come to Him for it (2 Pt 3:9; Ezk 33:11; Mt 23:37; Lk 13:34, 15:4-6; Isa 65:2). For any and every sinner who is aware of their need for His salvation (Lk 18:13-14; Isa 55:1; Jn 7:37-38; Mt 5:6, 20:30-31), and comes to Him through faith, He immediately, exhaustively, and irrevocably justifies us (Jn 7:37-38; Heb 9:12; Gal 3:10, cf 3:22; 2 Cor 5:18-21; Jn 6:40; Rom 8:1-4; Acts 10:43; Ps 103:3, 10, 12; Jer 31:34; LBC 10.1, 11.1-2, 5, 17.1-3), communicates every benefit He has purchased to us by uniting us to Himself (Eph 1:3), reconciles us to God (Rom 5:10; Col 1:22) and mediates between us (Heb 2:17), adds us to the family of God through adoption (Rom 8:15; Eph 1:5; Gal 4:4-6; LBC 12.1), and pledges through His perfect intercession and advocacy on our behalf to preserve us and deliver us (Heb 9:24; Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1)—despite the malice of every enemy, including our own remaining corruptions (1 Jn 2:1-2; Hos 11:7-8; Jn 10:28-30; Heb 4:14-16; 1 Tim 1:15-16)—to the enjoyment of His own inheritance in glory (Acts 20:32, 26:18; Eph 1:9-12; 1 Pt 1:3-5); which He freely gives to us in Himself. At its heart, justification is the declaration that a wicked person is righteous (Rom 3:21-25, 4:5, 5:1, 6). And that declaration is made on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ alone, and for His sake (1 Cor 1:30; Phil 3:9; Acts 4:12; Rom 3:21-25; LBC 8.1, 11.1).

Often times in our Lord’s earthly ministry, we saw examples of people approaching Him with an interest in eternal life who did not have an awareness of their true spiritual need for the salvation He came to provide (Mt 5:1, 19:16; Lk 14:25, 18:18; Mk 10:17). To such people, our Lord gave the law (Mt 5:20-6:7, 6:16-7:12, 15-23, 19:16-22; Lk 14:26-33, 18:18-23; Mk 10:17-22)—the schoolmaster which is designed to break our self-righteous delusions and reveal our need for Christ (Gal 3:10, 24; 1 Tim 1:8-11; Rom 3:19-20, 7:13; 1 Cor 6:9-10; Deut 27:26; Jam 2:10; LBC 19.5, 6). We have many examples of this in the gospels, and in the epistles (Rom 2; 1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Jam 2:8-11 cf 2:12). On the other hand, His message to the helpless was pure gospel, with no mixture of law (Lk 12:32; Mt 9:2, 5:6; Lk 7:50, 15:1-7; Jn 6:37-40, 7:32-38). Salvation is 100% of Christ and by Christ; and as long as one is confused about their supposed involvement in their standing before God, they need the good law of God to reveal their destitution until they see their helplessness, and thus come to Christ on His terms—empty handed—to receive His all-sufficient supply (Mt 5:6; Jn 6:35; LBC 19.1-2, 5-7). And the moment someone comes to Christ on His terms, they are saved to the uttermost—freely and unconditionally.

This distinction between law and gospel which we see frequently in Jesus’ ministry, and in the Apostolic writings is absolutely vital to the right preaching of the word of God. This distinction was central to the preaching and teaching of the Reformers, and the Reformed tradition that formed in their wake, but it rarely finds a place in contemporary evangelicalism. This is in no small part due to the influence of the 19th century’s dispensationalism, which provides little to no theological category for how it is that many of Christ’s statements are indeed a kind, pedagogical application of the condemning law, and not gospel.

Sola Fide

Given the exhaustive sufficiency of Christ’s salvation, offered freely through the gospel to all needy sinners who come; faith, through which we are alone justified, is nothing more than an empty, open hand, receiving and resting in Christ alone (Heb 10:11-14; Jer 33:16; Rom 3:21-26; Eph 1:6-9, 2:1-10; Jn 7:37-38; Mt 5:6, 20:30-31; Isa 55:1; Lk 18:13-14; LBC 3.5, 7.1-2, 8.8, 11.2-3, 14.2). There is no frame of mind, Spirit wrought or otherwise, besides the awareness of one’s need for salvation, that is required for one to be justified (Jn 7:37-38; Lk 18:13-14; Gal 2:16; Isa 55:1; Mt 5:6, 20:30-31; LBC 11.2, 14.2). There is no reform of the heart, no fruit of sanctification, no submission to Christ’s Lordship, indeed no motions whatsoever toward loving God or neighbor (all of which are the essence of the internal and external works of the law (Deut 6:1-5; Lk 10:26-28; Matt 22:36-40; Mk 12:28-31)) that are preparatory in order to come to Christ (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17, 4:4-5; Tit 3:5; Gal 2:16). Such things will be present in the life of a believer (Eze 11:19-20, 36:24-27; Eph 2:10; Mt 7:18; Jn 15:5), but they are fruits of sanctification, and must not be held as the grounds or instrument of justification, lest we endanger the purity of the gospel we preach (Rom 3:28; Gal 1:9; LBC 11.2). The call of the gospel is for any sinner who sees their need to come freely and unconditionally (Mt 5:6, 11:28; Isa 55:1-7); and the moment one does, they are made eternally spotless before God, and counted as righteous according to the perfections of their federal head, Jesus Christ.

Faith alone, as a gift of grace alone, taking hold of Christ alone is the sole instrument of our justification, but it is never alone in the person justified, but is accompanied by all other saving graces, including repentance and the fruits of sanctification (Eze 36:25-27; LBC 11.2). The gift of faith through which one is justified is not merely exercised the moment one believes, but remains as the vital connection between a saint and their Savior until they are taken home to glory (Rom 8:23-25; 2 Cor 3:15-18; Rev 14:12). The Spirit sustains the grace of faith (along with every other grace) throughout a saint’s life, and thereby enables them to accept the teaching of Scripture regarding everything it says, commands, and reveals about the perfections and excellencies of God, and the sufficiency of Christ to justify, sanctify, preserve, and finally save us (Lam 3:22-23; Ps 63:8; Jer 31:34; 1 Jn 2:20, 27).


Sanctification is a monergistic (accomplished by God alone (Jn 6:63; 1 Pt 1:2; Ezk 20:12; Gal 5:6, 22-23; Jn 15:5; Rom 8:10-14)) work of the Holy Spirit, working by and through the same death and resurrection of Christ that justifies us (Heb 10:10; Eph 3:14-21; 2 Cor 5:14-15; LBC 13.1), whereby every sinner who is justified is also set apart as holy and purified for the Lord’s use. The same regenerating grace which produced in us the gift of faith by the gospel—through which we were justified—also creates in us every other grace via the same new heart (Eze 36:25-27; Mt 7:18; Jn 15:5). Through the ongoing exercise of grace by the abiding power of the Spirit, the word of Christ dwells richly in us (Jn 7:37-39; 1 Jn 2:20, 27), the depths of our remaining corruption is revealed with greater clarity, and we are further matured in our dependence upon Christ to save us (Eph 4:11-16; Phil 3:8-14; Heb 12:1-3 LBC 5.5, 13.2, 17.3). As we mature in our understanding of the depths of our sin, and the assurance of the freedom we have in Christ, the Spirit works in us the fruit of gratitude (Col 3:15-17; Heb 3:15-16; Rom 8:10; Ps 118, 7:17, 52:6-9; 2 Cor 3:17, 4:13-15; LBC 16.2-3, 21.1, 3). Knowing the kindness and severity of God, the gratitude we have through the freedom of the gospel and the assurance of faith by it is the fuel for all growth in holiness (Rom 2:4, 8:10; Heb 9:14; Tit 3:3-8; Jonah 2:9; 1 Cor 6:15-20; Phil 3:12; 2 Pt 1:8-9; Lk 1:73-75; Gal 5:13; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Rom 6:1-2, 12:1; 2 Cor 5:14-15; Heb 6:11-12; LBC 11.3, 14.2, 16.2-4). It is by this evangelical grace that the dominion of sin over us is destroyed, the corruption of our flesh is weakened, and our love of God’s law is increased as we grow in our grateful submission to the lordship of Christ (Rom 7:22, 14:17, 6:13; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Pt 1:18-19, 2:9; 1 Cor 6:20, 7:23).

Because of the remaining corruption of our flesh, which continually wages war against our souls (Gal 5:17; Rom 7:14-25), this sanctification will never produce perfect fruits in this life (Rom 8:26-27; Isa 64:6; Jer 17:9; LBC 6.2-5, 5.5, 9.4-5, 11.5, 13.2-3, 15.2, 16.5). Even our holiest works are carried out with mixed motives (Jer 17:9; Rom 7:15, 21), and can never be acceptable to God on their own. But through the mediation of our Lord, they are indeed perfectly acceptable to the Father in Him (Heb 2:17; LBC 8.10, 16.6).

The fruits of sanctification are absolutely never the grounds or the instrument of our justification (Tit 3:4-7; LBC 13.1; 11.1-2). Christ’s church cannot compromise on that point of doctrine. To point to anything beyond the open hand of faith as the instrumentof our justification is to deny the Apostles’ teaching—the teaching reclaimed and faithfully summarized in the Reformed tradition—pollute the gospel, and yield oneself to the essence of Roman Catholic heresy. The Roman Catholic catechism, quoting the Council of Trent (which was Rome’s response to / condemnation of Reformation theology,) says, “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.” Given that, as our Lord taught, the works of the law are summarized as loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, as well as our strength, and our neighbor as ourselves; teaching any sort of interior reform beyond one’s personal recognition of their need for Christ (Mt 11:28-30, 5:6; Isa 55:1-7) and the open hand of faith taking hold of Christ as the instrument or the grounds of justification is adding works to Christ, and is Roman in essence (LBC 16.5).


The assurance of faith is absolutely vital to the Christian life. It is the primary source of our growth in peace, joy, love, thankfulness, and holiness in the Lord (Heb 12:28-29; Col 2:2-3; Jude 20-21; Heb 10:19-25; 1 Tim 4:9-11; LBC 21.1, 3, 16.2-3). The primary basis for Christian assurance is the objective person and work of Christ (1 Pt 1:8; LBC 14.3, 18.2). The essence of a believer’s assurance, therefore, is not something speculative, fallible, or merely subjective, but has its ground in none other than the invincible, living hope on the basis of the historical fact of Christ’s resurrection that is spoken of often in the Apostles (1 Pt 1:3, 20-21; Eph 1:18-23; 2 Thess 2:16-17; 1 Tim 1:1, 6:11-12, 17-19; Col 1:21-27; Rom 5:1-5; Psa 32:1; 1 Cor 15:12; Rom 15:13; 1 Thess 1:3, 5:8-10; LBC 18.2). Various internal and external manifestations of the grace of God in sanctification, the fellowship of the Spirit, hatred of sin, repentance, growth in personal holiness, etc. are inevitable in every justified believer, and can therefore serve to increase and strengthen our assurance (1 Jn 3:18-19; Rom 8:10; Gal 4:4-6; LBC 16.2, 18.2), but they are never properly considered the primary basis of our assurance (Rom 7:22-25). Nor are seasons of apparent spiritual darkness, temptation, weakness, or conscience-wounding sin grounds for despairing for those whose hope is in Christ (Heb 4:14-16; Psa 32:1, 43:5; 2 Cor 4:8-18, 7:5-6; Rom 8:22-39; Phil 1:6; 1 Tim 1:15-16; Isa 40:29; 1 Jn 3:18-20; Jn 10:28-30; LBC 17.1-3)—such dire realities making up the very circumstance we are trusting the Savior, by the promises of His gospel, to keep us through and finally deliver us from (1 Jn 2:1-2; Lk 1:70-75; Ps 63:8; 1 Cor 15:25-26; Eph 6:12-17; Jn 10:28-30; Heb 12:4-14, 13:5-6). It is nonsensical indeed for one who is being sanctified—whose hope is in Christ alone—to look inside themselves, to the remnants of very body of death they’re being set free from, and thereby doubt the grace of God in Christ that is reaching down from outside of themselves through faith; from the One who is seated in the heavenly places. Instead, being prone to doubts, fear, and the remaining corruption of sin within us (LBC 6.2-5, 5.5, 9.4-5, 11.5, 13.2-3, 15.2, 16.5, 17.1-3), believers should continually be encouraged by the ordinary means of the ministry of the church to look outside of ourselves and rest in Christ (1 Jn 2:1-2; Heb 4:14-16, 13:5-6; Phil 1:6; 1 Tim 1:15-16; LBC 18.2-4, 11.2, 13.1). Trusting, as we do, in an all-sufficient Savior, may the cry of the Reformers—“Extra Nos!” (outside ourselves)—be our cry as well.

The Christian life as presented in the Scriptures is not one of endless fruit-hunting to either prove or disprove the genuineness of our faith. The handful of passages that encourage self-examination are being taken out of context and misinterpreted any time they are used to normalize morbid introspection (1 John 1:6-7, 2:3-6, 9-11, 15-17, 22-24, 28-29, 3:6-10, 14-15, 4:5-6, 7-8, 5:2 cf 1 Jn 1:1-4, 7-2:2, 12-14, 25-27, 3:1-3, 16-24, 4:4, 9-19, 5:11-20; 1 Corinthians 11:27-31 cf 11:20-22, 32; 2 Corinthians 13:5 cf 12:19, 13:3-4) in spite of the overwhelming message of the Scriptures—that the object of our faith is someone / something that has occurred outside of ourselves, and that our salvation is began, kept, and will be consummated by that external person. The objective person and work of Christ is sufficient to save, and He is the only sure and effectual anchor for our souls from the beginning of our salvation into eternity (Heb 6:16-20, 9:24). We must be careful to walk in the fear of God in the freedom of our union with the all-sufficient Christ—who is seated in the heavenly places (Rom 8:10; Heb 1:3, 8:1; Acts 7:55; Col 3:1; Eph 2:6)—and continually encourage our fellow brothers and sisters, in the course of our lives in the church, to do the same.

Implications for the Church

Given the sufficiency of Christ, the free nature of grace through faith, the inevitability of sanctification by means of gospel-gratitude, the vital nature of our objective assurance, and the world’s and our flesh’s continual tendency to contradict, deny, forget, and minimize these realities—the church must be, as the Scriptures demonstrate, a gospel-saturated refuge for weary pilgrims (Rev 1:6; 1 Pt 2:9; Rom 1:6-7; 1 Cor 1:2-9; 2 Cor 1:5-7; Gal 1:3-5; Eph 1-3; Phil 1:3-11; Col 1:2-3:11; 1 Thess 1:1-10; 1 Tim 1:15, 1 Pt 1:1-25; 2 Pt 1:1-21; 1 Jn 1:1-4; 2 Jn 1-3; Jude 1-3; Rev 1:1-8). Christ must be the center of everything we are about in the church; and feeding Him to the flock is the biblical goal of every gathering (Eph 4:15-16; Col 3:1, 16-18; LBC 22.1-2). Curving the saints’ focus inward on themselves, failing to give them the law lawfully (1 Tim 1:8-11; Gal 5:13-14; Lk 17:10; Job 35:5-8; LBC 19.5-7) and the gospel purely (Rom 3:21-26; LBC 20.1-2, 4), and neglecting the duty to give the people Christ in favor of any other pursuit is a gross dereliction of duty on the part of the Elders (1 Tim 1:3-4; LBC 22:2). As the Reformers faithfully and enthusiastically affirmed—Scripture points us outside of ourselves to the sufficiency of Christ (Col 3:1; Rev 1:6; 1 Pt 2:9; LBC 8.1-5, 9-10); and therefore the primary goal of every biblical church service is to do the same.

Being made in the image of God after our forefather Adam—the man who was created to earn God’s favor by his works (Gen 2:7-17, 3:22, 24; Hos 6:7; Rom 3:23 cf Heb 2:10; 1 Cor 15:45; LBC 4.2, 7.3, 19.1-2); grace is exceedingly alien and unnatural to mankind. The world and indeed our own flesh battles constantly to return us to a legal mind; and therefore back into slavery to sin (Rom 6:14, 7:5, 7-13). The bold claim of the Scriptures is that being brought out of ourselves, fixed upon the grace of God in Christ, and set free from the condemnation of the law, we are by those means actually enabled to do real works of love—the love which fulfills the very law whose condemnation we’re set free from in Christ (Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:14; Jam 2:8, 12; Tit 3:3-8; LBC 16.2-3, 21.1, 3). The church, then, is where we gather to have our focus reset by the pure Word, the ordinances, prayer, and the fellowship and correction of the body—to have our souls put back to rest in Christ, our hearts refreshed in His love, and our minds renewed so that we might go back into the turmoil of the world full of gratitude, ready to love our neighbors as adopted sons and daughters of God (Rom 12:2, 8:15-17, Eph 1:5-6; Tit 3:3-8; 1 Jn 3:1; Eph 2:10).

But as Paul rhetorically asked in response to his teaching of these gospel truths across the first 5 chapters of Romans, will this free grace not cause people to adopt the mindset: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may increase?” (Rom 6:1) His answer is our answer—“May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom 6:2) The gospel, rightly understood, renders such a proposition nonsensical to those who are being sanctified (Rom 6:1-14). And such persons are the body of Christ (1 Cor 1:2; Eph 5:23-32; 1 Tim 3:15; Heb 12:23 LBC 26.1-2, 6)—the ones whom the church was instituted to call, disciple, and sustain (Jn 21:15-17)! As Christ promised, there will inevitably be tares among the wheat (Mt 13:25-26, 38-39); but as He also instructed we are not to take it as our mission to weed them out (Mt 13:28-30)—artificially fencing the free grace of God in gospel ministry—lest we starve the flock and thereby tear the wheat up with the tares! The local church, when biblically constituted (Jer 31:31-34; Mt 28:18-20; Acts 2:41-42; 1 Cor 1:2; Eph 5:23-32; 1 Tim 3:15; Heb 12:23), is made up of visible saints (LBC 26.2, 6); and biblical gospel ministry ministers the free grace of the gospel accordingly—freely feeding the riches of Christ to the flock according to the Scriptures. As Jesus instructed, He will see to the tares in the time of the harvest (Mt 13:30, 39-42). And in the meantime, if the He so chooses, He will expose the deeds of any who might continue in obstinate sin (Num 32:23), and through the church’s obedience to the command to discipline her members; they will either be restored to repentance, or the credibility of their profession to be a visible saint will be negated by the church (Tit 3:10-11; 1 Tim 5:8; 1 Cor 5:3-5, 11-13; 2 Thess 3:6; Mt 16:19, 18:18-20; 2 Jn 10-11), and she will obediently purify herself by removing them from membership in the hope that they will some day be restored (Mt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5:9-13; 1 Tim 1:20; 2 Thess 3:14-15). Either way, we must be faithful to proclaim the sufficiency of Christ, and the freedom of the gift of salvation in Him (because the Scriptures command it, and the health and sustenance of the saints depends on it!), and trust Christ to grow, prune, and preserve His church; and to purify her (LBC 5.7)—whether in this age or in the harvest—of any who might secretly or publicly misuse the good news and the church (Jude 4); which He has established as the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim 3:15).


Hateful, Mixed-Fabric Wearing Hypocrites!

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It’s an argument many of us who insist on biblical morality have probably heard before. “If you’re going obey the Bible, you’re going to have to avoid wearing clothes with mixed fabric, eating shellfish, and boiling baby goats in their mother’s milk!” This argument came up recently in a discussion where someone insisted that Jesus never spoke against homosexuality. I pointed out that God is not schizophrenic, and as the second person of the Trinity, Jesus is in full agreement with every prohibition of homosexuality given in the Bible. I received the mixed-fabric argument in response. I realize that such arguments are usually intended as snubs, and those voicing them are probably not interested in a real answer, but for those who have ears, we do have a real rebuttal to this assertion.

The Old Testament contains many interesting laws like the prohibition of wearing mixed fabric. Such laws are not based on universal moral principles, but served the purpose of setting Israel apart as God’s people, and pointing forward to the Messiah that God had promised to send. Specifically, the prohibition of mixed fabric symbolized God’s call to the nation of Israel to remain pure, unmixed with the idolatry of their neighboring nations.

Jesus actually made the fascinating claim that such laws were written about Him.

“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.”
-Jesus (John 5:46)

While many in Israel successfully avoided wearing mixed fabric, every one of them utterly failed to keep the spirit of that law—to be totally holy unto God. In Christ, God’s requirement that His people be totally devoted to God was fulfilled! He was without sin, fulfilling this requirement both literally and spiritually. Since Jesus, the Messiah—the reality such laws pointed to—has come, those laws have served their purpose. They successfully pointed Israel to the now revealed Messiah. Such laws served their purpose, and their requirements are fulfilled in Jesus.

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”
-Jesus (Matthew 5:17)

On the other hand, there are things that always, irrevocably contradict the very nature of God. Principles built into creation that represent the nature of God, which when violated have always and will always be sin. Stealing, for example. God is the one that gives us everything we have, and revoking God’s gifts to another has always and will always be wrong. Lying is another example of a universal moral offense. God is truth, and speaking deceit contradicts His nature and is thus sinful. Murder is universally wrong because it strikes out at the image of God in man. According to Jesus, the male / female biology and marriage union is irrevocably built into creation.

“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall becomes one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.”
-Jesus (Mark 10:6-8)

God made people male and female, and nature bears witness to the rightness of that relationship in many ways that I don’t need to elaborate on. This male and female element of creation is not just some arbitrary detail, but was actually designed by God to represent profound spiritual truth. According to the apostle Paul, male / female marriage is a picture of Christ and His church.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
-Ephesians 5:31-32

The preceding verses in that chapter speak about how the differing biology and roles of men and women in a marriage relationship are a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. God has designed the one-flesh marriage union of men and women as a beautiful object lesson of the entire reason for creation. It displays the glory of God through the saving of sinners through the death and resurrection of Jesus!

Does it surprise you, therefore, that Scripture speaks of twisting that relationship by men being with men and women with women as an ungodly perversion? Male / female marriage proclaims the most holy truth to which we are beholden, and homosexuality mocks it! Is it any wonder, therefore that the Bible says things like:

“realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for … homosexuals …, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”
-1 Timothy 1:9-11

“Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”
-Romans 1:24-27

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; …homosexuals… will [not] inherit the kingdom of God.”
-1 Corinthians 6:9-10

The prohibition of wearing mixed fabrics, and all the other laws not based on universal moral principles have served their purpose. They pointed us to Jesus, and were fulfilled in Him. Christians are therefore not responsible to observe the Jewish ceremonial laws. People being made male and female, and becoming one flesh with a person of the counterpart sex in a marriage relationship is here to stay. The rejection of our design, and the roles of the sexes through homosexuality and transgenderism is a rejection of Creation and God’s intention for it. It is a rejection of the good news gender distinctions and the marriage relationship were designed to proclaim. Any sexual activity outside the confines of one man and one woman in a permanent marriage union has always and will always be sin.

But that’s not the end of the story. Jesus died for homosexuals! He also died for those who approve of their sin. He died for liars and murderers and thieves! He died for everyone who will turn from their sin and trust in His sacrificial death and resurrection as their only hope of salvation from the wrath of God. God is rightfully angry at sin, but Jesus took the punishment for the offenses of all who will turn to Him for forgiveness. In Christ, we are no longer enemies of God, but His children. Repent and believe the gospel and be saved!

The Attributes of God Tract Introduction

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Back in 2013, while working at Pizza Hut in Elk City, OK, I started working on a series of tracts to hand out to my approximately 60 coworkers. Out of 13 possible tract topics (the tracts focus on the attributes of God), I ended up writing four. This post contains an introduction letter that I wrote and handed out to all my coworkers before I started giving out the tracts. I pray you’re able to benefit from the good news contained in this series of messages! Here’s the introduction letter:

Dear ____________,

It looks like my family and I will be leaving Oklahoma soon. It is my earnest prayer that, before that time comes, I might be of some service to you, and that, by the grace of God, that service might result in your eternal benefit.

I am not an expert on these things. There is a lot that I do not know. Of what I do know there is much that I do not understand. Of all that I understand, I am convinced that I do not yet understand it nearly well enough. There are countless other men and women out there who are far more brilliant than I, who would be far more qualified to write to you on these subjects. Though that is the case, I do feel a responsibility before God to share with you some of the things that I have learned in my recent years of study before I leave. Though my knowledge is limited, I want to share with you, in a series of letters, a few things that I do know with confidence – things that, if received, will be a priceless benefit to you. In all that I intend to say to you, please understand, I am nothing more than a beggar trying to tell another beggar where he found some bread.

What is this thing that is so important that I am writing these letters to you? Some of you know how I lived when I came to Pizza Hut the first time in 2009, and how drastically my life was changed overnight. I am writing to you about that very truth that has so totally changed me. So what is it that I am, by God’s grace, going to say to you in these letters? Just this:

God is a great, glorious God, we are great, wretched sinners, and Jesus Christ is the great, all-sufficient Savior.

That being my goal, I intend this series of letters to be divided into the following three sections: The Glory of God, which will focus on an aspect of God’s character, The Bad News, which will focus on how the truths of who God is apply to us; and finally, The Good News, which will focus on the amazing provision God has made for the forgiveness of our guilt, and the healing of our rebellious hearts through the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ.

God bless you. I earnestly pray that God uses these feeble efforts of mine to bring you to know and enjoy Him now and forever through salvation in the only Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen (let it be).

Your servant for the sake of the Gospel,
Timothy Baird

The Attributes of God Tract 1—God is Creator and Sustainer

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The Glory of God

God is Creator and Sustainer

The Bible teaches us that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”1. Contrary to the unthinking assertions of some, the universe is not a causeless effect. Everything did not come from nothing. Just as the existence of a building demands a builder, and art points to an artist, so creation requires a Creator2. God created all that is, whether visible or invisible3, and sustains everyone and everything effortlessly4. God was the creative force behind all that is, while He Himself was neither caused nor created5, but exists eternally6, outside of time (which is part of His creation)7. God alone is the Creator; none other rightly bears that title.

God is your Creator as well8. As your Creator, you belong to God, meaning He has every right to breathe life into you and take it away, to set limitations and define His expectations for you, to give commandments and hold you accountable for your obedience to them. Because God is your Creator, it is right that you would live your life with gratitude before Him in an attitude of absolute humility, reverence, and obedience. Your life has a purpose – you were created to worship and give thanks to your Creator – the One who has given you life and every good pleasure you have ever enjoyed9, sustaining you to this very day.

The Bad News

When God finished His creation, He said that it was “very good”10. God and man dwelt in perfect fellowship with one another. There was no death or suffering in the world; it was perfectly sustained by God in a flawless state. But man rebelled against God11 and the world was plunged from its “very good” state into darkness and decay12. Since Adam’s first act of disobedience, every one of his descendents has inherited death13 and a sinful nature14 that continues his rebellion against God. It is because of that broken and unsound sin nature that you love what you should hate (sin)15 and hate what you should love (righteousness)16.

To show us our sinful state, God has given us His Law (the Ten Commandments)17. God has commanded us to love Him supremely18 by worshiping only Him19, reverencing His name20, and honoring His holy day21 – commandments that most people’s sinful hearts, contrary to all virtue and reason, drive them to break constantly. God has also commanded us to love our fellow man22 (who is made in His image23) by honoring our parents24, not committing murder25 (God considers hatred to be murder26), or adultery27 (God considers lust to be adultery28), and not stealing29, lying30, or being greedy31 – commandments that most people unreasonably break every day.

God is reasonable and just to command these things and it is sane and right for you and I to obey them. Our disobedience to God’s commands is no small thing. Disobedience is high treason against our Creator, and that throws contempt upon His infinite glory. Since God is infinitely worthy of our love, any sin is infinitely offensive; therefore our just Creator will give the correct punishment for it – infinite, eternal destruction in the fires of hell32. Breaking God’s Law shows us that we are sinners, in desperate need of a Savior. Have you broken your Creator’s Law? Will you be found innocent or guilty on the day of judgment?

The Good News

The truth is bleak; however there is amazingly good news for guilty sinners! The Bible says that because God is kind and merciful, it was His will to save for Himself a people. God can offer all sinners forgiveness because His Son, Jesus Christ, Who is of the same essence as the Father33(fully God yet fully man), entered time, came to earth, lived the sinless life34 no one else was able to live35, and gave Himself up as a sacrifice for sin36. Jesus allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross where the Bible says He took upon Himself the sins of every man, woman, and child who will turn from their sin and trust in Him alone as Savior and Lord37. As He hung on the cross, He was crushed under the full weight of the wrath of God that rightly belonged to His people38. Jesus died forsaken of the Father39, was buried40, and rose again three days later41, giving proof the He is God, and that His sacrifice was accepted.

The sacrificial death of His Son was the only way God could forgive our offenses without being a corrupt judge who perverts justice by “justifying the wicked42” without their due penalty being paid43. If you will trust Christ’s work as your only hope for a right standing before God44, on the day when you’re judged45, it will be seen that justice has already been served – the penalty for your sin will be considered as paid by Jesus46. In fact, God will treat you as though you had lived Jesus’s perfect life47, and will take you into His glorious kingdom for all eternity48! Repent and believe the Gospel today49! You might not have a tomorrow50.

“Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.” (Deuteronomy 32:35)

1 Gen. 1:1; 2 Heb. 3:4; 3 Col. 1:16; 4 Acts 17:22-31, Ps. 104:27-30, Job 12:10, 34:14-15, Col. 1:17, Heb. 1:3; 5 Is. 43:10; Rev. 4:11; 6 Ps. 90:2; 7 2 Pt. 3:8; 8 Ps. 89:47; 9 Jam. 1:17; 10 Gen. 1:31; 11 Gen. 2:16-17, 3:6; 12 Rom. 8:19-22; 13 Rom. 5:12; 14 Rom. 3:9-18; Eph. 2:3; 15 Jn. 3:19-21; 16 Jn. 3:19-21; 17 1 Tim. 1:9-11; Rom. 3:19; Gal. 3:24; 18 Mk. 12:30; 19 Ex. 20:1-6; 20 Ex. 20:7; 21 Ex. 20:8-11; 22 Mk. 12:31; 23Gen. 1:27; 24 Ex. 20:12; 25 Ex. 20:13; 26 1 Jn. 3:15; 27 Ex. 20:14; 28 Mt. 5:28; 29 Ex. 20:15; 30 Ex. 20:16;31 Ex. 20:17; 32 Lk. 12:5; 33 Col. 2:9; 34 Heb. 4:15; 35 Rom. 3:10, 23; 36 Is. 53:5-6; 37 1 Pt. 2:24; 38 Is. 53:10-11; 39 Mk. 15:34; 40 Lk. 23:52-53; 41 Lk. 24:1-8; 42 Prv. 17:15; 43 Rom. 6:23; 44 Rom. 5:1-2; Eph. 1:12; Heb. 3:6; 45 Acts 17:30-31; Ps. 9:8; 46 1 Jn. 4:10; 47 Phil. 3:9-10; 48 Mt. 25:34; 49 Mk. 1:15; Acts 3:19; 50 Jam. 4:13-16

The Attributes of God Tract 2—God is One

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The Glory of God

God is One

The Bible teaches us that there is only One true God. Deuteronomy 4:39 says, “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” The God of the Bible is the One true God, and there is no other. Though this claim is viewed as narrow minded by many, it is not unreasonable. Isn’t the very nature of truth narrow? If your car is a Honda, it is not a Chevrolet. If the God of the Bible is the Living God (and He is), then no other god worshiped by man is in reality a god at all, whether one or many. It is the One true God who has created and sustains all that is1, has established His Law2, and has promised to righteously judge mankind by it3. He is also the same God who, being rich in mercy, has made a way for guilty sinners to be forgiven through the blood of His own Son4.

The Bible shows us that while God is One, He exists as a Trinity5. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are One, and are yet separate from one another as three different persons. We freely confess that this is a great mystery – how God can be One, yet He is three, but the fact that something is mysterious does not make it false. I personally do not understand the details of how gravity works, but that doesn’t mean I don’t remain firmly attached to earth by it! Human understanding does not define truth, God does, and God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible is that God is One, yet He is referred to as three persons.

The Bad News

Since Yahweh is the One true God, His Law rightly demands that we worship only Him, and no other6. God has, since the beginning of time, had His people who worshiped only Him, but since man’s fall into sin we tend to go after other gods of our own making. Men make gods out of wood and metal, or gods in their own minds. Many today worship only one god, but the god of the Qur’an is not the same God that is revealed in the Bible. Even the followers of modern Judaism claim that their god is the God of the Old Testament, but the modern Jews’ god is in reality a blasphemous denial of Yahweh of the Scriptures, since they (along with all other world religions except Biblical Christianity) worship a god that man can earn a right standing before with his good deeds, and that, if man does well enough, God will not punish his evil deeds. This is a sick denial of the holiness and righteousness of God8. Further, the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament9, and most Jews today deny Jesus Christ, who is the God of both Testaments incarnate. Worshiping false gods is idolatry, and idolatry is sin.

Making a god in one’s own imagination is the most popular form of idolatry in the United States today, where many say they believe in the God of Scripture, yet they twist their view of God, to tame Him, and make Him feel harmless – a God that simply overlooks sin. People do this because God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible makes them uncomfortable10. They must do something to soothe their burning consciences, and silence the knowledge of judgment and eternity that they were born with11. Many people give lip service to “God”, but in reality, the god they’re thinking of looks more like a careless, generous old grandpa than the God of the Bible. God is as He has revealed Himself to be in Scripture – generous, merciful, kind, and patient, yet righteous, holy, and just, seeing our deeds at all times, and purposing to bring our every thought, word and deed into judgment on the last day12.

Loving anyone or anything more than the One true God is also Idolatry. If you would take an honest look at yourself, you would likely find at least one thing that you are putting before God in your life. Are you loving a significant other, a hobby, money, the pleasure of drugs, sex, music, self image, or video games, anything more than God? Even loving your own life more than God is creating an idol before Him. Placing anything, good or bad, above God is sin. God will punish all sin on the day of judgment.

The Good News

Though you and I have dishonored God by ignoring, or even remaking Him to our liking, and giving other things the love that only He deserves, He, being rich in mercy, made a way for us to be forgiven13. He sent His Son to die in the place of sinners14. Before Jesus’s arrest, knowing the great sufferings that He was about to endure, went to a place called Gethsemane15, and “being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground”16. The Bible says He was praying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done”17. What was in this cup that was so disturbing to our Lord that “His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground”? Was it the physical torments that Jesus was about to endure? No! History tells us that many thousands of Christian martyrs through the ages have went to their deaths, even being burned alive at the stake, in a state of perfect calm; even singing praises to God in the flames! If people who know the benefits of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection could face such tortures calmly, or even with joy, why would the “Author of their salvation” be so scared of the physical pain He was about to face? No, while the physical tortures Jesus faced were unimaginably severe, they are not what filled that dreadful cup God offered to Jesus Christ (spiritually speaking) in the garden of Gethsemane. Revelation 14:10 speaks of “the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger”. If God were to succeed in His mission to save a people for Himself, and remain a just Judge while forgiving them, all the punishment that was earned for their sins had to be paid by someone. Someone has to pay!

If God’s justice says that sin deserves eternity in hell, and Jesus made a full satisfaction of the wrath of God on the cross on behalf of His people, that means Jesus suffered an eternity’s worth of wrath in that relatively short space of time18. He did not just suffer the eternity of wrath earned by just one individual, but by every man, woman, and child through all of time who had, or would ever come to Him for forgiveness19! Figuratively speaking, the wrath of God is what filled the cup that Jesus feared to drink, and Jesus obediently drank it all, making a full payment for the demands of justice.

The God of the Bible is the One true God, and the sacrifice made by the Jesus of the bible is the only one that God has ever, or ever will accept20. God proved this by raising His Son from the dead. Please do not continue in your idolatry; acknowledge God for Who He is, acknowledge yourself for what you are, repent of sin and flee to the only Savior, today.

“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22)

1 Is. 45:12; 2 Ex. 20:1-17; 3 Rom. 3:19; 4 Rom. 5:6-10; 5 1 Cor. 8:6; Jn. 1:8; Acts 5:3-4; Mt. 28:19; 6 Ex. 20:3-6; 7 Gen. 1-50; 8 Prv. 17:15; Ex. 34:7; 9 Ex. 3:13-14; Jn. 8:58; 10 Jn. 3:19-20; 11 Ecc. 3:11; 12 Ex. 34:5-7; 13 Jn. 3:14-16; 14 Is. 53:5-11; 15 Mt. 26:36-50; 16 Lk. 22:44; 17 Lk. 22:42; 18 Heb. 9:26; 19 Jn. 10:11; 20 Rom. 6:10

The Attributes of God Tract 3—God is Great and Perfect

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The Glory of God

God is Great and Perfect

The Bible teaches us that God is great and perfect. “For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.”1

God alone is great. It is true that men have done great and amazing things, but any greatness in the creature ultimately points to the greatness of the Creator and Sustainer. No man has inherent greatness.

No one is perfect like God is perfect. Even the perfection of sinless angels does not compare to the perfections of God2. Since God is an absolutely perfect being, all that He is and all that He does is perfect3. In the end, all of creation will bow before God and confess His perfections4. Depending upon your standing before God (being either in Christ, and thus justified, or without Him, and thus condemned), you will see, either with unspeakable dread, or unimaginable delight, how perfectly all things throughout human history were brought together to display God’s glory. You and I will prove to be examples of God’s perfection, either glorifying the perfection of His grace as vessels of honor in heaven5, or glorifying the perfection of His justice as vessels of dishonor in Hell6. God is absolutely perfect in all that He is, says, and does.

The Bad News

Since God is perfect, we should honor Him by fully trusting and obeying Him, knowing that His will, as reveled in the Bible, is as perfect as He is7. Despite God’s greatness and perfection, our nature is to reject His will and fulfill our own desires instead. This is sinful since in doing so we deny His perfection, and the perfection of His will, and insist upon the absurd notion that we know what is best for ourselves. Our sin is no less than a rejection of the lordship of God; an attempt to seat ourselves upon His throne, in His place. This is not only unspeakably unwise, since our perfect Lord’s will for us is perfect8, but it is also unspeakably evil, since our great God, seated upon His throne in heaven, deserves to have His place upon the thrones of our hearts as well. God – the only being in existence who is truly worthy to be called great, and worthy to be bowed down to and obeyed, is in effect told to subject Himself to our desires every time we sin. Since God is our great Lord, there is no such thing as a “small” sin because there is no such thing as a small God to sin against.

If there is one truth most people will agree upon, it is that no one is perfect. Perhaps one in ten thousand would be so far removed from reality as to try and say that they have lived a perfect life. The Bible gives us the standard of “goodness” when it says: “the LORD is good”9. If God is the standard of goodness, and God is perfect, then a good person is someone who has been absolutely, sinlessly perfect in thought word and deed from the time of their birth to the moment of their death. While most would agree that they are not perfect, very few realize that our imperfection is a dreadfully serious problem10! God is perfect, and as such He rightly demands perfection from each of us11. On the day that you and I are judged, if you would be justified outside of Christ, you must have lived the absolutely perfect life that God demands12. Do you measure up to God’s standard? Have you lived a perfect life, or have you lied, blasphemed, and worshiped the god of pleasure? Are you a goodperson, or are you living in sin even as you read this? The Bible says that if you have not lived a perfect life, God cannot even bear to look at you13! Outside of Christ, our perfect Creator’s eyes are too holy to even look at your sinfulness, much less share the intimacy of His favorable presence with you, in this life or in heaven for eternity! Even if we were able to stop sinning at this very moment, and never sin again, justice would still demand the eternal destruction of our souls for our past sins.

“They have acted corruptly toward Him, They are not His children, because of their defect; But are a perverse and crooked generation.” (Deuteronomy 32:5)

The Good News

Our situation is truly hopeless on our own, but there is hope for any who will humble themselves before God, and come to Christ by faith14. By God’s standard, Jesus is perfect – He is the only good person that has ever walked this earth15. Also, since God the Son is equal in every respect with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit16, Jesus is great – He is of infinitely greater value than any other person. Our Lord left His glorious throne in Heaven17, and was born of a virgin18 into this fallen, hateful world, being fully God, yet fully man19. Jesus’s greatness and perfection uniquely qualified Him to be the only acceptable sacrifice for the sins of His people. Our Lord, being the infinitely valuable Son of God, is great, and being sinless, is perfect, just like God the Father.

Under the Old Testament ceremonial law, the Jews observed certain feasts, designed by God to help them to remember past events, and to illustrate things for them that had not yet happen. One such feast was established after God, through a series of plagues, brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt, where they were held as slaves for four hundred years. Though God sent many severe plagues, Pharaoh would not let the nation of Israel go. After the final plague, the death of every firstborn person and animal in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh was finally persuaded to let the people go20. Four days before that final plague, God instructed the nation of Israel to take a one year old, unblemished lamb from their flocks and keep it in each of their houses until twilight on the fourth day, when each family was to kill their lamb, put his blood on the doorposts of their houses, roast him, and eat him21. As the death angel went through the land of Egypt, he would pass over any home that had the blood of a lamb applied to its doorposts22.

After God brought the nation of Israel out of their captivity through that final plague, God commanded that the people continue to observe the passover feast to commemorate the children of Israel’s miraculous Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Though it certainly did a good job of reminding the Jews about God’s work on their behalf in Egypt, the feast also had another meaning; an even greater significance – to point the Jews to their coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, who was to be the “…Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”23.

Taking their lambs into their homes for four days means that the family develops emotional ties with their lamb – they’re making a valuable sacrifice when they kill their lamb. This pointed the Jews to the future reality of God’s sacrificing of His own, infinitely great, infinitely valuable, infinitely loved Son. Another requirement for the Passover lamb is that he be unblemished. This clearly pictures the sinless perfection of the Lord Jesus that no one has ever (or ever will) come even close to. As the feast illustrated – if the judgment of God was to pass over anyone, the only sacrifice that God would accept is a sinless one – a condition that only the Son of God met. The Passover lamb is killed, picturing the spilling of the Lord Jesus’s blood that God’s justice required, and the lamb is then roasted, picturing the pouring out of the wrath of God for the sins of His people upon Jesus in their place. The application of the lamb’s blood to the doorposts, which originally resulted in the Jews being protected from God’s plague upon the Egyptians, points us to our desperate need to have the blood of Christ applied to us.

Jesus, the church’s Passover Lamb24, made the only sacrifice God will accept on behalf of sinners. God, being perfect, demanded a perfectly spotless sacrifice – a demand that only Jesus could meet25. And God, being infinitely great, and thus infinitely offended by sin, demanded an infinitely valuable sacrifice – A demand that only Jesus, being God in the flesh, could meet. If you will turn from your sin and trust Christ alone to save you, His blood will be applied to you, and the second death, which is the final judgment of God – eternal destruction in hell, will not touch you26. Moreover, the perfect God who cannot even bear to set His holy eyes upon you, will look upon you with unending love, because instead of seeing the wickedness of your past, He will see His Son’s perfections when He looks at you27. Forsake all sin today and come to Jesus, showing your faith in Him by your changed, obedient life. He is the only true passover Lamb! If you ignore such a wonderful free gift of salvation, like the hardened Egyptians, you will certainly face the judgment of God.

“Jesus Christ … there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10, 12)

“For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:2-3a)

1 Dt. 32:3-4; 2 Job 4:18; 3 Dt. 32:3-4; 4 Is. 45:23; Rom. 4:11; Phil. 2:9-11; 5 Eph. 1:5-6; Rom. 9:22-23; 6 Rom. 9:22-23; 7 Ps. 12:6, 19:7-9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 8 Rom. 12:2; 9 Ps. 100:5; 10 Dt. 32:5; 11 Lv. 19:2; Mt. 5:48; 12 Rom. 10:5; 13 Hab. 1:13; 14 Rom. 5:6-11; 15 Heb. 4:15; 16Jn. 10:30; 17 Jn. 17:5; 18 Is. 7:14; 19 Col. 2:9 ; 20 Ex. 1-11; 21 Ex. 12:5-8; 22 Ex. 12:13; 23 Jn. 1:29; 24 1 Pt. 1:18-19; 1 Cor. 5:7-8; 25Rom. 3:10, 23; 26 1 Thess. 1:10; 27 1 Cor. 1:30

The Attributes of God Tract 4—God is Spirit

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The Glory of God

God is Spirit

The Bible teaches us that although God is a person (meaning He has an intellect and a will, being self-aware and knowable), He is not limited to a physical body. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit.” No other being is unhindered and free like God is. The Bible describes God in physical terms at times, but such imagery is used to teach us difficult truths about God in ways that we can understand; it is not teaching us that God possesses an actual physical body. For example, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”1. This is clearly a metaphor talking about the comfort and security that a believer has in God; it is not teaching that God has literal wings that His people hide under. God is spirit, and is thus totally free – unconfined by a physical body.

God, being a spirit, is invisible2, which means that any image we could come up with would not be able to accurately depict Him. In fact, efforts to make an image of God greatly dishonor Him, since such actions both deny the truth of God’s spiritual nature, and suppose that the creature (man), with his limited knowledge, imagination, and abilities could accurately depict His Creator. These are some reasons why it is wrong to make images of God3. God is invisible, so we should not try to represent Him with images. How then could we ever hope to know an invisible God? The wonderful truth is that “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God…4. John 1:18 (ESV) says of Jesus, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” Our wonderful Creator is revealed to us by His Son.

Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent”6. You can know your Creator. Knowing God is the greatest pleasure man is capable of experiencing, and God desires you to experience the matchless delights and ravishing pleasures of fellowship with Him, now and for eternity5!

The Bad News

One reason God gave us the gift of sex is to illustrate the pleasures of intimacy with Him9. We are not suggesting that anyone enters into a physical relationship with God, but that sex was designed, in part, to beautifully illustrate the spiritual pleasures of fellowship with and worship of God. This is one reason why the misuse of sexuality is sinful10. Sex was designed and blessed by God to be enjoyed by one man and one woman in the context of a marriage covenant before Him11. This side of man’s fall into sin, we are deeply broken, and tend to misuse our sexuality. Our good sexual desires are bent in directions they were never meant to go. Perhaps you, driven by lust, have sex outside of marriage, or with another person’s husband or wife. Maybe sin has bent your sexual desires toward the same sex, or toward the use of pornography. Regardless of how loudly the world may applaud fornication, adultery, pornography, or homosexuality, loving or acting upon any unrighteous lust (sexual desire tolerated or acted upon outside the marriage covenant as defined by God), is turning something He designed to beautifully display His glory into something perverted and sinful.

The fact that you can sin without feeling the horrible weight of that sin, and God’s judgment against you for it is because unless you have been born again, you are “dead in the trespasses and sins in which you walk”12, and are “darkened in [your] understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in [you], due to [your] hardness of heart”13. Even though we know God exists because nature clearly reveals Him to us14, and that He will hold us accountable for our sin15 (our God-given conscience tells us this), and though many of us have read the truth in the Bible, and have had the truth spoken to us, unless you’ve been born again, you will take your knowledge of the truth, and “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”16. Outside of Christ, God will not have fellowship with you because of your bad record, and you will not seek after Him because of your bad heart17. This is what the Bible calls spiritual death.

Unless God acts on your behalf, raising the dead to life – changing your heart, and enabling you to respond to Him18, you will die in your sin and spend eternity in a state of death19. Far from being unaware or unconscious in eternity, you will know the unspeakable agony of being totally separated from the favorable presence of the one from whom all goodness and well-being comes20. Because God is loving, merciful, and kind, you have known goodness and all kinds of pleasures in your life21. You have not yet known what it means to be completely cut off from His generosity. If you remain in your sin, you will surely know that dreadful separation from Him. God’s kindness does not extend past the gates of hell – only justice is given there. If you will not repent of all sin, including sexual sin, you will not enter heaven22. You cannot have both sexual sin and Christ. Our Lord will not welcome someone who reaches to Him with only one hand while the other is still firmly attached to sin. This is why Jesus said, “if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.” 23

The Good News

In an act of amazing grace, Jesus was sent to provide the way for sinners like you and I to be healed of our deadly sin disease. In Christ, these precious words will be a reality to you: “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross”24.

Through the Son of God’s death and resurrection, His people’s bad record is wiped away since justice was served to Him in our place on the cross, and His resurrection life is our life. In that way God “forgives us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us”. God gives Jesus’s righteousness to those who come to Him as their only hope of salvation25. In Christ, our bad record is buried and forgotten26, and instead of being treated as we deserve for our wickedness, we are loved with the love that Christ deserves.

Jesus also made the way for His people’s bad hearts to be made new. “He made you alive together with Him”. When God truly saves someone, the Bible teaches that they are “born again”27. This means that we are given a new heart that desires to come to God through His Son28, to turn from all sin29, and to love the God we once hated and ignored30. In the second birth we’re changed from the inside out – we begin to hate the sin we once loved and love the righteousness we once hated31. The regenerate (those who have been born again) have both the desire and the ability to “…present [ourselves] to God as those alive from the dead, and [our] members as instruments of righteousness to God”32. Turn from your sin today and come to Christ before it’s too late.

“Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezk. 33:11)

1 Ps. 36:7 (emphasis added); 2 1 Tim. 1:17; 3 Dt. 4:15-19; 4 Col. 1:15a; 5 Acts 17:24-27; 6 Jn. 17:3; 7 Hab. 1:13; 8 Is. 59:2; 9 Eph. 5:31-32; 10 Ex. 20:14; 1 Cor. 6:9, 18; 11 Gen. 2:24; 12 Eph. 2:1-2; 13 Eph. 4:18; 14Rom. 1:18-23; 15 Rom. 2:15-16; 16 Rom. 1:18, 21-22; 17 Rom. 3:11; 18 Jn. 3:6-8, 6:44; 19 Rev. 21:8; 20 2 Thess. 1:9; 21 Mt. 5:45; Lk. 6:35; Jam. 1:17; 22 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 23 Mk. 9:43; 24 Col. 2:13-14; 25 1 Cor. 1:30;26 Ps. 103:12; 27 Tit. 3:4-7; Jn. 3:3-8; 1 Pt. 1:3-5, 20-23; 28 Jn. 6:44; 29 2 Tim. 2:25; 30 Rom. 3:11, 5:5; 31Rom. 3:10; 1 Pt. 2:24; 32 Rom. 6:13b