Daily Light – April 16, 2020

What Should I Do with My Stimulus Check?

Article by Clint Moore (thegospelcoalition.org)

Since many Americans are receiving stimulus checks from the federal government, how should Christians think about the influx of money?

Should we give it away? Save it? Spend it? Tithe it?

Though the Bible doesn’t give us specific commands for what we should do when the government gives away money, God does give many helpful principles for pursuing financial wisdom.

Here are eight biblical guidelines.

1. God Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills

God not only owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10), but he owns every penny of the $2 trillion stimulus. Christians are to be humble stewards of God’s resources—his third-party money managers.

Be thankful for your government, but even more thankful for your God.

2. God Provides for His People’s Needs

It’s disgraceful when those who are given the opportunity to provide for their families fail to do so (1 Tim. 5:8). Take care of your own bills, debts, and expenses as well of those of your extended family. This stimulus was designed to bring economic stability in a time of instability.

3. God Sometimes Provides for Future Difficulty

When provisions are plentiful, the ant works in wisdom knowing cold and less fruitful winters are coming (Prov. 6:6–8). We don’t know how long the economic downturn could last, so saving seems prudent.

4. Godliness with Contentment Is Great Gain

Since the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (1 Tim. 6:6–10), be careful not to fall into the temptation to love the stuff this money can buy more than the stability God can provide.

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (Prov. 30:8–9)

5. God Provides for Enjoyment

When held in tension with being ready to share, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying God’s provision. Enjoying a nice date night or a new outfit as a gift from God also helps the economy.

6. God Provides So We Might Share

Paul urges Timothy to remind the wealthy of the uncertainty of money and to be generous and willing to share (1 Tim. 6:17). Consider how you might help a family, friend, or even a business. There is invaluable dignity in work. Giving to businesses provides them income and restores that dignity to their workers.

The United States has extraordinary economic safety nets in place (like this stimulus), while many countries throughout the world do not. Consider giving to individual global partners or larger missions agencies who can funnel funds toward those in even more dire situations.

7. God Loves a Cheerful Giver

While some Christians agree that tithing 10 percent is not the New Testament model of giving, joyful generosity is (2 Cor. 9:7) the standard. Online giving has helped many churches stem the tide of financial disaster, but continue to give generously to the church, especially if you’re a member.

8. It’s More Blessed to Give Than to Receive

However you use the stimulus money, remember Jesus said it is more blessed—happy!—to give than to receive. So find your higher joys not in receiving or hoarding these funds, but by sharing them through business and acts of generosity (Acts 20:33–35).

Many Good Ways to Use It

For someone who has lost income, it seems wisest to treat this stimulus check like any other income and to focus most of it on providing for immediate needs. Be faithful to give some to your local church but, considering the above biblical principles, feel free to use the rest as you normally would.

If, on the other hand, your income has not yet been affected in a significant way, you might consider dividing the money—say, if you received $1,200—in the following way:

Use $300 to pay down existing debt.

Put $300 into savings.

Do some research to see which industries have been hit hardest in your local economy. Consider gifting $300 to businesses you know personally.

For the remaining $300, check how giving at your local church has been affected since the downturn. Donate it to a local food bank, or to your church’s designated benevolence fund, or perhaps give it to Christian and non-Christian organizations on the frontlines of helping people in crisis. Consider giving it to another church struggling financially. You might donate to global missions, share with a neighbor or friend who’s fiscally hurting, even pay a struggling family’s rent or utility bill.

God is already bringing good in countless ways amid suffering. May he even use dollars from this world’s kingdoms to advance the purposes of his kingdom.

Clint Moore is a staff pastor at Christ Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Clint was trained in pastoral ministry and theology at Desert Springs Church (DSC) in Albuquerque. Clint and his wife, Joanna, have two sons.

Daily Light – April 15, 2020

Fighting Loneliness in the Coronavirus Outbreak

From an Interview with John Piper

Alone Is Not Ideal

These really are unprecedented days, and we don’t know how long they’re going to go, and we don’t know how bad things are going to get or not. So, it’s good to say in general, for the long-term issue of aloneness or loneliness or the short-term issue of loneliness during this crisis, that it’s okay to believe and to feel that loneliness or aloneness is not the ideal way of life that God set up for humanity at the beginning. It’s okay to believe that. God said to Adam when he was alone in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that the man should be alone.”

But the world isn’t the way it was created to be, and there are many reasons — some good, some justifiable, some bad — for why people are alone. Paul wasn’t married. Jesus wasn’t married. They knew lots of aloneness. Thousands of missionaries have had fruitful ministries without marriage partners, which means that even though aloneness is not ideal, God has provided grace for all kinds of situations in this fallen world that are not ideal. And loneliness is one of them. He’s not unaware of it. Jesus experienced it, and there is grace for it — whether the short term of coronavirus loneliness or the long term of a life situation that involves loneliness.

Savior in Solitude

One way that God planned grace for the lonely is by sending his Son to become a human being so that Jesus, his Son, could experience a kind of loneliness that would make him, the Bible says, a sympathetic high priest for the lonely (Hebrews 4:15). I think the Gethsemane scene the night before he died is one of the most poignant in the Bible. Jesus takes his closest friends — Peter, James, and John — apart and he says,

“My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther [so that means he’s now alone] he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:38–40)

That happened three times. They fell asleep on him. He wanted their partnership in prayer in this hour — he was a human being — and they couldn’t do it. It gets worse. When the soldiers come, it says then that they all forsook him and fled (Mark 14:50). And it gets worse yet, because the next morning, Jesus says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Mercy in Our Loneliness

Now, why so much loneliness in his suffering? Because it was all according to the Scripture. This was planned. Why? Well, among other reasons, it was so that Hebrews 4:15–16 could be in the Bible for lonely people.

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted [or tested] as we are [perhaps with loneliness], yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The text says “in time of need,” but you could just supply “in time of loneliness.” So, Christ experienced utter forsakenness, utter loneliness, so that we would boldly pray for grace — a special grace in time of loneliness — and would have confidence that he would give it.

‘Turn to Me, O Lord’

Now, what might a prayer like that sound like? Well, here’s what it sounded like in the mouth of David in Psalm 25:16:

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.

David had a lot of crises where he was cut off from the people he needed. This is a good prayer right now for thousands of people.

Will God answer that prayer? There are good reasons to believe that he will. First because he made provisions for it while he was still here. He said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). The last thing he said on earth was, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). In other words, he sends the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ, and he will be with every Christian. Christian, you are not alone. I’ll say it again: Christian, you are not alone. This is absolutely wonderful. You are never alone. The most important person in the universe — mark this — is with you personally. He promised to be. He doesn’t break his word. He is.

The second reason we can expect the sweet answer to that prayer is this: “Fear not, for I am with you.” There it is. You don’t even need to go any farther in Isaiah 41:10 — even though we want to.

Fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

But the first phrase is everything: Fear not, for I am with you.

Or here’s the way Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 9:8: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” In other words, there is a grace — a well-timed grace — to make you fruitful in times of loneliness.

He Will Come to Us

So, the experience of loneliness is real for God’s people — even God’s people. Because this world is not what it was created to be yet. In its ideal form, when it was made, it fell. It is a fallen world, and our relationships are fallen, and viruses are fallen.

But God did not leave the world and its brokenness without grace — special grace for every need that his people have, including the need of loneliness. Jesus purchased that grace for sinners with his own lonely suffering. He knows our frame. He has tasted it — worse than we know. And he will not leave us as orphans. He will come to us. Whether the coronavirus isolates us or takes our life, he will not leave us alone. This is a precious and sure promise.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Coronavirus and Christ.

Daily Light – April 14, 2020

Finished

What the Son Cried as He Died

Article by Scott Hubbard, Editor, desiringGod.org

On the first Good Friday, throngs gathered on a hill outside the walls of Jerusalem, watching as Jesus hung upon the cross.

The Pharisees saw an agitator and a blasphemer, finally facing God’s judgment. The soldiers saw a common criminal, caught between two thieves. Pilate saw an innocent man, executed unjustly. The disciples saw their Lord, dying outside his kingdom.

No one in the crowd, however, saw what Jesus saw. As the Son of God looked out from Golgotha’s lonely height, he saw his task accomplished, his work complete, his Father’s will fulfilled. With the nails pressing in, the blood streaming down, and his breath almost gone, he told the true story of the cross: “It is finished” (John 19:30).

It is finished: the law fulfilled, the devil disarmed, the cup of wrath drained, and sinners saved.

Law Fulfilled

When our Lord came to dwell among us, he took up the ancient prophecy and said,

Behold, I have come;
     in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
     your law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:7–8Hebrews 10:5–7)

From Bethlehem’s cradle to Calvary’s cross, Jesus’s food was to do his Father’s will (John 4:34). Though “tempted as we are” (Hebrews 4:15), no unbelief shook his faith, no envy clouded his contentment, no selfishness tinged his soul. Of all the men and women born beneath the law, he alone loved the Lord his God perfectly with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4). He alone walked the earth unfallen.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets,” Jesus told his disciples. “I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). And so he did. In Jesus, every prophet’s dream took on glorious form; every ancient promise found its final Yes; every shadow of the law stepped into the light. Even in his final hour, his resolve remained unflinching: “Scripture must be fulfilled in me” (Luke 22:37).

With no iota incomplete, and no dot left undone, he looked upon the law and said: “It is finished.”

Devil Disarmed

The promise of the devil’s downfall stretches back to the beginning. There on the edge of Eden, God vowed that a daughter of Eve would one day bear a greater Adam, a conqueror who would not listen to the serpent, but slay him (Genesis 3:15). Every demon heard — and trembled (Matthew 8:29).

When Jesus finally arrived, he came, as promised, “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). He opened the eyes that Satan had blinded (Luke 4:18); he straightened the backs he had bent (Luke 13:10–16); he freed the slaves he had captured (Luke 4:18). And then, in Jesus’s final hour, the very hour that belonged to the power of darkness (Luke 22:53), the devil was undone.

As Jesus was bound to the cross, he bound the strong man and plundered his goods (Matthew 12:29). As Jesus was cast out of Jerusalem, he cast Satan out of his kingdom (John 12:31). As the nails drove through Jesus’s feet, he drove his feet through the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). And as Jesus was lifted up for all to see, he put the devil to open shame (Colossians 2:15).

As the hour of darkness ended, Jesus saw the skull broken beneath his heel, and said: “It is finished.”

Cup Drained

Throughout Jesus’s ministry, a shadow hung over his soul. The darkness did not come from the law, which to him was a delight (Psalm 40:8), nor from the devil, who had no claim on him (John 14:30). No, the shadow was cast by something else, something that filled him with sorrow that was almost unspeakable: the cup of God’s wrath.

No other thought caused our Savior such anguish. “How great is my distress!” he cried on the road to Jerusalem (Luke 12:50). “Now is my soul troubled,” he said as he approached his final hour (John 12:27). In Gethsemane, he plunged into darker depths: “[He] began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said . . . ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death’” (Mark 14:32). He asked if there were any way the cup could be withdrawn (Matthew 26:39), and heard his Father’s answer in the silence. And so, for the joy set before him, he stretched out his hand and grasped the dreaded cup.

As Jesus began to drink upon the cross, the sky shuddered; the daylight fled (Matthew 27:45). Still, he put his mouth to the cup. He drank the consuming fire of judgment, the outer darkness of almighty anger, the infinite abyss of God’s wrath against sin. He drank, and drank, and drank, until he drained the final dregs.

When his strength was almost spent, Jesus set aside the empty cup, and said: “It is finished.”

Sinners Saved

Some seven centuries before Jesus spoke his final words, the prophet Isaiah said of him, “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). What sight would satisfy Jesus’s soul as he finished his work upon the cross? Isaiah goes on:

By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant
     make many to be accounted righteous,
     and he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)

Jesus was satisfied not only by the law fulfilled, the devil disarmed, and the cup drained, but also by sinners saved. He had come to bring many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10), and the sight of that multitude, at home in his Father’s house, satisfied our dying Savior.

On the cross, Jesus accomplished everything necessary for his people to be with him forever. The Bridegroom gave himself for his bride, so that she might be spotless and resplendent (Ephesians 5:25–27). The Shepherd laid his life down for the sheep, so that they might dwell safely in his fold (John 10:11). The Priest offered himself upon the altar, so that anyone covered by his blood might approach him in the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 7:27).

Out of the anguish of his soul, Jesus saw his people clothed in his own righteousness, and with satisfaction, he said: “It is finished.”

We Begin on Finished Ground

As you stand beneath the cross of Jesus again on this Good Friday, what do you see? Do you see the Savior’s finished work, and gladly receive the Father’s favor? Or do you see a work nearly finished?

Many of us, after singing on Good Friday of the wonders of the cross, live the next day as if we must add a certain measure of obedience and good feelings before we can enjoy what Christ has finished. But we cannot add to a finished work. We cannot contribute to completion. We can only hold out the hand of faith and humbly, happily receive it.

To be sure, we still have a race to run, a devil to resist, good works to walk in, and holiness to pursue. But we begin on finished ground. Before any child of God rises to read one verse, pray one petition, or feel one godly emotion, we wake up shielded in the words “It is finished.” And as we begin our day at Calvary, we find strength to run our race with freedom, resist the devil with defiance, walk in good works with zeal, and pursue holiness with joy.

Sing, then, on every Good Friday, our Savior’s dying words: “It is finished.” And when tomorrow comes, take up the song again.

Scott Hubbard is a graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary and an editor for desiringGod.org. He and his wife, Bethany, live with their son in Minneapolis.

Daily Light – April 13, 2020

Heaven Thundered Hallelujah

Watching Easter with Angels

Article by Greg Morse, Staff Writer, desiringGod.org

My beloved Toviel…

He is risen. He is risen indeed!  O nephew, is not eternity too short a time to praise him?

What we can give with worship is no match for what he deserves. For the honor due his name, I break my song to write you. I have just received word of the enemy’s movements against your young man. I must hasten to the point prematurely.

Lucifer, as cowardly and as crafty as he is, seeks to strip the world of our Master’s glorious resurrection. In his hands, the unparalleled spectacle, the divine detonation — indeed, the exclamation point of all history — would float in their minds as the vague add-on, some shining triviality, some beautiful irrelevance. He aims his arrows at the heart.

We need not wonder why: God broke his jaws with it. Our Master, his people’s sin, and death traveled into the tomb together — only our Lord returned. I can still recollect overhearing the strained shrieks and hisses when the light shone into that empty tomb on the third morning. The devil’s short-lived mockery turned to horror. His once-beautiful voice snarled directions about how they were to cover it up. As demons scrambled, heaven thundered: Hallelujah!

Hear the Empty Tomb

On that first Resurrection Sunday, he scurried to ever so pitifully pay the soldiers to lie that the disciples stole the body (Matthew 28:12–15). Today, however, his sleight of hand takes subtler forms. He busily attempts to distract even the redeemed from the great spectacle, dangling a bunny and some chocolate eggs before them.

It is your great duty and delight to bring your man to the empty tomb and show forth its commanding relevance. Three points to begin with.

1. Forgiveness Proven

Your man is often storm-tossed and robbed of holy cheerfulness because he does not consider the empty tomb with regards to his sin. O Toviel, show him again and again — and not just on Easter — the wonder of the great rise after the plunge!

Remind him that our Master didn’t just invade his own creation, making camp among them as a man, but he plunged to the bottom of that dark, dark, seemingly bottomless abyss of God’s righteous wrath to save him.

Every step of our Master’s breathtaking journey took him closer to this raging sea. We couldn’t believe it. When the time was right, he plunged in — alone — even as those who remained on land chanted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “He saved others; he cannot save himself” (Matthew 27:42). (But for his command to stand down, we would have charged through the gates and silenced them.)

Farther down he went.

Down, down, down, into depths of darkness unknown to men or angels. And at the bottom, where all is blackest, we could only hear him cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” — a lament we have never heard the likes of before or since. When he gave his final gasp, all of heaven went silent.

For three long days, the waters stood still. Creation held its breath. His disciples wept.

But on the morning of the third day, ripples crept across the water. From the unseen bottoms, he rose. “It was not possible for him to be held by the pangs of death!” (Acts 2:24). Heaven erupted. Graves opened. He who condemned sin in the flesh was declared to be the Son of God in power! The Lamb who took away the sins of men — farther than the east is from the west — returned.

This means everything. If their Savior had remained swallowed in the grave, where would they look to know that it was finished? The resurrection is indispensable for proper confidence of forgiveness. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). But Christ has been raised — for their justification (Romans 4:25).

When Satan shames your man, pointing to his sin, point him to the empty tomb, asking, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for you” (Romans 8:34). Show every doubting Thomas the scars of Christ, preaching on forgiven sin!

2. Presence Ensured

What does that glorious Sunday morning mean for their lackluster and wearying Monday mornings? Everything. His rising from the dead means that he is with them.

The children of God too often forget that their elder brother lives. They see him active in their past, and by faith see him inhabiting their future, but strangely, their moment-by-moment is the one place he is not. They rarely see him, as the risen Lord emphasizes, not merely as the one who was and who will be — but as the one who is (Revelation 1:8). How? Because he is risen.

Your man too often worships at the filled tomb, memorializing a fallen hero. He lingers, as it were, in those gloomy days between that unforgettable Friday and this unrivaled Sunday morning. And when his Savior draws near to him, he too often mistakes him for the gardener (John 20:15).

The stone still blocks him from the living Christ. Roll it away! Show him the empty tomb and ask, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5–6). Move him past this endless memorial service and march him forth to join those ranks assaulting the gates of Hades — not because their Lord’s memory is with them, but because he is (Matthew 28:20).

The resurrection means that our Lord isn’t absent. Their Christ himself — not a sentiment, nor a memory, nor a wish upon a star — races like a meteor toward them. O Toviel, if they only had eyes of faith to see what we do! What boldness, what unsinkable joy, what matchless confidence would be theirs if they could see their living High Priest daily interceding for them.

3. Future Guaranteed

His resurrection quaked the wall separating this world from the next. The takeover has begun.

Eternity is invading, that his forces have already arrived on the shore. A new beginning has dawned: “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he might be preeminent” (Colossians 1:18). Ancient gates were flung open. The ladder touched down on earth. Heaven is stepping through. All to the decisive work of the Son.

He is the “firstborn from the dead” — with many to follow. Our Master’s resurrection guarantees his people’s resurrection (2 Corinthians 4:14). Death’s defenses lie shattered. The night is quickly passing. The dead begin to move. He is at the door. “As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

In “the twinkling of an eye,” at the sound of the last trumpet, all will be made new. Perishable bodies of the saints — disease-ridden, decay-laden, crippled, weak — will be swallowed up by life. The earthly realm and the heavenly will mingle; the new creation will brim with God, angels, and men. The empty tomb signals the nearness of the divine takeover. The decisive domino has fallen.

This tidal wave of resurrection will wash over the graveyards and spill over all creation. The grass will sparkle green. The waters will run free. The oceans will pulse with life. Birds will sing new songs from the treetops. All creation “will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). The knowledge of the glory of our Master will cover the world as water covers the seas.

Not a Blinding Afterthought

This day, this event, is not a blinding afterthought — it is everything. His resurrection is no plastic plant — giving no intoxicating smell, showing forth no real beauty, bearing no actual function. If Christ has not been raised, then their faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). If they have hope in this life only, they are the pity of the earth (1 Corinthians 15:19).

But he is risen! He is risen indeed!

Remind him that the resurrection means forgiveness proven, presence ensured, and a future guaranteed. Protect your man from the lie that it is the dazzling irrelevance. The resurrection decisively begins the process, as another of our Master’s men has said, “of clearing this world of all heartbreak” — finally and forever. He is the beginning.

Your delighted uncle,

Gabriel

In The Gabriel Letters, a senior angel (Gabriel) counsels a junior angel (Toviel) on how to assist a human against the temptations of demons and how to bring him home to heaven. This series is inspired by the classic work of C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.

Daily Light – April 10, 2020

Easter Reflections from My Hospital Bed

By Ravi Zacharias

I am writing this from a cancer hospital in Texas. Two months ago I was startled after back surgery to learn I had sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, for which I am currently undergoing treatment. I have had a healthy life blessed by God, so this came as a shock.

I have always believed in the power of the message of Easter, but I believe it even more so now. It is the ultimate message of hope beyond all hopes; in fact, it is the ultimate grounding of hope.

I’ve been lying in my bed thinking how much the physical world reflects spiritual truths. Cancer is literally one rogue cell that begins to replicate itself, bringing death closer each day and overtaking a genuine, life-giving cell. It’s amazing how this reflects the story of the fall in Genesis, when the Enemy of our souls caused Adam and Eve to question God: “Has God really spoken?” Instead of choosing the life-giving breath of God, they allowed the rogue cell of disobedience and self-determination to overtake and metastasize in all of humanity.

Instead of choosing the life-giving breath of God, [Adam and Eve] allowed the rogue cell of disobedience and self-determination to overtake and metastasize in all of humanity.

Now, as we collectively spend billions of dollars battling this rogue cell, we have mainly two options before us: radiation, which zeroes in on the troublesome cells, or chemotherapy, a confluence of approaches including a litany of medications—like shooting buckshot in the dark, killing not only the bad cells but also the good ones. And so, in the end, the victory may be pyrrhic, perhaps costing the victor more than the vanquished.

Our Perfect God and Savior

When we rebelled against God, there remained in God’s economy the need for a savior, a perfect savior. That perfect savior was provided by God himself in his Son. That gives an idea of how much God values every individual life. As the prophets foretold, the redeemer would come. He would be crucified and buried—the normal destiny of a spiritual cancer. But in an amazing prophecy, Jesus rose from the dead in three days, the victor truly victorious. God’s life-giving breath was restored to us.

And so with the apostle we can raise the question, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55). Sin is the rogue cancer cell within us, but the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus turned the tide in favor of God’s created order. So let us celebrate this Easter with gladness of heart and let us not look for life among death, because the grave is not victorious. It is the ultimate reversal of the fall, the ultimate cure.

Sin is the rogue cancer cell within us, but the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus turned the tide in favor of God’s created order.

As Nicholas Wolterstorff of Yale said when he lost his son in a climbing accident, “When we have overcome absence with phone calls, winglessness with airplanes, summer heat with air-conditioning—when we have overcome all these and much more besides, then there will abide two things with which we must cope: the evil in our hearts and death.”

The answer lies in the radiating Son of God who deals with the death cell of disobedience and restores the living cell. How sublime a truth! What a message of hope!

May we be moved to wonder and worship this week as we contemplate the cross and celebrate our risen Lord. Our cities smell of death. We need the aroma of life—his name is Jesus Christ.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). Through evangelism undergirded by apologetics, RZIM seeks to reach those who shape the ideas of a culture with the credibility of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Zacharias is the author of more than 25 books, including his forthcoming Seeing Jesus from the East, co-authored with Abdu Murray. His radio programs, Let My People Think and Just Thinking, are aired on stations worldwide. You can follow him on Twitter.

Daily Light – April 9, 2019

(Happy Anniversary Sweet Jean Marie)

Your Strength Will Fail

Why God Gives Us More Than We Can Handle

Article by Jon Bloom, Staff writer, desiringGod.org

Paul wrote the letter we know as 2 Corinthians right on the tail end of an experience of severe suffering. Here’s how he described it:

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. (2 Corinthians 1:8–9)

Paul doesn’t specify what his affliction was. He didn’t need to, since the letter’s carrier would have briefed the Corinthian believers on the painful details. From the surrounding context (2 Corinthians 1:3–11), it sounds like he suffered persecution nearly to the point of execution. But in the merciful wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we don’t know for sure. And this is a mercy because it encourages us to apply what Paul says in this section to “any affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

But it’s important that we note the degree of Paul’s suffering. This great saint, who seems to have had a much higher-than-average capacity to endure affliction, felt “so utterly burdened beyond [his] strength.” He thought this affliction would kill him.

It didn’t kill him (his lethal affliction was still eight to ten years in the future). But it did accomplish something else:

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

Paul’s suffering brought him to the end of himself: not just to the end of his bodily strength, but to the end of his earthly hopes and plans. He was staring death in the face. What could he trust at the end that would give him hope? The God who raises the dead.

God of All Comfort

Knowing the severity of Paul’s suffering and what it produced in him helps us better understand the comfort he testifies to in his opening words:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3–4)

Although we know that Paul was delivered from this particular “deadly peril” (2 Corinthians 1:10), the deliverance from death wasn’t the primary comfort he received from God. Nor was it the primary comfort he wanted to give to others in their affliction. The primary comfort was that at the very end, when death finally approaches, and there is no more hope of prolonging earthly life, there is one, great, death-defying hope for the Christian: the God who raises the dead.

We know that Paul is speaking of the comfort of resurrection hope because he goes on to say, “for as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Corinthians 1:5). Christ suffered death “for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2), the comforting joy that he would be raised from the dead, and through him all who believe in him (John 5:24). And he was raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20), and therefore everyone who believes in him shall be as well, even though they die (John 11:25).

Comfort in Any Affliction

But which of our sufferings qualify as sharing in Christ’s sufferings? If the affliction Paul experienced in Asia was indeed persecution, it’s easy to make that connection. But what if our afflictions don’t fall into that category?

I believe the answer lies in Paul’s point that the “God of all comfort . . . comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4). All and any are comprehensive words.

We know just from this particular letter that Paul had other kinds of suffering in mind than just persecution. There’s his list of various dangers and deprivations he endured (2 Corinthians 11:25–28), and there’s his “thorn . . . in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7), which I take to be some kind of physical malady or disability.

But the Bible’s category of afflictions extends far wider. Just a sampling would include the affliction and grief of illness and death (like Lazarus in John 11 and Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25–27), the anguish of what feels like spiritual desertion (Psalm 22), the disillusioning confusion when circumstances appear as if God is not keeping his promise (Psalm 89), the disorientation of undergoing serious doubt (Psalm 73), or the agony of prolonged and dark depression (Psalm 88).

All of these experiences and more are forms of suffering — many of which Jesus himself experienced, and all of which he cares very much about. What makes “all our affliction” a sharing in Christ’s sufferings is that when they befall us, we turn in faith to “him [on whom] we have set our hope” for the deliverance he intends to provide for us (2 Corinthians 1:10).

On Him We Have Set Our Hope

That’s actually one of the most important outcomes that God intends for “all our affliction” to produce: “to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9). It’s not the only outcome. As John Piper says, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” But when it comes to our ultimate joy and comfort, few are more important than weaning our trust off ourselves and placing it onto God.

In fact, that’s why sometimes our afflictions come as God’s unexpected answers to our prayers, and therefore at first unrecognized. When we ask God to increase our desire for him and our faith in him and our love for him and our joy in him, we imagine how wonderful the answers would be to experience. But we don’t always anticipate what the process of transforming our desires and trusts and affections and joys will require.

Sometimes, it requires afflictions to reveal ways we rely on ourselves or idols or false hopes instead of God. In and of itself, God does not enjoy afflicting his children (Lamentations 3:33), but when necessary, as a loving Father, he will discipline us (Hebrews 12:7–10). But God’s purposes in such discipline are always for our good, even though at the moment they are painful, because they ultimately produce profound hope and joy (Hebrews 12:11).

This is why Paul, who during his affliction had been “so utterly burdened beyond [his] strength that [he] despaired of life,” ended up exulting in his heavenly Father as the “God of all comfort.” As a result of his suffering, he experienced a more profound reliance on the God who raises the dead, which brought him a comfort that nothing else in the world affords.

Whatever it takes to help us experience this comfort, to help us set our real, ultimate hope on God, is worth it. It really is. I don’t say this lightly. I know some of the painful process of such transformation. I’ve received some of the unexpected answers of God to my prayers. But the comfort God brings infuses all temporal comforts with profound hope. And when all earthly comforts finally fail, it is the one comfort that will remain.

Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He is author of three books, Not by SightThings Not Seen, and Don’t Follow Your Heart. He and his wife have five children and make their home in the Twin Cities.

Daily Light – April 8, 2020

In Coronavirus and Christ, John Piper invites readers around the world to stand on the solid Rock, who is Jesus Christ, in whom our souls can be sustained by the sovereign God who ordains, governs, and reigns over all things to accomplish his wise and good purposes for those who trust in him. Piper offers six biblical answers to the question, What is God doing through the coronavirus?—reminding us that God is at work in this moment in history.  (This work is very timely and is presented in a short work that can be read in just a few minutes).  You can download it for free or purchase it at:

https://www.desiringgod.org/books/coronavirus-and-christ

Coronavirus and Christ | Desiring GodWhat is God doing through the coronavirus pandemic? He is not silent about what he is doing in the world. He has given us the Scriptures. John Piper listens carefully to God’s word and leads us to six answers.www.desiringgod.org

From chapter 1….

Coronavirus and Christ

A Short Book by John Piper

Part 1

The God Who Reigns Over Coronavirus

Chapter 1

COME TO THE ROCK

I am moved to write because playing the odds is a fragile place to put your hope. Odds like 3 percent versus 10 percent, youth versus old age, compromised health versus no history of disease, rural versus urban, self-isolated versus home meeting with friends. Playing the odds provides little hope. It is not a firm place to stand. There is a better way. There is a better place to stand: a Rock of certainty rather than the sand of probabilities.

WHEN CANCER CAME

I recall being told on December 21, 2005, that I had prostate cancer. For the next several weeks, all the talk was about The God Who Reigns over the Coronavirus odds. Odds with waiting to see. Odds with medications. Odds with homeopathic procedures. Odds with radical surgery.  My wife, Noël, and I took these numbers seriously. But in the evening, we would smile at each other and think, Our hope is not in the odds. Our hope is in God.

We did not mean, “It is 100 percent certain God will heal me, while doctors can only give me odds.”  The Rock we are talking about is better than that. Yes, better than healing.

Even before the phone call from the doctor telling me I had cancer, God had already reminded me in a remarkable way about the Rock under my feet. After my usual annual exam, the urologist had looked at me and said, “I’d like to do a biopsy.

” Really? I thought.     “When?”    “Right now, if you have the time.”     “I’ll make time.”

While he was going to get the machine, and while I was changing into the typical unflattering blue gown, there was time for me to ponder what was happening. So he thinks I may have cancer. As my future in this world began to change before my eyes, God brought to my mind something I had read recently in the Bible.

Come to the Rock

GOD SPOKE . Now, let’s be clear. I don’t hear voices. At least I never have. My confidence that God speaks is rooted in the fact that the Bible is his word. (More on that in the next chapter.) He has spoken, once for all, and he still speaks in his word. The Bible, rightly understood, is the voice of God.

Here is what he said to me in that urologist’s office as I waited for the biopsy that would confirm that I had cancer. “John Piper, this is not wrath. Live or die, you will be with me.”

That’s my paraphrase. Here’s what he actually said:

God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. (1 Thess. 5:9–10)

Awake or asleep—that is, live or die—I will be alive with God. How can that be? I am a sinner. I have never lived a day of my life—not one—without falling short of God’s standards of love and holiness. So how can this be? How can God say, “You, John Piper, will be with me—live or die”?

God didn’t even wait for the question before he answered. It’s because of Jesus. Jesus alone. Because of his death, there The God Who Reigns over the Coronavirus 14 will be no wrath toward me. Not because of my perfection. My sins, my guilt, and my punishment fell on my Savior, Jesus Christ. He “died for us.” That’s what his word says. Therefore, I am free from guilt. Free from punishment. Secure in God’s merciful favor. “Live or die,” God said, “you will be with me.”

That is very different from playing the odds with cancer—or with the coronavirus. This is a firm Rock under my feet. It is not fragile. It is not sand. I would like it to be a Rock under your feet.

Daily Light -April 7, 2020

‘His Desire Is for Me’

The Personal, Pursuing Love of Christ

Article by Scotty Smith, Pastor, Franklin, Tennessee

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me (Song 7:10).

King Solomon’s life tells the story of how a wise man became a very foolish one. The love in the Song of Songs, so rich with exclusive affection, eventually devolved into 700 wives and 300 concubines. But the words of his Song, authored by a greater hand and heart, call us to survey and savor God’s great love for us in Jesus. And not just his love for us in general, but his love for each one of us in particular.

Though the gospel must not be privatized, it must definitely be personalized. None of us is the point, yet we all matter. And though every text in God’s word has an original setting and meaning, no text is fully understood until the blossom of the passage finds its bouquet in Jesus — including the Song of Songs.

Not Special — but His

To be able to affirm these words, “I am my beloved’s,” is to participate in the heights of christology, the wonder of biblical theology, and the riches of the gospel. The one truly deserving of the title “beloved” is Jesus himself. He is the Son of our Father’s delight (Matthew 3:17) — the one to whom all Scripture points (Luke 24:44), and of whom the Spirit is constantly making much (John 16:14).

To see Jesus revealed in the Bible as Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of all things; the Lion of Judah; the Lamb of God; and the Lamp of the New Jerusalem is to fall down in reverent awe. It is to join legions of angels, and all of creation, in proclaiming Jesus’s eternal glory and ineffable majesty (Revelation 4–5). Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory — the exact representation of who he is (Hebrews 1:3). With God the Holy Spirit, Jesus enjoyed the full measure and fellowship of God’s glory before the world began (John 17:5).

But it’s even grander to be able to say, “I am my beloved’s.” I, as in me — not just the spiritual giants who seem much worthier of such an honor and privilege. Am, as in right now — not will be, when I am good enough, holy enough, or glorified in the future. Right now I belong to Jesus as much as I ever will. My beloved’s, not simply our beloved, as in the whole body of Christ. Wonder of wonders — Jesus is my beloved. “The Son of God . . . loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). This doesn’t make me special; it makes me his. Hallelujah!

Our Greater Hosea

Pause for a moment. What do these words and images stir in your heart? Is the gospel primarily a set of theological propositions you defend? Or is he a Person in whom you focus your greatest delight? Where do you go, as Solomon did, when Jesus is not enough? Do you see how allergic you are to God’s grace? Can you grieve the depths of your unbelief? Do you hear Jesus saying to you, in this very moment, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness” (Jeremiah 2:2; cf. Revelation 2:4). Rejoice in the tenacity of his pursuing love.

As Tim and Kathy Keller write in The Meaning of Marriage, Jesus is the spouse we always wanted. All other forms of romance and intimacy must be celebrated and stewarded as pointers to his love, and the fruit of his relationship with us. Every other marriage, except our marriage to Jesus, is temporary — very important, but very temporary.

We are Jesus’s beloved because he, the Beloved one, set his inexhaustible and unwavering affection upon us. We are the Gomers who looked (look) for love, and gave (give) our love, to anyone and anything other than Jesus. Jesus is the great Bridegroom who, on the cross, became the not-loved one, that in him we might know the lavish love of God for us — for you, for me. May we never get over or get used to this bold declaration: “For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Love That Surpasses Knowledge

Perhaps even grander still are these incomparable words: “and his desire is for me.” It’s one thing to be certain we will go to heaven the moment we draw our last breath — a glorious hope indeed. It’s altogether wonderful, and essential, to affirm that Jesus is both our full forgiveness and our perfect righteousness. But to know in this very moment, in our heart of hearts, that Jesus — the altogether lovely, pure, and beautiful one — actually desires us, and delights in us!

Oh, my dear friends, what can compare with this glorious state and standing in grace? The gospel may still be true to you, but is it beautiful and real? Does it both take your breath away, and give you breath to worship and serve such a wonderful, merciful Savior as Jesus?

Father, by your Holy Spirit, free us from under-believing the gospel and over-believing our fears, heart-idols, excuses, and shame. Grant us a greater, fresh sighting of the beauty and love of Jesus. Restore to us the joy of your salvation for us. Because we are dull, but because we are yours, “may [we] have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19). We pray with renewed gratitude and hope-filled anticipation, in Jesus’s name. Amen.

Scotty Smith (@ScottyWardSmith) is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee.

Daily Light – April 6, 2020

OPEN LETTER TO UNCERTAIN LOVED ONES

Article by Jared Mulvihill Guest Contributor

My heart aches as I think about the recent loss of your beautiful 15-year-old daughter, Hannah. I grieve for you both and the pain you must be experiencing. You are wonderful parents who loved Hannah well and honored Christ in her ongoing care. I am praying you experience the tender, steadfast love of God in this difficult time (Psalm 59:16–17). He is truly sufficient to sustain you and strengthen your weary hearts (Psalm 55:2228:7). He is near and is our peace, dear friends.

You wrote to ask me if the Bible provides any hope regarding the eternal destiny of your daughter, since she functioned at a very limited intellectual capacity her entire life. My wife and I have pondered this question over the years. We lost a baby boy before he was born and have thought deeply about our oldest son, Levi, who is almost nine years old but understands and processes the world around him like an infant. I know well the joys and challenges of loving a child who ages in years but continues to function at a very limited cognitive level. Oh how our hearts long for him to know and treasure Christ and be restored from his broken body living in a fallen world.

What happens eternally to a person, whatever his or her age, who possessed a limited lifelong cognitive ability? Whether it is someone like your daughter, or a baby who dies in the womb, or a child who dies in infancy, the question is the same. Each of these people is unable to grasp spiritual truths, does not commit conscious acts of sin, and does not understand the concept and choice between right and wrong. Does God call these precious souls home to heaven to enjoy the pleasures of his glorious presence, or does he destine them to an eternity of pain and suffering in hell, away from his fellowship?

What Does Scripture Say?

You asked a weighty question and, sadly, there are some confusing resources out there trying to offer some measure of hope regarding the salvation of people like your daughter and my son. Some claim a form of special revelation through lack of knowledge, and I have read others who even claim salvation through the faith of a caregiver.

But I want to offer biblical answers, not theoretical ideas. This is no trifle. Let us not build our hope on sentiment, but rather look to the Scriptures. I want to show you why I wholeheartedly believe God saves those who die with limited lifelong cognitive ability.

I cannot simply give you one biblical passage to answer your question. As with many theological questions, the Bible provides an answer in various ways and in various passages. God’s word does not directly address the question you have raised. Yet I believe God’s word is sufficient to provide an answer — one you can hold with conviction, confidence, and comfort in our sovereign, wise, and good God.

Three Truths to Affirm

Let me first clarify three important biblical truths we must affirm and not neglect.

NO ONE IS INNOCENT

No person stands innocent before God. Everyone is conceived and born sinful, worthy of God’s judgment (Psalm 51:5). All human persons are “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3), “alienated and hostile in mind” (Colossians 1:21), and thus under God’s judgment (John 3:36).

Because of Adam’s original sin, God subjected the entire world to death and futility (Romans 8:201 Corinthians 15:21). Additionally, condemnation justly passed to every individual person who would ever live (Romans 5:12–19). Every human being is therefore desperately in need of redemption in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

SALVATION BELONGS TO THE LORD

Every human person is an eternal soul. Each will live forever (John 5:28–29) either under damnation and judgment in hell, separated from God (2 Thessalonians 1:9Revelation 14:9–1020:15), or with immeasurable joy in heaven, communing with God (Psalm 16:11Matthew 25:34).

Salvation belongs to God (Psalm 3:8). From all eternity (2 Timothy 1:9), God in his own purpose and grace determines to save guilty sinners through his Son Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Revelation 5:97:9). God foreknows and predestines these individuals (Romans 8:29–30). He chooses them according to the purpose of his will to be holy and blameless before him (Ephesians 1:4–5Romans 8:29) to the praise of his glorious grace (Ephesians 1:6).

Salvation comes only in and through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. As the apostle Peter so boldly declares, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

GOD SAVES THROUGH FAITH

Throughout the Bible, God gives spiritual faith through cognitive capacities. The Spirit–enabled abilities of spiritually hearing (Romans 10:17), spiritually seeing (2 Corinthians 4:6), and spiritually understanding (1 Corinthians 2:12) the glory of Jesus Christ in the gospel come by way of intellectual capacities. Salvation comes through faith, and faith is always intertwined with a certain level of cognitive understanding.

John Piper writes, “One must see and interpret the human language of the Scriptures in order to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ in them. Which means that the only pathway to the self-authenticating light of the glory of God in Scripture is the path of human observation and human reasoning” (A Peculiar Glory, 271). It is through the understanding of the mind in combination with the affections of the heart that one receives Jesus Christ as saving refuge and ultimate treasure (John 1:12). Thus, verifiable salvation is possible only when the gospel goes forth, and its hearers or readers have the cognitive capacity to comprehend and receive that message (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Without cognitive understanding, faith has no truth to trust.

Two Reasons for Confidence

Now, in light of these truths, here are two biblical reasons why I wholeheartedly believe God saves those who possess lifelong limited cognitive ability and why you can have confidence that your precious Hannah is joyfully experiencing the presence of Jesus.

1. God reserves his wrath for those without excuse.

In Romans 1, Paul writes that God reveals his wrath against those to whom he has made himself “plain” (Romans 1:19), to whom he has “shown” what can be known about himself (Romans 1:19), who have “clearly perceived” his eternal power and divine nature in creation (Romans 1:20), and who have “known” him and yet suppressed his glory and dominion (Romans 1:21). Such people “are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). In other words, God pours his wrath upon people who have the ability to comprehend him and yet suppress him.

Every person is guilty in Adam and lives under God’s eternal wrath. However, Romans 1 implies that God gives those without the cognitive ability to understand him and consciously dishonor him an excuse not to experience his eternal judgment. This excuse exists because those with severely limited intellectual capacities do not have the ability to perceive, understand, and honor. They therefore never consciously dishonor God by perceiving and then rejecting him. A lack in perceiving and understanding corresponds with a lack of certain guilt before God.

Consider also what Jesus says to the Jewish leaders in John 9:41: “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” Again, we see that a lack in perceiving and understanding corresponds with a lack of responsibility before God. At an infant’s funeral sermon several years ago, Piper helpfully commented on this text:

The point for us is that even though we human beings are under the penalty of everlasting judgment and death because of the fall of our race into sin and the sinful nature that we all have, nevertheless God only executes this judgment on those who have the natural capacity to see his glory and understand his will, and refuse to embrace it as their treasure.

I believe he is right. God reserves his punishment for those with the ability to behold his glory and refuse to receive him as Savior.

2. God judges people for conscious individual sin.

Although Adam’s sin is imputed to all human beings (Romans 5:12–14), this sin is not the basis of God’s individual eternal punishment. Scripture teaches that God punishes sinners based on the sins they individually commit. Additionally, God punishes only for sins that people willingly desire and pursue.

Universal human death is evidence of God’s judgment upon all due to Adam’s sin, but only those who willingly commit sin are eternally punished for sin (2 Corinthians 5:10Revelation 20:12–15). God’s judgment accords with sins that a person with severely limited cognitive ability is unable to commit (see, for example, the sins listed in Matthew 15:19–20 or Revelation 21:8).

Deuteronomy 1:35–39 reveals that God punishes people for personal, individual sin. In this passage, Moses hearkens back to God’s declarative judgment on the wilderness generation: it is not the children of this generation, those “who today have no knowledge of good or evil,” who will be condemned, but rather their parents (Numbers 14:20–35). God deals differently with people who have limited intellectual abilities than he deals with those who are capable and guilty of conscious sin.

Deuteronomy helpfully reveals that one may be temporarily unable to distinguish right from wrong. Isaiah acknowledges the same reality when he writes, “Before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good . . .” (Isaiah 7:14–16). These passages suggest there is a state when a person is unable to distinguish between right and wrong. As such, God does not hold such people to the same standard he uses for those who willfully disobey. When this state extends throughout one’s entire life, there is no individual sin for God to eternally punish.

For these reasons, no biblical author describes an infant, someone with any form of limited intellectual ability, or even a young child as under God’s judgment after death. Instead, we find hints of the opposite. Job and the preacher in Ecclesiastes, for example, remark that stillborn children are at rest (Job 3:16–17Ecclesiastes 6:3–5). In context, these statements imply that these infants have not merely escaped the trouble of this world, but have entered into everlasting rest.

Safe in the Arms of Jesus

The Bible provides sound hope regarding the eternal destiny of your daughter. I believe Hannah is with Jesus. I believe you can confidently trust that God saves all who die in infancy, as well as those, like your daughter, who possess a lifelong limited intellectual capacity.

All the glory and thanks be to Jesus alone! It is only through the finished work of Jesus Christ, who defeats the sin of Adam and offers everlasting life, that we confidently rest in the hope that those with lifelong limited cognitive abilities are safe in his arms. And not only safe, but filled with love to Christ. Because heaven is for people who love Jesus, I believe God saved Hannah through faith in Jesus Christ at the moment of her death and the first sight of her Savior.

Hannah was a beautiful young lady. She was fearfully and wonderfully created by Jesus and for Jesus (Psalm 139:14Colossians 1:16). And now she is joyfully glorifying her God with a perfectly restored body, free from all the effects of living in a sinfully broken world. She is free from hindrances in her mind and heart as she unreservedly lives in the everlasting delight of her glorious God.

Never Stop Sharing

Some might propose that, since God saves all who at the point of death possessed a lifelong limited cognitive capacity, then we don’t need to articulate the gospel to those who we believe fall into that category. What folly! Who are we to determine who does and does not understand the beauty and glory of Christ in his gospel?

I am grateful you continued sharing Jesus with Hannah until the end of her days. That is also something we continually share with our Levi. God alone reigns sovereign over salvation. Our task is simply to be faithful with the message of Christ, never stop sharing the gospel, and pray like crazy that God would graciously ignite a heart of faith, even if we never see evidence on this side of glory. And at the end of each day, we rest in the sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness of our great God.

Jared Mulvihill is a curriculum developer for Training Leaders International and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children.

Daily Light – April 3, 2020

This is a great time to share the Gospel…to share with others what you have ‘in Christ Jesus’

From my study time this morning…dh

[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began. (2 Timothy 1:9)

Being “in Christ Jesus” is life’s ULTIMATE reality. It is breathtaking to be united to Christ….bound to Christ.  To be ‘in’ Christ.  We are safe ‘in’ Christ.  

If you are “in Christ” listen to what it means to you and for you:

In Christ Jesus you were given grace before the world was created. Second Timothy 1:9, “He gave us grace in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

In Christ Jesus you were chosen by God before creation. Ephesians 1:4, “[God] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world.”

In Christ Jesus you are loved by God with an inseparable love. Romans 8:38–39, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In Christ Jesus you were redeemed and forgiven for all your sins. Ephesians 1:7, “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”

In Christ Jesus you are justified before God and the righteousness of God in Christ is imputed to you. Second Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

In Christ Jesus you have become a new creation and a son of God. Second Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Galatians 3:26, “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”

I pray that you will never grow weary of exploring and exulting in the inexhaustible privilege of being “in Christ Jesus.”

 Luke wrote for us…in chapter 21…what Jesus said

10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

Matthew wrote for us….in chapter 24….what Jesus said…

3As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

John wrote for us…in chapter 14….what Jesus said

1“Let not your hearts be troubled.  27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John wrote for us…in chapter 16….what Jesus said

29His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Friends…if you are ‘in’ Christ…you are in the ONE who has overcome the world….so…go out into all the world and share this good news with people who are afraid and hungry for the truth of the Gospel.