Friday, March 30, 2012


We are prone to glory in the big and beautiful and to dismiss the small and unattractive. That’s just the way that we are. We are prone to see things from man’s perspective, but God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Jesus and His disciples were at the temple, and they saw things. But His perspective on the things they saw was altogether different than the norm. He “looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury” (Luke 21:1). Undoubtedly there were some pretty large gifts given. And those gifts and givers were of the kind that would be honored by men. Most would have little regard for the “two small copper coins” given by the poor widow (Luke 21:2). But Jesus saw things differently. Not only did He recognize her gift, He deemed it to be “more than” what was given by the others (Luke 21:3). He noted that she gave out of her poverty, while the others gave out of their surplus (Luke 21:4). Indeed, she gave “all that she had to live on” (Luke 21:4). The poor widow was commended inasmuch as she gave in love, by faith, and with sacrifice.

While they were there “some were talking about the temple” (Luke 21:5). It was “adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts” (Luke 21:5). One of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” (Mark 13:1). By all accounts it was a beautiful building. It could be seen from all of Jerusalem and was the pride of the Jewish people. People were enamored with it.

The temple was big and beautiful, but doomed to destruction (Luke 21:6). One “greater in the temple” was in their midst (Matthew 11:6), but He had “no stately form or majesty…nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him” (Isaiah 53:2). He was born in a stable, impoverished in His life, hung upon a cross, and buried in a borrowed tomb. He was small and unattractive in the eyes of the world—as demonstrated in His crucifixion (John 1:10-11)--but He is the all glorious and eternal Son of God who will reign forever and ever. There will come a day when every knee will bow before Him (Philippians 2:10).

There is a wide gulf between God’s ways and Man’s ways. The gulf cannot be bridged by human intellect or reason. God’s intervention in our lives is necessary if we are to see things from His perspective. We must be Spirit-led to see things as they truly are (1 Corinthians 2:12-14).

This tendency to esteem the “big and beautiful” is readily apparent. The biggest church in America has no room for Jesus and His cross. But their church services can be viewed weekly on TV. The pastor’s books are widely read. I remember visiting a church in a village in Uganda. The Pastor spoke thankfully how God had privileged him to start construction of his church building. Motivated by love for Jesus and the desire to share the gospel, he had used his own property to build a church (instead of building a home for himself). At the point of our visit the church consisted of some poles in the ground and a tarp for a roof. He had begun the church in a place where spiritual opposition had doomed previous efforts. He had but a few in attendance. But he was undeterred and trusting in God for His protection and provision. Big and beautiful or small and unattractive? What do you think (Cf. Revelation 3:17; 2:9)?

Harriet Pollard played the piano for Lewis and Clark Bible Church for over fifty years. I was so blessed by her cheerful disposition and wonderful example. In her later years, before she departed to be with Jesus, she was able to make her way to the platform only with assistance. She joked with me one day of how she had, as a young girl, snickered to herself at the sight of the old ladies struggling to make their way up the steps to church. In those final years of piano playing she developed arthritis and was not always able to hit all the notes. But she delighted in serving Jesus in that way and was undeterred in her sacrifice. In these days of big, entertaining church music programs, many would dismiss (or even despise) her efforts. Big and beautiful or small and unattractive? What do you think?

We are all too prone in these days to elevate the big church, charismatic preacher, or talented performer. I’m of a mind that God is most concerned with what is in the heart of each individual. Many of God’s children serve humbly and anonymously (Cf. Matthew 25:37-39, “when did we”). No one, but God, may know about their efforts. Their service flows from a heart of glad-hearted sacrifice (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). They could care less if anyone else sees or knows. It is enough to please the Jesus who died for them (2 Corinthians 5:9). Such sacrifices are big and beautiful in God’s sight (no matter what others say or think)—in the end that will be all that matters (Matthew 25:23; Hebrews 13:15-16).

Pastor Jerry

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


“And he was trying to see who Jesus was, and he was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature” (Luke 19:3).

“Zaccheus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree the Lord he wanted to see.” (Sunday School Song).

I used to like to hunt. One tactic that is employed, especially in hunting elk, is to find a vantage point in which you can better see the surrounding hillsides. You can see better from a higher vantage point. That was the tactic Zaccheus used. He was small in stature, and “unable because of the crowd” to see Him, “so he climbed up into a sycamore tree” (Luke 19:3-4). It is good to work towards a better vantage point where a better look at the Savior might be gained.

It is the nature of saving faith to overcome both objections and obstacles. Zaccheus faced both. He was not just a tax-gatherer, but “a chief tax-gatherer” (Luke 19:3). Such people were despised by the religious leaders, as Alfred Edersheim noted, “We know in what repute Publicans were held, and what opportunities of wrong-doing and oppression they possessed. And from his after-confession it is only too evident that Zaccheus had to the full used them for evil. And he had got that for which he had given up alike his nation and his soul.” The Pharisees had previously voiced their disdain for such as he (Luke 5:30; 15:1-2; Cf. Luke 18:11). He was deemed unworthy and beyond salvation’s reach—perhaps he thought the same of himself.

He faced another obstacle—he was short. The crowds were gathered around Jesus. He was too short to see above the crowd. His desire to see Jesus superseded his limitations—he devised a plan. He climbed up into the tree, and as Jesus passed by, “(Jesus) looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5). Jesus was received into his home and others “began to grumble”—as they had on previous occasions when Jesus associated with people like him. But Zaccheus expressed true faith by his actions, saying, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and If I had defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much” (Luke 19:8). “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus declared (Luke 19:9).

Zaccheus was small of stature, we are all similarly small of stature before God (Romans 3:23). He climbed up a tree to gain a better vantage point. We must be led by the Spirit to a better vantage point where we can rightly esteem our spiritual need (John 16:8). By faith Zaccheus climbed a tree so that he could see Jesus. What did he see? “The Son of Man who (came) to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He found in Him One who had come to freely grant salvation to lost sinners such as himself! In Him he found salvation! The Spirit likewise must open our eyes that we might “see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Spirit-led to a better vantage point we gain sight of the Glorious Savior who is able to “save to the uttermost” even the “foremost” of sinners (Hebrews 7:25; 1 Timothy 1:15). That is indeed the reason for which He came (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15). The Spirit and the Word have both been given that we might behold the glorious nature of both His person and His work (John 16:14; 20:30-31).

J. C. Ryle, “We learn…from these verses, Christ's free compassion towards sinners, and Christ's power to change hearts. A more striking instance than that before us it is impossible to conceive. Unasked, our Lord stops and speaks to Zaccheus. Unasked, He offers Himself to be a guest in the house of a sinner. Unasked, He sends into the heart of a tax-collector the renewing grace of the Spirit, and puts him that very day among the children of God. (Jeremiah 3:19.) It is impossible, with such a passage as this before as, to exalt too highly the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot maintain too strongly that there is in Him an infinite readiness to receive, and an infinite ability to save sinners. Above all, we cannot hold too firmly that salvation is not of works, but of grace. If ever there was a soul sought and saved, without having done anything to deserve it, that soul was the soul of Zaccheus. Let us grasp these doctrines firmly and never let them go. Their price is above rubies. Grace, free grace, is the only thought which gives men rest in a dying hour. Let us proclaim these doctrines confidently to everyone to whom we speak about spiritual things. Let us bid them come to Jesus Christ, just as they are, and not wait in the vain hope that they can make themselves fit and worthy to come. Not least, let us tell them that Jesus Christ waits for them, and would come and dwell in their poor sinful hearts, if they would only receive Him.”

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Luke 18:9, “And He told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves…”

Jeremiah 17:5, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength…”

1 Peter 5:5, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Jesus’ parable speaks of two very different men offering two very different kinds of prayers having two very different kinds of results. The Pharisee was self-righteous, the tax-gatherer was not. The Pharisee prayed to himself and asked for nothing because he supposed that he needed nothing. The tax-gathered prayed to God and cried out for mercy because he was well aware of his shortcomings. The Pharisee’s prayer was unacceptable to God. The tax-gatherer’s prayer met with God’s approval: “this man went down to his house justified” (Luke 18:14).

It is the tendency of all false religions to measure righteousness according to a false standard. Self-made religions invent human regulations which are set before followers to achieve some degree of supposed righteousness. It is easy for any of us to get caught up in this system of thinking about things. The church in Corinth was likewise misled: “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (2 Corinthians 10:12).

But God’s standard is not some set of man-made regulations or some degree of righteousness achieved by religious men—the standard is His holiness. Isaiah was a prophet of God and a righteous man--at least in human terms--but when God’s holiness was unveiled to him he cried out in despair (Isaiah 6:1-5). Peter, seeing but a glimpse of Christ’s glory (in the miraculous provision of fish) likewise cried out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:5). By a gracious work of the Holy Spirit “sin, and righteousness, and judgment” are revealed to a man that he might rightly comprehend his true condition before God (John 16:8). The Spirit breaks to a sinner the bad news, that he might long for the good news that is bound up in Jesus.

To be humble before God is prerequisite to any and every bestowal of grace. The thrice-repeated commendation of God’s provision is “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34; 1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6). The proud Pharisee’s prayer met with God’s opposition, the tax-gatherer’s contrition—on the other hand—met with God’s approval, and the provision of His grace.

J. C. Ryle, “Let us notice, firstly, the sin against which our Lord Jesus Christ warns us in these verses. There is no difficulty in finding out this. Luke tells us expressly, that "He spoke this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others." The sin which our Lord denounces is "self-righteousness." We are all naturally self-righteous. It is the family-disease of all the children of Adam. From the highest to the lowest we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to do. We secretly flatter ourselves that we are not so bad as some, and that we have something to recommend us to the favor of God. "Most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness." (Prov. 20:6.) We forget the plain testimony of Scripture, "In many things we offend all." "There is not a just man upon earth, that does good and sins not"--"What is man that he should be clean, or he that is born of a woman that he should be righteous?" (James 3:2. Eccles. 7:20. Job 15:14.) The true cure for self-righteousness is self-knowledge. Once let the eyes of our understanding be opened by the Spirit, and we shall talk no more of our own goodness. Once let us see what there is in our own hearts, and what the holy law of God requires, and self-conceit will die. We shall lay our hand on our mouths, and cry with the leper, "Unclean, unclean" (Levit. 13:45).

We were needy when we first trusted in Christ, we are needy still. But God is a great God who delights in bestowing His all-sufficient grace on his needy children (Cf. Hebrews 4:16; 2 Corinthians 13:7-10). John Newton lived to be eighty-two years old and continued to preach and have an active ministry until beset by fading health in the last two years of his life. Even then, Newton never ceased to be amazed by God's grace and told his friends:

“My memory is nearly gone;
but I remember two things;
That I am a great sinner, and
that Christ is a great Savior.”

Pastor Jerry

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Luke 14:28-30, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’”

Laura and I used to live in Columbia City. We used to take walks through the neighborhood. Just around the corner from our house was an old and overgrown foundation for a house. It was an eyesore in an otherwise lovely neighborhood. Someone had begun to build but they had been unable to finish. In all the years we lived there no work ever proceeded. The foundation was a testament to somebody’s inability to finish what they had started.

Our text exhorts us to consider the cost associated with following Jesus Christ. The message was given to the “great multitudes (who) were going along with Him” (Luke 14:25). It was proceeded by other “difficult sayings” of Jesus in which he demanded that his disciple must “hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life” (Luke 14:26-27) and that “he carry his own cross and come after me” (Luke 14:27).

It is important to note that Jesus was not calling upon His disciples to literally “hate” other members of their families. This would contradict what is clearly taught in other Scriptures. He was calling for a love for Him--He who is altogether worthy of such love--that transcends all other loves. If love for Him is ever threatened or opposed by members of one’s family, then “love” for them must give way to love for Him. Love for Him is to have preeminence in the hearts of His followers. Likewise, it is expected of His followers that they will suffer tribulation and persecution (Luke 9:23; Matthew 10:22-25). They must be willing to take up their cross. These are amongst the things that Jesus called upon His hearers to consider as they “calculated the cost” of following Him. He demanded of them a preeminent love and unwavering and enduring devotion.

Jesus spoke likewise to the great multitudes who gathered after He fed the five thousand. They sought Him for His benefits, not for Himself (John 6:26). He had an equally challenging message for them: “He who eats my flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him up on the last day” (John 6:54). They didn’t understand Him and were unwilling to accept what He said: “Many therefore of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it? (John 6:60). “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore” (John 6:66). The great crowd was quickly winnowed by His challenging words.

What are we to make of these events? Great multitudes were following Jesus. His response was to clearly define the costs associated with following Him. The response of many was to turn away. To be sure salvation is by grace through faith. It is freely offered to penitent believers solely on the basis of Christ’s finished work on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 3:18). How then does this “cost calculating” fit in?

No doubt part of the equation is the cultural difference between the experience of NT believers and our own. Those coming to faith in Christ expected to share in the persecution that was the norm for the NT believer. They understood that the one (faith) led naturally to the other (persecution). And this typical cause and effect is clarified elsewhere for us in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:12; Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 4:12). The cost of acknowledging Christ as Savior and Lord were clearly perceived—as they are even today in persecuted countries around the world.

The costs of discipleship are not so easily perceived in our day, but that doesn’t mean that there are no costs involved. Salvation is free, but the Christian life is not easy (even in a relatively persecution-free society). There is sin to be put off; a fight to be fought; difficult choices to make; relationships that will be severed; sufferings to endure; etc. etc. Unfortunately, in its neglect and de-emphasis of the doctrine of sanctification, the modern church has failed to clearly articulate this aspect of what it means to be a Christian.

J. C. Ryle commented on these matters: “Now, why did our Lord use this language? Did He wish to discourage men from becoming His disciples? Did He mean to make the gate of life appear more narrow than it is? It is not difficult to find an answer to these questions. Our Lord spoke as He did to prevent men following Him lightly and inconsiderately, from mere carnal feeling or temporary excitement, who in time of temptation would fall away. He knew that nothing does so much harm to the cause of true religion as backsliding, and that nothing causes so much backsliding as enlisting disciples without letting them know what they take in hand. He had no desire to swell the number of His followers by admitting soldiers who would fail in the hour of need. For this reason He raises a warning voice. He bids all who think of taking service with Him count the cost before they begin. Well would it be for the Church and the world if the ministers of Christ would always remember their Master's conduct in this passage. Often--far too often--people are built up in self-deception, and encouraged to think they are converted when in reality they are not converted at all. Feelings are supposed to be faith. Convictions are supposed to be grace. These things ought not so to be. By all means let us encourage the first beginnings of religion in a soul. But never let us urge people forward without telling them what true Christianity entails. Never let us hide from them the battle and the toil. Let us say to them "come with us"--but let us also say, "count the cost."

Steve Camp, in the chorus to his song, “Consider the Cost,” spoke of these matters this way:

Consider the cost of building a tower - it's a narrow way that you must come
For to do the will of the Father - is to follow the Son
To love Him more than father or mother - to love Him more than even your own flesh
To give all that you are, for all that He is - this is the gospel according to Jesus

Many will say, "Lord, Lord" on that day - look what we've done in Your name
"We've prophesied and performed many miracles - and Lord, even demons obeyed"
But He will declare unto them - the most terrifying words of truth. He'll say,
"Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity for I, I have never known you!"

Peter was amongst those who heard Jesus’ challenging words. Jesus asked him and the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you? (John 6:67)” What an amazing statement by our Lord to His disciples! What did Peter say? “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life? (John 6:68).” The cost of following Jesus may be high, but the cost of not following Him is infinitely higher (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The eternal weight of glory He promises to the believer will measure the temporal costs light in comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17). Peter calculated the cost, chose to follow, faithfully served, and finished the course. God has it for us to do the same.

Pastor Jerry

Monday, March 19, 2012


Luke 12:20-21, “But God said to him, ‘Fool!’ This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

The barn-builder of Jesus’ parable was wealthy, but foolish. His counsel to his own soul was deceptive, his barn-building efforts ill-advised. He stored up treasures for himself, but was not rich toward God. He was well-to-do from an earthly perspective, but bankrupt in respect to the life-to-come. He should have thanked God for the rich harvest. He could have used his surplus to provide for the needs of others less-fortunate. He should have been “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

Covetousness is a grevious sin that is at the heart of many sins. It is this sin which was led to the fall of angels and man. Adam and Eve were not satisfied with their estate, they coveted more and lost paradise. Since that day man’s existence has been plagued by an insatiable desire to have more. Enmities, strife, jealousy, rivalries, dissensions, divisions and the like can all be traced back to this fountainhead (Cf. Colossians 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:10). God’s word gives this counsel to the rich: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:17-19). It is a good thing to be content with that which God has provided and generous towards others (Philippians 4:12-13; Hebrews 13:5).

J. C. Ryle commented on this passage: “When can it be said of a man, that he is rich toward God? Never until he is rich in grace, and rich in faith, and rich in good works! Never until he has applied to Jesus Christ, and bought of him gold tried in fire (Revelation 3:18)! Never until he has a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens! Never until he has a name inscribed in the book of life, and is an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ! Such a man is truly rich. His treasure is incorruptible. His bank never breaks. His inheritance fades not away. Man cannot deprive him of it. Death cannot snatch it out of his hands. All things are his already—life, death, things present, and things to come (1 Corinthians 3:22). And best of all, what he has now is nothing to what he will have hereafter. Riches like these are within reach of every sinner who will come to Christ and receive them. May we never rest until they are ours!”

Contrast the greedy machinations of the wealthy fool with the generosity of the believers of Macedonia. They were given to give inasmuch at they had first given themselves to God (2 Corinthians 8:5). They begged Paul for the favor of giving to the needs of others (8:3). They gave out of their poverty and beyond their means (8:3). They may not have have been rich, as the world defines riches, but they were rich toward God and and that is what ultimately matters! He is no fool who is rich towards God. Or, as Jim Elliot, put it, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

Pastor Jerry

Friday, March 16, 2012


John Newton, before entering into ministry as a Pastor, wrote of His purpose:

"To know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified that I might declare His unsearchable riches to sinners. To insist much upon the great essential points of the glories of His person and offices; His wonderful love and condescension; His power, faithfulness, and readiness to save; the grandeur of His works; the perfection of His example; His life, passion, death, and resurrection."


Luke 11:13, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

The person of the Holy Spirit is set forth by Jesus as the supreme example of God’s readiness to give good gifts to those who ask of Him. Of all the gifts given by God none is more necessary or precious as He.

Jesus elsewhere said of the Spirit: “it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). Jesus departure would be advantageous inasmuch as it would open the door for the Spirit’s coming. How precious then must be the provision of the Spirit!

The Spirit’s work in the believer’s life is all encompassing. It is by the Spirit that we are made aware of our sin and pending judgment (John 16:8). It is by His work that we are born again (John 3:5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:13). It is by His presence that our new identity as a child of God is confirmed (Romans 8:16). It is by Him that our eyes are opened that we might understand and know the truth (John 16:14-15; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 1 John 2:26-27). It is by Him that we are made to realize the glorious nature of our inheritance and immeasurable greatness of His power (Ephesians 1:16-19). Again, it is by His revelation that we are given the strength to comprehend the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 1:14-19).

It is the Spirit who intercedes for us in our prayers (Romans 8:26). It is by Him that our minds are renewed (Ephesians 4:23), sin is put off (Romans 8:13; Ephesians 4:22), and Christlikeness is put on (Ephesians 4:24). It is by Him that we have received spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

The Spirit of God reveals Christ to us, in us, and through us (John 16:14). He is everworking, patiently and relentlessly, to conform us to the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). His presence in our lives is made evident in the glorious fruit He bears. Supernatural, Christlike, virtues—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control-- blossom and bloom where there once was but barren ground and noxious weeds (Galatians 5:22-23).

The parched soil of our need is met with His abundant and overflowing provision of “living water” (John 7:37-39). God’s provision of salvation and all its benefits are realized only in the Spirit. The commands to be filled with the Spirit and to walk in the Spirit are of preeminent concern to us. The gift of the Spirit is treasured to the extent that we wholeheartedly submit ourselves to His control (Ephesians 5:18). We are commanded to walk in Him (Galatians 5:16) and not to quench Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30).

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is oftentimes overlooked or misunderstood. Many dubious works are attributed to Him (speaking gibberish; laughing revivals, being “slain” in the Spirit, false healings, etc.). But His work in us transcends such spurious matters. The transformation of the believer in Christ into the very image of Christ is a miracle of God that is at the heart of His ministry. It is a work that cannot be accomplished apart from Him.

J. C. Ryle, “The Holy Spirit is beyond doubt the greatest gift which God can bestow upon man. Having this gift, we have all things—life, light, hope and heaven. Having this gift we have the Father’s boundless love, God the Son’s atoning blood, and full communion with all three Persons of the blessed Trinity. Having this gift, we have grace and peace in the world that now is, and glory and honor in the world to come.”

What a wonderful gift it is that we have received in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit! His presence in our lives gives testimony to the surpassing benevolence of our God (Luke 11:9-13). Let us treasure this precious Gift as we work, by God’s grace, to fully cooperate with Him in His miraculous, empowering, and transforming work!

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Luke 9:26, “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Sad but true—there is sometimes a temptation to be ashamed of Jesus and His words. The Apostle Peter himself fearfully denied Jesus, three times. Later he was forgiven, transformed, and Spirit-filled to boldly proclaim that which he previously denied. The Apostle Paul, recognizing our tendency towards timidity, exhorted Timothy: “Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). “I am not ashamed,” he added, “for I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12).

J. C. Ryle commented on this text: “There are many ways of being ashamed of Christ. We are guilty of it whenever we are afraid of letting men know that we love His doctrines, His precepts, His people, and His ordinances. We are guilty of it whenever we allow the fear of man to prevail over us, and to keep us back from letting others see that we are decided Christians. Whenever we act in this way, we are denying our Master, and committing a great sin.”

I am encouraged today by recent examples of those who have unashamedly acknowledged Christ. Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor, sentenced to death for converting to Christianity, has nevertheless refused to recant of his faith in Christ. The account of Jeremiah Small’s ministry to a school full of Muslim’s is likewise encouraging in this regard. Go to this link to read this wonderful testimony from World Magazine:

I was reading yesterday from the book, “War and Grace: Short Biographies from the World Wars,” by Don Stephens. The book includes a brief biography of Louis Zamperini’s life (as does the wonderful book, “Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand). The briefer biography in “War and Grace,” includes an account which records Louis’ refusal to deny Christ in a specific circumstance.

Louis Zamperini led a remarkable life. Rescued from teenage delinquency he became an Olympic class runner. Adrift for 49 days at sea he was rescued by the Japanese. Imprisoned by them for 2 and ½ years, he was rescued by the allied forces. Enslaved to alcohol and bitterness, he was ultimately rescued by Christ Himself, and wonderfully transformed. He eventually made a trip to Japan to meet his former captors and express his forgiveness to them.

Don Stephens wrote about what happened next, “Soon after his return from Japan, he received the chance to make some honest money. An organization employed lecturers who travelled around the country giving talks on a regular-salary basis. ‘Your story is thrilling,’ he was told. ‘You think it is all right for your audiences?’ Zamperini enquired. The payment would be $50,000 a year with a seven-year contract. ‘What happens after seven years?’ Zamperini asked. The answer was: ‘We start all over again.’ He was amazed—such a large salary for so little effort! His mind contemplated the good he could do with that sort of money. Then came the catch. He would have to make some minor changes. He could talk freely about God, but they said he couldn’t mention Christ by name. Zamperini’s response may sound dogmatic to some people: ‘The least I can do for Christ is to turn down your offer. If I can’t mention Christ, I can’t speak at all. I don’t want your contract.”

There are countless examples, throughout Church history, of those who have refused to deny Christ in difficult circumstances. In Jesus and His words we have nothing to be ashamed of. There are countless other things to be ashamed of or embarrassed by, but never Jesus. There is no one more deserving of praise than He. Others may blaspheme Him and mock His gospel—may the siren song of His devoted followers lead them to His cross and forgiveness. Heavenly Father, tune our hearts to sing your grace! Grant us courage, by the power of the indwelling Spirit, to boldly proclaim Your wonderful Name and glorious gospel no matter the consequence or threat. Help us to be not ashamed (Cf. Romans 1:16; Galatians 6:14).

Pastor Jerry

Monday, March 12, 2012


Luke 8:1-3, “Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.”

As Jesus traveled through cities and villages, preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, He was accompanied by the twelve and a group of women. These women had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities. They traveled with the group and provided for their needs.

Three women are mentioned by name: Mary, called Magdalene; Joanna, and Susanna. Not much is elsewhere written about these women, but we can ascertain a few things about them from our text.

Mary Magdalene had been delivered from demon possession. Indeed, seven demons had gone out of her. Other instances of demon possession speak to the awful consequence of that affliction. Demon possessed individuals were mentally unstable and prone to bouts of self-affliction. Their lives were literally hell on earth. Jesus delivered her from that hell.

Joanna and Susanna were likewise healed of either evil spirits or infirmities. Joanna, was a woman of privileged means. Her husband was Herod’s household manager. She had likely abandoned a life of comfort and ease to follow Jesus. No other mention is made of Susanna in the Scriptures.

Despite these differences, these women shared one thing in common—they served Jesus. They lovingly served Him. They had experienced His healing touch. They had believed Him and His message. They glad heartedly devoted themselves to providing for the needs of the traveling group. And tough Susanna remains otherwise anonymous to us (in the Scriptures), the record of her service was duly recorded and reviewed by countless gospel readers ever since.

Mary Magdalene and Joanna continued to follow Jesus (Susanna likely did also, but no record is given). They remained at the cross when others deserted Him. It was to them that the angel revealed the resurrection truth. They passed the message on “to the eleven and the rest” (Luke 24:9-10).

Noval Geldenhuys (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), “What a challenge and inspiration it must be for every woman to consider that, while nowhere in the four gospels is mention made of any women who were hostile to Jesus, there are numerous references to ministration and marks of honor which they accorded Him. With much affection and faithful devotion they ministered to Him with their possessions (verse 3)—to Christ Jesus who became poor so that we might be made rich. What an example of service to be followed by every woman who believes in Him!”

No matter the specifics of our individual backgrounds, we are all saved to serve. He has freed us from our afflictions to that end. Service involves sacrifice, but no sacrifice is too high for the One who has so sacrificed so much for each one of us. These women faithfully served Jesus. God calls upon us to do the same.

The body of Christ includes many women who faithfully serve the Lord Jesus Christ. They humbly serve Him with an unrivaled devotion. They serve Jesus, in countless ways, as they serve their husbands, families, and in His church day after day. Their sacrifices, both great and small, often go unnoticed by others. Take courage, faithful servant, the Lord is well aware of your service to Him and in due time you will receive your reward (Galatians 6:9-10).

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Luke 3:3, “And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (ESV)

Luke 3:7-8a, “He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the WRATH TO COME? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance…” (ESV)

Years ago H. Richard Niebuhr offered this critique of theological liberalism, describing its message as: "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” That spirit of ministerial negligence has since leavened much of that which identifies itself today as “Christian.” Pastor Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins,” published last year amongst much controversy, is but one example of the growing trend amongst evangelicals to dismiss the reality of hell and relevance of the cross.

By way of contrast consider the ministry of John the Baptist. His God-given message was one or repentance. “Flee from the wrath to come,” he warned (Luke 3:7). He confronted commoners, religious leaders, and political rulers alike. He gave no credence to mere religious profession or practice. He demanded fruit as evidence of true repentance. He directed the people, not to himself, but to the one who was to come--Christ. He boldly and fearlessly declared the Word to the people.

J. C. Ryle offered these comments on his ministry: “We should mark…how plainly John speaks to his hearers about hell and danger. He tells them that there is a ‘wrath to come.’ He speaks of ‘the ax’ of God’s judgments, and of unfruitful trees being cast into ‘the fire.’ The subject of HELL is always offensive to human nature. The minister, who dwells much upon it, must expect to find himself regarded as barbaric, violent, unfeeling, and narrow-minded. Men love to hear ‘smooth things,’ and to be told of peace, and not of danger (Isaiah 30:10). But the subject is one that ought not to be kept back, if we desire to do good to souls. It is one that our Lord Jesus Christ brought forward frequently in His public teachings. That loving Savior, who spoke so graciously of the way to heaven, has also used the plainest language about the way to hell. Let us beware of being wise above that which is written, and more charitable than Scripture itself. Let the language of John the Baptist be deeply engraved in our hearts. Let us never be ashamed to avow our firm belief, that there is a ‘wrath to come’ for the impenitent, and that it is possible for a man to be lost as well as to be saved. To be silent on the subject is dreadful treachery to men’s souls…Never will a man flee until he sees there is real cause to be afraid. Never will he seek heaven until he is convinced that there is a risk of falling into hell. The religion, in which there is no mention of hell, is not the religious of John the Baptist, and of our Lord Jesus, and His apostles.”

The bad news must be told if the good news is to be understood. To the degree we appreciate the extent of the bad news, we will revel in the grace of God by which we have been delivered. The Spirit of God is at work to convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8)—that sinners might be directed to the Savior. We have a role to play in His work (Acts 24:25).

Pastor Jerry


While shepherds were “keeping watch over their flock by night” an angel brought a message of good news to them: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people, for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). A multitude of the heavenly host then joined the angel in praising God (Luke 2:13-14). God was pleased to reveal glorious truths in glorious fashion to lowly shepherds.

The angel instructed them to go and witness, for themselves, the birth of the Savior. They traveled “in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as he lay in the manger” (Luke 2:16). Those ordinary men, who had shepherded thousands of ordinary lambs, were privileged to behold the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). They saw Him for themselves.

The shepherds returned to their family and friends and shared what they had seen and heard: “They made known the statement which had been told them about this Child” (Luke 1:17). The term translated “made known” means “to publish abroad, make known thoroughly.” The King James translates it “they made known abroad.” They literally told anybody and everybody who would listen.

They heard and saw and went and told. That’s the way it is supposed to work. Andrew found the Messiah, and went and told his brother (John 1:40-41). The woman at the well heard Him speak, and went and told others about Him (John 4:28-30). The demoniac was delivered from his demons and went forth to declare “what great things Jesus had done for him” (Mark 5:20). Peter and John witnessed the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They could not stop speaking of what they had seen and heard, despite the opposition (Acts 4:20). You have heard and received the good news, it is God’s will for you to share it with others.

Nearly two hundred years ago the war of 1812 came to a close. A treaty was signed, ending the war, in Belgium on Christmas Eve, 1814. But the news traveled slowly by ship and was not delivered to New York City until a Saturday afternoon in February. No sooner had some men heard the news than they rushed in breathless haste into the city to repeat it to their friends, shouting as they ran through the streets, “Peace, Peace, Peace!” Everyone who heard the news repeated it. From house to house, from street to street, the news spread. Men bearing lighted torches ran to and fro shouting “Peace, Peace, Peace!” Only one thought occupied the minds of citizens that night. In the days that followed, every person became a herald of the news and soon every man, woman, and child in the entire city was evangelized with the message. Those New Yorkers excitedly and readily shared a message of peace achieved that Christmas Eve, a peace that had reconciled two great nations. Good news is meant to be shared with a sense of urgency.

The message we have to share is of greater import. It is the best of news. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). It is a glorious message of a glorious Savior who offers to sinners a glorious salvation. It is a “word of reconciliation” regarding the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through which rebel sinners can be reconciled to God (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:19). Paul was burdened to share the message: “the love of Christ controls us,” he said (2 Corinthians 5:14).

We’ve witnessed something worth telling. Let us gladly go to spread the news. Good news is worth sharing! “I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.”

Pastor Jerry

Friday, March 2, 2012


Luke 1:18, “And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this for certain?”

Luke 1:34, And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be…?”

When God ended His centuries old silence to His people He did so in dramatic fashion. He sent the angel Gabriel—who had previously spoke to the prophet Daniel of God’s plan for the ages (Daniel chapter nine)—to speak of miraculous things. Zacharias and Mary had both found favor with God (Luke 1:6 & 1:28), but were otherwise quite different. Zacharias was an old and childless priest. Mary was a young and engaged virgin.

Gabriel spoke to both--to Zacharias in the temple, to Mary in Nazareth--of the miraculous intervention of God on their behalf. Elizabeth, Zachariah’s elderly wife, was to bear a son. Mary, the virgin, was to bear a child too. Both responded to the angel’s announcement with a question. “Zacharias said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this for certain? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.’” (Luke 1:18). “Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’” (Luke 1:34).

Zacharias question was met with dramatic consequences. Mary’s was not. Zacharias was made silent for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy: “And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words” (Luke 1:20). Coming out of the temple “he was unable to speak to them…and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute” (Luke 1:22). The exile of his tongue remained in effect until his son’s birth. On that day a discussion arose regarding what was to be the new born’s name. Zacharias “asked for a tablet, and wrote as follows, ‘His name is John.’” (Luke 1:63). “And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God” (Luke 1:64). Later, filled with the Spirit, Zacharias blessed God in a prophetic song of praise (Luke 1:69-79).

But Mary’s question to Gabriel did not lead to any similar repercussions. How are we to account for this? Zacharias’ question reflected unbelief in God’s word to him, Mary’s did not. Mary was confident to God’s ability to do that which Gabriel had declared, she did not question THAT God could do what He promised, she wondered HOW. She believed, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Zacharias question reflected an element of unbelief: “How shall I know this for certain” (Luke 1:18). The announcement of the God-sent angel was not enough, he wanted further evidence. The evidence would come, God would fulfill His plan, but his unbelief worked to bind his tongue until its fulfillment.

As J. C. Ryle rightly notes, unbelief is a grievous sin bearing grave consequences: “A well-instructed Jew, like Zachariah, ought not to have raised such a question. No doubt he was well acquainted with the Old Testament Scriptures. He ought to have remembered the wonderful births of Isaac, and Samson, and Samuel in old times. He ought to have remembered that what God has done once, He can do again, and that with Him nothing is impossible. But he forgot all this. He thought of nothing but the arguments of mere human reason and sense. And it often happens in religious matters, that where reason begins, faith ends. Let us learn in wisdom from the fault of Zachariah. It is a fault to which God's people in every age have been sadly liable. The histories of Abraham, and Isaac, and Moses, and Hezekiah, and Jehoshaphat, will all show us that a true believer may sometimes be overtaken by unbelief. It is one of the first corruptions which came into man's heart in the day of the fall, when Eve believed the devil rather than God. It is one of the most deep-rooted sins by which a saint is plagued, and from which he is never entirely freed until he dies. Let us pray daily, "Lord increase my faith." Let us not doubt that when God says a thing, that thing shall be fulfilled.”

It is ever and always a good thing to take God at His Word. It is as we do that we fully enjoy the fulfillment of His promises and are freed to openly declare His praise. Unbelief binds our tongues and leaves us speechless. “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Let us meet today’s’ challenges with this kind of faith in our great God and His sure Word.

Pastor Jerry


Mark 16:15, “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’” (ESV)

The engine room of the Nuclear Submarine on which I served was a complex assembly of nuclear, electrical, and mechanical equipment. An Engineering Officer was tasked with overseeing the men in maintaining its safe and functional operation. But the Engineering Officer was not always there in the engine room. In his absence, he left to us “Standing Orders”—his specific commands regarding our responsibilities. These Standing Orders, were written in a “Night Order Book” and remained in effect until they were rescinded.

Our Engineering Officer was not particularly well liked by his crew. One of the enlisted men decided that he would express his disapproval in an unusual way. He took the Night Order book—a heavy duty, government issue, green-covered notebook—and work to fold it in half. Back and forth, for an entire night, he folded the cover and the pages. In the end the book was still readable, but hardly recognizable. The Engineering Officer was none too pleased with what he found—we were all forced to stand at attention in the Engine Room until the culprit was identified. Any disdain for the standing orders of the Engineering Officer, that would work to threaten the well-being of the boat and crew, could not be tolerated.

We’ve been issued standing orders by the Lord Jesus Himself. His final words to His followers, His Great commission, are inscribed in our verse. His command to us—“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel” (Cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Our glorious Lord has commissioned us to declare a glorious message (1 Timothy 1:11) regarding His glorious work (1 Corinthians 1:18). The message bears the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). It is a matter of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:3), which is to remain preeminent in every aspect of the church’s ministry (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Many have disdained the standing order. Doubting the power of Christ and His gospel to save, they have devised other man-made schemes to build gospel-less churches. But let us be careful to treasure the standing orders of our Lord Jesus. As His ambassadors we are here to do His bidding. The proclamation of the gospel message is His Great Commission to us.

J. C. Ryle commented on our text: “The Lord Jesus would have us know that all the world needs the Gospel. In every quarter of the globe man is the same, sinful, corrupt, and alienated from God. Civilized or uncivilized, in China, or in Africa, he is by nature everywhere the same--without knowledge, without holiness, without faith, and without love. Wherever we see a child of Adam, whatever be his color, we see one whose heart is wicked, and who needs the blood of Christ, the renewing of the Holy Spirit, and reconciliation with God. The Lord Jesus would have us know that the salvation of the Gospel is to be offered freely to all mankind. The glad tidings that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son," and that "Christ has died for the ungodly," is to be proclaimed freely "to every creature." We are not justified in making any exception in the proclamation. We have no warrant for limiting the offer to the elect. We come short of the fullness of Christ's words, and take away from the breadth of His sayings, if we shrink from telling any one, "God is full of love to you, Christ is willing to save you." "Whoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Rev. 22:17.) Let us see in these words of Christ, the strongest argument in favor of missionary work, both at home and abroad. Remembering these words, let us be unwearied in trying to do good to the souls of all mankind. If we cannot go to the heathen in China and India, let us seek to enlighten the darkness which we shall easily find within reach of our own door. Let us labor on, unmoved by the sneers and taunts of those who disapprove missionary operations, and hold them up to scorn. We may well pity such people. They only show their ignorance, both of Scripture and of Christ's will. They understand neither what they say, nor what they affirm.”

Pastor Jerry


Mark 15:15, “And wishing to satisfy the multitude, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified.”

Romans 4:25, “He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”

There is not so much written about Barabbas in the gospel accounts. But his is a fascinating story. The choice of Barabbas vs. Jesus is remarkable. His freedom, at the cost of Christ’s punishment represents a dramatic exchange. In his commentary on the book of Romans, commenting on Romans 4:25-25, Donald Grey Barnhouse used Barabbas to illustrate the substitutionary nature of Christ’s sacrifice for us. What follows is from his commentary…it is well worth reading:

“There is a physical, material illustration of the substitutionary death of Christ that is found in all four of the gospels, and that shows this truth in a simple, yet profound manner. It is rare to find any given event mentioned in all four of the gospels, for the Lord is not writing mere history in these accounts but is setting forth four portraits of Christ in different phases of His life and ministry. In the recital of the events that took place in at the trial of Jesus, there is mention of one Barabbas. In one of the gospels he is said to have been a robber, in another that he had been mixed up in an act of sedition in the city, and that he had committed murder. He was, we read, a notable prisoner. Now it was the custom at that time to free some one prisoner at the occasion of the high Jewish festival, and Pilate thought that he might get of his predicament by releasing Jesus Christ, since the evidence show that there was no fault in Him. But the crowd cried out that they wished Barabbas released and that they wished Jesus to be crucified (Matt. 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:13-25; John 18:38-40). If we count carefully we discover no less than 38 verses used in the four gospels to tell that simple story. Anyone who is really familiar with Scripture knows that God does not give lengthy emphasis to a subject through mere whim, but that this is part of “all Scripture,” given by inspiration of God, and profitable for instruction (2 Tim. 3:16). Even the balance, the length given to the story of Barabbas is important, and the story is given half a dozen verses more than the entire account of the betrayal of Christ by Judas. Let us look a little more closely at this man Barabbas.

In the first place, the name Barabbas is pure Hebrew, Bar means “son” and abba means “father.” Barabbas, then, means son of the father. It can readily be seen that he is a representative type of all the sons of all the fathers who have ever begotten children in this world. We are all of Adam’s race. We have been bound over for our sedition against God. We are robbers of His glory. We are murderers of our souls and the souls of others. We find ourselves bound in the darksome prison house of sin. We feel in our hearts that we merit the sentence that has been announced to us and we wait in trembling for the time of judgment. Every man loves freedom. To be put in a cell is a horrible curtailment of human liberty, and the necessity of such confinement shows what society thinks of the terrible outbreaks that endanger the smooth flow of what men call civilization.

The Roman soldiery had stopped the riot and had taken Barabbas. His blood-guiltness was established. He was flung in his cell, there to wait the moment of his death. I have read several stories of the thoughts of prisoners before there death. A man who is to be hanged has difficulty keeping his hand away from his throat where the rope is soon to choke him. I have been told by a chaplain in a prison where men are executed in a gas chamber that the condemned practice long breathing, and sometimes will hold their breath until it seems that their eyes will pop from their sockets. They know that they are going to be put into a gas chamber and that the breath they are now forcing into their lungs will be the last that they shall ever know. They will hold on and on, straining the throngs that tie them to their chair, until they are forced by the inexorable law of breathing to exhale the last breath that contained pure oxygen and take in the death that floats around them.

Barabbas must have looked at the palms of his hands and wondered how it would feel to have the nails ripping through the flesh. He must have remembered scenes of crucifixion death, and the slow agony of the victims who suffered at times for a day or two before merciful death came to release them. He must have awakened with a start if he heard any hammering in the jail, and his mind must have anticipated the sound of the clanging hammers that would bring death near to him. And then, in his prison, he heard the vague murmuring of the crowd that roared outside like the murmur of a troubled sea. He thinks he hears his own name. He can tell that there are angry cries, and fear rises in his heart. Then he hears the sound of a key in the lock, and a jailer comes to him and releases him from the chain that is wound around him, for the Bible tells that he was bound. He must have thought that his time had come, but the jailer takes him to the door and tells him that he is free.

In his stupefaction he moves toward the crowd. There is little welcome for him, and he senses the deep preoccupation of the people. If he meets of his old companions in the crowd, he is greeted with but a moment’s word, and then he hears the surging roar, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” In modern language he would say to his companion, “What is the pitch? Give me the low down?” And he would be briefly answered that the roar is against Jesus, and that He is to be crucified, and that the crowd had cried out for the release of Barabbas.

Stunned, he walks nearer to the center of the scene and sees the Man who is to die in his place. Finally the procession begins toward Golgotha. He follows and sees Jesus fall under the weight of the cross. He sees Simon the Cyrene pressed by the soldiers to fall in line and carry the cross, and finally they arrive at Calvary. What must have been his thoughts? He hears the echoing blows of the hammer striking the nails, and looks down at his own hands. He had thought that this would be his day. He had thought the nails would tear his flesh. And here he is breathing the air of springtime and looking at the dark cloud that is gathering in the sky. Does he say, “Those hammer blows were meant for me, but He is dying in my place?” He could have said it in literal truth that day.

The cross is lifted up and he sees the silhouette against the sky. The sun grows dark and he hears voices that come to him like thunder. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The centurion passes near Him, and seeing the look upon His face, says, “Truly this was the Son of God.” And Barabbas, more than before, looks with wonder and amazement at the man who is dying for him. There comes a cry, “It is finished,” and a little while later he sees soldiers take down the body and put it in its temporary grave. He goes back to the city, and all the little things that he had expected to see no more come before his eyes with freshness of new creation. He took my place. Jesus took my place. They released me, Barabbas, who deserved to die, and they crucified Jesus instead of me. He took my place. He died instead of me.

Now Barabbas was the only man in the world who could say that Jesus Christ took his physical place. But I can say that Jesus Christ took my spiritual place. For it is I who deserved to die. It was I who deserved the wrath of God should be poured upon me. I deserved the eternal punishment of the lake of fire. He was delivered up for my offenses. He was handed over to judgment because of my sins. This is why we speak of the substitutionary atonement. Christ was my substitute. He was satisfying the debt of divine justice and holiness. That is why I say that Christianity can be expressed in three phases: I deserved Hell; Jesus took my Hell; there is nothing left for me but His Heaven.”

Romans: Exposition of Bible Doctrines Taking the Epistle to the Romans as a Point of Departure; Donald Grey Barnhouse; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Volume 2; pages 375-378.

Pastor Jerry