Is Ms. Pelosi Right? Does the Church Officially Sanction Homosexuality

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https://www.lifesitenews.com/petitions/nancy-pelosi-stop-misrepresenting-catholicism

I am not a Romanist. But it must be noted by all, including this staunch Protestant, that Rome has condemned homosexuality. “Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357).

In fact, Pope Paul VI, commenting in one of his most outspoken denunciations of homosexuality, highlighted the immoral practices among professed Catholics who are defending homosexuality: “The Church finds herself in an hour of disquiet, of self-criticism, one might even say of self-destruction. It is like an acute and complex interior upheaval, which no one expected after the Council. One thought of a blossoming, a serene expansion of the mature concepts of the Council. The Church still has this aspect of blossoming. But since ‘bonum ex integra causa, malum ex quocumque defectu'; the aspect of sorrow has become most notable. The Church is also being wounded by those who are part of her” (Allocution to the students of the Lombard Seminary, Dec. 7, 1968).

When many pro-gay marriage advocates and activists from the secular sphere of society concentrate on trying to change the historic condemnation of homosexuality, we must remember that they realize that the religious factor is at the heart of the rejection of sodomy over the centuries. They are right. But when we see people who claim to be religious promoting it, they are either grossly naive or tremendously deceptive. As that has regards to Ms. Pelosi, I will let others decide that.

Faith Verses Sight: The Struggle of God’s Saints — A Practical Exposition of Psalm 22 (Part 1)

Introduction

If ever there is a prophecy of the agony of our Lord’s suffering on the cross, it is found in this Psalm. Nothing should be more interesting to the child of God who has rested solely and entirely upon this for his entire salvation. That is not so that we may glory in some morbid manner, but that we may remember the cost of our salvation and remind ourselves of what we owe. Nor do we seek to sensationalize it, as many movies do, but we seek to see the real significance of it.

While this Psalm speaks of Christ’s deepest sufferings, we should also be very aware of the fact that they also speak of David’s suffering. David is a type of Christ. And in this, we see that what David experienced points to something far more significant, the suffering of Christ for us.  As Alexander noted,

The subject of this psalm is the deliverance of a righteous sufferer from his enemies, and the effect of this deliverance on others. It is so framed as to be applied without violence to any case belonging to the class described, yet so that it was fully verified only in Christ, the Head and Representative of the class in question. The immediate speaker in the psalm is an ideal person, the righteous servant of Jehovah, but his words may, to a certain extent, be appropriated by any suffering believer and by the whole suffering Church, as they have been in all ages.

As we take a bird’s eye view of the Psalm, we can divide the Psalm into two main points. First, there is the wrestling of faith in verses 1-21; then there is a victory over this suffering with its implications to the end of the Psalm. Focusing upon the conflict of faith, we find three cycles of it. In verses 1-5 we see the first, where there is a conflict; then again in verses 6-11; and finally, there is the third cycle in verses 12-21. In each of these, we find the person, David the type with Christ the fulfillment and the Christian by extension, wrestling over their own senses. They feel and see one thing, and this contradicts the other thing that faith sees. Sense and sight assault faith,  but faith fights back!

As we focus on the second half the Psalm, the victory of faith over senses comes to the forefront.   This victory of faith begins in verse 22 in the promise of the person to praise the Lord. Then in verses 23 & 24, this victory of faith moves on as the person calls upon the godly to praise the Lord on the basis of hi experience. We see a third movement in this victory of faith in a renewed promise of praise and thanks in verse 25. Lastly, we see the victory of faith in a prophecy of the increase of God’s glory in the earth, which is the fruit of suffering and victory (25-31).

Having given this brief outline of the Psalm, let us consider,

The Conflict of Faith (vv. 1-21)

Cycle One: The Trial of Dereliction (vv. 1-5)

The Sense of Dereliction

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me and from the words of my roaring? 2. O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not, and in the night season, and am not silent.

In these two verses, we see David the type and of Christ the fulfillment, speaking. Now, in order to understand this in this twofold way, we must note wherein they agree and wherein they disagree. Meaning, while both David and Christ can say this in truth, they cannot completely mean the same thing. Let us take note how they can say this, or how they can agree in saying, “My God, my God, why hast thou forgotten me?”

We can say that there are at least four areas in which they agree.  First, we may say that both David and Christ had a sense of the wrath of God in the midst of oppressing trouble. Second, we may also say that David and Christ were tempted to doubt and despair. Third, we may that David and Christ wrestled against this temptation. Last, we may say that both David and Christ are victorious over the temptation to doubt and despair.

From these points, there are lessons that we would do well to learn. Firstly, this tells us that a child of God can truly have a saving faith that is assaulted by doubt. Faith and doubt can coexist. While the winds blow, the flame may flicker. J. C. Ryle stated, “Doubting does not prove that a man has no faith, but only that his faith is small. And even when our faith is small, the Lord is ready to help us.” Alister McGrath notes,

Doubt is natural within faith. It comes because of our human weakness and frailty… Unbelief is the decision to live your life as if there is no God. It is a deliberate decision to reject Jesus Christ and all that he stands for. But doubt is something quite different. Doubt arises within the context the faith. It is a wistful longing to be sure of the things in which we trust. But it is not and need not be a problem.

Secondly, this tells us that true faith will not sit idly by when assaulted by doubt and despair. It struggles with the doubt. I have heard people say, “I can’t take this anymore. I am throwing in the towel.”  But frankly, this is selfish.  I believe that Garrett Higbee is right when he says,

The person characterized by a despairing heart has a propensity to make an idol of easing pain, feeling good, and creating comforts. This person may find themselves making conscious and/or unconscious statements like “I deserve!” or “I’m totally helpless!” The person who chooses to not deal with a despairing heart may be characterized by a victim mentality, an inordinate need for security, self-pity, strained relationships and a propensity to self-medicate or escape through fantasy or self-destructive behavior. Others might comment that their behavior or moods are melancholy, or down in the dumps, when relating to others they can be distant, isolating, draining, or self-absorbed.

Now, David and our Lord did not succumb to such doubts and feelings of despair. They took it to the Lord. Iain Duguid notes, “Even doubting thoughts and feelings that border on sin are better laid out before the gracious eyes of the Lord than nursed in our hearts. God will not be shocked! He knows our inmost thoughts anyway!”  Let us mark it down that earnest prayer is the best course of action when we find ourselves in doubt and tempted to despair.  Prayer is the most suitable exercise of the soul in the most trying moments. When the soul can do nothing else it can trust in God.

Thirdly, this tells us that we may have victory over this temptation, even as David and our Lord were victorious. True faith never dies, seeing that is forged on anvil of the Almighty. Its flame may flicker, but it will never be extinguished. True faith endures unto the end, and it will not give up nor give in! Why? Because it looks to the Lord. Jeremy Taylor noted, “It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent.” Even when we are not able to see God, when we do not sense His presence, we must never despair of His love.  D. M. Lloyd-Jones gives sound advice:

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: “Why art thou cast down-what business have you to be disquieted?” You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope thou in God” -instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.”

God’s Method of Answering Prayer by John Bunyan

“The desire of the righteous shall be granted.” But I find it not so, says one; for though I have desired and desired a thousand times upon my knees, for something that I want, yet I have not my desire; and indeed, the consideration of this has made me question whether I am one of those to whom the promise of granting desires is made.

ANSWER. What are the things thou desirest; are they lawful or unlawful? for a Christian may desire unlawful things.

But we will suppose that the thing thou. desirest is good, and that thy heart may be right in asking, as, suppose thou desirest more grace; yet there are several things for thy instruction may be applied to thy objection: as,

1. Thou, though thou desirest more of this, mayest not yet be so sensible of the worth of what thou askest, as perhaps God will have thee be before he granteth thy desire.

2. Hast thou well improved what thou hast received already?

3. When God gives to his people the grant of their desires, he doth it so as may be best for our advantage: as,

(1.) Just before a temptation comes; then if it rains grace on thee from heaven, it may be most for thy advantage. This is like God’s sending plenty in Egypt just before the years of famine came.

(2.) Christians, even righteous men, are apt to lean too much to their own doings; and God, to wean them from them, ofttimes defers to do, what they by doing expect, until in doing their spirits are spent, and they, as to doing, can do no longer. When they that cried for water, had cried till their spirits failed, and their tongue did cleave to the roof of their mouth for thirst, then the Lord did hear, and then the God of Israel did give them their desire. The righteous would be too light in asking, and would too much owrprize their works, if their God should not sometimes deal in this manner with them.

(3.) It is also to the advantage of the righteous, that they be kept and led in that way which will best improve grace already received, and that is, when they spin it out and use it to the utmost; when they do with it as the prophet did with that meal’s meat that he ate under the juniper-tree, “go in the strength of it forty days and forty nights, even to the mount of God.” Or when they do as the widow did—spend upon their handful of flour in the barrel, and upon that little oil in the cruse, till God shall send more plenty.

A little true grace will go a great way, yea, and do more wonders than we are aware of. If we have but grace enough to keep us groaning after God, it is not all the world that can destroy us.

4. Perhaps thou mayest be mistaken. The grace thou prayest for may in a great measure be come unto thee.

Thou hast been desiring of God, thou sayest, more grace, but hast it not.

But how, if while thou lookest for it to come to thee at one door, it come to thee at another? And that we may a little inquire into the truth of this, let us a little, consider what are the effects of grace in its coming to the soul, and then see if it has not been coming unto thee almost ever since thou hast set upon this fresh desire after it.

(1.) Grace, in the general effect of it, is to mend the soul, and to make it better disposed. Hence, when it comes, it brings convincing light along with it, by which a man sees more of his baseness than at other times. If, then, thou seest thyself more vile than formerly, grace by its coming to thee has done this for thee.

(2.) Grace, when it comes, breaks and crumbles the heart in the sense and sight of its own vileness. A man stands amazed and confounded in himself; breaks and falls down on his face before God; is ashamed to lift up so much as his face to God, at the sight and apprehension of how wicked he is.

(3.) Grace, when it comes, shows to a man more of the holiness and patience of God; his holiness to make us wonder at his patience, and his patience to make us wonder at his mercy, that yet, even yet, such a vile one as I am should be admitted to breathe in the land of the living, yea more, suffered to come to the throne of grace.

(4.) Grace is of a heart-humbling nature; it will make a man account himself the most unworthy of any thing, of all saints. It will make a man put all others before him, and be glad too if he may be one beloved, though least beloved because most unworthy. It will make him with gladness accept of the lowest room, as counting all saints more worthy of exaltation than himself.

(5.) Grace will make a man prize other men’s graces and gracious actions above his own; as he thinks every man’s candle burns brighter than his, every man improves grace better than he, every good man does more sincerely his duty than he. And if these be not some of the effects of the renewings of grace, I will confess I have taken my mark amiss.

(6.) Renewings of grace beget renewed self-bemoanings, self-condemnations, self-abhorrences.

And say thou prayest for communion with, and the presence of God. God can have communion with thee and grant thee his presence, and all this shall, instead of comforting thee at present, more confound thee and make thee see thy wickedness.

Some people think they never have the presence and renewings of God’s grace upon them, but when they are comforted and when they are cheered up—when, alas, God may be richly with them, while they cry out by these visions, My sorrows are multiplied; or, Because I have seen God, I shall die.

And tell me now, all these things considered, has not grace, even the grace of God which thou hast so much desired, been coming to thee and working in thee in all these hidden methods? Thus therefore thy desire is accomplishing, and when it is accomplished will be sweet to thy soul.

5. But we will follow thee a little in the way of thy heart. Thou sayest thou desirest, and desirest grace, yea, hast been a thousand times upon thy knees before God for more grace, and yet thou canst not attain.

I answer, (1.) It maybe, the grace which thou prayest for is worth thy being upon thy knees yet a thousand times more. “We find that usually they that go to king’s courts for preferment, are there at great expenses, yea, and wait a great while, even until they have spent their whole estates, and worn out their patience too.”

Yet they at last prevail, and the thing desired comes; yea, and when it is come, it sets them up anew and makes them better men, though they did spend all they had to obtain it, than ever they were before. Wait, therefore, wait, I say, on the Lord; bid thy soul cheer up and wait. “Blessed are all they that wait for him.”

(2.) Thou must consider that great grace is reserved for great service. Thou desirest abundance of grace; thon doest well, and thou shalt have what shall qualify thee for the service that God has for thee to do for him, and for his name in the world. The apostles themselves were to stay for great grace until the time their work was come. I will not allot thy service, but assure thyself, when thy desire cometh, thou wilt have occasion for it—new work, new trials, new sufferings, or something that will call for the power and virtue of all the grace thou shalt have to keep thy spirit even, and thy feet from slipping, while thou art exercised in new engagements.

Assure thyself thy God will not give thee straw, but he will expect brick. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required.” Wherefore, as thou art busy in desiring more grace, be also desirous that wisdom to manage it with faithfulness may also be granted unto thee.

Thou wilt say, Grace, if I had it, will do all this for me.

It will, and will not. It will, if thou watch and be sober; it will not, if thou be foolish and remiss. Men of great grace may grow consumptive in grace, and idleness may turn him that wears a plush jacket into rags. David was once a man of great grace, but his sin made the grace which he had so to shrink up and dwindle away as to make him cry out, O take not thy Spirit utterly from me!

(3.) Or, perhaps God withholds what thou wouldst have, that it may be the more prized by thee when it comes. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”

(4.) Lastly. But dost thou think that thy more grace will exempt thee from temptations? Alas, the more grace, the greater trials. Thou must be, for all that, like the ship of which thou readest: sometimes high, sometimes low; sometimes steady, sometimes staggering; and sometimes even at the end of thy very wits: “For so he brings us to our desired haven.”

Yet grace is the gold and preciousness of the righteous man: yea, and herein appears the uprightness of his soul, in that, though all these things attend the grace of God in him, yet he chooseth grace here above all, for that it makes him the more like God and his Christ, and for that it seasons his heart best to his own content; and also for that it capacitates him to glorify God in the world.

Bunyan on How A Man May Come to Christ

John Bunyan’s “Instruction for the Ignorant,” the following dialogue occurs.

Question. “If such a poor sinner as I am would be saved from the wrath to come, how must I believe?

Answer. Thy first question should be, on whom must I believe \ John ix. 35, 36, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God’?” “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on Him?”

Q. On whom then must I believe?

A. On the Lord Jesus Christ.

Q. Who is Jesus Christ, that I might believe on him?

• A. He is the only-begotten Son of God.

Q Why must I believe on Him \

A. Because he is the Saviour of the world.

Q. How is he the Saviour of the world?

A. By the Father’s designation and sending; for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.

Q. How did he come into the world?

A. In man’s flesh,—in which flesh he fulfilled the law, died for our sins, conquered the devil and death, and obtained eternal redemption for us.

Q. But is there no other way to be saved but by believing in Jesus Christ?

A. There is no other name,given under heaven, among men, whereby we must be saved. And therefore he that believeth not shall be damned. Acts iv. 12, “Neither is there salvation in any other : for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Mark xvi. 16, “But he that believeth not shall be damned.” John iii. 18, 36, “He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life : and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

Q. What is believing on Jesus Christ?

A. It is the receiving oj Him, with what is in him, as the gift of God to thee a sinner. John i. 12, “To as many as received Him, even to them that believe on His name, He gave power to become sons of God.”

Q. What is in Jesus Christ to encourage me to receive him?

A. Infinite righteousness to justify thee, and the Spirit without measure to sanctify thee.

Q. Is this made mine if I receive Christ?

A. Yes, if you receive him as God offereth him to thee.

Q. How doth God offer him to me?

A. Even as a rich man freely offereth an alms to a beggar,—and so must thou receive him.” John vi. 32, 33,34, 35, ” My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven ; for the bread of God is He that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto Him, ‘Lord, evermore give us this bread.’ And Jesus said unto them, ‘I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that bclievcth on me shall never thirst.'”

Astonishing Lodgers in Man’s Heart by Samuel Rutherford

It is mercy’s wonder, and grace’s wonder, that Christ will lend a piece of the lodging, and a back-chamber beside Himself, to our lusts; and that He and such swine should keep house together in our soul. For, suppose they couch and contract themselves into little room when Christ cometh in, and seem to lie as dead under His feet, yet they often break out again; and a foot of the Old Man, or a leg or arm nailed to Christ’s cross, looseth the nail, or breaketh out again! And yet Christ, beside this unruly and misnurtured neighbour, can still be making heaven in the saints, one way or other. May I not say, “Lord Jesus, what doest Thou here?” Yet here He must be. But I will not lose my feet to go on into this depth and wonder; for free mercy and infinite merits took a lodging to Christ and us beside such a loathsome guest as sin.

The Cumbersome and Stormy North-side of Christ by Samuel Rutherford

Sanctification and mortification of our lusts are the hardest part of Christianity. It is in a manner, as natural to us to leap when we see the New Jerusalem, as to laugh when we are tickled: joy is not under command, or at our nod, when Christ kisseth. But oh, how many of us would have Christ divided into two halves, that we might take the half of Him only! We take His office, Jesus, and Salvation: but “Lord” is a cumbersome word, and to obey and work out our own salvation, and to perfect holiness, is the cumbersome and stormy north-side of Christ, and that which we eschew and shift.

Free Justification in Christ Alone: A Practical Exposition of Acts 13:38-41

Free Justification

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

(Act 13:38-41)

Introduction

An ancient and profound question is here answered! Long ago Job asked, “How can a man be justified with God?”  The great aim of the Apostle Paul here is to set forth the answer to this vital question.  The words are part of a sermon.  We have three evangelistic sermons by Paul in the book of Acts.  This is the first, speaking to the Jews and Gentiles in Pisidian Antioch; the other two are preached in Lystra (14:15-17) and then in Athens (17:22-31).  This is the largest of the recorded sermons.

This sermon is very Christ-centered.  It presents Christ as the world’s Savior by explaining that He was foretold in the OT Scriptures (vv. 16-25), that He was rejected of men, according to the Scriptures (vv. 26-29), that God has raised Him from the dead, according to the Scriptures (vv. 30-37), and that through faith in this Christ salvation comes to men (vv. 38-41).

What is important for us to see is that “the keynotes of Paul’s theology as found in his Epistles appear in this sermon” (Robertson). Specifically, we see the idea of justification by faith apart from the Law. In fact, it is the first time – I am speaking chronologically –that we find Paul’s use of the term “justification.” As such, we find that justification through Christ is the answer to that one prevailing and nagging question of mankind, since the time of our fall in Adam, “How can a man be acquitted before God?”  Let us consider,

The Necessity of this Gospel

In our English version, the whole order of the sentence is altered from the original. The original arrangement is as follows: “and from all (the things from) which ye were not able to be justified in the Law of Moses, in this man every one believing is justified.”  This is important for us to underscore this arrangement because it forcefully and beautifully contrasts justification by obedience to the Law of Moses and justification by faith in Jesus Christ.

Now, the word ‘justified’ is defined here. We do not get a full definition, but there is enough information here that helps us to see what it is all about, something about its nature. If you will look at verse 39, you will see the idea of forgiveness of sin. And then in verse 39, you will see the word ‘justified.’  As Ellicott notes, “It is clearly used, as interpreted by the ‘forgiveness of sins.’ in the context, in its forensic sense, as meaning ‘acquitted,’ ‘declared not guilty’.”

Paul states that the Law did not provide this forgiveness of sins, this acquittal.  The Law, with its high standard of righteousness (Rom. 7:12), demands entire obedience; its sacrifices bore witness to the burden of sin, yet had no power to liberate the conscience from its thralldom (Heb. 8:1-3). Paul himself had learned this. All that he found in the law was death: “And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death” (Rom. 7:10).  It provides a profound knowledge of sin (Rom. 7:7), but it cannot emancipate men from it.

No man can be justified by the Law. The Law only reveals that He has no ability nor desire to perform what the Law demands. The man or woman who believes that he or she can stand before the Lord as keepers of the Law have a very low opinion of the Law. They trivialize its commands; they externalize it; yet, they are ignorant of its weighty and spiritual demands.

But it is here that we see our need of the Gospel. Since you and I are unable to be justified by the Law of Moses, we must find the forgiveness of sins by another means. We need to find another way to be acceptable unto God.  While the Law tells us what we are to do, it grants no power to do that.

The law supposing I have all,

Does ever for perfection call;

The gospel suits my total want,

And all the law can seek does grant.

The law could promise life to me,

If my obedience perfect be;

But grace does promise life upon

My Lord’s obedience alone.

The law says, Do, and life you’ll win;

But grace says, Live, for all is done;

The former cannot ease my grief,

The latter yields me full relief.

In other words, what we see here is that we need the Gospel. Let us now consider,

The Subject of this Gospel

The subject of the Gospel is the forgiveness of sins by Jesus Christ.  This is an important truth. Notice the words “be it known.” This same phrase is used by Peter in the beginning of his sermon at Pentecost (2:14). Then again he used it when he ascribes the healing of the lame man to the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (4:10). “It implies that the truth declared was one of which the hearers had been ignorant, but which I was important they should know” (Alexander). Thus, whether you know this truth or not, each of us should take this message as something vitally important to know; it is something that we should not only know, but we should rest upon.  “Be it known.”

In addition, we should also note that this important message is centered in the historical, biblical Jesus. “Through this (one), this same Jesus, whom our brethren in Judea crucified, but whom I have just proved to be the promised Christ. Remission of sins is found in Him and Him alone. Two things are worthy of our consideration here. On one hand, the Gospel is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-3). Underscoring this, Alexander Maclaren preached, “The gospel is not speculation but fact. It is truth, because it is the record of a Person who is the Truth.”  J. Sidlow Baxter likewise wrote:

Fundamentally, our Lord’s message was Himself. He did not come merely to preach a Gospel; He Himself is that Gospel. He did not come merely to give bread; He said, “I am the Bread.” He did not come merely to shed light; He said, “I am the Light.” He did not come merely to show the door; He said, “I am the Door.” He did not come merely to name a shepherd; He said, “I am the Shepherd.” He did not come merely to point the way; He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

On the other hand, justification is only found in the real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. He is not the imaginary Jesus of the liberal, the mystic, or the New Ager.  Imagination is not our Savior.  Jonathan Edwards noted this:

The person to whom the Spirit gives testimony and for whom He raises their esteem must be Jesus – the one who appeared in the flesh. No other Christ can stand in His place. No mystical, fantasy Christ! No light within – as the spirit of Quakers extols – can diminish esteem of and dependence upon an outward Christ. The Spirit who gives testimony for this historical Jesus and leads to Him can be no other than the Spirit of God.

The real, historical Jesus is the one who died the just for the unjust. It is He who became a curse for us that we might escape the curse of God. He is God’s only begotten Son who has been set forth as the propitiation for our sins. He alone is the Lamb of God who was ordained before the foundation of the world to taste death for us. He is the only one  who has purged our sins and sat down on the right hand of God. And he proved it by the resurrection, even as Paul mentions in verse 33.

This Christ, and no other, is the subject matter of the Gospel. Now, let us take note of,

The Object of this Gospel

The aim of the preaching of the Gospel is the forgiveness of sins. Its designed end is the believer’s acquittal before God. That is the burden of all true preaching. While this forms the keynote of Paul’s preaching here and in Acts 26:18, it was also Peter’s (Acts 2:38; 5:31; 10:43). Prior to them, it was the theme of the preaching of John the Baptist (Marl 1:4; Luke 3:3). Importantly, it was the focus of the preaching of our Lord Himself (Matt. 9:2, 6; Luke 7:47; 24:47). It was the ever-recurring burden of the glad tidings which were preached alike by all God’s ministers. Now, nothing can be more important for us to know than this. R. C. Sproul once preached,

A few years ago at a Christian bookseller’s convention, with several thousand people present, one Christian group did a survey asking people to define the gospel. A hundred people responded. Those who sponsored the survey looked at the responses, and only one out a hundred qualified as an adequate description of the gospel. People think that the gospel is having a warm relationship with Jesus, or asking Christ into your heart. Those things are important, but that is not the gospel. The gospel has a clear content that focuses on the person of Christ, the work of Christ, and how the benefits of Christ are appropriated into the Christian’s life by faith

Gospel preaching is centered in justification. It speaks of the atonement as the means by which a man or woman may be forgiven. And it says that this by faith alone. James Haldane gives a good definition of the Gospel

The Gospel is the good news of pardon to the guilty; and it enters into no calculations, in regard to the different degrees of guilt in those whom it addresses. It reveals an atonement sufficient for all; and every sinner of the human race is commanded to receive it as a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save the chief of sinners. The Gospel does not teach us how to lay a foundation for ourselves, but informs us of the sure foundation which God has laid in Zion, upon which all are equally invited and commanded to build their hopes, without any apprehensions of being upbraided for their past conduct by their gracious Creator.

The aim of the Gospel is that you and I know this forgiveness of sins. Do you? Now, this should make us also consider,

The Reception of this Gospel

While the Lord Jesus is the cause of our acceptance with God, we must receive Christ. There are three things to underscore here.  Firstly, there is here an implied offer of forgiveness. “The force of the Greek tense emphasizes the fact that the forgiveness was, at that very moment, in the act of being proclaimed or preached” (Ellicott).  Whenever the Gospel is preached, God is offering men forgiveness.

Secondly, there is a focus on the individual here.  It is not “all” that believe, but literally, with a more individualizing touch, every one that believeth is justified. Every person should put his or her name here. Each person should assume that God is speaking to him or her specifically and personally, for He is.

Thirdly, the sphere in which this forgiveness resides is Christ, but we must enter into Him by faith. As Calvin says, “Paul showeth how men obtain the righteousness of Christ; to wit, when they receive it by faith; and that which faith doth obtain is not obtained by any merits of works.”  “Whereas the ceremonies of the Law could not absolve you from your sins, this man absolves you, if you lay hold of him by faith” (Geneva Annotations). And what does all of this mean in concrete terms? I think that J. I. Packer gives an exceedingly good answer:

To the question: what must I do to be saved? The old gospel replies: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. To the further question: what does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Its reply is: it means knowing oneself to be a sinner, and Christ to have died for sinners; abandoning all self-righteousness and self-confidence, and casting oneself wholly upon Him for pardon and peace; and exchanging one’s natural enmity and rebellion against God for a spirit of grateful submission to the will of Christ through the renewing of one’s heart by the Holy Ghost.

If you want to receive the benefits of this Gospel, you must rest in Christ’s work. Are you? Last let us note,

The Despising of this Gospel

In order to press this message of forgiveness home to his hearers, Paul warns, “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.”

Now, we must not suppose this is only applied to the stout infidel and wicked person. They are not the only despisers of Christ. Charles Simeon rightly preached, “Every man is guilty of despising him, who complies not with the invitations of his Gospel, and withholds from him the affections of his heart. O let us examine ourselves carefully on this head, and see whether the warning in our text may not justly be applied to us.”

“What shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of Christ?” “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” If this Gospel, the only means for forgiveness of sins be rejected, then no other hope can be offered. And it is a great insult to God! “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son” (1 Jn. 5:10).

To count the blood of Christ as little and insignificant is fatal! To esteem its value so little that it is beneath your regard or trust is disastrous. “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God?” Can we hear such appeals, and not see the need of attending to the admonition in the test? O let us “beware,” how we reject or slight the salvation now offered us. Let us “beware” lest we bring upon ourselves that “wrath and fiery indignation which await the adversaries” of the Lord Jesus: and what I say unto one, I say unto all, “Beware.” (Simeon).

Let us now bring this to a,

Conclusion

Let us once again highlight the basic teaching of this passage. Firstly, please underscore in your minds the fact of the impossibility of your being justified by the law, and the certainty of your justification by faith in Christ. All eternity hinges on this truth. Let us take great caution in slighting this proclamation of forgiveness of sins. The entire OT points to it; God has approved of it in the resurrection; we have no other hope than this, seeing that we have no righteousness and need forgiveness. “By him all that believe are justified.”

Secondly, let us take great comfort from the extent of our justification through Christ; it is not from some, but from all things. There is no mark against us; there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. His blood cleanses us from all iniquity. Let this truth sink deeply into your conscience, believer! “By him all that believe are justified from all things.”

Thirdly, let us praise the Lord for this wonderful Gospel that has come to us. God has planned this salvation; Christ has procured it at great cost; and the Spirit has opened our hearts that we would receive it. Is it not a great mercy that we have heard it?  “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear” (Matt. 13:16).  Are we not privileged to hear a message that many have not heard? Let us thank Him that He has sent someone to us with a message of immeasurable importance.

And is it not even a greater mercy that God has raised us from spiritual death so that we might accept it.  Like Lydia of old, the Lord has opened our hearts to receive this message. Paul thanked God for the Thessalonian believer’s faith in this regard:

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. 1Thess. 2:13.

In this, we find that that it is implied, by Paul giving thanks to God, that faith is the work of divine grace. If we truly understand our hearts, we will see that we cannot come unto Christ unless God draws us. Therefore, let us praise Him that He has moved within us to embrace this wonderful gospel so that we might have our sins forgiven.