Thursday, January 3, 2008

All Hail the Conqu'ring King

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
– Philippians 2:12-13

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend; That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurp'd town to'another due, Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end; Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain, But am betroth'd unto your enemy; Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
-John Donne (1572-1631)

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit, Here Thy praises I'll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer; Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me, Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me, I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning, I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen, How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carryMe to realms of endless day.
- Robert Robinson (c. 1758)

“Sin stands in contrariety to God. It is rebellion against his sovereignty, an opposition to his holiness, a provocation to his justice, a rejection of his yoke, a casting off, what lies in the sinner, of that dependence which a creature hath on its Creator. That God then should have pity and compassion upon sinners, in every one of whose sins there is all this evil, and inconceivably more than we can comprehend, it argues an infinitely gracious, good, and loving heart and nature in him; for God doth nothing but suitably to the properties of his nature and from them. All the acts of his will are the effects of his nature.”
- John Owen (1616-1683), Works, Vol. 6, Temptation and Sin, The True Nature of Gospel Forgiveness, p. 399

How grateful I am for the persistent and effective work of the Holy Spirit. He can do what none other can do. He can (and determines to) change me into something other than I am by nature. The Holy Spirit is the glad and willing accomplice in effectually applying the work of redemption to my heart and life, and without the work of the Spirit there is no hope of ever being changed. In other words, without the aid of the Holy Spirit this leopard cannot change his spots (Jer. 13:23). Without His work I would ever and always be carried along on a perpetual merry-go-round of destructive fleshly appetites and disparaging besetting sins. To be sure there is a battle to be engaged, but I am profoundly grateful for the enemy’s sure vanquishing by the Conqu’ring King. If this process were left up to me alone I would be in deep weeds. The cross and the resurrection are the signum (seal) that this battle has ultimately been won. Christ is victor. The immediate and real ‘death to life’ regeneration of the Christian and the gradual sanctifying change from the ways of death to the ways of life is the special provenance of the Third Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit effectually applies the work of Christ by transforming us from darkness to light. What an amazing and glorious Triune God! Think of this - the character of particular love that sent the Savior to the Cross for our sins is the same character of the Holy Spirit in assuredly changing us from one degree of glory to another. God is committed to ultimate salvation wrought for His people that will be thoroughgoing, pervasive, and complete. Emmanuel will save His people from their sins.

The gospel is the good news that Christ is the Conqu’ring King and of His Kingdom there shall be no end. This gives us great hope as we look to 2008 and beyond.

"We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.” – Revelation 11:17

A glad subject together with you under the rule of the Conqu’ring King.

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