Monthly Archives: August 2016

Good News

downloadThe Gospel is news. It’s news about Jesus – about who He is, what He did, and why He did it.

His story goes right back to before the beginning, when He partnered with the other members of the Godhead in formulating their creative and redemptive plans, agreeing on their respective roles. He was then so successful in His mission that its impact is comprehensively retroactive and will be never-ending. The cross spans time and space, for by it God was reconciling all things to Himself – things on earth, and things in heaven.

Throughout the ages, this story has been told by those who saw, heard and experienced it unfold and develop. It is so well attested to all along the way that it comes to us as eye-witness news, with many of those witnesses having been martyred for their unwillingness to waver in testimony. Yet, in contemplating its enormous scope, let’s not imagine that the Gospel story is a complicated one, for this is not so. The poignant facts are all to be found condensed within the life of a single individual, Jesus Christ. The Gospel is short and simple, easily remembered, and easily told. Even little children can understand it.

imagesWhen this news – Jesus crucified, died, buried and raised – first broke on the streets of Jerusalem on Pentecost morning a little more than two millennia ago, it did so empowered by the Spirit, and immediately went viral. The believing community of a hundred and twenty soon gained three thousand more, and from there it snowballed. Confirmed by miracles, signs and wonders through the centuries, today the worldwide community of believers numbers hundreds of millions, and the forward momentum of this message gives no indication whatsoever of slowing down.

Wherever the news about Jesus has gone, it’s been just as controversial as Jesus Himself was. This has been a good thing, for it means that this news has been interrogated and tested every step of the way. The first major think-tank – and there have been many since – took place as the key role-players in the believing community gathered at what we today refer to as the Council of Jerusalem. This was necessary because the news was leaping across ethnic divides, and they wanted to make sure that everyone was getting the facts, and not some culturally distorted version of the facts. This Council was presided over by James, the half-brother of Jesus. Like him, many of those present had seen first-hand what Jesus had done, and heard what Jesus had said with their own ears. This gathering therefore constituted the ideal forum for crystallising the Gospel, paring it down to its essentials. What was then viral is now global, and those early leaders served us well, as did many others through the years. Much has happened, but the facts remain, and today the Gospel is as clear as it has ever been. What we learn through it all is that truth remains true, and ceaseless attention simply polishes the diamond all the more. The news, as proclaimed by Peter on the streets of Jerusalem, is the news we herald today.

download (1)Jesus lived the sinless life no descendant of Adam could. Every one of Adam’s line is a sinner, due sin’s wages, but sinless Jesus received these on our behalf. He died for our sins. Three days later, God raised Him from the dead, thereby vindicating His claims, and establishing His vicarious death as redemption for sinners for all time. All who believe this, in so doing appropriate His substitution personally, and thereby enter into a glorious exchange – their sin for His righteousness. All of it, for all of it! He received what sinners deserve, and in believing, sinners become saints as they enter into all that He deserves. The Gospel believed is salvation received, and it is by faith alone that men and women are put right with God. The Holy Spirit makes them alive and anew. In the moment of faith, those who believe are instantly transported from darkness to light, from death to life, and from being in first Adam to being in Christ (last Adam). God Himself, who made this possible for them, does it to them. We believe; He works! This is the Gospel!


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From Why the Gospel is the Best News Ever! Available for download from a broad selection of e-book platforms. Click on the image to go to the book’s page and select the version that best suits you.

 

 

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The Gospel (by Ross Penniall)

The Gospel is more than just scandalous. It’s an offense to almost every culture, and will continue to be so for many centuries to come. But say what you must, it is incredibly good news to the people who have come to the end of themselves.

John wrote what is arguably the most famous verse in the Bible: John 3:16. It is so because it captures the heart of the Author, and His love letter, in one easy-to-understand sentence. It doesn’t need a professor to interpret it or a scholar to to unpack its truth. It’s simple: God loved. Jesus came. Men believe. Eternal life is given. John expresses the ease with which one is rescued from eternal condemnation: Believe in God’s one and only Son.

But that should cause one to stop and ask: What does it mean to believe in Jesus? What exactly are we to believe about Jesus that will grant the gift of eternal life to the one who believes?

Allow me to answer these all-important questions for you …

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GOD

Many don’t like the idea, But God is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-present. He gives and sustains life,  and without Him nothing would exist. He is righteous and holy, perfect in every way. He exists outside of time. He sees all, and knows everything about everyone. Like it or not, He is Lord of all, including us.

MAN

We are unholy. We are unable to save ourselves, even though many don’t even believe there is an actual afterlife. We are rebels to the core. We are lost in our sins. We are worshipers of ourselves and live to please ourselves. We are unable to please Him or know Him. We don’t desire Him on any level. We are lost. Our destination is damnation. And truth is, that’s a just sentence, and we are in desperate need of a savior.

Side note: A good doctor doesn’t just give a sick man medicine. A good doctor whips out the x-rays. He displays pictures of the disease. He doesn’t hold back. He calls a spade a spade and gives the sick man a blunt, open and honest diagnosis of how bad it really is, to the point that the sick man is virtually begging for the remedy. One of the reasons why men don’t desire God’s remedy (Jesus) is because they aren’t aware of how sick they really are.

REMEDY

Jesus is God’s remedy for a sick and dying world. He came to seek and save the lost. Jesus paid the penalty for every lost man’s sin, and this for all time. He died for me and He died for you! He took the full brunt of God’s wrath at sin upon Himself. He reconciled God to the world. On the cross, He who knew no sin became sin, so that through Him many would become righteousness. He is the only way to God. He is the only remedy for a lost and dying world.

RESPONSE

God is holy. I am unholy. I need saving. Jesus made it possible for me to be saved. That’s the message. The invitation is simple: BELIEVE! Church attendance is not a prerequisite. Neither is obeying the commandments or praying every day. “Quit smoking!” “Stop using foul language!” “Stop watching Internet porn!” “All good advice, but not the Good News. Jesus is the Good News. He lived the life we couldn’t live. He died the death we all deserved to die. He then gives us a salvation we could never earn. Grace is given to those who don’t deserve it. That’s you and me, my friend! And so, man’s response is so simple: just believe. Unwrap the gift and say thanks.

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That’s why the Gospel is an affront to just about every culture. Lost men don’t like to be told they are sustained by a loving Creator even if they don’t know or acknowledge it. Lost men don’t like the idea of being told that they are not good enough, no matter how hard they try. Lost men don’t like the idea of being told that they need help. Even those who believe in a God up there somewhere don’t always like the idea that Jesus is the only way to Him. And having crossed that bridge, the thought that we owe no debt or payment in return is scandal all the more. It sounds too good to be true. But it is so good because it is true!

I will never stop enjoying these truths. In fact, we’ve only scratched the surface in understanding how glorious the Gospel really is.


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A guest post for SMGN by Ross Penniall – lover of Jesus, lover of life, and lover of SoMuchGoodNews.

 

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Quintessential phariseeism

Spiritual-arrogance-ahead-signJesus described quintessential phariseeism as He spoke out against self-righteousness in the most direct of ways, as recorded in Matthew 23. An exhaustive exegesis of the chapter would render a more comprehensive version, but His seven pithy “woe to you” statements give us the essentials in synopsis.

  1. Legalism is an exercise in unbelief, excluding people from a salvation that is by grace alone through faith alone.
  2. Legalism is zealous for its brand, and demands conformity to itself rather than true discipleship.
  3. Legalism consumes itself with technicalities at the expense of truth.
  4. Legalism majors on minors and neglects matters of first importance.
  5. Legalism deals in externals and ignores the matters of the heart.
  6. Legalism nurtures hypocrisy as it concerns itself more with appearances than realities.
  7. Legalism results in delusional denial of its own dismal inadequacy.

Do the exercise yourself and you might phrase things a little differently, but you’ll inevitably reach the same conclusions. Call it what you will – self-righteousness; phariseeism; legalism; dead religion; fundamentalism; self-effort – our best attempts are in such contradiction to the heart of God as to be futile exercises in unrighteousness all. Little wonder that Isaiah described them as filthy rags (literally used menstrual cloths) and Paul as dung (literally excrement).

humilityThe caution to all of us is that self-righteous people don’t recognise themselves as self-righteous. They measure themselves by themselves, and make good grades. It requires an intervention of the Lord to break the delusion. Hence my prayer is that any pride we take in our own particular version of Christianity may so come to appall us that we can never boast in it ever again. Without Jesus we are nothing, even if we’re able to so craft a veneer that we fool even ourselves, and perhaps only ourselves at that. It is by grace that we have been saved, through faith, and not of ourselves. We have nothing to boast about or place confidence in, other than Him. Our church, our obedience, our gifts and callings – these all count for nought! His church, His obedience, His perfect and finished work – these are everything!

Nothing is more freeing than discovering that Jesus counts for everything, and that everything else counts for nothing. This big idea is what ushers us into an authenticity of faith which is secure, peaceful, joyful and loving. It has nothing to prove and nothing to strive for. It is content, not contentious, and gifts salvation to everyone, irrespective of circumstance.

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Much to celebrate

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There is much to celebrate in our neck of the woods. The Lord’s Presence and Provision are magnificent always, and although we’ve been busier than is customary, it’s been with a spring in our step and a a song in our hearts.

We’re delighted at the steady increase in downloads of all three of the books in the NOT CONFUSED series. They are proving to be helpful to many, and we are grateful to the Lord to be used in establishing others in the Gospel of grace in this way.

Enjoy the updated look and feel of the the website, and be blessed!

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Living in the Will of God

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Living in the will of God is the application of the New Covenant in our day to day lives. This book is full of well illustrated and very practical instruction on how to do just that. The will of God is the will of God for all of His children, and you too can confidently live in it.

What Beta Readers have to say about the book

The story goes that a visitor to New York hailed a cab and asked, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The cabby’s reply was short and to the point: “Practise, practise, practise!” This was clearly not what the tourist expected. Whereas he was requesting directions to a destination, he received instructions on how to achieve success. This is so true of Christians who are trying to find a way to live in the will of God. We are given lists of instructions comprising a series of do’s and don’ts and told to practise, practise, practise. The truth is that we can practise until we die and still never achieve any degree of success. This is because thinking in this way makes it all about US and our performance. Receiving direction is entirely another matter. While it’s possible to receive both accurate and inaccurate directions on the subject, accurate directions always point to the finished work of the cross and what JESUS has already done. There is a sense that we do need to practise, but it has nothing to do with improving performance. The more we “practise” Jesus as the Author and Perfecter of our faith, the more likely it is that this will become our default position and the assurance that we are in His will, a lifestyle.

This little book is an excellent departure from the hundreds of self-help manuals and books on shelves around the world. In it Gavin does a superb job of showing us how to live in the will of God and avoid embarking on a journey that leads nowhere. Because the Gospel is all about Jesus, the road always leads to Him. Read it for yourselves to discover how uncomplicated this “how” really is. I give it five stars.

This is the third in the “Not Confused” series. Do yourselves a favour and read the first two as well.

Who should read this book and why?

LIVING IN THE WILL OF GOD is not difficult or complicated. As a matter of common sense, living in God’s will is God’s will. Surely? Why then would our Heavenly Father put it beyond the reach of any of His children? Rather, simple logic dictates that it cannot possibly be the preserve of the spiritual elite, but that living in the will of God is for everyone.

This book is for anyone who has wrestled with these matters. What you’ll discover is that the only real obstacles to living in the will of God are between our ears. This must be so if the grace of God is always sufficient. Obeying Him doesn’t rely on our own resources or abilities. Neither is it dependent on any particular situation or circumstance. The Lord always supplies what He later requires. What obstructs is an amalgam of misinformation, misunderstanding and misbelief. Lodged in our thinking and reinforced by those around us, these keep us bogged down in a veritable quagmire of unbelief. Fortunately there is Good News at hand. The Lord has provided a way out of that swamp. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation. It brings light and life, imparts faith and releases the power of the Spirit. Hence the Bible’s confident assertion that those who know the truth are set free by it. The Gospel is not information, but revelation that enables transformation. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation, and it delivers.

This little book is unashamedly a Gospel “how to”, with the emphasis on Gospel, because Jesus has already put in the hard yards. Living in the will of God relies on His efforts, and not our own. As the truths of the Gospel are applied, faith arises in hearts and minds are renewed. God is the initiator; we are the responders. He loved first. We love in return because we are loved.

Download your copy today!

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Sure Foundation

foundationEvery building requires a solid foundation. Paul used this common-sense metaphor when writing to the Corinthians. His application was unequivocal: There is only one foundation, and it is the one already laid. That foundation is Jesus.

Notice what he didn’t say. He didn’t say that Jesus is a preferred foundation, the best available. He was emphatic. Jesus is the only foundation. In other words, nothing else is a foundation in any ultimate sense at all. Other passages of Scripture attest to this. All things were created by and for Jesus, and all things find their place in Him. In the broadest sense, when all is said and done, everything that can be shaken will have been shaken. Only that built on the unshakable foundation of Christ’s perfect work will remain. Christ and His redemptive work alone will stand.

“In righteousness you shall be established”, promised Isaiah as he expounded on the benefits of the New Covenant. The righteousness in question is not our own, but Christ’s. It is His right standing with God in which we are established. That is the unshakable foundation into which the Holy Spirit embedded us when we believed. This truth lies at the heart of the Gospel, for in it a righteousness is revealed that is by grace alone, through faith alone, and because of Christ alone.

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This is Christianity’s bottom line, no ifs or buts. In the instant that we placed our trust in Jesus, a cluster of extraordinary things happened. His story became our story as Holy Spirit united us with Him in His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. From that moment onward we were no longer dead, entombed in our trespasses and sins. From then on we’ve been alive to God and in Christ, and seated in heavenly places in Him. In that same instant we were also born again of the Spirit of God, and Holy Spirit literally took up residence in us. This was possible because our unrighteousness had been removed from us, and Christ’s own righteousness imputed to us. Right then and there our lives were immovably and irrevocably secured into that one unshakable foundation. This is true of every single Christian. There are no exceptions.

Let’s say it again. Each and every believer is in irrevocable right standing with God. We are all righteous with the perfect right standing of Jesus Himself. That is the Gospel, and deserves belabouring at every opportunity. Enlist your imagination and look down using the eyes of your spirit. What do you see beneath your feet? More solid than rock, the right standing of Jesus, unshakable beneath your feet.


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Extract from “Living in the Will of God”. Coming soon to a computer near you!

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