Lessons from a Psalm of Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! A couple of weeks ago my pastor taught out of Psalm 107, which is a Psalm of thanks to God. I’ve read it many times, but he broke it down in a new way that was quite enlightening.

The Psalm summarizes God’s deliverance of Israel throughout the Old Testament, but also applies today because we do the same things they did, and if we cry out to God he rescues us because he is faithful!

It gives four depictions of God’s rescue: bringing the lost to safety, freeing the one enslaved by their rebellion against God’s laws, those who are sick and dying from their sin and those facing certain death.

Without Jesus we are lost, imprisoned, dying and doomed, just like the illustrations in Psalm 107 (posted below in NKJV). In response to his rescue, we ought to, as the psalmist says “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.

Continue reading

Thoughts on Les Miserables

I finally got to see Les Miserables this weekend. It’s such a heartwrenching tale with themes of law, grace, love, sacrifice, injustice and mercy. I had avoided reading anything about the latest film version of Victor Hugo’s novel, which is why I missed this fantastic post from Mike Cosper at The Gospel Coalition about the theology of law and grace in this incredible story of redemption.  Continue reading

What Must Be Denied to Reject Substitutionary Atonement

There has been some online chatter recently on the subject of whether Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was necessary and criticizing the doctrine of substitutionary atonement (that by dying on the cross Jesus took the punishment we deserved and paid for those sins so that we could escape punishment). Theopedia defines penal substitutionary atonement this way: “the doctrine that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.”

It bothers some people that God demands sin be paid for in order to accept people. Rejection of this crucial doctrine isn’t new and I’m sure the list of opponents is long (although Alan JonesHarry Emerson Fosdick, and Brian McClaren who called the cross “false advertising for God” are on the list). But those arguments require that much of the Bible be ignored or rewritten in order to miss the clear scarlet thread that weaves it way through the entire collection of books that makes up the Bible. I’ve done a small search for specific references to Jesus’ death and the topic of salvation to illustrate how frequently it is mentioned. This is barely touching the subject but I hope it is useful.  Continue reading