One of the hardest verses in the Bible

There is an apparent contradiction between two verses in the Bible. James says, “A person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). Paul says, “One is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). Although they appear contradictory on the surface, a closer examination of how James and Paul are using words shows that they are talking about two different things. Both James and Paul (and Jesus, for that matter!) argue forcefully that saving faith will always result in a changed life; a life that is characterized by good works. But Paul and James are referring to two different things when they use the word “justified.” Paul uses the word “justified” to refer to the declaration of a person’s initial pardon at the moment of his conversion. James uses the word “justified” to refer to the final accounting of a person’s life before…

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What Happened on Good Friday?

Justin Taylor at the Gospel Coalition blog has posted a chronology of events that took place from the biblical accounts of Good Friday. This would make some worthwhile reading and meditation for the most sober day of the year.

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Bringing God Down

Today is Good Friday, which is the day where we celebrate the fact that Jesus died for his people. To some, this notion that Jesus needed to die for someone else’s sins may seem radically absurd. But John Stott wrote in The Cross of Christ that the cross reveals two things. First, the absolutely blinding perfection of God. And second, the deep sinfulness of human beings. He writes, If we bring God down to our level and raise ourselves to his, then of course we see no need for a radical salvation, let alone for a radical atonement to secure it. When, on the other hand, we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God, and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely ‘hell-deserving sinners,’ then and only then does the necessity of…

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More on God’s Justice…

A.W. Tozer’s chapter in Knowledge of the Holy on the justice of God is so potent and powerful, yet so painfully brief! Yet here are a few observations. First, he says that justice is not a standard that exists above God and which God is required to obey. This would be to imply that God is not the highest standard of justice but is subject to a higher standard of justice. No, God is Himself the standard of justice and he executes his justice perfectly. Yet, Tozer says that “there is nothing in His justice which forbids the exercise of His mercy.” God’s justice is free and perfect, and there is never a time when he is unjust. As the Psalmist Asaph ponders the prosperity of the wicked, he is reassured with this knowledge: “ 18Truly you set them [the wicked] in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.…

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God’s Justice and Darth Vader

A. W. Tozer remarks in the chapter on justice that there is no conflict between God’s justice and God’s mercy. God does not send people to hell necessarily with neither delight nor with regret. In Ezekiel 18:23, God says, “‘Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?’ declares the Sovereign LORD. ‘Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?’” God is pleased to show mercy to those who are willing to receive it. And yet in Isaiah 13:11, he says, “I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.” This is remarkably unflinching. God does not express the slightest hesitation in handing out his justice in the right time. In 2 Peter 3:9, he writes that “The Lord is…

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