Friday, August 31, 2012

Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!

The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Luke 7:34

This hymn does a masterful job at showing us who Jesus is. I have written about it before, but after recently singing it in church, I wanted to take the time to do a "deep dive" into each verse of this hymn.

Jesus is a friend for sinners, even when our earthly friends fail us. It's inevitable; because we live in a fallen world, our friends are sinners. And they will sin. They will disappoint us, not live up to our expectations and desires, and they may even walk away from a faith that once was strong.

Paul had this experience himself. While in prison in Rome, he wrote to his friend Timothy, the pastor at the church at Ephesus, and urged him to come and visit.

Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. II Timothy 4:9-10

Notice what he tells Timothy - Come soon! For my friend Demas has deserted me. And two others have left as well. Demas was Paul's partner in ministry. But clearly he couldn't hack it - he loved the world too much. I'm sure this was a disappointment to Paul. Not only did he lose his friend in a geographic sense (as Demas literally left Paul's side and went to Thessalonica) but he watched him choose the world over Jesus.

This wasn't the first time this had happened to Paul. A little later in the letter he recounts:

At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. II Timothy 4:17

Everyone deserted him! You'll note that Paul, in his graciousness, asks that it not be counted against them. But still! No one supported him. This is Paul we're talking about. Paul, who had the most amazing conversion story of all time, the living voice of God who has been in prison for spreading the gospel. They all deserted him.

Remember, Jesus is a friend for sinners. And Paul reminds us of that.

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. II Timothy 4:17-18

The Lord stood by Him! Everyone else deserted him but not Jesus. Not only did He stand by Paul, but He strengthened him and rescued him.

I love how Paul takes every opportunity to give God the glory. Even though several more verses follow, He can't end this section of His letter without a little benediction.

Take some time today to meditate on Jesus, the friend for sinners. Thank Him for the times that He has stood by you. Praise Him for making you whole.

Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!
Words by J. Wilbur Chapman

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.

Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.

Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.

Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Will Sing of my Redeemer

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:24

There is a very profound, and life-changing truth in the final verse of this hymn. I will sing of my Redeemer because He has brought me from death to life. I deserve to be dead, but because I have placed my faith in Him, He has given me life!

I deserve to be dead because of sin entering the world through the first humans God created. Adam and Eve's indiscretion in the Garden guaranteed a world of sin, and made me a sinner before I was even born.

But, God had a plan. He had a plan from before there was time; a plan to redeem this fallen world through His sinless son. As Paul explains, just as Adam brought sin into the world and caused death to reign for everyone, Jesus brought life and the gift of righteousness.

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17

By Adam's sin, we were all condemned. Through Jesus' sacrifice, all sin is forgiven and we are deemed righteous and justified when we believe.

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. Romans 5:18

In the same way that Adam was disobedient, causing sin for all people, Jesus was obedient, dying on the cross to pay for sin and redeem sinners.

For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19

God instituted the Law for His people so that they would see their sin. But again, His plan was in place - grace would conquer sin once and for all through Jesus so that when we believe and put our faith in Him, our sins are forgiven and we are free from death once and for all. We are free from death here on earth and we are promised eternal life in heaven with our Lord and Savior!

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21

Jesus abolished death and brought immortalit and life to light through the gospel. That's what I call good news!

God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. II Timothy 1:9-10

I will sing of my Redeemer!

I Will Sing of my Redeemer
Words by Philip Bliss

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.

Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.

I will tell the wondrous story,
How my lost estate to save,
In His boundless love and mercy,
He the ransom freely gave.

I will praise my dear Redeemer,
His triumphant power I’ll tell,
How the victory He giveth
Over sin, and death, and hell.

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His heavenly love to me;
He from death to life hath brought me,
Son of God with Him to be.