Paul Madson


Month: November 2012

Your Sin…Nailed to the Cross

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

(1 Timothy 1:15 NASB)

Recently I sat at my desk listening to the song “It Is Well With My Soul” recorded live at the 2008 Together for the Gospel conference. Thousands of pastors gathered to learn from God’s Word and worship Him together (I have to say that there’s nothing quite like the experience of worshiping with thousands of pastors who are robustly praising God with all that is within them). When it came to the verse that says…

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

…I was overwhelmed with the deepest sense of gratitude for God’s grace and mercy.

Do you really believe (I mean really believe) that Christ paid it all – when He hung upon the cross in payment for your sins?

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:9 ESV)

One of the keys to walking in greater holiness in the future is believing the truth that your sins have been forgiven and paid for – completely – through the atoning sacrifice of Christ’s death on the cross.

Eternal life doesn’t start when you die-it starts the moment Jesus saves you from your sin. Here are ten things that happen at salvation:

1. You are reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18-20).

2. You are forgiven for all of your sins (Col. 2:13).

3. You become a child of God (John 3:3, 7).

4. You are accepted by God (Eph. 1:6).

5. You are justified by Jesus Christ (Rom. 4:1-5:1).

6. You are brought close to God (Eph. 2:13).

7. You are delivered from the power of darkness (2 Cor. 4:3-4; Col. 1:13).

8. You join the people of God (1 Pet. 2:9).

9. You are granted access to God (Heb. 4:16; 10:10-20).

10. You receive an inheritance (Eph. 1:14; Col. 3:24; 1 Pet 1:4; Heb. 9:15).

 (This post is adapted from Pastor Bill Clem’s Re:Lit book, Disciple: Getting Your Identity from Jesus.) 

“And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” (Colossians 2:13 NASB)

One of my all-time favorite hymns of the faith is Before the Throne of God Above. Let these words sink deep into the far recesses of your soul:


Before the throne of God above

I have a strong and perfect plea

A great high Priest whose Name is Love

Who ever lives and pleads for me


My name is graven on His hands

My name is written on His heart

I know that while in heaven He stands

No tongue can bid me thence depart

No tongue can bid me thence depart


When Satan tempts me to despair

And tells me of the guilt within

Upward I look and see Him there

Who made an end to all my sin


Because the sinless Savior died

My sinful soul is counted free

For God the just is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me

To look on Him and pardon me


“Either He bore all our sins, or none; and He either saves us once for all, or not at all.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“At the cross, the love of God and the wrath of God shake hands; the mercy of God and the justice of God embrace; and the holiness of God and the sinfulness of humanity appear in stark contrast.” (William P. Farely, from his book – Outrageous Mercy)

Do You Love Controversy or People?

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 NASB)

When Christians have different opinions over various issues of doctrine or convictions, humility and civility, as well as grace and kindness, should always rule the “tone” of those conversations.

You can win the battle, but lose the war.

You can win the argument, but lose the relationship.

Over the years (even reaching back three decades to my years working in Youth Ministry), I’ve observed people who were experts at “argument” win a doctrinal “battle” hands down, but then end up losing the “war” of relationship.

I’ve watched as fathers crucified the ideas of their teenage sons and made mincemeat of all that they said, only to have the young man walk away and say quietly under his breath, “You’re right dad! You’re right! You’re always right…” And the son walks away and emotionally detaches himself from his father, rejecting the faith that his dad so desperately wanted him to embrace.

“Kindness makes a person attractive. If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.”  (Alexander MacLaren)

Scripture makes it very clear…

The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26 ESV)

I came across a great article this week by Jim Hamilton, professor of biblical theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It’s entitled: Do You Love Controversy or People?

There is no conflict between loving truth and loving people. You really can love people as you obey Titus 1:9, which says an elder should “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict.”You can even love people as you follow Jude’s appeal that you“contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

A few years ago I would have been suspicious of anyone who mentioned the need to engage in theological controversy in a lovingway. I would have done one of those mental clucks of the tongue and inched the person toward the “needs-to-firm-up-conviction” column.

As time has passed, though, I’ve participated in a few controversies (many connected to the sovereignty of God in salvation or the roles of men and women) and I’ve watched some controversialists take issue with views that I hold. Obviously I haven’t been in all these battles, only a skirmish or two, and sometimes I found myself wondering if those involved loved God, people, and truth, or just loved controversy.

I don’t muse on that possibility because of a softening of my own convictions, nor because I don’t like to mix it up, because I’m tired of the fight, or because I think my views worsted. The question arises because some of the caricatures have seemed so obvious I wondered whether they were intentional. The controversialists surely should have known they were fighting misrepresentations, and I am certain that they would not want their views treated the way they treat those they attack. 

I found myself thinking things like this: You’re using the name of the view I hold, but you’re not describing anything like my understanding of it. Only an idiot or a monster would hold it the way you describe it. You know you’re attacking a straw man, right? 

This line of though led me to wonder whether the controversialists were concerned for me as a brother in Christ. I began to ask whether they loved me, because if they really loved me, they would want to help me see the benightedness of a position they thought was so awful, they would want to liberate me from the bondage of bad ideas, and their desire to help me in these ways would surely cause them to use a different tone of voice and a better method of argumentation.

Such thoughts led to suspicions about such controversialists. I began to wonder whether they were really interested in the truth, or whether they were just rabble-rousers scoring rhetorical points without regard for the Bible, theology, logic, and sound doctrine. I began to question whether they were driven by a need to advance their political position in the theological discussion, and whether they cared about the spiritual state of their hearers. They didn’t seem to care about the spiritual well-being of the people whose views they savaged.

I don’t claim that all my views are infallible (if I knew which ones were wrong I would change my mind!), and please don’t think I speak as one who thinks he has always fulfilled the love command. But in spite of my own failures to live up to the ideal, I can affirm that the desire to engage in controversy should flow from love for God and neighbor. Love for God results in a desire to uphold his truth. Love for neighbor results in a desire for people to enjoy the goodness of God’s truth. 

Is it love for God and neighbor that gets you into controversy, or is it a proud desire to strut your opinions, flaunt your learning, and see your enemy discomfited?

Or, are you just a knucklehead who likes to contradict what others say?

When we engage in controversy, understanding is the first thing we owe our opponents. Only a fool would argue with someone he hasn’t understood. We’re all fools, and repentance and an apology are the first steps down the path to wisdom.

Once we’ve understood our opponents, loving them means applying the golden rule to themDo as you would be done by. Present another’s view as you would want your own view presented. Don’t distort. Don’t cheat. Don’t misrepresent. Don’t caricature and don’t set up straw men. Be a man. Take on a real opponent. Take on the best opponent you can find. Don’t pick the lunatic fringe representative of the view you’re attacking. Pick the best advocate. Let the best advocate make his best argument. Let them say that you have accurately presented their position, then launch your offensive with a smile and a sincere desire to do good for both your opponent and the watching multitude.

If you love truth and you love people, be prepared to let the truth correct you where you’re wrong. You’re not Jesus. The world’s salvation does not depend on you being right about everything. If you love the truth you’ll want the truth to have its way more than you want to be thought right. If you love people you’ll want them to think what is true more than you want them to think you’ve won the argument.

The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26 ESV)

James Hamilton serves as associate professor of biblical theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches (Crossway) God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgement: A Biblical Theology (Crossway) and God’s Indwelling Presence: The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments (B&H). He blogs regularly at For His Renown. You can follow Dr. Hamilton on Twitter @DrJimHamilton

Freedom Comes Through Surrender: Have You Signed Yourself Over?

“Paul, a bond-servant (lit. “slave” – Greek word is doulos) of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” (Romans 1:1 NASB) 

Several times a week I visit the Gospel Coalition website because of the excellent resources I find there. Recently Ray Ortlund posted this article on his blog (highlights and emphasis are mine)

Bill and Vonette Bright, who went on to found Campus Crusade for Christ, came to a defining moment with God in 1951.

They were frustrated with each other, each with expectations contrary to the other. After much discussion, they decided to give it all to the Lord. They in fact gave everything in their lives to the control of Christ. They put themselves and their home and car and business, all that they owned or ever would own, entirely under his lordship.

They actually wrote it down on a piece of paper and signed it – not to bind their Lord to themselves but to bind themselves to him as his slaves. That’s when they saw that their future was brighter than ever.

Later Bill wrote, “Apart from my salvation, this was to be the most important decision of my life. That day I became a slave of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the first time in my life I was actually free.”

“We chose that day to put aside our own little dreams, our own aspirations, and our own little puny plans, and embrace his magnificent plans. That day was the beginning of a whole new era, a whole new lifestyle.” 

Bill became convinced that Campus Crusade for Christ would never have happened “had I not first surrendered my life totally, completely and irrevocably to the lordship of Christ. I was no longer my own; I had been bought with a price – the blood of my beloved Savior.”

(Michael Richardson, Amazing Faith (Colorado Springs, 2000), pages 59-60.)

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