All Things for the New Year


“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things” (Romans 8.32)?

Assuredly, we want to begin 2016 with confidence and to live it victoriously.  Confidence for the year ahead is based upon God’s goodness extended to us in a singular event.  Specifically, it is rooted in the fact that God did not spare Jesus Christ, His own Son.  Instead, He delivered Him up for us all. 

God delivered His Son up for us even before we became children of God:   while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Our situation was desperate.  Our hearts were desperately wicked.  We could not earn the grace of God.  We did not deserve the grace of God.  And yet God did not spare His own Son. 

What does the Bible mean when it states that God did not spare His own son?  It means that God did not prevent His wrath from being poured out fully upon His Son.  The wrath of God for the sin of mankind was poured out in full measure upon Jesus Christ in order fully satisfy the Father.  Jesus was not spared. 

This was done for us all.  Which means it was done for every person that has ever lived or ever will live, but it was done especially for those who believe (1 Timothy 4.10).  And those who believe are in view as you read Romans 8.

Jesus became a man so that the Son of God could die for the sin of all mankind as the Second Adam.  God loved us so much that He delivered Jesus up for us all.  He didn’t spare Him. 

Jesus was delivered up because of our offenses (cp. w/ Romans 4.25a).  God is not willing that any person should perish but that every person should come to repentance ….that every person should have a change of mind when it comes to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (2 Peter 3.9).  God desires that once we trust in Christ, we continue to to trust in Him.  This leads to a change of direction in our lives.  We turn from self and run toward Christ.

Jesus did not come to primarily teach us an ethical system or how to be morally good and right.  He was delivered up by the Father as the propitiation for our sins and for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2). 

Jesus was delivered up for us all.  But not all people benefit by this great Gift.  Yet the Gift of Jesus’ redemption is sufficient for us all.  To deny this is to say that God’s gift is insufficient.  But, of course, nothing God gives is insufficient.  If a person will not receive the gift of God through faith, they will not be able to say that God did not extend His love and mercy toward them.  The LORD God asks, “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die ….and not that he should turn from his ways and live” (Ezekiel 18.23)?  The answer to this rhetorical question is that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  God desires repentance and faith from all. 

Any person who desires acceptance with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ may have it.  That person may be assured that Jesus Christ was delivered up for them.  This is the teaching of the Word of God.  If you are reading this, you too, can receive the gift of God.  You too can trust alone in the death of Jesus Christ for all your sin …you can trust in the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day for your justification (Romans 4.25).  Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2.8-9).  My hope is that you are not only aware of these facts, but that you are depending upon them. 

But it is the latter portion of this verse that is captivating for the coming year:

“How shall He [God the Father] not with Him [Jesus Christ the Son] also freely give us all things?”

We can get very confused by statements such as these.  God loves His children too much to give them everything they want; however, God gives them everything they need, and I do mean everything.  If we need a lot of money, God will give it to us.  If we need a father, God will give him to us.  If we need a brother, a sister, or a mother, God will raise one up.  There is not anything that we need that God will not give.

But notice the adverb freely.  God will freely give us all things.  I don’t need to send Him a seed-gift through some other mediator.  I don’t have to practice extortion or go into debt to freely get all I need from God.  Actually, God is more willing to give than I am to ask.  Sometimes God gives even when I fail to ask.  What a humbling experience that is!  God freely gives to us all things.  Therefore we ought to make 2016 a year when we ask for all things. 

The greatest gift God ever gave me was the gift of His only Son.  It only makes sense that He will give me the gifts that are smaller and lesser in value than the salvation of my eternal soul.  God will not forget you, leave you, or forsake you this year.  Believe it.  It would be absurd for you to not believe it.  God will not act contrary to His giving nature.  He is God. 

I leave you with three thoughts for the year ahead:

  1. Since there is not greater gift than God’s Son, then “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9.15)! 
  2. Since no one is worthy of such a gift, then let’s all open our mouths wide knowing God will fill them (Psalm 81.10). 
  3. Since God will freely give us all things “with Him” (that is, with Christ), then let us approach God’s throne with Christ as our Advocate.  Paul writes, “All things are yours …all are yours.  And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3.21-23).   

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

The Discipline of Self-Loathing

Broken and Contrite Christianity

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

David begins Psalm 34 by testifying to LORD’s work in his life:  The LORD saved David from fear and foe alike (4-6).  He surrounded David with His presence (7).  Then David takes what he has learned and teaches other believers that the LORD can do the same for them.  The LORD can meet your needs (8-10) and grant you a long and prosperous life (11-15).  He can keep you safe and secure from your enemies (17, 20-22).  But the unrighteous must realize that God is against them; His anger and condemnation hover over them (16, 21).

I think verse 18 is the key to this Psalm.  Broken and contrite Christianity always wins the favor of God.  Arrogance and an aggressive overbearing spirit meets only with the fury of God.

Basic to this Psalm (and many others) are two groups of people mentioned in it:  the righteous and the wicked.  The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous.  Our afflictions are numerous, but those who cause them and hate us will be held guilty by God (21).

We struggle because we are so aware of how weak we truly are.  Most of us are well aware of the fact that we have problems.  So much so that we really cannot grasp the benefits and promises God has provided for us here.  And yet we shouldn’t think that God does not allows us to be broken and contrite in order to receive these daily benefits.  So, we need to first understand what it means to have a broken and contrite heart or spirit.  


Generally speaking, we should be cheerful and joy-filled when it comes to life.  “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken” (Pv 15.13).  I surely don’t want a broken and dejected spirit like the one described in this Proverb!

Perhaps the word contrite clarifies things for us.  This broken and contrite spirit is aware of his or her sin.  He or she is coming face-to-face with the fact that they deserve the fury of God and wonder how they could ever have the favor of God.

David will say in Psalm 34.8:  “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.”  Again, in Psalm 40.12 David says, “My iniquites have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up.”  The sense here is the self-loathing we feel because we remember our iniquities, even our abominations before God (Ezek 36.31).  We will never forget what God has forgiven us even though His fury has been absorbed by the Lord Jesus Christ.  That seems to be contrition to me …it certainly isn’t presumption.

You don’t have to commit great abomination before God in order to know deep brokenness and contrition.  But those forgiven by God for great iniquity will certainly have an increased hatred for it.  And yet none of us can really stand before God with our heads unbowed and souls unbloodied.  We look at our lives and see how far from God we were …how utterly selfish we were, and we can’t help but recoil in the face of God’s great deliverance.

I’m reading through Job right now.  I don’t think I know anyone who approaches Job’s integrity.  Not many people would ever think to refer to us as perfect and upright.  Yet that’s how he is described.  But how did Job describe himself:  “Behold, I am vile …I abhor myself!”  (cf. Job 40.4; 42.6)  You don’t hear that in our self-esteem saturated society.

If we would know God’s near presence and daily deliverance, we must abhor ourselves for our sins.  It is quite humbling to remember just how often we are disobedient and rebellious toward God.  We acknowledge that God is absolutely right when His justice demanded such a sacrifice as the death of His Son for my sin …your sin.

Arrogant sinners don’t believe in a God of Justice.  Their god is never displeased and always gives them what they want.  He won’t send them to an eternal Hell.  Such a thing could never exist if God is truly loving and merciful.  David acknowledges after a year of torment over his murder and adultery cover-up:  “Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight – that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge” (Psalm 51.4).

Arrogance kills the Gospel message; contrition prepares the heart for its entrance.  Contrite people say, “What must I do to be saved?”  Arrogant people say, “What need have I to be saved?”  If you wonder at the people who without batting an eye reject your witness, then just remember arrogance is the main reason why they are steely hard.

The Benefit of Brokenness

“The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart” (34.18a).  God resists the proud and arrogant, but He gives grace to the broken and contrite …He is near them.  This is objective fact whether one feels it is true or not.  Sometimes we should pray, “Lord I believe this; help my unbelief.”

“And saves such as have a contrite spirit” (34.18b).  The LORD delivers those who say, “I have sinned, and perverted what was right, and it did not profit me” (Job 33.27).  His life shall see the light (Job 33.28).  God’s deliverance is everlasting …there will be no more shame or disgrace.

Our contrition is a sign that God’s love is upon us.  The LORD is near us.  God has taken away the arrogance and pride and given us humility in its truest form.  I think because people are taught in many evangelical churches that God basically winks at sin, when they do have a heavy dose of contrition, they question their salvation; they cannot rest.  But without contrition, we would never ask God the right questions in prayer.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

Do You Really Fear the LORD?

Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit the earth. -Psalm 25:12–13

Psalm 25 generally teaches us that if we commit ourselves to God in prayer and cast our care upon Him, He will provide all the comfort and support we need.  The two verses above remind us of the blessing that belongs to those who fear the LORD.  But first…

What does a person who fears the LORD look like?  

Let’s suppose I ask, “Who in our church really fears the LORD?”  What particular person would come to mind?  We’re all Christians.  Christians are supposed to fear the LORD.  So it shouldn’t be too difficult.  But it is.  If we were to name someone, we ought to spend a lot of time with him or her.  They are promised the blessings of this passage.  What Christian does not want to be taught in the way God chooses?  Who doesn’t want to dwell in prosperity or goodness?

Look at your heart.  Check your conscience.  Do you fear the LORD?  If you do, come close to me.  I want to find what you’ve found.  “Who is the man that fears the LORD?”

  1. Do you respect God’s authority?  Do you know that all things are working toward a certain goal?  “When all things are made subject to [the Lord Jesus], then the Son Himself will also be subject to [God the Father] who put all things under [Jesus], that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15.28).  God is to be all in all; therefore, He must be respected and feared.  If you submit yourself to God’s authority, you fear Him.  Nobody who disregards the authority of God fears Him.
  2. Do you dread God’s displeasure?  Our sin is repugnant to God.  All of us have sinned and have, therefore, deserved the wrath of God.  What brought us to salvation was a realization that we deserved punishment …that we are not good.  Past sin provokes in us the need of God’s mercy.  It’s not that we think about our past activity with regret sometimes.  It’s more than that.  We are broken over our sin.  We know poignantly the displeasure of God.  We know what it is like to be without hope or peace in this world.  We feared the displeasure of God and found refuge in Jesus!
  3. Do you tirelessly pursue God’s will?  Every day, do you wake up and say, “God, I want your will to reign supreme in my life?”  Do you fear God enough to know that your own will destroys you?  You say, “Well, surely I’m going to blow it, Pastor O!”  But I’m not asking you if you’re perfect.  I’m asking if you are pressing toward the will of God!  I’m asking if you are pursuing the glory and joy of ministry in the will of God!

Now you might think that you’re a prime candidate for a person who fears the LORD.  But do you really seek out the will of God daily?  Are you so determined to do the will of God that nothing distracts you from it – no hobby, pleasure, or person?  When someone shows you that you are not in the will of God, how does that work itself out for you?  Are you ready to humble yourself and obey?  Are you ready to face trial and struggle to have the will of God?  Well if you are a person who truly fears the LORD, here’s what God has in store for you…

What blessings are in store for those who fear the LORD?

  1. The LORD shall teach you in the way He chooses.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Once you receive Him, He empowers you by His Spirit to walk in Him.  “You shall be rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abound in it with thanksgiving” (Col 2.6-7).  Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’  Therefore, everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6.45).  God “will guide [you] with [His] counsel, and afterward receive [you] to glory” (Psalm 73.24).
  2. You shall dwell in goodness.  Consider that you deserve the wrath of God but instead you shall dwell in prosperity.  Your sins are forgiven you.  You have been justified by your faith.  You shall have peace with God.  2013 holds challenges, trial, and temptations.  A retrospect over 2012 should indicate that had God not enabled you, you would have fallen to many temptations and discouragements.  They would have overwhelmed you.   “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1.12).  The LORD “will keep [you] in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on [Him], because he trusts in Him” (Isaiah 26.3).  “When He gives quietness, who then can make trouble?” (Job 34.29)  The NKJV has a marginal notation for prosperity.  It is literally goodness.  You shall dwell in goodness if you fear the LORD!

Who fears the LORD?  If you do, God will teach you in the way He chooses.  He will make you to dwell in goodness!  If you don’t, you will remain in the dark and dwell in that darkness until you do.  Let us labor this year for that which endures unto everlasting life …not for that which will perish.

Glittering Generality or Stimulating Specificity

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11.24).

Prayer becomes arduous when viewed from a duty perspective.  How does one get to the place where prayer is valued as more necessary than physical food?  The crux of this verse is found in the word ‘believe’.  The miracle of faith and a supply of grace to obey fuels vibrant prayer lives. 

The verse indicates that we ought to have a sense of definiteness when we pray.  “Whatever things you ask…” means that I ought to have some ‘things’ to bring before the Lord.  “Believe that you receive them” communicates faith; we ought to count them as received already. 

It is good to consider what we shall ask of the Lord as we examine our motives.  The ‘things’ we ask for are specific things …specific people.  We ought to pray simply and specifically not with mock modesty and flowery, glittering generalities.  Our honest straightforward approach ought to be verbalized in our own words.  Abraham’s words are best for Abraham; our words are best for us.   

God will hear you when you pray because He has promised to hear you.  You won’t reach Heaven with harmonious logic and beauty in your prayer.  Shake off formalism and talk to God as a child speaks to his father.  Don’t allow the lips to move without the heart.  

Your Turn:  How do you define prayer?