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In Christ, even bad news can be good news

Here's a sermon by one of the finest preachers and theologians I know on a subject nobody wants to hear about. I know I don't. But I can testify from my own experience that it's true.We're often discouraged by the very thing that should prove to us that we belong to Jesus.

The Cross- not nonstop success and happiness and "victory-" is the mark of Christ's ownership. If the devil and the world crucified Jesus, what should we expect them to do to us, who belong to Him? On the other hand, why should they waste their time on those who are already theirs?

But God does the same thing in our lives that He did in Christ's- He turns the tables on the devil, the world and our flesh my using our very suffering for our good.

The story is told of a woman who burst into Luther's study one day demanding to know why God allows the innocent to suffer. He could have pointed out that none of us are actually innocent; that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." But instead, he pointed to the crucifix on the wall of his study and the One Human Being in all of history who was truly innocent and deserved not to suffer hanging on the cross for your sins and mine, bearing the suffering we deserve.

"I don't know," Luther replied. "But there He is. Why don't you ask Him."

In time of suffering our prayer should be that of our Lord in Gethsemane: "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. But Your will, not Mine, be done." He never wills us to suffer needlessly. But He brought the world's redemption out of Christ's drinking of His cup- and if He bids us drink ours, it is only to bless us through its very drinking far more than we can imagine.

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Thoughts on the Unpardonable Sin

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2..... Jesus says in the very statement in which He speaks of the Unpardonable Sin that ALL blasphemies will be forgiven, whatever their content- but that THE blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be. It is obvious from this that since THE blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not included in "ALL blasphemies," it must be something very different from merely saying something nasty about God (again, thinking something nasty about God, if it is not uttered out loud, cannot be blasphemy in the first place). It is unique.

3. Since Jesus says categorically that He will never, under a…

Bingo!

Christians who are constantly measuring and testing their spiritual state are Christians in an unhealthy theology. The focus is in the wrong place - on themselves, their works, their thoughts, their obedience, their nearness or distance from God. This, sadly, is the condition of American Christianity.

--Has American Christianity Failed?, Bryan Wolfmueller

It ought to be where God intends it to be and where it has to be if we are going to make progress against the sin and unbelief in our lives: on Jesus and what He has accomplished and promised and declares us in Him to be: perfect as He is perfect. When we believe that, Christ is formed in us.

But for that to happen we have to keep our eyes on Him and on His grace, and not on ourselves. Only the proudest and most depraved of human beings will be pleased and will not be discouraged at what they see when they look at themselves. But no one who keeps His eyes on Jesus and what He has done and promises can fail to grow and thrive and liv…