Rom. 8

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Recycling Rubbish Into A Masterpiece

Thursday, January 28th, 2016
"Strange Fruit" by Thornton Dial (Public Domain - https://www.flickr.com/photos/cwphobia/8476343758)

“Strange Fruit” by Thornton Dial (Public Domain – https://www.flickr.com/photos/cwphobia/8476343758)

The New York Times recently printed an obituary for the artist Thornton Dial. He became an artist in midlife and employed a variety of innovative materials such as bones, scrap metal, and other discarded items to create sculptures and paintings that are featured in the collections of the Whitney, the Smithsonian, and other prominent museums of contemporary art. Mr. Dial’s propensity for turning discarded items into works of beauty is in fact a time-honored tactic of the greatest artist of all: God Himself.  As the Scriptures say: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Reclaiming The Worst

It is astonishing to think of the sin-wrecked, perverted, and defiled people that the Lord completely transforms into works of art. As another verse expresses it: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10, emphasis mine.) People who were previously dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) are now recreated after a perfect template: the very image of the glorified Son of God Himself. Although the work is not yet finished, the Bible affirms that “. . . He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6.) At His coming, believers will be perfectly conformed to Christ’s glorious image (1 John 3:1-3; Phil. 3:21.) Romans 8:28-30 concisely pictures the saints’ transformation into glorious masterpieces:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Transformed Into A Multitude Of Masterpieces

God’s saving work will culminate in believers’ glorification with the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet someone might say: “Oh no, I’m too bad to be glorified. My life is so messed up, God can never make anything of me.” The Bible flatly contradicts this line of thinking. Truly, we must be born again through faith in Christ (John 3:1-21.) I will give a veteran preacher from a previous generation the last word on this matter:

Furthermore, you will say to me, ‘I desire to lead a new life.’ To do this you must be new yourself; for as the man is, so his life will be. If you leave the fountain foul the streams cannot be pure. Renewal must begin with the heart. Dear friend, the Lord Jesus Christ is able to make your life entirely new. We have seen many transformed into new parents and new children. Friends have said in wonder, ‘What a change in John! What an alteration in Ellen!’ We have seen men become new husbands, and women become new wives. They are the same persons, and yet not the same. Grace works a very deep, striking, and lasting change. Ask those that have had to live with converted people whether the transformation has not been marvellous. Christ makes new servants, new masters, new friends, new brothers, new sisters. The Lord can so change us that we shall scarcely know ourselves: I mean he can thus change you who now despair of yourselves. O dear hearts, there is no absolute necessity that you should always go downward in evil till you descend to hell. There is a hand that can give you a gravitation in the opposite direction. It would be a wonderful thing if Niagara when it is in its full descent should be made to leap upwards, and the St. Lawrence and the sea should begin to climb backward to the lakes. Yet God could do even that; and so he can reverse the course of your fallen nature, and make you act as a new man. He can stay the tide of your raging passion; he can make you, who were like a devil, become as an angel of God; for thus he speaks from the throne of his eternal majesty, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Come and lay yourself down at his feet, and ask him to make you new. I beseech you, do this at once![1]

[1] C. H. Spurgeon, “Sermon for New Year’s Day,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 31. Originally preached on January 1, 1885. (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1885), 8–9. [Italics original.]

The High Cost Of Liberty

Monday, February 28th, 2011

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“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19

The author of the American Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson once penned the following regarding armed revolution:

We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s [sic] liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s [sic] natural manure.[i]

Despite this incendiary rhetoric and all of his contributions to the founding of the United States of America, Jefferson never shed a drop of his own blood to create or defend liberty.

You Say You Want A Revolution?

The recent unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iran, and other despotically ruled nations once more shows the innate human desire for freedom from tyranny. It remains to be seen whether these protests will produce political situations where freedom may flourish. Yet on a higher level the Lord Jesus Christ “preached freedom for the prisoners…to release the oppressed” through the shedding of His own blood (Luke 4:18; Eph. 1:7.) He was willing to suffer the heinous torture of crucifixion in order to free repentant sinners. Rather than sending others to die for spiritual liberty, Christ Himself gave His life on the cross. By pouring out His blood He paid the redemption price to liberate people from the tyranny of sin, Satan, the grave, and hell. His resurrection shows that the rescue has been accomplished. Only the Lord Jesus can grant true eternal freedom to lost sinners.

To obtain “a better resurrection” many of the Lord Jesus’ followers have suffered physically and emotionally (Heb. 11:35.) Old Testament Israel experienced tremendous oppression from numerous occupying powers. As a nation Israel currently disbelieves in their true Messiah Jesus (“Yeshua” as His name is in Hebrew); for them the “times of the Gentiles” continue (Lk. 21:24.) They will not recognize Him until He comes to defend and rescue them from the ire of the nations at the end of the Tribulation period (Zech. 12:1-13:1; Matt. 23:37-39.)

Freedom Worth Suffering For

Today millions of Christians around the world continue to suffer and die for their faith; yet their stories often go unreported in the western media. Nonetheless, one day the great Deliverer the Lord Jesus Christ will come to rescue His servants from those who mercilessly persecute them (2 Thes. 1:4-10.) What is more, He will liberate both them and the creation itself from the bondage and pain that sin produces in this world (Rom. 8:14-24.) The freedom that Jefferson and other people pine for is but a pale reflection of the far greater program of liberty that God will inaugurate through His peerless Son. His work will encompass every nation and extend far beyond this planet as it currently is (Rev. 21-22; Isa. 9:6-7.) If you have never done so, call on Him for salvation, confessing your hopeless condition as a sinner, and He will save you (Rom. 10:9.) Or if you already have received Christ as your Lord and Savior, continue on in the struggle – “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12)! The kingdom that God will establish in the age to come is worth suffering the loss of everything in this age (Acts 14:21-22; Matt. 16:24-27; Mk. 10:30.)[ii]


[i] Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to William S. Smith, 13 November 1787;” accessed here on 2/28/11: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl64.htm ; emphasis mine.

[ii] An abbreviated version of this article originally appeared on the Carryduff Gospel Hall website (http://www.carryduff.org/ ) the week of February 21, 2011.