Articles by Craig Ireland

The Author of Life Died


Stunning! In so many ways,

Acts 3:15: “You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” — Apostle Peter 

Imagine it. One described as the author of life, succumbing to death and volunteering His life as a sacrifice.

The very One who is life, who has life in Himself and has authored all subsequent life. For who? For those whose life is derivative of His life. Humans are not self-existing, only God is, yet what have we achieved with this gift of life that God has given us? We have all gone astray and each of us has turned away from God… Away from pursuing God as our chief good and our principle pleasure. We have turned to desire the world, its delights and its rewards, and have regarded God as little, and too often, as nothing.

It wasn’t for those who reciprocate His affection that this author of life surrendered His life, but while we were yet sinners – while we stood in opposition to God by our waywardness – Christ revoked His right to life — so that we might be redeemed.

Death was not His end. Death dealt its final victory over the author or life and in doing so, self-destructed. The author of life would surrender to death in our place. We all, because of our sin, had incurred the death penalty; a penalty that will only be satisfied by eternal conscious suffering in hell. But God, who is rich in mercy, sent His Son to take our place and die our death. This Son is the author of life. He, Jesus Christ, died on a cross and suffered the total judgment sinners deserve. Now all who turn to Christ are freed from the power of sin, the penalty of death, and gloriously more…

Jesus didn’t remain dead. Death could not enact any permanent victory over the One who authored all life. Not only did Christ cancel out the debt we sinners had incurred, but by His resurrection, He won for us eternal life. By rising from the dead and calling us to be in union with Him. By our faith in Him, we will live eternally, just as He lives forever, according to the power of an indestructible life.

What confidence have we of these things? Because the Spirit of God seals it in our hearts by faith. Is this faith merely hope? Is it groundless? Is it just wishful thinking? Many have erroneously supposed so. But not Peter, he told us, “We are witnesses of this.” Jesus, died a public death, was executed for all to see, and rose a public resurrection. He appeared to more than 500 different eyewitnesses and sent His apostles (like Peter) to bear testimony of this great news—that none of us sinners need to die. None of us ever need see or taste hell. But because Jesus died and rose, all who place their trust in Him are eternally secure in Him and have received an irrevocable forgiveness and pardon from God.

Call upon Jesus today and receive this great salvation. There’s nothing more vital than this, for what will it benefit someone to gain the whole world, but lose their own soul in hellfire? Will hell be any more comfortable when the sinner reflects on what they once possessed? Will the unquenchable fire be less excruciating when the sinner remembers once possessing the whole world?

Salvation is found exclusively in the Name of Jesus Christ. He, the author of your life, stands ready to receive you now, to forgive you and welcome you into the eternal life that He has won for all who simply place their trust in Him.

Acts 3:19  “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” — Apostle Peter

Sin. Sorrow. Saviour.

 

It is the year 587 B.C. Jerusalem lies in ruins. Blood stains the streets. Thousands of God’s people have been dragged off into exile. God’s holy temple is robbed. And the book of Lamentations is penned by the prophet Jeremiah. 

People are not normally familiar with the contents of Lamentations. Maybe it’s because it’s an Old Testament book; maybe it’s because it can be difficult to relate to; or maybe it’s because it’s hard to make sense of if you don’t understand the bigger picture. Irrespective of the cause, the point is that Lamentations is an often neglected gold mine. 

For this reason, this article hopes to introduce you to at least five of the great treasures that can be unearthed from the pages of Lamentations.

 

1. Sin is really bad… at least God thinks so. 

All humans suffer with a terrible inclination to underestimate their sin. Lamentations offers us a reality check. It reminds us that sin is horrific beyond comprehension, and that the Holy God of creation is utterly repulsed by it.

Let Lamentations teach you to be wary of having petty thoughts about your sin. 

 

2. The result of sin is always shocking… regardless of whether you’re a christian or an unbeliever. 

As an act of judgment, God allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed. The sight of that desolation would have been shocking to behold, but it is that very shock factor that reminds us of how grave sin’s consequences are.

Similarly, the unrepentant will one day stare down into the bottomless, fiery combustion hole that is hell and reel at the appalling penalty of sin, and the Christian who looks to the cross finds themselves overwhelmed at the picture of God’s own Son slaughtered as a lamb.

Jerusalem destroyed; the screams of hell; the agony of Jesus on the cross, it’s all a reminder of sin’s terrible cost.

Let Lamentations teach you to be wary of having small thoughts about the consequences of sin.

 

3. We can and should mourn both realities

We are permitted to mourn the holy justice of God poured out upon sinners. In fact, when the heart of a man is in tune with God, it will find itself mournful over such instances.

Let Lamentations teach you to be broken at the site of punished sin – be it in hell or at the cross. 

 

4. Death is sad, and lamenting can be holy.

Sadness over death is not necessarily a result of weak faith, or immature thinking. Death is sad. The lamenting of Jeremiah was not in vain. 

The life of Jesus speaks to this as well. Did he not mourn over the death of Lazarus, even though he knew Lazarus would soon live again?

Let Lamentations teach you to think rightly about death. 

 

5. God’s judgment is swift, thorough, exhaustive and unfathomable in it’s extent… But his mercies are new every morning.

Our sin is horrific but God is merciful, and so there is no reason why any human being should have to suffer under the vengeance of a Holy God.

God lovingly sent Christ his Son, to take our punishment at the cross, and now, if we would trust in him, the penalty of our sin would be completely removed.

Let Lamentations urge you to trust in Jesus Christ for yourself. Your soul does not have to endure the lament of hell.

 

Lamentations 3:22-23

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness
.

 


 

If you want to learn more about the book of Lamentations or hear the above points being further explained, please see the clip below for a recent sermon by Pastor Craig Ireland.

Give the King His Due

 

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
– Hebrews 12:27

 

Doctrine: By placing our trust in Christ, we are made citizens of His Kingdom; a Kingdom of infinite value, eternal rule, and as indomitable as its King. All else will be shaken, things in heaven and on earth, and everything that is not grounded in Him–not surrendered to Him as King–will be uprooted and blown away like chaff.

 

Application: Let us,

— be grateful,

How grateful would one might be if they were to receive (by sheer grace) the world’s greatest kingdom, the world greatest treasure, the world’s greatest military and political powers? Yet the one united to Christ by faith receives a Kingdom infinitely more valuable, and most importantly, eternal.

 

— offer God acceptable worship,

It shouldn’t be surprising that God is not only specific as to the necessity of His own worship, but also particular about how. Worship that honours God and that is acceptable, is that which is ordained by Him and revealed in His Word. The invention of novel forms of worship are not flattering to God and He is not pleased by them. We Christians, when reading our bible, note the very specificity of God’s design in worship even down to the measurements and colours used in His tabernacle. He is a precise God and calls for His people to worship Him with precision.

 

— be reverent/be in awe,

These two attitudes prescribed here relate to worship. It’s possible to tick all the boxes of precise worship, and yet fail to posture the heart to be reverent and in awe. Everything the bible reveals about the Being of God demands reverence. He is a consuming fire and His immensity, glory, holiness, and inexhaustible power demonstrate the absolute necessity that all worship, and reference to Him, be full of awe. This ought to be natural (nothing could be more ‘natural’ than to be in awe before the Being who is essentially awesome/awful) yet due to the distraction of the world and messiness of life, due to sin and resident unbelief, we must make this determination to fight for reverence and labour to exercise awe toward the God who is thrice Holy.

Scripture Has Been & Will Be Sufficient

Too often Christians feel as though the bible is outdated; insufficient to speak to the unique challenges of today.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Firstly, this generation isn’t as unique as many flatteringly describe it. The temptations and enemies of holiness may be wearing different masks, yet sin is as it has always been.

Technology has no doubt advanced, and progress has been made in almost every secular arena, and yet the way that man relates to God is the exact same as it has always been. Either one is in Adam or in Christ; either one’s sins have been atoned for by the precious blood of Christ or they remain in their sin and rebellion.

Secondly, the bible suffers no insufficiency whatsoever. Being that it is the living word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, inerrant and infallible; it speaks authoritatively to every area of life. It describes man’s natural condition as a result of the fall, his fractured relationship to his Creator and fellow man, and the glorious means of redemption provided for exclusively in and by Jesus Christ.

It is not in need of an update, revision or any other form of ‘contemporising’. Not in essence or explanation.

The Bible is God’s word and it says what He says and He says what it means.

It is for God’s people everywhere and in every generation … forever!

All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass.The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” – 1 Pet. 1:24-25

Hope RBC Turned Seven!

Yesterday was the birthday of Hope Reformed Baptist Church. We turned seven!

Our first service was held on the, 14th September, 2008. From 6pm to 7pm.

My wife (Katarina) and I booked a small, side room at the Springwood Community Centre (where we now have midweek study). We didn’t tell anyone except Katarina’s parents who showed up to give their support and even brought a friend. Katarina also had a friend from school come along, but that was it.

We had 6 people that first Sunday. Then proceeded to boast an average of 3 people, for the next couple of months.

Those were very formative and difficult times, but we sensed God desired to do something with us and our tiny little group. So we pressed on. We moved into the main hall at the Springwood Community Centre for a weekly morning service early 2009 and progressed to the Springwood Seventh Day Adventist building about mid-year 2010 – where we still worship now.

Those years seem like a lifetime ago and many of the faithful people who make up our church family today probably did not even know that we existed back then. Yet these days, not a week goes by where I don’t get the privilege of seeing God move in their lives.

I am very happy we pressed on in those early days, I am very proud to be able to call this our church home, and I am incredibly excited for the bright future that the Lord still has planned for us.

God bless and happy birthday Hope Reformed Baptist Church.

Craig Ireland
Teaching Elder of HRBC

To Judge or Not To Judge

“Judge not, and you will not be judged;
condemn not, and you will not be condemned…”

John 6:37
 

It is so important that we understand this in its context because if it’s allowed to act as an unqualified principle, it will not only become unlivable, but it will stand in contradiction to the rest of scripture.

Elsewhere Jesus taught that we should be able to discern people by their fruit; that we should be on our guard against false brothers and wolves in sheep’s clothing; that we ought to be discerning about what others teach as truth, and that we should assess others claims to being spiritual authorities over us.

The challenge, however, is that all of this is utterly impossible to obey if Judge not, and you will not be judged is upheld without any context or qualification.

Considering The Context

Taken as a whole, vs.37 reads like this,

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

This tells us that we are NOT to be quick to condemn in our personal dealings with people. We are to show mercy to all we interact with. We are to be patient, charitable and forgiving.

Jesus unfolds this lesson here just as he was urging his hearers to consider how God the Father has dealt with us.

So in looking to the context – which is vital – we see that Jesus was teaching about dealing with peers, and personal offence.

Remember that in the preceding verse (vs. 36) Jesus had commanded His hearers to:

“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

In light of this verse, it follows that we must take our cue for interpreting v.37 from how God has treated us.

Considering The Father’s Mercy

We were all, once an enemy of God; we were at war with him and had sinned against him with little to no regard. Yet God’s actions toward us are remarkable. Instead of putting you in His crosshairs and reducing you to ash on the floor, He chose mercy.

He chose to bare our offence Himself. Not only did He put up with us, not only was he merciful to us, and not only was he very patient toward us – He did more – He took our offence upon Himself. In Jesus Christ he made the frightful journey to the killing tree, became a curse for us, and died the death we should have died.

That is mercy and that is what Jesus is asking us to emulate.

What has GOD done for you?

Think on that; be deliberate in your thoughts about the mercy of the Father toward you. Let them be big thoughts, thoughts that scare you with how weighty they are, how impacting they are, how deeply they must be felt.

How merciful was He toward you? And then ask yourself, how merciful are you toward others?

Can you look at God and not see his extravagant, lavish, infinite mercy that He in Christ would suffer an eternity of Hell, on the cross in a few short hours, that you might go free?

Are you numb to that? Are you unmoved by that? Are you unprovoked by that?

Does that consideration lead you to have mercy toward others?

Considering The Vast Disparity Of Cost

When we, as Christians, find ourselves suffering some offence, we ought to likewise find ourselves (almost) smirking at the thought, that it could be so easy for you to forgive, show mercy and judge not – especially in light of how much it cost God to forgive us. It is far, far, far easier for us to forgive our offenders than it was for God to forgive us.

For us to forgive that offensive driver, or that person who pushed in front of us in the queue, or that person who affronts us by slandering us, manipulating us, abusing us, etc., only costs us our pride. Let me re-emphasise that, it only cost us our pride.

With God however, of course it wasn’t his pride that was the challenge, it was the fact that it cost him the life of his Son. For God to forgive us cost God infinitely more. Christ, became incarnate, suffered the daily pangs of a sorrowful life and at the end of it all He swallowed the entire cup of God’s wrath till it’s last drop.

On account of that, judge not, be endlessly forgiving and be merciful.

Considering The Gravity Of Our Offence

Now of course we may sense that to forgive some people will be beyond our power and I have no intention to diminish people’s pain and minimise the abuse some have suffered unjustly.

We move now, past the petty offences that batter us daily to the big, truly nasty evils which occasions us in this world.

Some people have suffered quite unthinkable pain and torment from the evil actions of the most rotten, vile miscreants alive.

Yet perspective here is important or we’ll risk missing Jesus’ point.

We must take a sombre moment to reflect on the truth that no matter how harsh others may have been to us, how badly they hurt us, no one has ever offended us to the degree that we, by our sin, have offended God.

That’s an extremely provocative thing to say, (I do not say it lightly) and yet the reason it is so jarring, is because we entertain such small ideas of how bad sin really is.

Because of God’s infinite holiness, inestimable righteousness and perfection, any sin against Him, no matter how minor it may seem to us, is beyond reckoning in offence to Him.

The sinfulness of sin isn’t just judged by how horrendous the act is, so much as WHO the act is committed against.

I may sin against you and it is offensive, hurtful and shameful, but when I sin against God I commit cosmic treason. There’s no higher Person to offend, mock, shun and rebel against.

What horror… what unbelievable horror every single, seemingly minute, sin in reality is.

Yet how did God react to these unthinkable crimes against Him? What did He do to you in return?

He forgave, He restrained His right to condemn and He took upon Himself the offence and became both the offender and the offence that we might be freed, saved, redeemed and eternally innocent.

Considering Our Response

If you are a believer and have enjoyed this amazing grace, it appears God, in Christ, has something to ask you in return.

Could you find it in your heart to look at your neighbour, your friend, your brother or sister, that work colleague, that business partner, that ex-wife, ex-husband, that parent, that child, and your worst of all enemies… and could you, in God’s name, by God’s example, forgive them?

This is what Jesus is commanding here,

Judge not, condemn not and forgive.

He is not calling for a lack of prudence, or a lack of discernment to allow abusive people back into your lives without any recourse of self-protection. We all have to be on our guard against people who will victimise us and those we love. But we can forgive them, and leave them in God’s hands.

And this we must do, if we intend to be followers of Jesus.

The Honour of Suffering for Christ

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” – Luke 6:22-23,

Scripture is clear, all who would endeavour to live a life of godliness, and in emulation of the example of Christ, will suffer persecution.

It is not a question of “if” but “when”.

To take a stand, with Jesus, in defence of the weakest in our society; to defend the rights of the downtrodden; to spurn religiosity and superstition; to preach Christ unashamedly and unabashedly; to live with the kingdom ethic always in view; means to suffer hatred, exclusion, reviling and spurning of your name as evil.

And when this happens…

Jesus recommends you take immediate action,

You should, “rejoice and leap for joy”

Why?

It does seem like a strange reaction after all. It isn’t necessarily a fun experience to be hated, exclude etc.

Jesus offers two reasons,

1. “Your reward is great in heaven”

Jesus wants you to get very excited about the fact that you will be especially rewarded for suffering for His name. It is not a more noble reaction to suffering if you turn your head low and just contemplate the suffering as a end in itself. Rather Jesus taught that it is holier, more obedient to immediately turn your thoughts to heaven and begin to consider that there is a great reward for you; because you suffer for Christ’s sake.

2. “For so their fathers did to the prophets”

Jesus also wants you to, rather than be sad that you’ve been excluded from some wicked and earthly company, be joyous about the company you join on account of persecution. You are now a member of a far greater company, a far more glorious company, an eternal company. You may get passed over for that promotion at work because you are a believer and because of your stand for Jesus, or excluded in a hundred other ways (family, neighbours, colleagues, peers), and yet your suffering adds you to an infinitely better crowd. This crowd boasts on its membership roll the likes of Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and even Jesus Himself.

So take a gospel stand and when rejection comes, rejoice that you’ve been made worthy to be counted among the most elite.

Some Christmas Christology — Part II

Part II — The Incarnation Is Essential To Our Salvation

John 1:1-5, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Vs. 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

It was essential to the plan of God in redeeming his people, that he wouldn’t send anyone but himself to secure their salvation.

The problem for us as humans in our post fall state, is that God stands over us as a judge ready to condemn. Because he is holy and we are sinners, God is aloof and unapproachable to us, unless our sin and guilt can be removed. 

The incarnation of Christ was essential to God’s glorious response in dealing with this horrid plight of ours. 

Through the incarnation, Christ was able to make a way for God to relate to us in a manner other than a condemning judge, and this is why:

As the Heidelberg catechism so succinctly puts it, 

The saviour of God’s people must be fully human because, “…the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin; and one, who is himself a sinner, cannot satisfy for others.” (Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 6, Q.&A.16)

These leads us to two statements of fact:

– Our salvation, if it is to be secure must be wrought by one who is eternal, unchangeable and irrevocable. 

– Our saviour if he is to be successful must be, human, mortal and limited. 

The incarnation of God in Christ is the ONLY possible answer. In Jesus Christ we have one who is both God and man, we have one who is like us, made of our flesh and blood, and therefore a perfect advocate before the Father. Also, in Christ we have one who is of the same essence with his Father and can therefore be perfect, sin-free, divine and eternally our mediator. If it were not for the incarnate Christ, God could not be both our saviour and redeemer while yet, at the same time suffer, be judged and endure the necessary substitutionary death of crucifixion.

It would be foolishness for a human to trust an angel or any other non-human being to be their mediator for salvation. How could it be known for sure that one day, on the path of deepest humility and suffering they won’t just back down and say, “Oh well, what do I really care anyway, I lose nothing if they are all lost”?

But not Jesus Christ, He is one of us and eternally one with us. If humanity is entirely lost, Christ is lost. He is the perfect advocate before the Father because he will never back down, lose heart, shy away, or change his opinions. He must and will always delight in saving humans which He is eternally a part of.

Yet, a saviour who is only human is equally problematic. How can someone who is one of us, save us? How can He stand before almighty God on our behalf when he has no more right to God’s throne than any other mortal creature. How can he be sin-free, perfect and thus save us from our own sins?

None of that is remotely possible unless that one who is our Saviour, in whom we put all our faith and trust, is equally and fully God.

A sin-free, perfect, humble, willing advocate and redeemer who will not only die before God on our behalf, but will live before God forever on our behalf.

The incarnation of God in Christ is the greatest miracle God has ever wrought and the necessary act on God’s part to redeem his people from their sins and restore them to the glory for which they were made.

« Some Christmas Christology — Part 1

Page 1 of 512345