“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
When putting a roster of church songs together, I often search for lists of songs which would suit a sermon series on a particular book of the Bible. Mostly, I don’t find what I’m looking for and instead create my own list. I realise these lists, stored away in my dropbox files, would actually be helpful to many other people. Naturally your repertoire may be different from ours. We use many Sovereign Grace, Getty and Townend, Emumusic, Redman, Tomlin and Baloche, along with a selection of hymns and Hillsong. If this sounds similar to your own range of song sources, then hopefully you will find something useful here. This first list of songs is relevant to 1 CORINTHIANS. Enjoy!
All I have is Christ (Sovereign Grace)
Be thou my vision (hymn)
Before the throne of God above (hymn)
Come Hear the Angels sing (EMU)
How deep the Fathers love for us (Townend)
How great is your love, oh Lord (No eye has seen)
I will boast (Paul Baloche)
I will glory in My Redeemer (Sovereign Grace)
Jesus Son of God (Tomlin)
Jesus Thankyou (Sovereign Grace)
Man of Sorrows (Hillsong)
May the Mind of Christ (Mark Peterson EMU)
My Hope (Paul Baloche)
Overflowed (Trevor Hodge)
Oh the deep deep love of Jesus (Sovereign Grace)
Show us Christ (Sovereign Grace)
The Church’s one foundation (hymn)
The Power of the Cross (O to see the Dawn) (Townend and Getty)
1 Peter 3:14-16 (NIV)
14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Greetings fellow bloggers,
It is nearly three years since I stalled in my exploration of the Three Sixteens, but today is the day to jump back in. With only four more of these 3:16 verses to go, perhaps I will make it to Revelation by Christmas! (If you missed all the earlier posts, on Matthew 3:16 through to James 3:16, then I’d encourage you to go back to the start and check them out.)
It is truly astounding the way such rich theology is anchored at this point in nearly every New Testament book. Admittedly, the more memorable verse sometimes does fall at 3:15 or 3:17, but this one starts in 15 and carries on.
Firstly, some context. In Chapter 3, Peter has been writing about submission to Christ and to each other, about our witness, and suffering in doing good. Verse 14 says, if we are doing what is right and suffering for it it, we should not fear the threats and slander of mere humans. These should be of no consequence to us (which is much easier said than done, right?). In fact, Peter says we are blessed/rewarded for the suffering we must endure, as we seek to live a holy life. This right behaviour ‘in Christ‘ (done in his strength and for his sake) is further described in verse 16. Other people are going to speak maliciously against us, but Peter says that when we act in good conscience, the slanderers who criticise our good behaviour will ultimately be put to shame. That’s tough for them, but good for us. (However, you certainly wouldn’t want to be doing ‘good things’ with that motivation in your heart – to shame others!)
So, what is the heart of the matter in this 3:16?
As I said before, verse 16 begins in 15, and it starts with a big BUT: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. In the midst of suffering and slander, revere Christ. This is Peter’s solution.
The presence of the BUT tells me that our natural inclination is to do just the opposite. Our natural reaction is NOT to revere Christ as Lord. Instead, we hold the opinions and power of mere humans as being more important than that of Christ. We are naturally afraid of living in a way that brings suffering for following Christ (verse 14). That is the precisely the way the World lives – fearing one another, and the power that others’ have over us, yet constantly seeking the approval of those very people.
That’s why Peter has to say, “But . . “ do this instead! Honour Christ. Fear Christ.
Rather than fearing Man, we Christ-followers are to revere Christ as Lord, to recognise that He is the Lord of this universe and He holds ultimate power. Because He will Judge each of us, He is the right person to fear. And when we fear the right thing, everything else falls into place. When we fear the Lord, the suffering that brings blessing for us also brings hope and peace!
This is what Peter alludes to in verse 14, which is a reference to Isaiah 8:12-15:
12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.” (NLT)
In the fear of the Lord there is refuge and sanctuary. In fearing the Lord we find peace and confidence (we are not frightened), because we revere the true power! Isn’t that astounding?
Perhaps it is only when we patiently suffer for Christ that we find the strength and opportunity to express the HOPE that is in us.
What an encouraging bunch of verses we have here, which remind us that our strength comes from Christ! The meat in the sandwich (verse 15) is honouring or revering Christ, which brings us hope and a readiness to share the hope. This hope allows us to cope with the suffering wrapped around our hope, as we live for Christ in a world that despises him, and us.
Ultimately Peter’s message is this:
As you live for Christ, you will suffer – but you will be blessed and strengthened in your hope as you honour Christ as Lord of your life.
That sounds like a pretty significant message to take away.
Thanks for another great 3:16, Peter!
(Note: If you have ever wondered how we got chapters and verses in the bible, you can read about it here.)
Yes, the Sovereign lord is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. (Isaiah 40:10-11 NLT)
Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22:12-13)
Sometimes even really great songs can become tired. People just get ‘over’ singing them and the impact and meaning is lost. It’s rare to find a song that endures very long these days! But this song is somehow different: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (1995)
I remember when I first came across the Stuart Townend song. Its unusual time signature scheme (4/4 and 6/4 in alternate bars) coupled with beautiful poetry declaring the wonder of God’s love really gave the song a certain ‘X’ factor – and won me over! Perhaps for these reasons it has endured as a singable and meaningful song. Though it’s been around for almost two decades I’d say this song can still penetrate any stubborn heart and mind to see the beauty of our salvation afresh! (In case you somehow missed it, the lyrics are down below)
There is such rich theology in this song – but I’d like to focus on one intriguing line in verse 3: “Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer. . .”
As we see in the passages above from Isaiah and Revelation, the Messiah, Risen Redeemer King, Jesus Christ turns up to rule bringing his reward with him, a reward which is his own flock of people, saved by His blood. These are the people the Father has given to Jesus, as His reward:
“My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.…” (John 10:29)
How incredible that from Jesus’ perspective we are His reward, the people of God, sinners saved by undeserved grace! We cannot give an answer for why Jesus would die for us, for his enemies – we can only look with thankfulness that “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:12)
This is Jesus, our redeemer and friend! How deep the love of the Father to send his own Son for us!
HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR US
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.
Stuart Townend– See more at: http://www.stuarttownend.co.uk/song/how-deep-the-fathers-love-for-us/#sthash.jX205XY1.dpuf
Here are some links to learn more about the song:
It has been about 5 months since I’ve written a post in the Three Sixteens series. (For my newer readers, this is my exploration of the strangely significant verses that appear in nearly all New Testament books at the point of Chapter 3, verse 16). This Hebrews 3:16 packs a great punch, bringing a serious warning from Israel’s history, that still challenges us today. Though the Israelites were rescued from slavery in Egypt, saw amazing miracles and plagues, pillars of fire and smoke, a sea that opened, Egyptians destroyed, manna from heaven, the tablets of the law – and though they heard the very voice of God – these people persisted in their desire to rebel. They hardened their hearts to their rescuing God. They turned their back on Him, in unbelief.
How then could we who have heard and understood the immensity of God’s gracious rescue in Jesus Christ – how could we persist in unbelief? How do we avoid falling into unbelief and hardening our hearts?
The preceding verses suggest that God uses the encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ to sustain us in the faith:
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13).
Every day, today, we need to pray for and encourage one another. Sin is deceitful – the Deceiver works to destory our faith.
We must help one another from falling to unbelief (though might I add to that statement, that God is Sovereign and faithful to us. He is committed to his transformation project, making us like His Son. Consider Philippians 1:6 – “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”)
The consequences of hardening our hearts against the One mighty, true and living God are not pretty (to say the least). Let’s encourage one another, that we might keep our hearts and minds softened to the pure grace of the gospel.
Let’s heed the warning of this 3:16, the warning of history.
One Casting Crowns song, The Voice of Truth, reminds me of the need to hold to the truth of Christ amongst all the competing voices that call to us in this world. We must choose to listen and believe the voice of our Shepherd.
“But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”
In the first week of January this year I spent 6 days leading music at a missions conference on top of a mountain in southeast Queensland. The conference was the CMS (Church Missionary Society) Summer School, an annual event for the mission organisation with various guest speakers and missionaries, and about 600 supporters, many of whom are advancing in years (though the younger age brackets are also well represented). The conference theme was ‘Keep Calm for Christ has Won’ with keynote bible talks from Revelation. In fact we covered the whole book in this time! Peter Rodgers, head of CMS Australia, taught us well, showing how Revelation really is a book for us, not written to confuse us but to encourage us, to comfort, strengthen and make us bold for the risen Christ who stands as Victor in the spiritual realm…now! This is the realm revealed in Revelation, the realm of things that must remain unseen until our current heaven and earth are ‘rolled back like a scroll’. Revelation looks behind that heavy backdrop curtain which is the present physical world. It reveals a giant canvas of spiritual realities, of the victory Christ has already won. Far from being a timetable for world history yet to come, the book of Revelation is largely a picture of what has taken place already. (Well, through the teaching we received it made much sense to understand that this is what John has revealed). His letter describes the giant canvas of Christ’s victory. As John takes in this visual revelation his focus zooms in on one area at a time, explaining each different aspect of the battle and the victory. Though people will no doubt continue to discuss and debate the sequence of events, and how many have already occured, we should take comfort in this revelation of the big picture spiritual reality, and not be frightened off by the endless debate which surrounds the book. Christ has won the victory, at the Cross. No matter what the spiritual reality behind the scenes looked like at this point in world history, the outcome remains the same.
Probably the most striking vision of the Risen Christ we were confronted with comes in the very first chapter, at which John falls down as though dead!
“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
Revelation 1:12-18 NIV
This is no defeated carpenter who suffered and died and was forgotten. This is no meek and mild moral teacher. This is the blazing Lion-Lamb who lives and reigns now! He suffered as a sacrifice and conquered over the power of sin and death, once and for all. Now he lives forever. His voice and feet and mouth are more brilliant than the sun, and full of power. This is the risen Lord Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man who would receive the Kingdom and restore people to God.
Why then should we fear if we belong to him and are united with Him by faith, united in His death and resurrection? This is the vision of Christ we must hold on to in our present struggles – struggles much like those the early Christians suffered as they held onto their faith amidst persecution and ridicule. This letter was written (this vision was revealed) as much for their encouragement as ours. Let’s explore it without fear!
There’s so much more I could write about all that I learned from Revelation at the conference, but this vision of the Mighty Risen Saviour stands out most clearly. Here are some of the songs we used at the conference which have strong references to the concepts and words of John’s Revelation. (You might find them useful if you are preaching or singing through a series on the book.)
Come Hear the Angels Sing (Michael Morrow)
We belong to the Day (Michael Morrow)
See Him Coming (Mark Peterson)
Crown Him with Many Crowns (hymn)
See the Man (Trevor Hodge)
It is well (Todd Fields version of this hymn with new chorus: “God has won! Christ prevailed!”)
Let Your Kingdom Come (Sovereign Grace)
Majesty of Heaven (Chris Tomlin)
No other name (Trevor Hodge)
The Power of the Cross (Keith Getty)
Here we are at CMS Conference 2014. Music brings such encouragement!
Ps. If you have been praying for my dad Martin, thanks! Please continue to pray that he will be able to keep absorbing the food he is now eating and gain in strength. We praise God for his recovery so far! Blessings,
When you think of yourself being “in Christ” what do you think of? How would you explain this gospel truth? It is much easier to understand Christianity in terms of believing in Christ, or following Christ or knowing Christ. Yet this “in Christ” terminology is favoured by the New Testament writers, Paul especially. It is also packed with the wondrous grace of God shown in the gift of His Son.
If you want to understand better what it means to be IN Christ then this book is for you.
Published in 2012 and written by Australian pastor Rory Shiner “One Forever: The Transforming Power of Being in Christ“ explores so many facets of what this phrase means, in just seven chapters. His writing is conversational and friendly, accessible to most adults and probably many youth. His illustrations are easy to understand, yet the concepts are deep and his pastoral heart is clear. Rory wants us to have the confidence and certainty of being IN Christ, even if our faith is small.
Here are some of the main ideas he explores:
1. To be a Christian is to be in Christ.
“To be a Christian is to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is to believe into him. It is to clothe yourself with him.” p40
2. The size of your faith does not matter. The power of the one you have faith in does.
3. Justification is not up to us or our efforts.
Justification is objective. “Justification was not achieved in my heart but on a cross outside Jerusalem”.
“Justification is one of the great joy factories of the Christian life”. P46
4. We are united with Christ in his death and his righteousness and his resurrection.
If we only think of ourselves as following Christ or knowing Christ or being near Christ then we don’t capture what union captures. p58. “Union with Christ is our defence against the playground bullies of sins and temptation.” p56
5. We are right before God because we are in Christ and HE is right before God.
“To stand in Christ is to stand in a place where the wrath of God will never be felt because wrath of God has already been there.” p36
6. Christians aren’t just ‘not perfect but forgiven’, they ‘forgiven and they are united to christ . . . indwelt by the Spirit of God, and they are empowered by God to live a new life. p 62
7. Christ identifies so closely with the Church, His church is His body, He is the Church. When his church is persecuted Christ is persecuted p.70, 68, “Church is the most concrete expression of your union with Christ.” p.73.
“The distinction we make between how we treat Christ and how we treat his gathered people is not a distinction that Jesus makes” (p74).
8. In the case of the weakest and most broken members of our churches, their very brokenness is their gift to the church. They gift to the church their brokenness, and as we are drawn out of ourselves to serve them, we learn how to be the body of Christ. p.72
Now if that has not whet your appetite to better understand the treasure of what it means to be “in Christ”, check out the video below which is designed to explain a little more. And you can find the book at Matthias, Koorong, and Amazon. I hope it will be a blessing to you!
You may also like:
This is one of those groovy tunes with a cool piano riff that will really get stuck in your head. It comes from the folks at Mars Hill Music, the group “Citizens” on their recent self-titled album. It became hugely popular at a recent youth camp of 150 teenagers here in south-east QLD. Isn’t it great that they are singing scriptures to a tune that will play over in their minds: Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 2:1, Romans 6:11, Romans 5:19, Romans 3:20-21, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 8:12, John 9:5 and John 3:19.
“Made Alive presents bold Scriptural truth without apology. We are by nature objects of wrath, dead in sin, alone and hopeless. God reached us in his love and kindness and made us alive in Christ. Believers are never the same. There are some nice contrasts are in the lyrics as well — light vs. darkness, death vs. life, wrath vs. mercy, etc. This new song correctly uses Law & Gospel and makes you want to sing.” (Bread for Beggars)
I once was dead in sin, Alone and hopeless,
A child of wrath I walked Condemned in darkness,
But your mercy brought new life And in your love and kindness,
Raised me up with Christ and made me righteous.
You have bought me back with the riches of,
Your amazing grace and relentless love.
I’m made alive forever, with you, life forever
By your grace I’m saved, By your grace I’m saved.
Lord, you are the light, that broke the darkness.
You satisfy my soul, When I am heartless.
If ever I forget My true identity,
Show me who I am, And help me to believe.
My sin has been erased, I’ll never be the same.
My sin has been erased, I’ll never be the same.
You may also like:
This is one of the most breath-taking Three Sixteens, one which you may have already committed to memory. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is that great statement of assurance about the Bible, the God-breathed book we build our faith upon.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (ESV)
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” (NLT)
I recently read through 2 Timothy with a friend, over several weeks and many great coffees! The whole letter is a call to persevere in the faith, despite persecutions and difficult people. These are (possibly) Paul’s parting and most important words. He wants Timothy to stick to the truth of the Scriptures, which he’d been taught from his earliest days. (For Timothy this would mean the Old Testament scriptures as well as the teachings of the apostles.) There are so many treasures in this 3:16 (and 17), but I’ll focus on just three points:
1. The Word is God-breathed: Just as we speak with our actual breath, which forms and carries the sounds of our words, so it is with God’s breath. He has exhaled these words, he has breathed them into the minds and hearts of people who have faithfully written them down, carried along by the Holy Spirit who always does the Father’s will. How else could this extraordinary book, penned by so many authors across millenia, have such consistency and unity of message? This is His Word to us and he has ensured that his breath, his voice, will continue to be heard as we await the return of Christ, the Word of God.
I love what Peter Blowes says about the way the words of the omnipresent and eternal God apply across all time and space:
“. . . God had every reader of Holy Scripture in mind at the time of its ‘exhalation’. This means not only that God’s word is inspired and universally applicable, but also that, in it, God is speaking presently to every particular reader (or hearer) of his Word.”
(2011, “Reading the Bible”, Matthias Minizine).
This leads to my second point.
2. Reading the Word is the most profitable thing we can do.
More than the early morning coffee, jog, paper, news update, more than crossing things off our to do list, more than any amount of television viewing, study or social media, more than relaxing with the family, more than making money . . . investing in the Word of God is THE most profitable thing we can do. The world shouts at us, calling for our attention, telling us that those ancient words are dead, irrelevant and useless. But as we immerse ourselves more and more in his Word we understand why reading it is the most profitable thing we can do. By reading we come to know our immortal, invisible, all wise, good and gracious God. The Spirit works in us and we grow in confidence of his power, his might and the reality of his work in our world and hearts. We grow in the certainty of our salvation won in Christ.
3. The Word is wonderfully sufficient, equipping us for every good work.
The Bible equips us not by containing enough lists of do’s and don’ts to train us how to do good in every situation. This is the world’s view of the “good book”, but it shouldn’t be ours. Christ has fulfilled the law. Instead the Word of God equips us by making us more like Christ – who is entirely and always about the Father’s good work. The Word changes us from the inside out and drives our behaviour. This behaviour becomes good work, good fruit (like those good works prepared in advance for us, which Paul described in Ephesians 2:8-10). John Piper explains well:
“Bearing fruit in “every good work” (see Colossians 1:10 ) means that it comes out on the branches of your life naturally from something that has changed inside. And what has changed is that you are dead to the law as a set of lists to constrain from the outside, and are now united to Jesus Christ in a relationship of joyful trust so that when he speaks—even speaks some of that same law—it comes from within as the desire of your heart. . . .The Scripture, day after day, reveals to us the greatness and the beauty and the power and the wisdom and the mercy of all that God is for us in Christ so that by the power of the Spirit we find our joy in him, and the ways of sin become distasteful—indeed ugly and repugnant. Yes the Bible gives us many specifics as pointers how to live. But most deeply the way the Bible equips us for every good work is by changing what we find satisfaction in so that our obedience comes from within freely, not by coercion from without. It does this when we read it and meditate on it and memorize it and meditate over it every day.” (John Piper from Desiring God)
I have been really enjoying a smart phone app called “Solid Joys” which comes from the pen of John Piper. Each daily devotion takes about a minute to read, and a few more minutes to contemplate. (You can look it up here if you would like to read online, or check your phone’s app store.) This one is on the theme of grace and how it relates to our past, present and future. Grace is not just about God doing good to us, but also in us. I hope you will find it as encouraging as I did.
The Different Tenses of Grace
We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12)
Grace is not only God’s disposition to do good for us when we don’t deserve it — undeserved favor. It is also a power from God that acts in our lives and makes good things happen in us and for us.
Paul said that we fulfill our resolves for good “by his power” (verse 11). And then he adds at the end of verse 12, “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The power that actually works in our lives to make Christ-exalting obedience possible is an extension of the grace of God.
You can see this also in 1 Corinthians 15:10: By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
So grace is an active, present, transformative, obedience-enabling power.
Therefore this grace which moves in power from God to you at a point in time is both past and future. It has already done something for you or in you and therefore is past. And it is about to do something in you and for you, and so it is future — both five seconds away and five million years away.
God’s grace is ever cascading over the waterfall of the present from the inexhaustible river of grace coming to us from the future into the ever-increasing reservoir of grace in the past. In the next five minutes, you will receive sustaining grace flowing to you from the future, and you will accumulate another five minutes’ worth of grace in the reservoir of the past.
You may also like these posts: