Tag Archives: redemption

The Good News Is That “Jesus Paid It All”

Here’s a tale of two sweet songs and, with them, a life-crucial lesson.

The first song is a heartwarming ballad performed by Phillips, Craig and Dean, one of my favorite singing groups.

“A scene so familiar at the old five and dime / A little boy waited his turn in line . . .”

With excited eyes twinkling, he’s holding in his hand the candy he’d been saving his money to buy. The girl at the register smiles at him as he forks over the handful of coins but then winces; it’s not enough. Kind-hearted, she’s not sure what to do. But that’s when a stranger standing behind the boy in line speaks up and saves the day: “Whatever he’s short, just take it and add it to mine.”

“I’ve got you covered / I’ll pay the difference / You don’t have to worry at all / Whatever the cost is, I’ll go the distance / If you fall I will catch you / You know I won’t let you feel like you’re there all alone / I’ve got you covered.”

It really is a sweet song. A few measures in, and we become that little boy. We’re really him already. We’ve been there. We know how he feels. And soon we’re thanking the Lord for that kind “stranger.” An eye-blink later, we realize that the merciful stranger is our Lord, and we’re beautifully reminded of what he’s done for us.

I love the song. In fact, I added it to my own repertoire years ago and perform it whenever I can. I like it so very much that I can get so caught up singing the sweet story that I dream past a mildly tricky entrance or two and miss the train! It’s one of my favorites for sure, and I don’t mean to be picky.

But here’s a point we’d better not miss. If we do, it’s no exaggeration to say that we’ve missed the truth of the good news, the gospel, of Christ, and we’re well on our way to being sad Pharisees.

In walking with us through our lives, Jesus does indeed lift us up whenever we fall. When our strength is not enough, his is very much there for us. That’s the truth of this song and why I love to sing it.

But let’s not push the song too far. When on the cross Christ takes on himself all of our sin and guilt, he doesn’t just “pay the difference.” The wonderful truth is in the title of another sweet song: “Jesus Paid It All.” All! He really did!

If we catch ourselves thinking that salvation itself is a matter of me doing my part and Christ “paying the difference,” we’re denying the cross, the depth of our need, and the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice. And we very much need to spend some serious time grappling with the Apostle Paul’s amazing words in Romans and Galatians.

We also need to read Ephesians 2 and believe the apostle when he says that salvation is not at all a matter of works we do. If it was—oh, he knows humanity—we’d be “boasting,” figuring that we’d put at least part of the money on the counter. We’d never know the real price, and we’d live in constant anxiety and fear—no real joy, peace, or confidence—never knowing if even the small price we’d paid was enough (and always tempted to compare the price we think we’ve paid to the price we judge that others around us are paying). That way of life is self-centered, not Christ-centered. It is a way of condemnation, not a way of salvation. It is exhausting and futile, terrifying and gospel-denying.

Thank God indeed, Jesus paid it all. Christ’s people live their lives to honor him. They live into the good works Scripture says he has created for them to do (Eph. 2:8-10). Not to pay the price. Because the price has already been fully paid. The difference is just, well, all the difference in the world.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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Christ’s Unfailing Love Is Still His Gift Whenever We Fail

The Apostle Peter was about to foul up. And not just a little.

Any Christian with an ounce of spiritual sensitivity knows that we all “deny” Christ whenever we choose for self and not for God, hurt others, live selfishly, make poor choices, commit sin, etc. We all have, and we all do. In some way, we “deny” him every day by some poor attitude, word, or deed.

But Peter, the first to confess out loud that Jesus is “the very Son of God,” Peter of “rock-like” faith fame, Peter who would later see visions, preach the Good News to the Gentiles, write Scripture, perform miracles, die an “extreme faith” death, is about to loudly deny his Lord three times (“I don’t even know the man!”), and cut and run, at the very time Jesus needs him the most.

It was world-class BIG on the scale of human foul-ups. Few people ever mess up in a way any worse, larger, blacker, fouler, than this one.

And yet what I find most amazing is not that Peter was weak or that the mess was rotten and real. What is most amazing is not the way Christ will deal with Peter and the “train wreck,” as impressive and instructive as that is: three times Peter denied his Lord, and three times Jesus will, for Peter’s sake, have him verbally affirm what Jesus already knows, that Peter does love him.

What I find most remarkable is the way Jesus deals with the situation and his friend and disciple even before the denial.

At that “last supper,” Jesus says that the hand of the one who would betray him was there present. But he wasn’t talking about the hand of the one who would deny him. One disciple would betray and then wallow in a sick sorrow that leads to despair and death. One disciple would deny terribly and then weep bitter and genuine tears but allow the Lord’s hand to lift him up and lead him through.

On that same amazing night at that table, Jesus will tell Peter three things—first, that Satan has asked to “sift” him like wheat, which is no fun at all.

But, second, Jesus tells Peter that he has prayed for him that his faith would not fail. Amazing! Imagine Jesus the Lord praying for his friend. And then realize that the same Lord prays for you. Notice also that, though Jesus knows Peter will indeed fall and deny him, that Peter will in a very real sense “fail,” Jesus does not consider Peter’s failure the same thing as Peter’s faith failing. Jesus’ prayer will be answered. Even in the midst of failure and tears, Peter’s love for Christ and Christ’s love for him will still be real. And Jesus will not let him forget that.

Ah, and then comes a third amazing reality. Jesus tells Peter the “end of the story.” Christ’s love will lead Peter through. He will not despair. And that warm assurance is wrapped up as a beautiful gift, love’s “action plan,” in these simple words: “When you have turned back [repented, gotten back up after the fall], strengthen your brothers.” God always uses those who know they are wounded far more mightily than those who think they are whole.

Forgiveness. Hope. Power. Those are Christ’s gifts to the one he loves—before, during, and after the messes we make.

 

 

 

You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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