Dear Cornerstone brothers and sisters,
I trust you were all blessed by Pastor York’s preaching last week. As he mentioned, we had a wonderful Presbytery meeting – it is encouraging to see how the Lord is building his church. But I missed being with you and look forward to worshipping with all of you this Lord’s Day.
Here are a few reminders of some upcoming items:
*Men’s breakfast this Saturday morning at 8:30 at the Egg and I on Hwy 6 & Little York. We will be looking at chapter 3 of Rick Phillips’s “The Masculine Mandate.” If you don’t have the book, no worries; there will be plenty of good conversation!
*NO FELLOWSHIP LUNCH this Sunday. We will have our monthly fellowship lunch Sunday, May 18 to coordinate with Outreach Sunday.
*Pray about whom the Lord would have you serve and invite to our Outreach Sunday on 5/18.
*The VOS GROUP will meet next Wednesday night, 5/14. We will be looking at pp. 23-33 of Vos’ “Biblical Theology.”
*Finally, this week’s devotional is a reflection on the ‘cost of grace’ from Romans 3.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“The Costliness of Grace”
Romans 3:23-24, “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
What does your salvation cost? Is it free? Or is it costly? Well, the Biblical answer is … ‘both.’ Your salvation is both free and costly. In Paul’s grand letter to the Romans he expands on this theme in 3:21-26. Romans is Paul’s fullest statement of the glorious gospel of grace. In its pages, he unfolds and unpacks – like a skilled lawyer – both the darkness of mankind’s plight and the dazzling light of God’s solution. And the verses that head this devotional capture both the darkness and the light of Paul’s message.
First, the darkness: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (v. 23). Who has sinned? All! Who falls short of God’s glory? All! Who is helpless and hopeless and stands before God justly deserving his wrath and displeasure? Everyone! In fact, Paul says this very thing in 3:9, “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.” Who is under sin? All! Who stands condemned? All! And in case we foolishly try to find a way out from under Paul’s condemning charge, he slams the door in 3:10-10: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God … there is no fear of God before their eyes.” Bad news indeed! Terrible news indeed! Terrible, but true! But second, the light. It is against this backdrop of darkness that Paul heralds the light of the gospel. He writes, “And are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24). Against the darkness of sin shines the light of justification. That is, those who rest in Christ by faith (see v. 25b; 1:17; 3:31) are justified – declared righteous in God’s sight – accepted in God’s sight. But the question remains – what is the cost? What does this justification cost? Nothing and everything! First, note Paul’s emphasis on the freeness of salvation. He mentions … “by his grace as a gift.” Paul is repeating himself. By definition, to receive grace is to receive something freely, or as a gift. In other words, the addition of the phrase, ‘as a gift,’ serves to underscore and to emphasize the graciousness of God’s grace – the freeness of God’s grace. Justification is by grace. Salvation is by grace. All of grace. Rich, free, glorious grace. Demerited favor. We deserve wrath and hell … but by God’s grace we are given eternal life and forgiveness in Christ.
Second, note Paul’s emphasis on the costliness of salvation: “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” ‘Redemption’ is the language of the market – specifically the slave market. To redeem is to set free by a ransom price. In other words, to redeem someone is costly. And what was the price paid to redeem fallen sinners? “You were ransomed … with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet 1:18-19; cf. Eph 1:7). The ransom price to redeem sinners was Christ himself! He gave himself as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28). Thus although salvation costs us nothing – it is all of grace; it cost God everything – the death of his own son (John 3:16). In fact, it is only as we see the staggering cost of our salvation in the shed blood of Calvary that we are able to understand and to grasp the wonder of the freeness of grace. What costs us nothing costs Christ everything! And it costs us nothing precisely because it cost him everything!
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!”