This was the response of the Jewish crowd when Pilate washed his hands of Jesus saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. See to it yourselves.” The Jews were saying, “we are so confident about Jesus that we are willing to put ourselves and our children under God’s curse.” It is amazing, in light of the book of Acts and 2000 years of church history, how true this statement came to be. Jesus’ blood came to be on many of them, but not in the way they expected. They would certainly be under God’s curse, but only in their relation to the One who God cursed on their behalf. Through His shed blood on the cross, Jesus bore God’s hatred of sin, His curse, for the Jews back then, and for you and me today.
In reading about Jacob and the way he secured his brother’s blessing, the Gospel is shining through powerfully. People often get sidetracked with this story as to why God didn’t step in and do something. Afterall, it was HIS nation that was being built wasn’t it? Why was God obligated to honor a blessing that appears to have been secured through lying and deceit, through the help of an equally lying and deceitful mother? The answer? God wasn’t obligated to do anything. He didn’t do it because He had to, but because He wanted to. In a word, GRACE! Jacob, like his father Isaac, and grandfather Abraham before him, is a trophy of God’s grace, not his own goodness. Maybe this story doesn’t sit well with us because it encroaches in on our native self righteousness. Maybe we think we are “innocent” like Esau. But we are Jacob, and the Gospel comes to us as deceitful scoundrels, where we end up, by a crazy twist of God’s amazing grace, covered in the righteousness of His blessing.
There is a huge difference between God putting up with you and God loving you. Sounds too good to be true, but God doesn’t hold back. Grace abounds! I had coffee with a homeless guy the other night who did not believe this and has spent 30 plus years running from God as a result. There was a time when he had blown it, falling back into old sin after a radical conversion. He figured he would need to make it up to God somehow, but never could get off the drugs, drifting from addiction to addiction. I had a chance to share the Gospel with him the other night, that the cross of Christ is sufficient for our failures, and that God’s love for us is not something He gives begrudgingly, but freely, since the cross removes all obstacles. The tears flowed. Praise God. Praying that he will continue to embrace it. Theology really does affect the way we live.
Studying for this Sunday, preaching on mission. Maybe I should just use the word “missionary,” but that has so much baggage it has completely lost its ability to communicate clearly, which if you are a word, is not a good thing. To the gallows with you!!! Ooooh what about Ambassador? Yes! To the Bible!!! What does it mean to be an ambassador of Christ? What role does the Gospel play in that?
It is the job of the church to show how great God is. This is why we exist. We are not a religious club that tells people how to look, talk, think, and feel. We are not here to argue about when Jesus is coming back. We are not a political party. We are a group of former rebels who after years of fighting against Him, have come to worship the one true King. And as worshippers our only job is to hold high His banner. We sing of God’s greatness because He has changed our hearts; he has lifted the veil of blindness from our eyes, a veil that has kept us from seeing His true worth. And we have seen that His truth is not simply something that changes our eternal destiny, but redefines all of life from the inside out. And this song we sing, we invite the world to sing with us. This is our mission. To sing, and get others to sing with us, “HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!”
Below is some stuff from the prospectus I’m working on for C3Denton. This (I think) captures our heart, and hopefully God’s, for Denton.
It is heartbreaking that the one whom the Bible describes as the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16b) is anything but that in the hearts and minds of so many. Heather and I have been captured by the love of Christ and have come to understand, in some small measure, just how great He is. We have been called out and purchased for the purpose of making His name famous. This has led us to start Christ Community Church of Denton, where we long to make known the greatness of God to the heart of Denton.
The Greatness of God
The Greatness of God is displayed in various ways, but none more potent than in the local church, where legions of former rebels come together for the purpose of worshipping the one thing they have in common, Jesus as Savior through His glorious and life giving Gospel. As converted rebels, their hearts of stone are replaced with a heart of flesh, that is, hearts that truly love and worship God, however imperfectly they do it. This worship shows God to be truly worthy, and the church reflects His greatness in its corporate life. Through this the light further penetrates the darkness, people are saved and changed, and God is glorified. It is our firm conviction that the world needs more churches where the power of the Gospel is a reality in the lives of the people. We also believe that this is the case for Denton, TX.
The Heart of Denton
Denton is full of great churches, but full of even more people who will not set foot in them. No where is this more of a reality than among what we will call the “downtown” culture, which consists of a vibrant arts community, independent small business owners, and skeptical professionals. These folks live and operate in and around the downtown area, and therefore truly constitute the heart of Denton. Many of them are very unlikely to go to church for various reasons, i.e., bad experiences, didn’t grow up in church, don’t fit in, etc. At the same time these people tend to have large circles of influence in their own communities. If we could win them to Christ, the impact could be great, far beyond the Denton city limits! In addition, we want to see multiple communities of Christ spring forth around the city. It will take a continual penetration of the Gospel to keep reaching Denton!
Take up and read!
The purpose of this document is to share our heart for the Gospel in Denton with you, so that as the Lord leads you down His Kingdom road, you may be educated enough to prayerfully consider partnering with us in some fashion. In the pages that follow you will find in more detail what we are doing, as well as what it will take to pull it off. We assure you that anything God wants to do is way beyond our own ability to make it happen, both materially and spiritually. Therefore please seriously pray about how He might be calling you to join the work.
Ross and Heather Appleton
God was not gentle with His own Son so that He could be gentle with us.