F.M. Sciutto III

By His Free Grace Alone, To Be Treasured Alone, & For His Glory Alone

Posts Tagged ‘Grace

Conflict Exercises the Graces

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lettersofjohnnewton“That though afflictions in themselves are not joyous, but grievous, yet in due season they yield the peaceful fruits of righteousness. Various and blessed are the fruits they produce. By affliction prayer is quickened, for our prayers are very apt to grow languid and formal in a time of ease. Affliction greatly helps us to understand the Scriptures, especially the promises; most of which being made to times of trouble, we cannot so well know their fulness, sweetness, and certainty, as when we have been in the situation to which they are suited, have been enabled to trust and plead them, and found them fulfilled in our own case.”

John Newton, Letters of John Newton, p. 185-186

Written by sciuttfm

February 4, 2012 at 2:46 AM

Confession and Mercy in Psalm 25

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[1] To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
[2] O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
[3] Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

[4] Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
[5] Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

[6] Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
[7] Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!

[8] Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
[9] He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
[10] All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

[11] For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
[12] Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
[13] His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
[14] The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
[15] My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
[16] Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
[17] The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
[18] Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.

[19] Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
[20] Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
[21] May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.

[22] Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.
(Psalm 25 ESV, emphasis mine)

Written by sciuttfm

April 10, 2011 at 1:54 AM

More Than Just a Birthday Celebration

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While on break, an older woman with whom I work was talking to me about a Christmas tradition that her and her family do each year. She explained how she has a nativity scene, which was described as a nativity scene you could find in the majority of American homes around this time of year. However, the only piece missing in the scene is Jesus in the manger. He is left out until Christmas Eve, which then one her grandchildren carries Him out and places Him between Mary and Joseph.

So far, none of this sounds strange or out of the ordinary, does it? That is because it is not strange or out of the ordinary. Well, not yet anyway.

After Jesus is placed into the scene, she proceeded to tell me that her and her family then begin to sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. That is what struck me as very odd. A song that is usually song during a child’s birthday celebration is sung at the time the celebration of the birth of Jesus takes place. After that, I just nodded my head and smiled. I had nothing to say to that. I was perplexed just as much as I was shocked.

Now, this is not a rant against the traditions that one may preform during Christmastime. My hope is to have people reflect on what they are celebrating during this time of the year and why. Christmas with no attention to the God who sent His Son into this fallen world to be an atoning sacrifice is shallow and, frankly, meaningless.

Christmas is more than just a birthday celebration for Jesus (considering He probably was not even born around this time of the year). A lot more. Yes, Christmas is a time in which family and friends are brought closer together, and those things are great, but that is not the reason and purpose of Christmas.

We should not forget the reason why we even celebrate Christmas in the first place. It is because God the Father, in eternity past, made a plan with God the Son to redeem His fallen creation by taking on flesh because of His immense grace and love toward His creation. The Son then took on flesh by being conceived by God the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. Being born of a virgin, a sin-nature was never passed to Jesus, and being conceived by the Holy Spirit, God the Son took on flesh. Jesus had to remain sinless in order to accomplish full atonement for His people’s sin by sacrificing Himself on the cross for His people’ sin; raising from the dead, thereby defeating sin and death; delivering His people from the bondage of sin, death, and hell; and presenting them as righteous before the Father. We must remember how the glory of the incarnation of the Son leads to the glorious cross where our innocent Savior was crucified for our crimes against God’s holiness, and then praise God for it!

We should not forget the purpose of Christmas, which is to look forward to Christ’s second-coming to Earth, His judgment and redemption of this fallen world, and when we, who are His, dwell with Him in the New Heavens and New Earth for an infinitely joyful eternity.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

(2 Peter 3:8-13 ESV)

It can be so easy to get swallowed up in the consumerism of the holiday and forget about the God who sent His Son to save us. We need to be deliberate in how we celebrate during Christmastime.

Praise God for sending His Son to satisfy God’s just wrath against our sin! Praise God for promising to send Christ again to finally bring His sons and daughters to glory and have them dwell with Him forever!

This Christmas, we need to share the wonderful Truth of the Gospel by presenting it with our words and deeds to our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

Written by sciuttfm

December 24, 2010 at 2:12 AM

“He is coming for His bride, washed and cleansed by the Word, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish”

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From Rollin Grams of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary:

In 2 Th. 1:11-12, we find the prayer of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy for believers living between Christ’s first and second advent: that God would work powerfully in their lives so that he might (1) count them worthy of his calling and (2) bring to completion their every good purpose and work of faith (vs. 11):

Note, first, that God’s calling is all about what we are called to be: worthy. God chose us to be holy and blameless before him in love (Eph. 1:4).

Second, faith is more than belief: it produces its own work. Faith works itself out in love (Gal. 5:6).

Third, this is God’s work in us. Given the task of working out our salvation in fear and trembling, we discover God at work in us to will and to do his good purpose (Phil. 2:12- 13). The marks of being God’s chosen people are belief in the truth and sanctification by the Spirit (2 Th. 2:13).

When Jesus returns, he is not coming simply for an elect people with faith in him (cf. Mt. 25:14ff). He is coming for his bride, washed and cleansed by the Word, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:26-27). The gospel is to be obeyed (2 Th. 1:8) so that the name of our Lord Jesus might be glorified in us (vs. 10, 12).

“Boasting Only in the Cross”

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A great man in my life has recently moved him and his family across the country to plant a church. He and his family have many difficulties ahead of them with hoping their house sells, working full-time, and planting a church. However, what is most inspiring and encouraging is his Gospel-saturated view on everything. He is fully aware of the goodness of God and His unfailing mercy towards him. With difficult trials ahead of them, his boast is only in Christ crucified!

With seemingly insurmountable difficulties, he sees that God will work good for those who trust in Him and will make much of Christ even in the midst of suffering .

John Piper explains well how every good and bad thing shows God’s ultimate goodness, and without it, we would have nothing but condemnation:

For redeemed sinners, every good thing -indeed every bad thing that God turns for good – was obtained for us by the cross of Christ. Apart from the death of Christ, sinners get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross of Christ, there is only condemnation. Therefore, everything that you enjoy in Christ – everything you boast in, everything you exult in – is owing to the death of Christ. And all your exultation in other things is to be an exultation in the cross where all your blessings were purchased for you at the cost of Christ’s life.

Christ died for our sins on the cross and took away the wrath of God from us and secured for us, even though we don’t deserve it, God’s omnipotent grace that works everything together for our good (“Boasting Only in the Cross“, 20 May 2000).

My prayer is that they (and myself) continue to magnify the cross of Christ and that “His death becomes your death and His life becomes your life.” Only by faith in what Christ has done for us can we be crucified to the desires of the world and the desires of the world be crucified to us.

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

Written by sciuttfm

November 14, 2010 at 4:17 PM

The Slippery Slope of Legalism

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It has been a while since I have posted something original, but I have been busy with life, though I have a couple of drafts and ideas that need finished and developed.

Recently, I have been reading and getting destroyed by Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It amazes me (and even scares me a little) how quickly I shift into legalism and try to work for our own righteousness instead of resting, in faith, on what Jesus did. By relying on the law for our righteousness, we are cursed, but when we rely on Christ’s atonement for our sin, through faith, we are blessed with Christ’s righteousness and the Holy Spirit, who is God dwelling inside us, empowering us to be more Christlike.

John Piper has (again) pointed out a “major battle” that I struggle with it everyday:

“The major battle was the fight of faith. Did I really believe that when Jesus died, all my curse was lifted so that I could say with Scripture, “What can man do to me” (Hebrews 13:6; Romans 8:31–34)? Did I really believe that the death of Jesus is the pledge of God to withhold no good thing from those who trust him (Psalm 84:11; Romans 8:32)? Did I really believe all things would work together for my good (Romans 8:28)? Did I really trust the counsel of Christ when he said, “Do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say; but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11)? This is the struggle of everyday Christian life, and it is your most important work every day: how to keep your day’s activities from becoming works of law, and how to live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for you to redeem you from the curse of legalism.” (Christ Redeemed Us from the Curse of the Law: Galatians 3:1-14; April 10, 1983)

If I really believed what Christ accomplished for me on the Cross, why do I worry so much about my reputation and how people treat me? If Jesus is my everything, why do I seek comfort in this world when it will only leave me broken and crushed?

Jesus, help me to treasure You above all things and to see others as in desperate need for You.

Written by sciuttfm

July 19, 2010 at 12:49 AM

Remember the Gospel

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I wrote this a month or so ago and posted it on my Tumblr account and in our Crazy Love discussion board on Facebook. I liked it enough to want to have it posted on here as well. It is just a reflection I wrote while I had been reading Richard Phillips’ What’s So Great About the Doctrines of Grace? The little book is great, and I recommend it. This reflection is just a personal reaction to what I have read in that book, conversations I have had over the past couple months, and my own Scripture reading. I hope it makes you glorify God for all He is.

Remember our lives are meant for glorifying God in all we do. He has provided us with everything: life, the church, family and friends, and, most of all, salvation.

Our hearts were deceitful and turned away from God. Our wills were totally against God, and without His grace and love through Jesus, we would not have even sought Him (Romans 3:10-18).

By God, the Creator of everything, sending His only Son, then sacrificing Him on a cross, though He was innocent and sinless, for our own sins, each and every one of them, how can we not give the God, who gave us His all, everything we have? How can we not give Him our anxieties? Our worries? Our time? Our money? Our thoughts? Our attention? Our hearts? Our desires? Our love? Our security? Our safety? Our joy?

He loves us so much! We cannot even comprehend it! Why would God, the Creator of everything, after being sinned against by mankind for thousands of years, choose to redeem His Creation? Why would He deem us worthy us saving? We hated Him (Romans 1:28-31).

But He loved us and showed us immeasurable grace! The Father sent His Son to absorb the wrath we deserved for our sins on the cross. In our place, He stood a condemned man. He would have been just in sending everyone to hell, but He chose not to. “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). His love for us, shown by His grace for us, brings us to Him.

Sending Jesus Christ to live a perfect sinless life, endure God’s wrath for mans’ own sin, and be resurrected was necessary for our salvation because without Jesus paying the penalty for our sins, we would be unable to do anything to earn justification from God, and we would be damned by the Holy and Just God (Romans 3:21-26). God had to crucify His own Son in order for us to be justified before Him. His own Son! No one can comprehend that amount of love nor can anyone replicate such love for another.

God chose us before the foundations the world to be justified in Him (Ephesians 1:4), which is why the Gospel is so amazing. It requires nothing of us. God does it all. He seeks us out, He calls upon us, He regenerates us, He gives us faith, He rescues us, and He works in us throughout our lives, sanctifying us until our glorification when we finally meet Him face-to-face. Everything is in His hands. We have no reason to continue in our sin of counting ourselves as worth more than our Savior; we have been rescued from sin’s hold and brought from death in sin to life in Christ.

Reflect on His Gospel and what it should mean to us. This is something to dwell on and live your life. We need to show this world that there is a love greater than anyone of us can comprehend and tell them of His great love through Jesus: our Savior!

Written by sciuttfm

April 7, 2010 at 9:24 PM