Sovereign Grace – All I have is Christ

Thought I would just briefly share a song that has filled my mind all day for the last week or so. Text is copied and pasted from Sovereign Grace Ministries. As William said to me – what a powerful refrain.

Those of you who knew me a little younger than I am today will know that I used to be a Nightwish fan (among other things). This meant all sorts of cultural/emotional/spiritual detours that go along with Scandinavian operatic metal (and other things). In case you can’t tell, that’s gone, or at least I really really want it to be. Fantasy has nothing on grace.

…But for my body of death. God, teach me how to live out my salvation.

All I Have Is Christ
By Jordan Kauflin

as recorded on Looked Upon


I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

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Impact 2010 – music ministry thoughts

As some of you know, we recently had the privilege of attending the 2010 Impact Bible Conference in Hastings. For myself, one of the highlights of Impact is the music ministry: over four days’ worth of worship songs  led and performed  by  the Riverbend Bible Church music team. This year I got the chance to chat with music director Warren Jardine and get to know some of the musicians  better, and even play alongside them during one session on the violin. It’s a joy to meet and get to know fellow brothers and sisters who desire to use their musical gifts to honour the Lord.

The bible encourages us to “speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph 5:19), and  over  the course of the conference  I appreciated a number of songs that I hadn’t previously heard or had been freshly arranged (examples of the songs in square brackets):

  • “The Battle Belongs to the Lord” (Jamie Owens-Collins) –  an accomplished slap-bass line  added a  funky edge to proclaiming from 2 Chronicles 20 and 1 Samuel 17: “The battle belongs to the Lord”. Originally a 1980’s Christian  rock anthem, but at Impact 2010  the  lyrics on our spiritual battle  were just as encouraging.  [video]
  • A student choir from Hastings Christian School sang a sweet  3-part version  of “Psalm 51: Create in Me a Clean Heart”. Great harmonies and a faithful adaptation of the version performed by Keith Green. [video]
  • We had a treat with keynote speaker Ken Ramey’s wife Kelli singing two solo items for us, including a worshipful take on  “We Cry Holy Holy (We Fall Down)” [video]
  • A female solo vocalist dovetailed with a poignant cello melody in the Gettys’  “Hear O Israel” (Deut 6:4-5), and made for a  haunting and memorable  call to worship during the  Friday evening session  [video]
  • “Then Sings My Soul/How Great Thou Art” – you could hear a pin drop as the pianist started with a soft but instantly recognisable  first line of “How Great Thou Art”, before building into the chorus. The song transitioned well into Chris Tomlin’s “How Great is Thou Art”, and it’s a song pairing we’ve done (in reverse) once before. [video]
  • There was a duet of a Casting Crowns song, “To Know You”. I really appreciated how heartfelt and relevant the lyrics were to my ongoing work at being more holy:  “More than my next breath |  More than life or death |  All I’m reaching for, I live my life to know You more |  I leave it all behind, You’re all that satisfies |  To know You is to want to know You more…” [video]
  • “Jesus Messiah” – another Chris Tomlin number. It’s definitely a congregational song as long as it’s pitched correctly – we all know Chris loves singing high on his CDs. [video]
  • “Lord I Offer My Life” – this was done as a beautiful R&B-tinged duet by Vic and Marie Moore. It sounded like they really meant it when they sang it, and I can still hear their intertwining vocal lines in my head: “Lord I offer my life to you, everything I’ve been through, use it for Your glory…” A privilege and blessing to hear such gifted voices.

Granted, there were a few song choices didn’t lend themselves to worshipping in Spirit and in truth so well. One in particular was Planetshaker’s “You’re All I Want”: to me it was vague in giving good doctrinal reasons for the repeated proclamations of love, to the point that you could almost substitute Jesus for Jessica/Joe and keep the rest of the lyrics. [video]

But all in all, there were just a breadth of good songs that helped to support the theme of the conference, point us towards a magnified view of God, and instil a desire to live a life that could be worthy to bear the name Christian. So for all those things, I was really grateful for the music ministry at Impact 2010.


UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages


Impact session 12: Ken Ramey – Set apart for the Master’s use

Disclaimer: If you’ll forgive the incomplete sentences, these are my hastily scribbled notes from Impact conference 2010. As always with notes, an exactly accurate representation of the sermon isn’t always possible, so this may not summarise his entire message perfectly. I think the full sermons will be available eventually from Riverbend Bible Church, where the conference was held — would have to check back on that.

(UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages)

– Cheryl

Subject: 2 Timothy 2:20-22, starting at 2 Timothy 2:14

[14] Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. [15] Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. [16] But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, [17] and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, [18] who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. [19] But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
[20] Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. [21] Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
[22] So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. [23] Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. [24] And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, [25] correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, [26] and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

1. Wanted to thank for this opportunity. Great encouragement at Impact by fellowshipping together.

2. Sanctification results in service. Being made holy needs to bring glory to God.
2.1. In order to be useful to God, we need to be pure. God uses clean instruments, ie, those who are completely set aside for his work, devoted to him.
2.2. God can choose to use dirty vessels if he wishes, but that is not the norm. See the law of cleanliness for priests. They were required to keep themselves clean, otherwise they would be killed (bells on the robe, and rope around the ankle when the high priest went into the inner sanctuary) – such was the holiness of God.
2.3. God sovereignly wished Israel to be set apart: “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am holy.”
2.4. But Israel did not set themselves apart – and as a result, forfeited their usefulness.

3. Paul exhorting Timothy to be a holy minister, commentator: “to be an awful weapon in the hands of God”
3.1. 1 Tim 1:3 – to make sure the gospel is kept pure, to make sure that strange doctrines not taught.
3.2. Needed to trust his eternal security and affirm it by his holiness.
3.3. Church is ultimately impregnable (Jesus WILL build his church), but it’s still imperfect. Not everyone associated with the household of God is known to him. In Matthew, Jesus relates the parable of the wheat and the tares. The owner of the field did not pull out the tares immediately, lest he risk pulling out true wheat along with the false. He instructed that the servants should allow both to grow together, then at the harvest time they should gather up the tares and bind them to be burnt, but bring the wheat into the barn.
3.4. In the meantime, the wheat should set itself apart to maximise its usefulness to Jesus.

4. How do we do this? A 3-part explanation. #1: Part with unholy associations.
4.1. In a large house there are many vessels – gold and silver (reserved for special occasions, displayed in a prominent place), as well as of wood and earthenware (used for menial tasks or unpleasant jobs such as collecting garbage). Some serve higher, more noble services than others.
4.2. This does not represent different levels of giftedness but Romans 9 tells us there are different types of teachers. Gold and silver represent true teachers who are useful to the LORD, wood and earthenware those teachers who are less useful to Him. The former are honourable in God’s eyes, while the latter are dishonourable in God’s eyes.
4.3.1. We must purify ourselves from vessels of dishonour – their attitudes/beliefs will potentially corrupt you. We need to separate ourselves from what would contaminate us.
4.3.2. Bad company corrupts good morals. You will become like the people you hang around. Sin is contagious.
4.3.3. An immoral teacher in the church may be more dangerous than atheists or pagans.
4.4. 2 Cor 6:14 – Separate from unbelievers, do not be bound with unbelievers. Not that we should cut off all relationships with them, but we should keep a safe distance from them. In our effort to influence them, we must make sure they are not influencing us.
4.5. Also separate from so-called believers. 1 Cor 5 describes not those of the world but those who call themselves Christian but are living in sin. We are not commanded to have no relationship with them, but rather that we should not fellowship with them. If you get together with them, the sole purpose of the interaction should be to restore them to God.
4.6. Result of cleansing yourself from these things, you’ll be set apart from sin for God’s use. God is absolutely sovereign and is our master. You will be ready for God’s use – equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16
4.7. Eph 2:8-10 – We are not saved by works but FOR works.
4.8. Summary: Are the people we associate with influencing us to unholiness? Do we have to part ways with those people?

5. How? #2: Flee from unholy passions. 2 Tim 2:22
5.1. A continuous command: keep on fleeing, a habitual pattern.
5.2. Advice to Timothy, a “young man” – despite your youth, set the example of what a Christian should look like, and you will earn their respect regardless of their age.
5.3. Sexual lusts – these characterise young men. The image of Joseph fleeing youthful lust.
5.4. Other passions include impatience (not willing to work for change over time), impetuousness, intolerance, impugnance.
5.4.1. Put distance between us and anything that could fan our lusts into flame.
5.4.2. “I wanted the power of the Holy Spirit that night – if that’s what you want, you have to stay holy.”

6. How? #3: Pursue holiness with likeminded companions
6.1. Flee unholiness and pursue righteousness. Don’t be shortsighted on what to stop in your sanctification, you need to get to the “put on.”
6.2. Focus on the holiness to be pursued, and the unholiness will take care of itself.
6.3. * Pursue love.
6.3.1. Chase after God in your love to your saviour.
6.3.2. Also love for others.
6.4. * Pursue peace. As far as it is up to you, be at peace with others.
6.4.1. People get so easily offended.
6.4.2. Prov 11 – it’s to your glory to overlook offence. More sanctified people are less easily offended.
6.4.3. Be diligent to get along with people and maintain unity in the spirit. Pursue patience, gentleness, tolerance.
6.5. * The likeminded believer – those who call on the name of the LORD with a pure heart (ie, continued dependence on Jesus’ strength). You will never become holy as God is holy on your own. You need the help of the body of Christ.
6.5.1. Encourage one another day after day. During the week we are emotionally/mentally hardened against the world; on Sunday there’s a softening.
6.5.2. Ecclesiastes 4:8. Woe to him who falls and there is not another to pick him up.
6.5.3. Must pursue with someone who cares what they look at, think about, listen to.
6.6. * The ungodly friend – a sharp tool in Satan’s hand. You become like the people you hang around.

7. Our usefulness is proportional to our holiness. Thus, if we want to be used by the Master, we must pursue righteousness.
7.1. John Stott: the secret of holiness is merely the ruthless rejection of the one, AND relentless pursuit of the other.


Impact session 11: Russell Hohneck – The highway of humility

If you’ll forgive the incomplete sentences, these are my hastily scribbled notes from the Impact conference session 11 by Russell Hohneck. As always with notes, an exactly accurate representation of the sermon isn’t always possible, so this may not summarise his entire message perfectly. I think the full sermons will be available eventually from Riverbend Bible where the conference was held – would have to check back on that.

(UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages)

– Cheryl


Subject: Philippians 2:5-11

[5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

1. When we’re out in the world like dispirins in a glass of water, we get a bit theologically fuzzy around the edges – this conference has been great for hardening them again.
1.1. (Last night, I said that you don’t get credit for this conference. I take that back – because Jesus already gave you an A!) God’s taken all of our fail marks and put them on Jesus, and taken his pass mark and put it on all of us. And now the assignment is to live out what we’ve been made.
1.2. The author describes other sins beside sexual: matters of unity (ch1), of considering others before ourselves (ch2), and of specific people arguing in the church (ch4).
1.3. They are not “gross sins,” but they are still sinful.
1.4. Jesus steps down to the deepest depths of hell to cover even the smallest sins.
1.5. Paul wanted to attain (3:10) the actual resurrection body – he wanted to know Jesus so much that he wanted no sin.
1.6. An overview: Paul writes of the highway of humility. It’s the low way, but it leads to glory – how to walk with one another. This overview unfolds into everywhere in Scripture to give us an understanding of holiness.

2. Jesus stepped down from glory
2.1.1. Christ eternally existed in the form of God (form – morphe) – not external but the inner and essential nature of the being, ie, Christ’s preincarnate state, which was essentially God.
2.1.2. This is a statement about the divine nature of Christ. God exists in Christ. Christ is therefore God in the flesh.
2.2.1. However, he did not regard equality with God somethign to be held close.
2.2.2. Compare how Satan viewed the Godhead as a prize to be grasped and taken. In contrast, divinity already belonged to Jesus in the first place. In Satan there was no humility, but Jesus in his humility was willing to let it go.
2.3. Willing to step down that we might step up.
2.3.1 How? We should put aside security in the bank account, security in friends, security in power… Anything we hold higher than Christ, we should let go, and be humble.

3. He stepped into lowliness
3.1. He emptied himself of his existence in a manner-equal-to-God. He didn’t give up his divinity, but gave up his right to express himself in glory. He clothed himself in humanity.
3.2. Took on the form of a bond-slave. He didn’t take on a mask but had the inner nature of the bond-servant. No discrepancy between his external actions and internal heart attitudes.
3.3. “and being made in the likeness of man” – He takes on the outward appearance of man. Unesteemed.
3.4. Ps 22:6-8 – [iʃ] – man, meaning noble man. “I am not a [man]” – I am not a noble man. Despite that he is actually the highest of men, he becomes the lowest and worst of men. Christ was shamed that we might not be.
3.5. Ps 69:9

4. He stepped into death – the lowest death.
4.1. He suffered at the hand of men.
4.1.1. There is no greater pain we can face that Christ has not faced.
4.1.2. Accursed of God – sorrow upon sorrow. He was separated from God, on our behalf.
4.1.3. Ps 22 – “poured out like water” – this is referring to the Saviour.
4.2. He also suffered from the hordes of hell. We know this because Satan and his minions have a continuing & eternal hatred for God.
4.2.1. At Jesus’ crucifixion, his lowest point, even lower than his temptation in the desert, even more would he have been surrounded by all demonic powers.
4.2.2. Jesus did not summon angels to his aid.
4.2.3. In the upper room: “Where I am going, you cannot come”
4.3. He suffers at the hand of God
4.3.1. His father forsook him. Martin Luther exclaimed, “God has forsaken God!” Left him destitute in his hour of extreme need, that we might never be failed by God.
4.3.2. Because of this, He will never leave you nor forsake you.
4.3.3. Jesus became sin & thus had to be separated from God. He is the sin-bearer.

5. For this reason, God highly exalted him.
5.1. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

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