Saturday, July 22, 2006

Greetings from Leonard Sweet's favorite EPIC illustration of our contemporary culture, Starbucks.

The fun and relaxation of the first day-and-a-half grinds to a halt today as the blessing of ministry resumes. Tonight, I deliver the kick-off keynote for the encampment. The theme this year is "Blessed Assurance...Secure Forever." I have been given the task of speaking on "But If I Sin."

I have prepared my thoughts around how our mental misconceptions of Judgment Day do not square with the Biblical witness of Judgment Day. Conditioned by the cultural motifs of the judiciary, we typically envision the judgment bar of God as a heavenly episode of Law and Order. Reducing God's judgment to contemporary judiciary images reduces our salvation to this: is my excuse for my indiscretion and sin good enough to satisfy God and allow God to grant me mercy?

That view, when compared with the scenes of Scripture, just doesn't fly. One can couple the scenes of Job, a scene in Zechariah 3 and several scenes in Revelation to see that Satan is the prosecuting attorney in the judgment of our eternal destiny. It is Satan that levels charges against us. But John makes abundantly clear in 1 John 2.1 that we have an advocate, a defense attorney who speaks to God on our behalf: Jesus Christ the righteous.

Those who've contacted the righteous blood of Jesus in baptism have been clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Galatians 3.27). And just as in Zechariah 3 when God intervened and covered the stains on Zechariah's clothes -- symbolic of the covering over of his sins -- God, in Jesus Christ, intervenes at baptism and covers over our sins.

Judgment Day, then, is Satan's last stand, his last-ditch effort to rebel against the authority and power of the Creator of heaven and earth. But Satan will not prevail! God promises to remember our sins no more, to hurl our sins underfoot, and to cast all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

As we sing in that great hymn, "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less," we must take our stand "dressed in his (Jesus) righteousness alone" so that we might one day stand "faultless before his throne."

I am excited about sharing these insights from the Word with the gathering at the Tahoe Encampment tonight in the hopes that it blesses every believer to live lives of blessed assurance.


Tonight after speaking, I will join with good friend, John Wiegand, for the three-hour drive to San Francisco. Tomorrow, I will join John and the family at the Plesant View church in Pleasanton (home of John Madden located on the east bay). Between assemblies tomorrow, we are going to hustle back to San Francisco and catch the matinee game between the Padres and Giants at beautiful AT&T Park.