Homeland

The challenge of your Christian life is believing what you don’t see. The Bible calls this faith.

There is so much that is seen. You see your need for food and clothing. You see injustice and wrongness in the world. You see how things are, how the world works.

Our world is filled with practical, visible concerns. Like what the medical profession calls “ADLs.” Those are “activities of daily living.” Everyone has tasks to accomplish every day, like getting dressed, eating breakfast, taking a shower, and (hopefully) brushing your teeth. Those activities need to get done, they are a visible part of life.

And those basic activities don’t really even touch all the other parts of life. Having enough money. Taking care of kids. Holding on to a job. Making a few friends.  Add in looking ahead to ensure these things in the future, and you have the basis for planning and hoarding. They are based largely in worry.

So what is seen leads to worry. That worry drives behaviors which don’t really settle the anxiety, because plans go awry and riches melt away. And who can plan for illness, or have enough money to cheat death?

James says that the answer to our worry for ourselves isn’t planning and saving. The answer is found in faith. What we need isn’t more attention to building a nest for ourselves. What we need is to believe that our home is not here.

Our hope is not bound up in the success of a life well lived on earth. Our hope is in the coming of the Lord.

“Be patient,” James 5:8 says. “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” That’s the answer to anxiety. Jesus is coming, and he is coming for you and me. Above all we seek to be with Jesus. We seek a heavenly homeland, where he is. And the calming truth is that he has promised it to us, by his strength and in his timing. He is alive. He is coming again. None of us has seen any of this, we simply trust in Jesus. Thus our lives at our core are not about achieving on earth. Our lives are about waiting for Jesus.

My anxiety is helped when I meditate on the love Jesus has for me and his amazing promises. I think on stories of God’s deliverance—always by his strength, his power, his time, his way. He freed his people from Egypt in mighty miracles, he parted the Red Sea, he provided manna to eat, he gave water to drink, he made a way to dwell among his people, he went before them directing and guiding. And that’s only Exodus!

Activities of daily living remain before you. But don’t worry if you can’t accomplish them. And don’t rejoice if you accomplish them better than other people.  If your heart is set on Jesus, take comfort that this is not your home, and that your faith is to wait for the coming of the Lord. He is coming soon!

You Give More Grace

I go to church. I hear the Word, not just on Sundays, but in my own reading. I meditate on it in my own prayer times. I hear what I have to work on. I understand moral behavior. I hear commands and law. And I get to work. I think that by hearing, I will improve.

Why do I think that? Because that’s how everything in my life has always worked.

I rowed crew in an 8-person boat. That doesn’t include the coxswain, who steered and yelled at us. And a lot of yelling there was, because we had so much to work on. We would get up, our team, early in the morning to practice before college classes. We would come down to the lake in the evening and practice some more. We slowly improved.

I studied medicine, poring for hours over books and diagrams. Memorizing facts. Practicing on patients. As scary as that last phrase is, it was necessary for me, and for other students like me, to improve. Practice makes perfect, right?

If you tell me what the goal is, if you give me instruction on what to do, I will get to work. Because it has always worked for me.

That’s why James is soul-crushing. Because what he tells me has no solution in my methodology. He proclaims that my tongue is full of poison, and gives no solution. He points directly at my heart and says my problems, the conflicts in my life, are based on my bad desires.

Am I supposed to work on my desires, then? Improvement by force of will? Imposition of external behavior? Tricking my mind to think that though it longs for chocolate ice cream, asparagus is actually what it desires?

If what James was saying was that I just need to eat asparagus, I would force it down gladly. But he essentially says I have to like it, too. That’s why it is soul crushing. I can’t actually change desires. I can’t give my heart anti-coveting instructions. I’m helpless.

I am humbled by my failure. And there is grace in the finished work of Christ. There is grace for when I slip with my tongue, or when I have conflict. For when I sin behaviorally.

But I am even more humbled when I see how shallow my successes are. When James convicts me that even though I choked down the asparagus, I didn’t love it. And that’s an inescapable problem. When I finally realize that my best actions are still threaded through with desires that won’t be tamed. Desires that no matter how hard I try, bring conflict and pain.

When I really look at myself, James 4:6 becomes even more amazing: “But he gives more grace.”

I am unworthy. You are too. But he gives grace. And as life continues, and I see even more of my sin, my desires off, my words imperfect, he gives more grace.

I am caught in the wonder of a love that loves me when I have failed, that loves me when I am weak and not strong, when I am unclean, when my wrong desires are exposed. A grace that covers me even when—especially when— I am trying to repay a debt that has already been paid.

O my Savior, I am amazed by your love. You give more grace.

Our Heavenly Wisdom

 

James says that having wisdom means that your life is beautiful. That sounds really nice to me. I would like a beautiful life. A life skillfully lived.

What that means to me, naturally, is practically learning life skills. Making right choices. Showing good works. Developing good conduct.

Not so fast, James says. There are actually two kinds of wisdom. Two types of living that show skillful living and good conduct. They aren’t actually the same thing.

Earthly wisdom, to James, appears to be applying skill in good works from the vantage of self. If the reality is that good works are applauded, then ambition guides rightly to skillfully accomplish them. If good conduct brings reward, then jealousy would be an appropriate motive to get as many works done as possible. The more I do, the more I get rewarded. This is simple math. Wise people can do math.

The problem with this earthly wisdom is that James calls it out. If you think this is the way, think again. It is unspiritual. It is demonic. Ouch. I can just picture James making the point that this is how demons think. They are wise, in some sense. But not in the sense that matters.  Acting wisely from a base of ambition and jealousy leads to disorder and every vile practice. Earthly wisdom is, at its core, futile and ugly.

Thankfully there’s another way. Wisdom that by contrast doesn’t come out of self. There’s no ambition or jealousy. It’s pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, sincere. James calls this wisdom “from above.” Heavenly wisdom.

Ok. How do I get it, if it is outside of me? What exactly is this wisdom from above?

All of a sudden, the gospel raises its head. Wisdom that is outside of you. Wisdom that is from above. Wisdom that isn’t about your attaining, working on yourself, building yourself, obtaining for yourself. It is beautiful and selfless and wonderful. This wisdom actually doesn’t sound like you or me at all. It sounds like a different person altogether. Heavenly Wisdom. Could this be Jesus?

Jesus as wisdom isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. Proverbs 8 tells us that Wisdom as a person was with the Father when he established the heavens and made all that is. In Luke 11:49 Jesus refers to himself as “the Wisdom of God” personified (take a look at Matthew 23:34 if you need to). Jesus is everything that is skillful and understanding and good. Everything he does comes out of a perfect understanding of what is. He literally is the Word become flesh – the truth of God worked out in a breathing, living, practical way.

When you see this, James makes sense. Jesus is pure. Jesus is peaceable. Jesus is gentle and reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits. Jesus is sincere. Jesus brings righteousness.

There’s only one way to get out of the trap of self. It isn’t transcendental meditation. It is wisdom from above. Jesus Christ. All of our skillful living and good behavior is ruined by imperfect hearts. But Jesus takes these ruins and makes them beautiful. By his wisdom. By his righteousness. By his selfless sacrifice, in love, for us.

You can have a beautiful life. Fix your eyes above, on our Heavenly Wisdom. We call him Jesus Christ.

Tongue Untamed

Somewhere along the line in my early Christian life I made some connections that weren’t helpful or right. Maybe it was as I sang “Onward Christian Soldiers,” or as I worked on being a good, hard-working, pleasing-to-everyone kid. The connection I made was between being a Christian and self-improvement.

If I was a Christian, with the power of God available to me, then life should progressively be improving. In particular, it seemed logical and reasonable that I should more and more improve in my holy behavior. I shouldn’t fail, I should prevail. Out I went, armed with thoughts that if I overcame sin, I would be given the crown of life.

In some sense I was like that proverbial fly that Chris Rice sings of in Deep Enough To Dream. I gathered about my wits and pride and tried again for the hundredth time to get to where I was supposed to be—decreasing sin, increasing personal holiness.

It was only later that I realized that I never break through. Not in the sense I naively thought. Just when I thought I was really improving, I realized that Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount raised the bar way higher than I even had considered. I saw motives and desires and not just behaviors. I was undone.

James 3 is a useful tonic for us who are prone to redouble our efforts toward self-righteousness. In his biting and insightful way, James shows us how powerful the tongue is. This little tiny piece of our body is incredibly influential. And then he lays on the heat. This little tongue sets the forest of our lives on fire! It stains the body, and is restless, full of poison.

I don’t think of my tongue that way, really. But I appreciate his point. And thus I’m tempted to understand him as prodding me to self-improvement.  Ok, James, I’ll work on controlling my tongue.

Not so fast.

James actually says that if anyone can control his tongue, that person is perfect. And then he says no human being can tame the tongue. There is no hope for us. He vividly depicts how wrong we are, and then stops. There is no call to improvement. There is no imperative. There is no expectation for a more controlled tongue. He just clearly identifies the horror of our ongoing failure.

Do you see what he is doing? We long to avoid the poison of our own sin. We long to be perfect. But we aren’t. We can’t be. Our tongues are a source of sin because they reveal what is in the heart. And our own hearts are imperfect. So out of our mouths come both blessing and cursing.

James gives us law. And like a word fitly spoken, the law is beautiful. And the law reveals our continued imperfection. James leaves us broken. We can’t hope in our increasing perfection. We’re just never perfect, not on earth.

But we know where life is found, where wholeness actually is. It is at Calvary. It is there that the perfect one paid for our sin, where he demonstrated his love for sinners like us. Our failure, his perfection. Our sin, his righteousness. What an amazing exchange.

So we acknowledge the beauty of a tamed tongue. And we see that we don’t, we can’t, for all our striving, attain it. Not before the cross, and not after. We have to go, humbled, to the one who covers us. And trust, always, in his righteousness for us.

My flesh and my heart may fail, and when they do, I look to Jesus. He has overcome for me. “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus said in John 16:33. And we do, even the tribulation of our own failure. “But take heart,” he says. “I have overcome the world.”

There’s a Love

When I was younger, fear was a major motivation for me. I worried that I wasn’t doing enough for God. I saw the many ways that I failed him. I imagined his great displeasure at my imperfection. I thought about whether I was really His or not, based on a self-evaluation of my daily activity for God. Even when I behaved acceptably, I saw my own heart struggles and wondered if I really was a Christian.

This is being motivated by fear. Fear that I wasn’t really good enough, that my faith wasn’t real.

Not until I was much older did I see that faith in Jesus Christ is actually the opposite of that kind of fear.

Trusting Jesus is the opposite of self-evaluating fear because trusting Jesus is abandoning hope in myself and trusting in what Jesus has done. Trusting that he means it when he says he loves me, he died for me, he pursued me, he actually likes me. Right now.

My continuing sin and failure are why I need to soak in the gospel every day. My trust in Jesus moves me toward overcoming my natural desire to fear, because that fear is based in self-righteousness. The stunning truth of the gospel is that my acceptance before God is actually based on Jesus’ righteousness.

When I finally was hit with the depth of that gift, I was floored. I continue to be amazed that I’m loved. Loved by the King. Loved by Jesus. I believe in Jesus. I trust him. This is receiving love I don’t deserve. There’s a love, and this gift of love has changed my life.

I am no longer motivated by fear (well, I shouldn’t be, and I know it, though I fail still). Love has set me free, and my thankfulness overflows in living life in the truth of His love.

This is what it means for faith to work.

In James 2:18, Jesus’ half-brother gives an incredible encouragement to believers: “Someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

See, some people want to focus on works. Feeding the poor. Helping other people. Doing good deeds. They want to do that separately from trusting Jesus. In fact, they want to use those works as a measuring stick for if they have enough faith. If they are doing enough. Because they live in fear.

James says—no way. You can’t have works that show how good you are. Trusting Jesus is abandoning your own goodness. So your goodness isn’t what shows. Trusting in Jesus is what shows. And you can be encouraged that this trust will definitely show.

It’s like being alive. If you get this life-giving truth, you’re alive. Life reveals itself. It will show like your heart beating, like your legs moving, like your lungs breathing. You can’t separate the activity of life from life itself, like you can’t separate trusting Jesus from that amazing gift showing.

It doesn’t show in self-improvement or moral excellence, necessarily. It shows in how you think of other people, how you live in gratitude, how your life is flavored by your trusting that you are loved by Jesus himself. It shows in rejecting fear-based living, and moving because of love.

The wonder of our lives is that being connected to Jesus brings forth fruit we can’t produce. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness.

Our feet move because we are alive. Be encouraged. Trust in Jesus and live.

The Law of Liberty

James is an amazing letter. I think it is unfortunate that this wonderful teaching is used as a counterbalance to the grace of the gospel. I can think of countless times in my life where verses from James have been used as a “yes, but.” Yes, the gospel is true, but you have to work. Yes, salvation is by grace alone, but after salvation you have duties. Yes, faith alone, but you need to make sure that your faith works. “Paul emphasizes faith, and James emphasizes works. They’re both needed.” So the argument goes.

But reading James in context leads us away from the balancing act, away from thinking that the amazing grace of the gospel needs some grounding and balance in progressive self-improvement. Reading James in context leads us to think, “Yes, and this is how.” So yes, faith alone, and this is how faith in Jesus plays out in life on earth.

Here’s an example: James 1:25.

“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

That’s high on the list of phrases I don’t hear very often: “Come, let’s look into the perfect law of liberty!” In fact, if you hear teaching on this passage at all, it is usually about not just hearing the gospel, but also doing the law.

But since when is the law, God’s law, the law that frees us? Are we not freed by Jesus? And why does James say to look at it like a mirror, to look never forget? I mean, this is the logical argument he makes in chapter 1, that the law of liberty is a mirror that we need to look at very hard, and never forget what we look like when we walk away.

Without context, I am tempted to insert myself back into the picture here. Saved by grace and then back to the law, to work towards perfection. Grace first, then rules and duties. But that misses James’ point entirely. And that actually goes against the gospel. Putting yourself back under the law is not freeing. If that were the case, then Paul really would have a problem with James. Galatians would stand in fierce opposition!

So what is James getting at? Realize that he is presenting this perfect law of liberty as a mirror. It reveals… me. Me. In all my imperfection. The perfection that God requires is a standard that points out to me the depth of my personal blemishes, imperfections, inabilities. My own failure glares at me, reflected by this law of liberty. Even after conversion.

Never get angry at my brother? Never have a lustful thought? Never do anything for my own gain? Always rejoice? Never worry? I think I fail at all of them. Even as a believer in Jesus.

So how is this liberating? In what way is this mirror revealing my inability the “law of liberty”? Because I see no hope in me. I died to the law. The law condemns me, and it is right. I am condemnation-worthy. The pathway that I trod for so long, the pathway of self-improvement and self-worth under the law has been closed… forever. Look hard, James says, and never forget.

The law again reminds me that my freedom is in Jesus. The law of liberty points to the freedom that I have found in the person and work of Jesus. It is freeing because the bonds of trying to attain and perfect and complete the standards of God, on my own and in my power, are broken forever.

The law of liberty squelches every impulse that I have to again get on the ladder, again climb the treadmill, again be the judge, again find my identity and worth in how I am doing. Because I look hard at this law which frees me, and I lose my confidence in me. I am pushed again to my only hope, Jesus.

Humility is what the law breeds in me now. And thus liberty in the savior who loves me.
I think this is one of the strongest themes in James, and one of the deepest elements of post-Christian daily living. Humility.

James says to look hard at this law that frees you. Look hard and never forget. You are not able, you are not worthy, you are not up to standard; the law is your death, and Jesus Christ your loving savior is your only life.

Yes, James gets the gospel. So look with me, will you? Into the perfect law, the law of liberty, which keeps me centered on my savior, and leads me to actions that come directly out of the truth that my only hope is with Jesus.

Hallelujah! I have found him, whom my soul so long has craved! Jesus satisfies my longings; through His life I now am saved.

Is the Gospel Too Free?

One of the ways to help understand the emphasis of Scripture is to think of Law and Gospel. This division is usually attributed to Martin Luther, but has been helpfully used by many theologians through history.

Law is God’s perfect law. Law is beautiful. It reveals what we should be, a standard that is necessarily immovable and unflexing because it is perfect. And so Law rightly reveals our lack, our need, our imperfection, our failure.

Gospel is God’s good news revealed in Christ. Jesus paid for our sin and extends the free gift of forgiveness and righteousness in him alone . If the law proclaims “do,” the gospel cries “done!”

These are helpful distinctions because we tend to blur and confuse the context of the Bible, both in who is being spoken to, and what is there for us to do in salvation. The law reveals the requirements; Jesus, in his work alone, has met the requirements and by his work we are not under the law, but in union with him.

To some, this seems too good to be true.

One objection to a full-throated proclamation of the Gospel is that it is too free. Proclaiming Christ alone as a free gift, the objection goes, encourages people not to work themselves.

To help with that objection, here’s a classic treatment from John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. This excerpt is from another of his books, The Doctrine of Law and Grace Unfolded, pp. 183-184. The questioner has some concern that the gospel is too free, and Bunyon is the answerer:

Question: “Do you think that I mean that my righteousness will save me without Christ’s? If so, you mistake me, for I think not so: but this I say, I will labor to do what I can, and what I cannot do, Christ will do for me.”

Answer: Ah, poor soul, this is the wrong way too! For this is to make Christ but a piece of a Saviour. Thou wilt be something, and Christ shall do the rest; thou wilt set thy own things in the first place, and if thou wantest at last, then thou wilt borrow of Christ. Thou art such a one that does Christ the greatest injury of all. First, in that thou dost undervalue his merits, by preferring thy own works before his; and secondly, by mingling his works, thy dirty ragged righteousness with his.

Question: “Why, would you have us do nothing? Would you have us make Christ such a drudge as to do all, while we sit idling still?”

Answer: Poor soul! Thou mistakest Jesus Christ, in saying thou makest him a drudge, in letting him do all. I tell thee he counts it a glory to do all for thee, and it is a great dishonor unto him for thee to so much as to think otherwise. And the saints of God that have experienced the work of grace upon their souls, do count it also the same; (Rev. 5:9,12) “Saying, thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof.” “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” And why so? Read again the 9th verse; “For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy (own) blood.” See also Ephesians 1:6-7: “To the praise of the glory of his grace: in whom we have redemption through his blood.”

Reply: “All this we confess, that Jesus Christ died for us, but he that thinks to be saved by Christ, and liveth in his sins, shall never be saved.”

Answer: I grant that. But this I say again, a man must not make his good doings the lowest round of the ladder by which he goeth to heaven. That is, he that will and shall go to heaven, must wholly and alone, without any of his own things, venture his precious soul upon Jesus Christ and his merits.

Three Things

From Thomas Manton (1620-77), Commentary on James 3:2:

“A godly person observed that Christians are usually to blame for three things:

  1. They seek in themselves what they can only find in Christ;
  2. They seek in the law what will only be found in the gospel;
  3. They seek on earth what will only be enjoyed in heaven.”

 

(h/t R. Scott Clark)

Growing Smaller

I was at a local school today, talking with children. I was struck by my own upbringing, how much I drunk in the world’s view of growth.

When I was little, everything was about growing up. Growing stronger and smarter. Running faster. Improving my skills and abilities. This growth was about study, practice, work, effort, and repetition. In short, it was me reaching my potential.

And it worked, temporally speaking. I ran an 8-minute mile in grade school, but a little over 4 minute mile in high school. Look! I grew faster! Not only that, I grew in other ways. I read more, achieved more, did more complex math. You get the point.

There’s a problem with all that effort and work at growth. More than one, actually. But the problem I want to focus on here is that it doesn’t last. All of my thinking when I was young was toward peak ability. That peak ability, in my mind, was future, but in reality, ended in early adulthood.

I mean, that’s peak ability, right? Age 26? 28? After that, it is downhill. I don’t mean just physically, although certainly that’s true. The 4-minute mile in my teens could have been duplicated in my 20’s, but I’m in my 40’s now. I would be thrilled with a 7-minute mile. Studies show that we don’t learn as fast, absorb as quickly, or retain as well as we grow in years.

I think of my grandmother, who as she grew older, developed Alzheimer’s disease. At the end of her journey, she didn’t remember my name.

Here’s what I’m trying to bring out: what the world sets forth as ‘growing’ has a falseness to it that is really easily seen because it simply doesn’t continue or even last. As we grow, we get less able to function in some objective meritorious sense, not more able. Unless we take a very immature view that peak growth ends in our twenties. Thus it is really sad to see older adults, Christians even, still think that this kind of growth is the growth we attain to.

Christian growth isn’t about getting bigger, stronger, or better. Why then would we stick around when we got older and less able? Scripture actually presents growth in another way. Christian growth may be best be stated not as getting better but as getting smaller. That’s right, growing smaller. Our growth, and it continues our whole lives, is toward our death. Toward us not worrying about us, but depending on Jesus. Maturity is maturity in Christ, not personal goodness or accomplishment at all. Self-forgetfulness, not self-fulfillment.

This is captured in John 3:30, when John the Baptist famously said that “he must increase, but I must decrease.” That’s the thought. Jesus increasing, me decreasing. Jesus growing in my life, me growing smaller.

Hebrews speaks of the same idea. We must “go on to maturity,” the author writes in Hebrews 6:1, and what he means is not again talking about our dead works, our getting cleaner, our getting better, our resurrection and judgment. What he means is leaving us behind, and focusing in on what Jesus has done. Are you really leaning on his once-for-all sacrifice? Growth is growth in dependence on Jesus. We need to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Not ourselves.

When Peter writes of the good news, he links it to the truth that “all flesh is like grass and its glory like the flower of grass,” that is, we ourselves are all withering away (1 Peter 1:24). This is the same thought. We grow, but we grow in the knowledge that we fail, we falter, we lose our ability; at the same time, the gospel is forever.

So real Christian growth is maturing in our view of Christ in us, in our dependence on Jesus, holding fast to what he says is true. We grow in the depth of seeing our failure and his sufficiency.

We do grow, in worldly terms, for a season. It is not wrong to grow in a worldly sense, to see our abilities and accomplishments increase, to enjoy these bodies and minds God has given us while health and strength and lucidity abound. But we should never forget that our real growth is towards our decreasing and him increasing, as we more and more trust in the only hope we have, Jesus Christ.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

The Truth You Know

Jesus Christ is my redeemer, my savior, my only hope; my hope is in his blood and righteousness.

Writing that sentence doesn’t begin to capture the importance and centrality of Jesus to me. Using superlatives, listing out how important he is, making a rational argument—I do all of these things as a pastor, but it still seems hard to take in.

In some sense that’s because it is just hard to take in. The reason it is hard is in part the difficulty of language, and in part the competing truths that surround that central one, threatening to drown it out.

There are many other truths people take out of the Bible, lots of principles and propositions that are proclaimed. While not untrue, as a whole those truths can drown out the nuclear-bomb-sized truth of Jesus, the center of the gospel.

I was struck last week by one particular way that Scripture highlights the main, life-altering truth. I saw it in Matthew’s gospel, particularly in chapter 27. He uses something called “dramatic irony.” Dramatic irony occurs when the reader knows something that the characters in the story don’t know.

What truth do we want to yell out as Judas realizes that he’s “betrayed innocent blood”? What central key truth is he missing as he goes and hangs himself?

What do we want to shout at Pilate as he wants nothing to do with Jesus’ sacrifice. “My hands are clean of this innocent blood,” he says.

What do we shake our heads and marvel at as the crowd proclaims “his blood be on us and on our children”? As they cry out to crucify Jesus?

Isn’t it all dramatic irony—they don’t realize that Jesus Christ is our redeemer, our savior, our only hope, and that our hope is in his blood and righteousness.

Judas has betrayed innocent blood, and that innocent blood is his only hope.

Pilate’s hands are stained with the innocent blood of Jesus, and Christ’s sacrifice is his only hope.

The crowd accepts the guilt of the wrongful death of Jesus—yet his wrongful death is their only hope for the removal of guilt and eternal life.

Judas doesn’t know this truth. He realizes he has “betrayed innocent blood.” He is so guilt-stricken and sad that he goes and hangs himself. He doesn’t see that the innocent blood of Jesus is actually his only hope.

In a world that focuses on moral improvement, social betterment, and accumulation of power and wealth, we need every tool we can get to drive into our own hearts the most important of truths: that our salvation is in Christ alone, by his blood alone, of his love alone.

And after seeing what the characters don’t in the true story of Jesus’ death, that truth is driven deeper still: Christ alone, his blood alone, his love alone, his death for mine. Hold on to the depth of what Jesus Christ has done. He’s our only hope.