Revive Our Hearts Radio

We Have Been Approved

Leslie Basham: Carrie Gaul was working hard to keep God’s approval. Then she came to a breaking point.

Carrie Gaul: This thing called the Christian life, I can’t do it! It doesn’t work for me! It works for you . . . I can see that it works for other people, but it doesn’t work for me. I’m tired of trying I cannot do it!

Leslie: Today Carrie shows us how she discovered freedom. This is Revive Our Hearts for Thursday, June 12, 2014.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It’s been such a blessing to have Carrie Gaul with us as a guest teacher here this week on Revive Our Hearts. Carrie, it’s been a joy to hear your heart and to see your sensitivity to truth and your love for the gospel, and how it still touches you afresh. One of the things I want in my life is to never lose the wonder of these truths that we traffic in all the time. Thank you for letting it be fresh in you and helping it be fresh in us.

I know that some of the things Carrie’s been talking about, you’re going to want to keep thinking about, keep pondering, keep working into your life. To help you with that, we’re offering a resource this week by my friend, Elyse Fitzpatrick. It’s a devotional book called Comforts from Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time.

It’s thirty-one short devotional readings from the first eight chapters of the book of Romans. I’m memorizing in Romans 8 right now, so that’s fresh on my heart. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” Carrie’s been telling us why there’s no condemnation for us, and as we heard yesterday, that’s because Christ took all the condemnation that we deserved for our sins.

So when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll be glad to send you this book, Comforts from Romans. It will strengthen your heart, it will comfort your heart, and Leslie will let you know at the end of the program today how you can call us, or contact us online, to get that resource.

Yesterday and today Carrie’s been sharing an illustration with two robes that are up here on the platform. Those who are here in our audience today can see these two robes. Carrie’s been describing them for us. I hope that as you’re listening to this program you can picture them in your mind. But we have our video team here today, and they’re making available to us a clip of this illustration with the two robes on our website at ReviveOurHearts.com.

You can go there and you can actually see a portion of these programs. You can see what these robes look like and let that truth sink even more deeply into your heart.

So Lord, as we start this program today, we just want to thank You again for the wonder of the gospel—the wonder of what You have done for us in Christ. I’d pray again that You would open our eyes, open our ears, open our hearts, to receive all that You have for us today, as we consider the wonder that You became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God in Christ.

Make it fresh and real and wonderful to our hearts today. I pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen. Carrie?

Carrie: We’ve seen over the last several days how those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ have been declared blameless. We’ve been approved—no longer condemned in our sin—but now accepted in the Beloved . . . not because of the things that we have done, but because of what Jesus has done through His life, His death, and His resurrection.

We’ve been looking at 1 Thessalonians 2:4 where it says, “Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but [as pleasing] God who examines our hearts.” We’ve seen that not only have we been approved by God, but we’ve been entrusted with that message of the gospel—that incredibly good news that has invaded our lives and turned our worlds upside down.

We’ve been commissioned, as it were, to share—first with ourselves (daily, regularly) and then with others the incredible good news of the gospel. If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, you no doubt remember when you first responded to Jesus . . . the time when the eyes of your heart were first opened to understand and to see in a very real way the love of the Savior for you . . . the fact that He wanted to be in a personal relationship with you.

My friend Jaclyn is here with us today. Over the last three years Jaclyn has been cutting my hair on a regular basis. She has joined us here, and I’m so thankful that she’s been able to do that. She’s a young woman who has only recently encountered the love of Jesus in her life.

When I walked into her salon a few weeks ago, I could tell almost immediately that’s something was different about Jaclyn. She said to me, “I couldn’t wait for you to get here today. I have some things to tell you.”

I thought, Well, how interesting! She put the cape around me, and I’m watching her in the mirror as we’re interacting.

She said, “I’ve been attending church.”

And I said, “Really? Tell me about that.” She could not wait to tell me all the things that she was beginning to realize as God had drawn her to begin attending a church that preaches the Word of God faithfully each Sunday. She was beginning to hear some of those truths and the impact they were having in her life.

With almost uncontainable joy she said to me, “Carrie . . .” She’s cutting my hair—get this picture—and every once in a while she would lean around and look at me and say, “Carrie, everything’s different! Nothing’s the same—it’s all different!”

She’d go on talking about Jesus and talking about her brand-new study Bible. And she’s sitting here right now looking at me, just glowing like a little sunbeam. She was talking about her study Bible and how she’s reading it, and she can’t wait to dig into it. And we’re in a salon, ladies, and it’s filled with ladies . . . some of which I assume may not know the love of Jesus for themselves.

She just kept talking freely and fairly loudly, and eventually she turned to me and she said, “Carrie, I am not ashamed!”

And I said, “I can see that on your face, Jaclyn, that you are not ashamed of the truths that you’re beginning to embrace.” You see, she’s encountered the living Savior, and she cannot help but talk about it. She’s telling everybody!

She’s not worried about the approval or the acceptance of others. Think of the joy, just think of the joy that it brings to our Heavenly Father when we talk about Him, when we talk about His Son, when we dwell on the truths of Who He is and what He’s done for us . . . just think of the delight on the Father’s face!

I don’t know when you first encountered Jesus and His love for you. I was fifteen years old. I was in a very large group of teenagers. I was rebellious, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I had grown up in church all of my life. I was in a group that did Bible quizzing. Some of you here will know what that means. Some of you have even been involved in Bible quizzing.

We were at a quiz meet that day, and we were having a speaker, a missionary speaker—Jack Murray—who was from Europe, he’s Scottish. He and his wife, Martha, were serving in Europe at that time. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, today Jack (who is now in his late eighties) is listening in.

He shared the gospel of Jesus Christ that day in a way I’d never heard. I’d been in church all of my life. As he began the message that night, I thought someone had given him the details of my life—like he was reading off the sins I was struggling with. He knew far too much about my life to make me comfortable, and I was looking for the person who had told him! 

The reality was, no one had told him. He was describing where each one of us live, and he went into great detail, talking about our reality, our desperate, utter depravity, clothed in that robe that we described yesterday. Then I remember as though it were yesterday, Jack turned the corner, and he began to speak of the love of a Savior.

He began to speak of a Savior who loved me enough in my sin to die for me. He began to speak of a Savior that wanted to redeem me out of the darkness and bring me into the kingdom of light. And my friends, I had slouched down in my seat ever so slowly, hoping no one would see me—until he started talking about the love of the Savior.

I could not respond fast enough. I could not get to that kind of love and that kind of Savior fast enough—who would forgive me for my sins, for who I was and what I had done; a Savior who would love me and begin to mold and shape my life.

In the weeks and months that followed, I had an insatiable hunger for the Word of God. I was fifteen years old. I was one of those—to be pitied—young teenage women who had to ride the school bus every day. I remember vividly not being able to wait until I would get home at night, to get off that school bus so I could get into my room and open up that Living Bible and read it. I couldn’t get enough!

I was hungry. It was like I had never heard those truths before. I still have that Living Bible at home on my bookshelf. Periodically, I pull it off the shelf and read some of the things I wrote in it, to remember that first love. But over time, some of those old sin habits began to rear their ugly heads.

The passion that I had had began to wan just a bit; I struggled with feelings of guilt and condemnation and shame. How could I even begin to think that I had the right to have a relationship with God, when I knew my own sinfulness . . . when I knew the utter depravity of my own heart?

It felt like that ugly, dark, black robe of heavy sinfulness that we talked about in yesterday’s program—it felt like I was wearing that robe again. In fact, as a result of feeling that way, over time I began to drift from the Savior—not because I didn’t love Him, but because I was ashamed . . . because, how could I wear this ugly black robe of sinfulness and still come into His presence?

So I began to drift, really distancing myself—in a sense—because I feared that He no longer accepted me. I feared that because of my sin, I was no longer approved by a holy and a righteous God. How could He, a holy and a righteous God, ever accept me when I struggled so with the sin that I knew was displeasing to Him?

Oh, I knew I was saved—I knew that. I didn’t doubt that. But I thought I had to act my way . . . clean up my act . . . get it together in order to come back into His presence, to make myself pleasing to Him. So I worked harder. I’m a firstborn. I can get 'er done.

So I got more involved in church, and then I got involved in church leadership, and then I got more deeply involved in serving . . . and I loved it! I loved doing it. I did more and more and more of it. My unspoken goal, in my mind as I look back now (I could not have told you this then) . . . My unspoken goal in my mind—every morning when I woke up—was to be a better wife, a better mom, a better daughter, a better friend, a better servant of  God—just go!—do it!—be better!

Because then, certainly then, God would approve me. Then He would accept me, then He would be pleased with me. The problem was, it was never enough. I always came up short because I always knew the reality of my own sinfulness in my own sinful heart.

It took about ten or twelve years, but after that length of time, I was so weary. I was so frustrated with trying to be a good Christian that I found myself in the office of a biblical counselor—and thank God for biblical counselors! Thank God for counselors who will take us back to the Word of God, to the truth of God’s Word and not just give you a Rolaid to make you feel better. We don’t need to feel better. We need to take our minds back to the truth of God’s Word, and that’s what SueAnn did to me.

I sat there that day in her office and I said, “I cannot do this thing called the Christian life. I can’t do it. It does not work for me. It works for you. I can see that it works for other people, but it doesn’t work for me, and I’m tired of trying. I cannot do it!”

And I will never forget Sue Ann tenderly leaning toward me over that desk and saying, “Carrie, why don’t you stop trying?” I could have given her a list a mile long of why I couldn’t stop trying. In fact, to be honest with you, I think I was somehow proud of the trying, the striving, the working hard, that I was doing, you know?

I could compare myself to others and say, “Well, I’m doing a little bit better over here.” But God used that question, “Why don’t you stop trying?” as the launching pad for a twenty-five-plus-year journey in my life, to begin teaching me the truths that we’ve been illustrating over the last several programs through the means of these two robes—this black, heavy, dark robe of utter sinfulness, and the gold, glittering, flowing robe representing the righteousness of Christ.

My prayer has been that these truths that have so radically impacted my life and my understanding of what it means to be in covenant with the living God . . . that you too, through the illustration of these robes today, you too will have a fresh sense of what has taken place in your own life.

The Puritans called it The Great Exchange . . . the fact that Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us, the Beloved Son of God standing in our place to receive the punishment that we rightfully deserve, so that we could become the righteousness of Christ!

In her book, Radical Gratitude, Ellen Vaughn recounts a story that unfolded in 1941 in Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp, where every twenty-four hours eight thousand Jews could be stripped of their possessions, gassed, and then cremated. The Nazis took great pride, not only in their efficiencies, but in the fact that very few ever escaped the horrifying realities of Auschwitz.

When someone did escape, others would die for their crime. On one particular night, the air was filled with the baying of dogs and the cursing of soldiers and the roar of motorcycles. As the camp commandant screamed in fury, the veins in his thick neck bulged with rage.

A fugitive from Barracks 14 had not been found, and for his crime ten men would pay with their lives. They would die, not in the gas chambers, not by bullet, not even in the gallows, but in the starvation bunker where within days, denied both food and water, the already emaciated prisoners would go mad . . . their behavior often frightening even the guards.

Ten men were chosen, groaning, crying, sweating with fear. One man cried out, “My poor wife and children. What will they ever do?” And as the ten men began walking toward the place of their ultimate death, a commotion stirred in the long ranks.

A prisoner had broken rank, a cause for immediate execution. The camp commandant, revolver in hand, watched as Father Colby, a praying man—a man who had shared his last crumb of bread with other prisoners, a man who had comforted them, a man who had given them the Word of God, a man who had tenderly nourished the souls of those in prison with him—stepped forward.

And Father Colby said, “I will die in place of that condemned man.” Can you imagine such a sacrifice? Can you imagine the selflessness of taking the place of one condemned to die? That’s exactly what our Savior did.

I’ve asked Paula to come up again today as we put upon her this black, heavy, dark robe we’ve been speaking of throughout the last two days—representing our utter depravity and sin. In this black robe that Paula’s putting on, it represents how all of us are born. We’re born wearing this black, ugly, sinful robe. We’re on a spiritual Death Row. We’re destined for an eternity separated from the love and mercies of God—an eternity of punishment in the torments of Hell is what looms over our life in this robe.

But Jesus took our place! He stepped forward out of the throne room of Heaven, between the Judge, Almighty God, and the convicted, guilty sinner—you and I. Jesus stepped forward, and He said, “I’ll stand in her place; I’ll die in her place.”

He said, “I will take this ugly, sinful, black robe,” as I’m taking it off Paula even now. Jesus said He will take that black robe and, “I will put it upon Myself,” to the extent that Scripture says that He became sin. (As I’ve put this robe upon my own shoulders representing the way Jesus took our sin upon Himself.) 

Sin was never in Him. He was the perfect, spotless, blameless Lamb of God, but He took our sin upon Him, and He wore that sin all the way to the cross. He walked into the courtroom, as it were, and He said, “I will serve her sentence.” He became vile and detestable in the eyes of God, and God poured out upon Him the fullness of the measure of His wrath, until that wrath was fully spent.

First John 4:10 says, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He [has] loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” That is a verse we hear often, but sometimes some of those words, we don’t always know what they mean.

I just like it simple. Let me get it simply. So I said to a pastor friend of mine one time, “Can you explain to me what propitiation means?” And he said to me, “Oh, absolutely, Carrie! Propitiation just simply means that Jesus became our wrath-absorber.’”

I have a glass bowl here that will represent the vessel of God’s wrath—the fullness of His wrath. And I have a glass goblet that’s filled with red liquid, representing the wrath of God that should be rightfully poured out upon us for our sin. That’s what Scripture says. That’s what your sin and mine deserves—the fullness of God’s wrath.

When Jesus stepped forward and said, “I will stand her place,” God took our sin upon Him and God poured forth—as I’m pouring into this vessel right now, He poured forth His wrath upon Jesus, the fullness of His wrath.

In Jesus’ death for us—we’re going to represent that today by the sponge I’m holding in my hand. When Jesus went to the cross for you, ladies, He absorbed the wrath of God for you, just as this sponge will absorb the liquid that is in this glass bowl.

When Jesus died, the wrath of God was poured out upon Him, but in His death He absorbed all of the wrath of God toward you. I’m holding up that glass bowl right now and I’m turning it upside down, because there’s no more wrath for you. The wrath of God is gone! It’s been absorbed in Jesus Christ.

There is no more wrath! God is not mad at you my friends. God is not angry at you. He’s not waiting for you to mess up one more time so that He can drop the gavel of His wrath upon you. Yes, that’s what your sin deserves. Yes, that’s what my sin deserves, but He poured it out on Jesus! Do you understand why the Savior is so precious?

You and I no longer receive that which we deserve because God poured it out upon the Savior!

Leslie: That’s Carrie Gaul with a powerful illustration of the gospel. Jesus took the wrath of God and you can be free from condemnation.

Like Nancy Leigh DeMoss explained earlier in the program, Carrie Gaul is guest teaching this week. The series is called "Approved." You have the opportunity to interact with Carrie Gaul. She’ll be part of the Revive Our Hearts listener blog today. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, scroll to the end of the transcript, and post your question or comment for Carrie.

Like Nancy told you earlier, we’d like to send you a book that would be a meaningful follow-up to today’s series. It’s called Comforts from Romans. It’s our gift when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Your gift will help make it possible for us to keep providing the kind of teaching you’ve heard today.

When you call with your donation, ask for Comforts from Romans. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com to donate and get the book. We’ll send one book per household, and tomorrow’s the final day we’ll be letting you know about this offer.

Tomorrow we’ll hear Part 2 of this message from Carrie. What does it mean to put on the righteousness of Christ? Carrie will continue to show you next time on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the NASB.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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