Covered in Christ

Alright…I want to give two blog posts that unpack a bit more what was taught briefly here.  So here goes part 1 of 2…

Why was Abraham considered righteous by God? Because, by faith, He was covered by God’s righteousness. It was not because he was inherently righteous. No, in him was death, but God pronounced Him alive (see Romans 4). Similarly, inside the Christian is sin (which leads to death), but God pronounces us righteous (which leads to life).

This all happens because we are “covered in Christ”. Other words describing this include: atoned and justified. We are covered/atoned/justified by what Jesus did. So when God looks at the Christian, He looks at Jesus’ life covering him. Imagine someone having bright green skin (think of the Hulk). And then they are covered by a beautiful red blanket. When someone looks their way, all they see is red. Even though the person is still green, they are covered by red, and that becomes their identity.  That becomes what marks them: red, not green. In the same way, we have sin dwelling in our flesh (passed to us all from our great-great-granddaddy, Adam). But, through faith in Christ’s person and work, we are covered by His blood and righteousness. So when God looks at us, He sees Christ covering us, even though our nature still is tainted with sin.

Said another way, we are imputed with Christ’s righteousness, though we ourselves are not righteous. We are like Noah and his family: covered completely by the ark, so that the wrath of God (i.e. the storm that raged) was absorbed completely by the ark. Those inside did not receive any of God’s wrath, because they were covered by something that took on all of God’s wrath. Similarly, as Jesus absorbed all of God’s wrath at the cross, Christians are considered as covered in Jesus. Meaning, we don’t receive God’s wrath, because we are covered by Him who did. We are like Noah’s family covered by the ark.

Many more illustrations from the Bible of being covered in Christ can be found here.

Next post, we will unpack a bit more of what this all means for our nature and experience. If we are covered with Christ, for instance, do we have good natures now or bad natures? Are we inclined to sin or do righteous? Stay posted…

Much love,

Does God want Christians to confront other Christians on sin?

I’ve heard various people in various circles say things like:

  • “It’s the job of the Holy Spirit, not me, to confront people on sin.”
  • “We preach grace, and therefore do not believe in addressing people’s sins.”
  • “Jesus forgave all sins.  Since our sins are under the blood, there’s no need to repent or even address believers as if they were sinners.”
  • Etc.

Two problems with this kind of thinking:

  1. It’s incredibly unbiblical.  Consider a few (of many) Scriptures showing this:
    1. Prov. 27:5-6
    2. Matt. 18:15-17
    3. 1 Cor. 5
    4. 2 Cor. 10:2, 10-11
    5. Gal. 2:13-14
    6. Gal. 6:1
    7. 2 Thes. 3:6-14
    8. 1 Tim. 1:18-20
    9. Titus 3:10-11
    10. James 5:19-20
    11. Jude 1:23
    12. Rev. 2:19-23
  2. It is incredibly unloving.  For instance, what happens when a husband who behaves terribly toward his wife and kids is surrounded by believers who think this way?  He is led to believe he is in the right on his actions, and it leaves his wife and kids abused without anyone stepping up to call the man out.  Brothers and sisters, this cannot be!

The trick with the quotes given at the start is that all of them contain part truths.

Yes, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin, but we are mouthpieces of the Spirit, and so God frequently communicates by His Spirit through other people (read the book of Acts, starting with chap. 2 to see this in action).

Yes we should preach grace, but the grace of God teaches us to say “no to ungodliness” (Titus 2:12).  The greatest act of grace was Jesus dying on the cross…in no way could one ever say that such an act of grace is passive toward sin–God forbid!  It is God’s grace that takes an active stance against sin.

And, yes, Jesus’ death has purchased our forgiveness and brought us into a right standing with God (Col. 1:22, for instance).  But, simultaneously, we are still called to “work out our salvation” (Phil. 2:12) and “be holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16).  In fact, 1 Cor. 10 gives a stern warning to all the Christians who claim that because they have believed and are baptized in Christ and have his Holy Spirit they can rest secure in their position and don’t have to worry about following the Lord in fear and trembling.

We all in the West (myself included) could probably use some of these more solemn N.T. teachings to remind us that our God’s attitude toward sin has not changed in the least.  And the blood on His head and body testify to this.

Love in Him,


An Open Response to NoahDavid Lein’s “Letter to the Board of Trustees at Hope College”

Dear NoahDavid (and others who will read this letter),

I appreciate you taking the time to write a thoughtful and heartfelt response to the recent events surrounding Hope College.  I think you make some fair points and critiques, while showing empathy for the parties involved.  It seems clear that your main appeal is for Hope College to make fair decisions that positively affect the trajectory of the school and build trust in its leadership (which is great!), but I am concerned that you also misrepresented God, His word, and His gospel in some of your statements, and thus deserved a response.

The first concern along these lines is with, what seemed to me, a belittlement of sin.  You say that God washes all of our sins, and embraces us though we are not—and never will be—sinless.  To this I say, “Amen!”  However, you don’t talk of the hatred God has toward sin.   The wounds, the piercing, and the crushing of God’s beloved Son on the cross testify loudly that God is not indifferent toward sin.  Jesus/God is described as the one who, “loved righteousness and hated wickedness,” (Heb. 1:9), and “who feels indignation every day,” (Ps. 7:11).  Further, true love is said to, “hate what is evil,” (Rom. 12:9).  Remember, it was God’s wrath toward sin that Jesus incurred on the cross, and it is God’s wrath against sin that He saves us from (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thes. 1:10).  In all this it is clear that God is not indifferent toward sin, and certainly does not OK or excuse sin in any form.

Also, when Jesus shares of God’s outlandish and astounding grace and forgiveness toward sinners (which is, as you point out, part of the gospel), there is always an element of repentance (turning from sin) on the part of the sinner (see Luke 15, for instance).  The ones who are careless about their sins, or even celebrate these sins, however, are condemned (e.g. Luke 18:9-14; John 9:41).  And this same theme is repeated throughout the N.T. where we are told that those who persist in sins are not considered part of God’s redeemed (1 Cor. 6:9-10; John 3:6; Gal. 5:19-22; Heb. 10:26-27; etc.).  Any gospel that takes lightly the heinousness of sins has forgotten the cross.

This raises a second concern I have in your letter…How do we know what sin is?  How do we know what pleases God?  You say that Jesus trumped the regulations of Leviticus, and so it is not the written word (like Leviticus) that holds authority, but the living word (Jesus) who is the ultimate authority.  Thus, in your reasoning, Jesus (and not the Bible) would reveal what is sin and what pleases the Father.  The problem with this reasoning is that Jesus gives absolute authority to the Scriptures, even Leviticus, and sees Himself in perfect union with these Scriptures.  He calls Scripture, “God’s word,” (John 10:35), and says that He came to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17).  To Him, the religious leaders of His day err because they have not understood God’s Scriptures rightly (Matt. 22:29), and don’t take His words serious enough (Matt. 23:24; Mark 7:1-13; John 5:39-40, 46-47).  Jesus appeals to the Scriptures as His ultimate authority (e.g. Matt. 4:3-11; 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:29, 31; etc.), and teaches His followers to follow this same example (Matt. 28:19-20).  He even quotes Leviticus as binding to His disciples when He teaches, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matt. 22:39, quoting from Lev. 19:18)—note, by the way, that He quoted a passage sandwiched between the two Leviticus chapters addressing homosexuality (see Lev. 18:22; 20:13).  In all this, it seems clear that Jesus believes the Scriptures to be authoritative and binding (including Leviticus).  Thus, according to God’s living Word (Jesus), we know sin by God revealing it through His written word (the Bible).

This means that if we are indifferent, or even celebrate, what Jesus/God has condemned as sin in His word, we should be terrified that we have under-valued Jesus’ torturous crucifixion and have forsaken His offer of reconciliation.  As Heb. 10:26-27 says: “If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”

In saying all of this, I am not belittling God’s grace…on the contrary, I’m trying to esteem God’s grace to its rightfully high position.  By God’s costly grace, Jesus received sin’s terrible and devastating punishment on the cross—for me and the homosexual—and the more I see the depth of this sin, the more I am amazed at how much He paid to forgive it.  By God’s costly grace I have been given a new and undeserved life, which teaches me to say, “no to ungodliness” (Titus 2:12)—even to sins that used to ensnare me (see Rom. 6-8).  And finally, by God’s costly grace, I’m brought to tears of deep gratitude that He forgave the deep sins that resided (and still live) in my heart…as well as tears of agony that my sin pains the Father so much!  So I ask, how can anyone who knows such grace be OK with their sin?

I hope the reader will hear my heart on all of this.  I don’t write this to “slam” Noahdavid or others who have said similar things, and I don’t write this to take a stance on what Hope should/shouldn’t do.  Instead, I write this to help inform on the subject, and, ultimately, I write this in the hope that it may be used to magnify the gospel of Jesus—a gospel, as shown above, that simultaneously hates sin AND offers forgiveness and grace.

Lastly, Noahdavid, if you desire to discuss this more in a private context, feel free to call or email me with the contact info I sent you.

Love in Christ,

Brian Holda (’06 Hope Alum)