On The Edge
Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 7)

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 7)

April 21, 2019

What was it like to be there, eye-witness to the weekend that changed the world?

What must it have been like to be the apostle John, watching Jesus ensure the care of His mother even as He secured the redemption of the world?

What must have raced through Peter's heart as he sprinted toward Jesus' tomb to verify the report that the body was gone and the Roman guard were nowhere in sight?

After the despair of Saturday, the next day dawned with glorious hope for humanity, and glorious hope for you. "Now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

In these eternally pivotal events -- Christ's cross and His resurrection -- hope bursts forth like the dawn. Through His death Jesus blasted through the sin barrier that held people at bay from God. Through His resurrection He abolished death itself. It is God's power-packed one-two punch that deals the death blow to all of hell's schemes for humanity, and for you.

This hub of history -- the God-Man's death and defiance of death -- is also the apex of history. As Michael Card sang, "Love crucified arose!" Our sacrificed Savior is forever our living Lord.

This composite saving act of God in history changes everything. All our hopes are rooted in these two historically verifiable acts which comprise God's completed saving activity.

Today, you have a living hope. And it's all because, in Jerusalem, there's an empty tomb. Peter said, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3). When Jesus burst out of that tomb, your destiny and mine took a sharp turn upward. Our chains fell off! Death no longer gets the final word. His resurrection guarantees ours. "Because I live," Jesus promised, "you will live also" (John 14:19).

"Death could not keep its prey --
Jesus my Savior
He tore the bars away -- 
Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose!
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes
He arose the victor from the dark domain
And He lives forever with His saints to reign
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!"
(Robert Lowry)

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 6)

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 6)

April 20, 2019

What gets you through the toughest patches of life? The darkest day of the disciples' lives had to be that Saturday when the tortured body of Jesus laid lifeless in the tomb. But, thank God, the story doesn't end there.

The gospel story -- the story of a crucified AND a risen Redeemer -- will get you through life's darkest hours. As a young boy who responded to Jesus' call I thought, "There's nothing like the gospel." As a broken-hearted teenager whose dad had just died I realized, "Nothing brings hope like the gospel." Through college and seminary as I surveyed the world's philosophies and religions I saw even more clearly that nothing compares to the gospel. As a young preacher with high hopes and vast vision my heart pulsated, "Nothing calls for my allegiance like the gospel." Now, in my late sixties as long-standing friends are dying and mortality shoves me toward eternity, I am more convinced than ever -- there's nothing like the gospel!

"I love to tell the story of unseen things above
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love
I love to tell the story because I know 'tis true
It satisfies my longing as nothing else can do"
(A. Catherine Hanney)

This old, old story is ever new. It's timeless. It is relevant to every generation, every culture, every person. The eminent Bible expositor, Martin Lloyd-Jones, described the gospel as "the most interesting, the most thrilling, the most absorbing subject in the universe." No wonder even angels are fixated and fascinated by the gospel. This matchless message vouchsafes "things which angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:12).

Today requires faith. On the weekend that changed the world, this was the day pressed between a ghastly crucifixion and a glorious resurrection. I urge you to look into this Good News today. And look to the One this Good News is all about. One faith-filled look at Him changes everything.

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 5)

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 5)

April 19, 2019

After preaching some years ago in Bristol, my host invited me to visit "Toplady's Rock," not far away in the beautiful English countryside.

The story is often told that Rev. Augustus Toplady took refuge from a sudden thunderstorm in the crevice of a large rock at Burrington Coomb in southern England. After the storm had passed, according to the story, Toplady was inspred to pen some of the most familiar words in all English hymnody. Whatever the hymn's origins, potent theology is in every line:

"Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 
Let me hide myself in Thee
Let the water and the blood 
From Thy wounded side which flowed
Be for sin the double cure
Save from wrath and make me pure."

Toplady saw Christ's sacrifice as the "double cure" for our greatest needs before God -- deliverance from His judgment of sin and deliverance from sin's power in our lives. Therefore, he appealed to Christ's sacrifice to "save from wrath and make me pure."

"Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law's demands
Could my zeal no respite know
Could my tears forever flow
These for sin could not atone
Thou must save
And Thou alone"

We acknowledge our abject inability to attain righteousness by our own merits and fulfill God's righteous demands. Christ, and Christ alone, can save us. That day as I wedged my body into the cleft of Toplady's Rock, I was reminded vividly that believers in Christ have a strong, safe refuge from judgment in the riven side of our Savior, the Rock of Ages who was "cleft for us."

The glory of the gospel is encapsulated in Jesus' pronouncement from the cross, "It is finished!" (John 19:30). This phrase is a single word in the original Greek language of the New Testament -- "tetelestai." It simply means, "Paid in full!" "This Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12). Mission accomplished! This was not a cry of agony; it was a shout of victory. God's justice had been satisfied.

Religions other than biblical Christianity start with "do" and "don't." Our faith begins with DONE! All that was necessary to bring us back to God and make us righteous in His sight was accomplished completely and forever through Christ's sacrifice in our behalf. God's torrential judgment against sin was fully satisfied.

And it's this Good News and Christ great sacrifice that make today Good Friday.

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 4)

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 4)

April 18, 2019

What adjective is sufficient to describe God's favor toward us, His work in our behalf, and His enablement in our lives?

Scan the dictionary and one of the best of admittedly limited options to more fully describe God's grace is, it's just -- amazing.

Most religions teach moral rectiitude. But what separates Christianity from all other religions is our message -- this good news of salvation and restoration through Jesus. The gospel announces the joyful news that righteousness is not man's achievement. Rather, God's own righteousness is placed on us and in us through Christ's redeeming work. As a result, believers are loosed into "the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21).

There are subjects in the Scriptures that challenge the intellect and are hard to understand. But the gospel is not one of those subjects. The gospel is clear. However, it takes the revealing ministry of the Holy Spirit for hearts and minds darkened by sin to truly comprehend it.

The Good News of the gospel is that God takes the initiative to close the gap between rebellious humanity and Himself. He sent His Son to literally take our place. This is what theologians call substitutionary atonement. Our willful rebellion made us fully deserving of God's wrant and judgment. Jesus intervened; His blood was the sacrifice God accepted tor emove our guilt. "When we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly... God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6, 8).

The star of this story is Jesus Christ. The gospel is "concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:3). We're not saved merely because we gave our lives to Jesus; we are saved because Jesus gave His life for us. It's all about Jesus, the soul-saving, death-destroying, life-giving, freedom-granting, kingdom-conquering, eternal Son of God.

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On this Maunday Thursday, let's share this message with others. Also, you can access these Holy Week Reflections as podcasts at

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 3)

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 3)

April 17, 2019

What is the most powerful substance in the world?

Is the most powerful entity in the world nuclear energy or some other colossal force? No, the most powerful entity in the world is the blood of Jesus. By His stripes we're healed. His blood atones for our transgressions. It counters and defeats every hellish scheme.

Not only are we protected from the devil by Jesus' blood, we're also protected against God's wrath when He will judge the world for its sin. We're protected from God's judgment in the same way the ancient Children of Israel were protected on that first Passover night when the Lord brought judgment on the land's idolatry.

God provided a way for His people to be protected by applying the blood of an innocent lamb to the doorposts of their dwellings. Then the Lord promised, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you" (Exodus 12:13). The blood applied to the top of the door and on each side reminds us in a very pronounced way that we are protected under the New Covenant by our Lord's wounds on the cross.

The analogy here is so awesome we need to pause and learn from that epochal night. Think of what any Hebrew mother must have experienced that night. Earlier that day, along with her husband, she had applied the blood of the innocent lamb to the doorposts of their dwelling. She might not have understood the theological implications, but she obeyed God's directive. By faith they received the promise that God's judgment would pass over them because they were now protected by the blood.

But as Hebrew mothers held their firstborn sons that night, they started to hear agonized shrieks from Egyptian mothers as death hit every home without the blood. Nationwide, Egyptian firstborn boys were inexplicably dying. Now, if you were in the place of those Hebrew mothers, how would you have reacted?

I'm sure there were strong, spiritual women who remained perfectly calm. But let's get real. No doubt there were other Hebrew mothers who were frozen with fear as the wails of grief grew louder by the minute.

But here's the point -- and it's a big one. Those frightened Hebrew mothers and their sons were just as safe as the saintly, serene mothers and their sons that night. Why? Because their safety did not rest in the level of their faith. Their safety was in the power of the blood!

In the same way our protection from God's wrath does not rest in what we have done but in what He has done. Even if our faith may seem weak, we "apply the blood" to our lives, where we live, and we too experience God's saving grace. Our salvation does not rest in the strength of our faith but in the sufficiency of His sacrifice.

As Andrae Crouch reminded us, 
"The blood that Jesus shed for me
Way back on Calvary
The blood that gives me strength
From day to day
It will never lose its power"

It's time to reflect: Jesus died for you. It's time to rejoice: Jesus defeated death!

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As the Lord leads you, please share this Good News with others. You can access these Reflections as podcasts at www.informedradio.org.

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 2)

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 2)

April 16, 2019

What can one look do?

Just ask Charles. He was hounded by despair. Although he was raised in a churchgoing family, he was in deep turmoil of soul, gripped by guilt and anxiety. Peace eluded him. Desperate to find an answer, this young seeker braved a blizzard to get to church, and hopefully get to God and peace.

Unable to reach the church he usually attended because of the severe weather, fifteen-year-old Charles ducked into a small Primitive Methodist chapel. There were just eight people in attendance, all huddled around a coal-burning stove. The bitter conditions had even kept the pastor away. But a simple, short unpacking of the best news Charles had ever heard would soon be delivered by an unsung hero.

In the pastor's absence an untrained blacksmith stood to speak. He read Isaiah 45:22, "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!" Pointing his bony finger at the anguished young man he cried, "Look, young man! Look! Look to Christ!"

That pivotal night Charles heard the gist of the gospel: Look away from yourself. Look away from your sin. Look to Christ! Look and live! And on that snowy night young Charles Spurgeon looked in faith to God's crucified, risen Son.

That blacksmith's one convert from his one short sermon soon started preaching himself to throngs of people. Charles Spurgeon's gospel-anchored ministry shook London and the world for the next four decades.

There's another story about the power of a look in the Old Testament. The Children of Israel had rebelled against the one true God. As a result, venomous snakes began to attack the people. They were dying in droves. Moses interceded before God in behalf of the people. "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it shall live'" (Numbers 21:8). This symbol of a snake wrapped around a pole remains the emblem of the medical community today. It reminds the needy that there is hope and healing.

The snake on the pole is a vivid illustration that "[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). The pole represents the Cross of Christ. Jesus said, "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:14-16, NIV).

When John the Baptist announced Jesus arrival, he said,"Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29, NLT).

Have you looked to the Lamb of God who took your sin? That look changes everything.

"If you from sin are longing to be free
Look to the Lamb of God
He to redeem you died on Calvary
Look to the Lamb of God"
(H. G. Jackson)

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In this Holy Week, let's share this Good News with others. You can also hear these Holy Week Reflections as a podcast at www.informedradio.com.

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 1)

Holy Week Reflections with David Shibley (Day 1)

April 15, 2019

Why do Christians make such an emphasis on the Cross?

Almost every religion has high regard for Jesus. But whether or not He is the one and only redeemer -- or if humans even need a redeemer -- is where biblical Christianity parts company with every other faith.

The Cross of Jesus Christ is the central abrasive issue. Other religions leave no room for a chosen Savior who experiences the full weight of the world's transgressions. By contrast, this cross -- this sacrifice -- that is so repugnant to others is attractive and precious to us who believe. It is at the same time the ultimate tragedy and the ultimate triumph. As Ravi Zacharias observes, "This is the moment toward which all of history had been moving, and by which history would be forever defined."

Those who wish to escape Jesus and His Cross find He is too colossal to evade. Whether or not people believe in Him, they are compelled to deal with Him. Our rebellion against God and His rule was dealt with at the Cross. God has always been angry at rebellion -- at sin -- because He knows defiance against His loving rulre spells destruction, dismay, and death. So God poured out His wrath against sin. That wrath should have fallen on me -- and on you. Instead God poured out His fury against sin on His Son. "This is real love -- not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10, NLT). That sacrifice happened on the cross.

It is this towering God in flesh who magnetically elicits our worship. How can we begin to describe the majesty of Jesus? He's the poet's greatest theme, the composer's sweetest music, the sinner's dearest friend. To the weary, He is wonderful; to the confused, counselor; to the weak, He is mighty God, to the orphaned, everlasting Father, to the distressed, Prince of Peace. In His life, He is humanity's only perfection; in His death, humanity's only Savior; in His resurrection, humanity's only hope.

"King of my life, I crown Thee now
Thine shall the glory be
Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow
Lead me to Calvary
Lest I forget Gethsemane
Lest I forget Thine agony
Lest I forget Thy love for me
Lead me to Calvary."
(Jennie E. Hussey)

It's time tor reflect: Jesus died for you. It's time to rejoice: Jesus defeated death.

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And it's also time to share this Good News! I encourage you to share these Reflections. Also, you can access Holy Week Reflectionsthese as a podcast at www.informedradio.org.