Jesus – the best Chess Player in the World!

Timeless Chess Set - Chess Set - Chess-House

Ever since 7th grade I have loved playing chess, and for many reasons. Here is one: I would rather stalemate than lose. But not Jesus: he purposely lost the game so that we would both win. Let me explain, if I can:

In the game of Chess,  a stalemate occurs when one player gets the others’ king in a position where everywhere the king tries to move he puts himself in check,  or, “line of fire” and that’s illegal.  If this happens it is because there are no other pieces for the player with the stalled king to move – they’re all taken or blocked and it’s his turn to move but he can’t.  And since the attacking opponent cannot move until his opponent does – which he can’t,  the game is stalemate.  Why?  Because neither party has the authority or power to move.  Neither party,  by rules of the game,  can overcome the stalemate.

Jesus lamented over the Jews saying,  “O Jerusalem,  Jerusalem,  the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together,  as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,  but you were not willing.  See!  Your house is left to you desolate”  (Matthew 23:37-38).  Israel is unwilling to make a move toward her Messiah and Jesus can’t move toward her to rescue her because she is unwilling.  Jesus wants to save her but he can’t because she does not want to be saved – thus, there is a stalemate!  Neither party can do anything.   Neither party is getting what they want.  Israel is not getting what she wants,  her Messiah,  because she is not willing to come to Jesus,  the only Messiah for Israel;  and Jesus is not getting what he wants,  his Jewish Remnant,  because he is not willing to do anything more than to wait and hope.   If Israel is to be saved,  someone must be willing and have the authority to break out of the stalemate.

A student of Matthew’s gospel may object to the sincerity of Jesus’ desire to save Israel since Jesus was the one who hid the truth from them by speaking in parables,  insuring that judgment would fall upon them as Isaiah foretold (Matthew 13:10-15;  Luke 8:10).  But God’s Divine initiative to judge his people with spiritual blindness because of their sin does not invalidate His desire to save them.  God can be both severe and desirous at the same time.  But this is no game!  We are not simply gazing at carved inanimate objects on a board;  we are staring with sorrow at generations of Jews,  millions and millions of them who have come under a severe blindness from God.  Our humble comfort is that it was not total and that it was not without a good purpose! (Romans 11:25).

More broadly speaking, if Jesus only offers himself and does nothing more for our unwilling hearts then everyone loses.  Someone has to be unwilling to suffer the stalemate any longer,  and this someone has to have the power and authority to break position.  The question is:  Who is this someone?  The answer is Jesus! “. . . For not all (physical) Israel belong to (spiritual) Israel”, and, “And in this way all Israel will be saved”, that is, both Jew and Gentile who have been chosen by God (Romans 9:6ff; 11:26-27).  It is true,  no one will see Jesus as the Messiah unless the Father causes you to see who Jesus is (Matthew 11:27; 16:17).  In order for anyone to see Jesus as her Messiah he must be made to see with new eyes.  This is where the stalemate ends – and it ends with God who refuses to be resisted any longer (Romans 9:19-24).  For everyone, both Jew and Gentile, our only hope is God’s sovereign initiative to give us a willing heart,  without which,  no one has any ability or desire to do what they need to do (Deut. 30:6;  Jer. 31:33-34; 33:19-26; John 6:37ff).

I said earlier that Jesus can’t do anything but hope and wait.  That would be true if Jesus was not sovereign and merciful.  It would be perfectly just of Jesus to only offer himself to people who are unwilling – but that’s the problem,  sinners will always be unwilling.  But it would be merciful if he would “break position”  and “pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication;  then they will look on Me whom they pierced.  Yes,  they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son,  and grieve for him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zech. 12:10).  The Stalemate Is Canceled By Sovereign Grace!  It is gracious indeed for God to offer salvation to unwilling sinners (Romans 10:21).  But it is Sovereign Grace that goes beyond the mere offer (Romans 11:27) that makes unwilling sinners willing (John 6:37ff; 10:16, 26-30; 17:1-10)!

I’m so thankful that Jesus cleverly overcame a stalemate that would have cost me my eternal soul . . . he out-maneuvered my rebellion against him and graciously won the game on my behalf by losing his life so that I could live. It’s a win-win!

One of My Favorite quotes of Charles Spurgeon

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Charles Spurgeon – 1834-1892

“When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul – when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron. One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher’s sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, “How did you come to be a Christian?” I sought the Lord. “But how did you come to seek the Lord?” The truth flashed across my mind in a moment – I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then asked myself, “How came I to pray?” I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. “How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so?” Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change wholly to God.” I know nothing, nothing again that is more humbling than this doctrine of election. I have sometimes fallen prostrate before it when endeavoring to understand it. But, when I came near it, and the one thought possessed me – ‘God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation’ – I was staggered with the mighty thought; and from the dizzy elevation down came my soul, prostrate and broken, saying, ‘Lord,  I am nothing, I am less than nothing. Why me? Why me?”


Why you need a good dose of Grace today.


This 8 ft. banner hangs in our church as a reminder, a motto, a mission and purpose statement: Everything to the Praise of the Glory of His Grace.

Where did we get this overarching theme? From heaven itself!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory . . . and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:6-7)

Why is it such good news to believe that the reason why we are saved is to display how gracious God is?


  1. You need to know that your salvation is not nearly as precious as God’s grace is.
  2. You need to know that your life has never been about you, it’s always been about displaying how gracious God is.
  3. You need to be comforted in knowing that every suffering in this life will one day be swallowed up in ecstasy and praise. Notice the future tense – “so that in the coming ages he might show . . .” One day, God is going to show you the infinite wisdom of his ways.
  4. You need assurance that he will “unite all things in heaven and on earth” to further your enjoyment of his grace in your life. Everything, all causes of both joy and sorrow will be brought to bear upon how gracious God is to you in Christ. Not one tear drop or pleasurable moment watching a sunrise will be lost. Everything is yours in Christ!
  5. You need a solid foundation from which to live for Christ. The promise of Grace precedes and is the basis for obedience (chapters 4-6 of Ephesians).
  6. You need to know that the ultimate reason why you’re on your way to eternal joy of the Lord is because of grace – a grace that preceded and caused your destiny. This means that no future sin can derail what grace has purposed.
  7. Finally, your enjoyment of Christ and all that you have in him will not be experienced alone or in a corner. Every pronoun used in this passage is plural; the Church is made up of every kind of person, every language, every people group, every class and caste of society, and every time period since Adam and Eve to the last martyr in Revelation. One day, the whole Universe will be filled with sinners saved by grace, enjoying all that they have in Christ.

Believe these things and all of this life’s troubles begin to take their proper small place.



“The Doctrine of Election Saved Me From Depression”

An encouraging post by Jimmy Needham at Desiring God Ministries – Enjoy!

“A.W. Tozer wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

For many years, what immediately came into my mind when I thought about God crippled me. Depression was a constant companion. Fear about the genuineness of my conversion haunted me like a ghost. I couldn’t see it at the time, but my feelings were symptoms of my misguided theology. God was small. Worse than that, he was weak. Worse even still, he was fickle in his love toward me. It led me into despair.

About five years ago, as I spent more time in the Bible, I began to see a bigger vision of God. He was not only big and strong, but merciful and steadfast in his love toward me. It changed everything. My depression started to unravel before my eyes, and I rediscovered joy in God.

My understanding of God’s sovereignty in suffering, evangelism, and salvation underwent the greatest and most needed change. For years now, this big God theology has proven to be an antidote for despair. I can’t help but think that there are some reading this right now who have been searching for that kind of comfort, freedom, and stability.

Joy in Our Suffering

The mother of my wife’s childhood friend died in a collision with an eighteen-wheeler. It was the truck driver’s fault. At the funeral, the officiating pastor offered these chilling words for her family and friends: “That truck driver robbed this woman of the long life that God intended for her to live.” The pastor meant to comfort them, but that commentary is anything but comforting.

What a nightmare to think that the plans and purposes of God can be undermined by any careless, distracted trucker at a busy intersection. When we believe this line of thinking, we make God into an absent-minded, fumbling security guard. If he had only looked up from the newspaper in time, he could’ve stopped the burglars from making off with the company’s goods. An even worse accusation might be that God simply lacked the power or authority to prevent the tragedy, even if he wanted to.

The truth is that our God is perfectly in control of all things — of our best days and our worst days, our best moments and our worst. Lamentations 3:37–38 rhetorically asks, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?”

The only truth that can still and strengthen our hearts when we suffer is the truth that our good, kind, and all-powerful heavenly Father is permitting our temporary pain for a short time to bring about our everlasting pleasure in him. When we suffer, we can remind ourselves: In Christ, all of my pain is infused with God-wrought purpose and meaning (Romans 8:28). God towers bigger and far above the blazing hot sun of our suffering. And we do well to rest in the cool of his shadow.

Election Electrifies Evangelism

In college, I was an evangelism zealot. Everywhere I went, I was handing out tracts and telling people the good news. I was also miserable, exhausted, and terrified that I wasn’t doing enough to reach the lost or please the Lord.

There’s a misguided sense among many Christians that one cannot simultaneously affirm the electing sovereignty of God and have an urgent, mobilizing passion for evangelism. That view changed entirely for me as I sat with Paul’s second letter to Timothy. From prison, he writes to his son in the faith, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).

Paul felt zero tension between the doctrine of election and desire to win the lost. For Paul, God’s electing love didn’t squash his passion for gospel-proclamation; it motivated it! Imagine for a moment: You’ve been given the inside scoop by God that no matter what people group you visited, no matter what distant island you sailed to, you were promised there would be people there who would eventually respond to your message about Jesus. O, how this would awaken an excitement to go and tell, to see some respond everywhere you went, fulfilling God’s unbelievable promise.

This is the very reality we find at the end of the Bible:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9–10)

I have never had as much God-glorifying drive to win the lost as when I finally began believing that it was not ultimately up to me to win them in the first place, when I realized that salvation was God’s project from beginning to end — promised, purchased, and accomplished.

Blessed Assurance

If ever there was an enemy of our joy in God, it is the sneaking suspicion that we aren’t secure in his saving grasp of grace. I’ve spent many years and reams of paper trying to trace my depression and anxiety back to their roots, and it led me finally to this: I was unsure whether I was firmly in the grip of God.

How many of us, if we’re honest, are struck with terror at that thought? What a relief it would be to our hearts if we knew that eternal security was real, that our adoption could not be reversed, that salvation was never ultimately contingent on our efforts but on Christ’s? It’s all true for those who believe. Perhaps the greatest by-product of a belief in a big, sovereign, choosing, decisive Savior is that we are liberated from the fear of a fickle Father.

If your faith is placed firmly in Christ, take time to rejoice in this today: Jesus has chosen you (John 15:16). You’re name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20). You have been transferred into Christ’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13). And no one is able to snatch you from God’s grip (John 10:28–29), because you are his child now and forever (Romans 8:16).

What you think about when you think about God is the most important thing about you. The bigger and more biblical our ideas of God are, the bigger our joy will become.”

My Dad Reads Romans 8:28-39

A few weeks ago, I asked mom to record dad reading this section of Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome. Watch and listen, then I’ll tell you why I wanted this as a keepsake.

There is a reason why the sufferings of this present life could separate you from God’s love: you would quit loving the one who causes the suffering. How then can Paul be so persuaded that not even God-imposed sufferings will destroy the relationship that we have in Christ? When I see the sufferings of what my mom and dad are going through, what then, explains their year-after-year, trial-after-trial, pursuit of the Lord? The answer to this question is why I will forever cherish what God the Father has done through his Son, Jesus Christ. Let’s break this down:

vs. 28  It is to the “called/those who love God” who are promised that the sufferings you go through have an ultimate purpose to make you like Christ. Nothing is by chance.

vs. 29  Those who are called are also the foreknown. This is equivalent to being “chosen, set apart, and loved in advance” (Gen. 4:1; Jer. 1:5; Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:20). Foreknown does not mean foresight of the future. It means chosen to be loved in the future – something is being done to you, not merely seen about you. The aim is to make all those who were called in the past like Christ, so that Jesus will rank the highest, become “firstborn” – among all those that he becomes united to.

vs. 30 All those that were predestined (notice past tense and a done deal) to become like Christ, is the same group of sinners that were called. This calling is not an external call that results in nothing. It is the kind of call that always produces justification/salvation. It’s the kind of call that raises you from being dead in sin (John 6:37, 44; 10:16; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 4:6). It’s the kind of call that overpowers all resistance to Jesus Christ. Why? Because all the called are justified, that is, saved. This is why Paul is silent on mentioning faith. Not that faith is absent (it logically falls between calling and justification), but that faith can’t be what was foreseen (even if foreknown means that; which it doesn’t). Why not? Because there was no faith to see apart from the calling that always produces justification. If God saw anything in the future it was his own calling, raising you, bringing life into you so that you would have the faith that always produces justification. And, all those who are declared righteous are glorified (a done deal in the past that guarantees the future result).

vs. 31-39 What shall we say to “these things”?

  1. God the Father has always been for, not against my mom and dad.
  2. If God the Father gave his Son to my mom and dad, then everything else is chump-change from there on out.
  3. No accusation will ever be successfully sustained against the elect, God’s chosen. God’s courtroom is sealed: It is God who justifies and no one can revoke his action.
  4. No one can look at my mom and dad’s sins, and say, “you should be condemned.” Why not, because Jesus was condemned in their place.
  5. Jesus is now interceding, that is, he is now in the position with the authority, to make sure that what was forged in eternity past will come to fruition. Jesus will not lose a single soul for which he suffered and died for (John 17:9, 12).
  6. The end result: nothing will ever separate the elect from the love of God which is manifestly displayed and guaranteed in Christ Jesus. And just in case someone might think that there is at least “something” that could unravel these promises, Paul interjects “nor anything else in creation” – to put a lid on it.

This is why the reading of this portion of Scripture will forever hang like a precious locket around my neck. Jesus paid it all for all that the Father gave to him (John 10:14-16, 25-30; 17:2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 24).