Friday, April 30, 2010

The Coming Final Persecution by Steve Lawson

Video clip: Very sobering message by Steve Lawson on The Coming Final Persecution.
If you can't see the media player, click on the post title.

Download MP3 here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Gospel - Kirk Wellum

What is the "gospel" and do those who talk about it really understand it and represent it properly? The "gospel" is one of those terms that is bandied around today just like "born again" was not so many years ago. Back then, everyone was "born again," until the term was so abused that it became almost meaningless. Today everything is about the "gospel" and it has become the latest buzzword that identifies the orthodox.

But what does the word mean? "Gospel" comes from the Old English godspel or "good news." It in turn is a translation of the Latin bona adnuntiatio, which is a translation of the Greek word euangelion. In biblical terms the good news is about what God has done in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to save sinners. It is about the sovereign yet loving, powerful yet tender, objective yet intensely personal work of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to bring human beings out of a state of lost alienation and into a state of divine acceptance and peace. The gospel is about what God has done and it calls for a response from all who hear it - a response of repentance and faith.

The gospel is not a slogan, nor should it be part of a marketing strategy. The gospel belongs to God. He is the one who planned it, who accomplished it and who applies it to the lives of his people. No one group has a corner on the gospel, it is bigger than any human organization, and it will stubbornly resist the efforts of ambitious people to co-opt for their own ends. Today it is important to recognize that many things get mixed up with the gospel that really have nothing to do with its essential meaning and significance. Cultural baggage and denominational hangups can get in the way of the faith that the Lord has entrusted to his people. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using the term as long as we have the wisdom to know what is gospel and what is not, what is essential and what is incidental.

As always scripture itself must guide our understanding and when it comes to the gospel Paul's words in Romans 1:16-17 are indispensable - "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. for in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed--a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'" Every lost son and daughter of Adam should be thankful for the gospel, and those who have known it's power should be determined to make sure it is clearly understood and not confused with anything else.

Kirk Wellum is the Principal of Toronto Baptist Seminary

Defensive People Are Prideful

Defensiveness is a sign of pride and immaturity.

One of the dictionary definitions for a barometer is that it is “an indicator’. So any time we sense defensiveness in ourselves or in others it is a barometer indicating pride or immaturity.
  • You cannot become defensive if you are going to exhibit humility and Christ-likeness.
  • You cannot become defensive if you are going to be teachable and taught by the Lord.
  • You cannot be defensive if pastors, elders, and other believers are to have their proper place in our spiritual growth.
An honest and valid question: Am I a defensive person?

If we get defensive when others point something out in our lives, then we are still immature to some extent.
  • Defensiveness is rooted in pride and prejudice. Not being willing to be corrected is defensiveness rooted in pride.
  • Defensiveness rears it’s ugly head when anyone touches a nerve in my soul, possibly exposing that I could be wrong about something.
  • Defensiveness is that feeling I get when anyone challenges me on something, possibly exposing that I have blind spots that they see that I don’t see.
  • Defensiveness shows itself in touchiness when anyone disagrees with me in any way.
  • If I am defensive, pride is raising it’s head in me.
  • If I am defensive. I still think that I know better than anyone who disagrees with me.
  • If I am defensive, I still am, to some real degree, unteachable.
  • If I am defensive, I am revealing an inner attitude that I could not be wrong.
  • If another Christian or one of my pastors, comes to me to share something they feel is a need in my life, do I respond with defensiveness or do I quietly listen, truly hear what they are saying and make sure I understand it and to thank them for coming, and then examine myself before the Lord to receive what He wants for me?
  • If I do, that is maturity and Christ-likeness.
How I respond at those times will make all the difference between real growth and change or not.
  • If I am defensive when another brother or sister in Christ says something I don’t agree with, I am showing that I am still trying to live like an island, separating myself from the body, asserting my carnal independence from the body, and thus from the head as well.
  • Defensiveness is so ingrained in us, it’s almost like breathing. We exhibit it even when we don’t know it. If we get challenged, corrected or rebuked, it is ugly and immaturity in action and pride holding forth it’s inglorious presence.
  • When I am defensive, I am far from being like the Lord Jesus right then.
May God save me from this wicked and ongoing evil.

Jesus was never defensive one time in His life, not even once. and He is calling me to put it off, die to self daily and become defenseless, with all my defense being in Him alone.

Written by Mack Tomlinson

Defensive People Are Prideful by Mack Tomlinson

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Plowing, Sowing, Reaping

“Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” -Matthew 13:1-9 (NKJV)

From The Desk of Pastor Ron Bridge, Rehoboth Baptist Church

How many of us long to see revival? During the Great Awakening in the 18th century it is estimated that about 50,000 people joined the churches during a 5 year period. Considering the size of the population of some 3 million that was a remarkable percentage, perhaps the equivalent of 6 million conversions today. It had a tremendous impact on the nation. Schools were started, hospitals built, the national conscience was awakened, the first efforts to eliminate slavery were begun, and crime rates fell dramatically. What kind of impact would such a revival have on the nation today? It would mean the construction of 43,000 churches the size of RBC. Apportioning them according to population, some 3100 churches would need to be built in New England. That would be a sight! Even the secular world would have to take notice.

We live in a society where those kind of results would be appreciated, a society in which instant gratification is demanded. People do not want to wait for things - that’s why credit card debt is so high. People are not willing to spend the time required to save up until they have the money to pay cash. They want the results but not the effort. The church is not immune from this mindset and so it eagerly adopts methods that promise quick results. Many pastors feel inadequate by the apparent success of the mega churches and decide to adopt some of the same techniques - they rarely work. Or they appear to work but with questionable results. A great deal of modern revivalism yields a very mixed harvest.

How was the Great Awakening brought about? By long years of faithful prayer and the faithful preaching of a few good men. Listen to Lloyd-Jones: I affirm that much of the modern approach with its techniques and methods is unnecessary if we really believe in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and His application of God’s message...Should we not concentrate more, as the church has done through the centuries, upon praying for, and laying the basis of Christian instruction for revival as it is described in the Bible?

The most prominent names of the Great Awakening are Edwards, Whitefield, Gilbert Tennant and Samuel Davies. But, in many respects these were just the most visible of those involved - they were the reapers of the harvest. But before a man can reap what has to happen? Plowing and sowing. The story is told of one Congregational minister in a town near Hartford who had preached the gospel for 20 years without a single conversion. Whitefield preached and 50 people came to Christ in the next two weeks, over 100 in 3 months. Other stories are told of men who preached faithfully only to retire from the ministry after a life in which very few were converted, or even die without seeing the fruits of their labor. Then, one of the more well known preachers arrived in town for a week of meetings and half the population come under biblical conviction. The Great Awakening was a rich harvest, but the groundwork was done over a period of almost half a century prior to the harvest.

Christians were plowing - breaking up the hard ground by their prayers and the consistent preaching of the word. They faithfully tilled the soil and sowed the seed - and in His time God gave the increase (1 Cor. 3:5-8).

Plowing: 1 Cor. 9:10

* Plowing is hard work, one does not plow a field in an hour, it requires perseverance. Paul could have used another illustration but chose one which implies labor.

* Plowing is to be done in the hope of an eventual harvest which also implies that patience is an important part - it does not happen quickly - plowing is only the first step.

* Plowing illustrates the labor of the gospel - prayer and preaching.

Sowing: Isa. 55:10-11; Mark 4:14; 2 Cor. 9:6-10

* The word of God is to be sowed liberally, not sparingly. If Christians do not pray and do not preach, the harvest will be lean. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:14-15).

Reaping: John 4:35-38; Psalm 126:6; Gal. 6:9

* It is not just the reaper who enjoys the harvest, he is a partner with the ones who went before him.

* Reaping is as much hard work as plowing and sowing.

* And results in great joy.

Before we reap we must be willing to plow and then to sow. Are we willing?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blessed Are Ye

"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:10).

This must have been a strange saying to those who were looking for immediate glory, or a reign of peace. But the Lord plainly sets before His disciples what their position in this world will be: that the more distinct their likeness to Himself, the heavier their persecutions will become.

A Christian who is walking with the Lord seeks to maintain a conscience void of offense towards God and towards man. For example, in his career he may be offered an advancement if he will agree to do something which is not right. The offer may be a tempting one, but he refuses. Righteousness prevails, but he suffers for it. He is misunderstood, is called foolish, and may even lose his job. Still he can confidently say, "My present loss, under the righteous government of God, will prove to be my eternal gain." He has a clear conscience and a happy heart; he is drawn closer to the Lord in dependence on Him. Are there not many similar areas of daily life with varying degrees of right and wrong? Measure them all by a righteous standard, and seek to do the whole will of God in all things.

When the King returns from the far country, and calls His own servants around Him, what will it be to hear Him say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Matthew 25:21).

"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake" (Matthew 5:11).

Observe that this promise is directly personal. "Blessed are ye." Jesus is looking at the disciples around Him, and knowing what they would have to pass through, He speaks directly to their hearts. He makes them feel His personal interest in them, and their personal nearness to Himself.

Suffering for Christ's sake is the result of speaking about Him to others. Not merely a decided "no" when we are asked or enticed to do what is wrong, but an earnest heart that watches for every opportunity to speak about the blessed Lord and salvation. You may speak of religion in a general way, of preachers, of churches, of missions, of societies for doing good, and still be popular; but speak of the Lord Himself, of His precious blood, of the full assurance of salvation, of oneness with Him in heaven, of separation from the world, and you will greatly reduce the number of your friends.

Be prepared for this: as far as the enemy can gain power over you, you will be reviled and persecuted for His name's sake. It may be nothing more than cold rejection or a contemptuous sneer, but all of this was anticipated by the blessed Lord and graciously provided for. He thinks of everything. Believers are never dearer to His heart than when they are despised and suffering for His sake. "Blessed are ye" is His own sweet word of comfort to their hearts. Further, He tells them to "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:12).

--Condensed from Meditations on the Beatitudes by Andrew Miller.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Secret of Suffering

"For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:11-12).

Paul was in prison and what was his crime? Simply that he had preached the wonderful tidings of God's free offer of life and immortality through Christ. But instead of responding with joy, the world heaped shame and suffering and imprisonment upon the apostle and later killed him.

Dear fellow believer, let us not be deceived about the world. Its true character of enmity to God is clearly seen in its treatment of the apostle. It prefers its path of sin and Satan's power before God's glorious gospel. If the awful persecution of Christians that is going on in some parts of the world today has not spread worldwide, it is because God in His sovereign goodness is holding Satan's power in check.

Have you learned the secret of suffering as Paul did? By faith, he looked forward with confidence. He committed everything into the Lord's hands, and was not ashamed to suffer because he knew what the final outcome would be. It was not a doctrine that Paul had but a person. "I know whom I have believed"--the Person. Do you know Him? True Christianity is not a system of doctrines as other religions, but it is an intimate acquaintance with a Person--and what a glorious Person--One higher than all, who yet gave Himself for us. To know Him, and to commit all into His hands, is the secret of a happy life, however much one may suffer in outward circumstances or be mistreated by a world that hates Christ.

--Condensed from Readings & Meditations on Second Timothy by E.C. Hadley.

HT: Moments With The Book

Thursday, April 22, 2010

All That Matters Is Who God Is

Some great posts on The Gospel Coalition blog these past few days. Here's another.

The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty. Exodus 34:6-7

“Well, you say, but though God is able to help me, I fear that God is not willing to help me, and therefore I am discouraged. But be of good comfort, says the Lord, for my name is Merciful, and therefore I am willing to help you.

But you say, though the Lord is willing to help me, yet I am a poor unworthy creature and have nothing at all to move God to help me. Yet be of good comfort, for the Lord says again, My name is Gracious. I do not show mercy because you are good, but because I am good.

Oh, you say, but I have been sinning a long time, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years. If I had come to you long ago, I might have had mercy. But I have been sinning a long time, and therefore I fear there is no mercy for me. Yet, says the Lord, be of good comfort, for my name is Slow to anger...

Continue reading here.

Building a Better Earth Day by Kevin DeYoung

Today is Earth Day, the fortieth anniversary in fact. It’s hard for me to be excited.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible for Christians to celebrate Earth Day in the right way. I’m sure many do. We can thank God for the physical world, enjoy the beauty of creation, and think through ways to steward the earth God has put under our dominion.

But the official Earth Day movement rests on several debatable premises, like “the world is in greater peril than ever” and “climate change is the greatest challenge of our time.” More to the point, there are deep assumptions, unspoken assumptions, that too often provide the foundation for our basic thinking about the environment. And unless Christians are building on the right foundation, we will not think about environmental issues in ways that are most helpful and most biblical.

I’m going to assume that Christians understand the Creator-creation distinction, that they aren’t worshiping the earth or divinizing the creation. I imagine most Christians celebrating Earth Day do so because they believe God gave us the world as a gift and we should take good care of it. I don’t think any Christian would disagree with this motivation.

But there are a few other bricks to lay in the foundation of wise environmental stewardship. Let me mention three...

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Which Offering Really Matters? by Andrew Lisi

And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it. -Leviticus 22:21

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. -Hebrews 9:13-14
As part of my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan I must read Leviticus. It seems to me that whenever people talk about not understanding the OT they always say, “I just don’t get Leviticus.” I think that might be the only book of the OT most know about. I know plenty of Christians who have never read it and never really plan to. If the biblical world is foreign then Leviticus is Turkmenistan.

But as I was reading through today I came across Lev. 22:21 and immediately saw one of the countless threads rooted in that book of the Bible that’s woven throughout Scripture...

Continue reading here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Nature and Basis of Assurance

by A.W. Pink, Studies on Saving Faith Excerpted from two chapters: The Nature of Assurance & The Basis of Assurance

At the commencement of Matthew 5 we find the Lord Jesus pronouncing blessed a certain class of people. They are not named as "believers" or saints," but instead are described by their characters; and it is only by comparing ourselves and others with the description that the Lord Jesus there gave, that we are enabled to identify such. First, He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." To be "poor in spirit" is to have a feeling sense that in me, that is, in my flesh, "there dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18). It is the realization that 1 am utterly destitute of anything and everything which could commend me favorably to God’s notice. It is to recognize that I am a spiritual bankrupt. It is the consciousness, even now (not years ago, when I was first awakened), that I am without strength and wisdom, and that I am a helpless creature, completely dependent upon the grace and mercy of God. To be "poor in spirit" is the opposite of Laodiceanism, which consists of self-complacency and self-sufficiency, imagining I am "rich, and in need of nothing."

"Blessed are they that mourn." It is one thing to believe the theory that I am spiritually a poverty-stricken pauper, it is quite another to have an acute sense of it in my soul. Where the latter exists, there are deep exercises of heart, which evoke the bitter cry, "my leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!" (Isa. 24:16). There is deep anguish that there is so little growth in grace, so little fruit to God’s glory, such a wretched return made for His abounding goodness unto me. This is accompanied by an ever-deepening discovery of the depths of corruption which is still within me. The soul finds that when it would do good, evil is present with him (Rom. 7:21). It is grieved by the motions of unbelief, the swellings of pride, the surging of rebellion against God. Instead of peace, there is war within; instead of realizing his holy aspirations, the blessed one is daily defeated; until the stricken heart cries out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24).

"Blessed are the meek." Meekness is yieldedness. It is the opposite of self-will. Meekness is pliability and meltedness of heart, which makes me submissive and responsive to God’s will. Now observe, dear reader, these first three marks of the "blessed" consist not in outward actions, but of inward graces; not in showy deeds, but in states of soul. Note too that they are far from being characteristics which will render their possessor pleasing and popular to the world. He who feels himself to be a spiritual pauper will not be welcomed by the wealthy Laodiceans. He who daily mourns for his leanness, his barrenness, his sinfulness, will not be courted by the self-righteous. He who is truly meek will not be sought after by the self-assertive. No, he will be scorned by the Pharisees and looked upon with contempt by those who boast they are "out of Romans 7 and living in Romans 8." These lovely graces, which are of great price in the sight of God, are despised by the bloated professors of the day...

Continue reading here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What the Holy Spirit Does

Winfield Bevins - Acts 29 Pastor - Outer Banks, North Carolina

"I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith." - Martin Luther

Effectual Call

God works in various ways to bring people into salvation in Jesus Christ. It all begins when God calls us by his Holy Spirit. This is commonly referred to as the effectual call. The effectual call is when the Holy Spirit effectually calls people by working to awaken their hearts, minds, and souls to their personal need of salvation.

The Spirit works as a guide at this point to lead us to a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Westminster Confession describes it in the following way: “This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.” It is only then that a person can truly accept and respond to the grace of God through faith.


The word regeneration literally means to “rebirth.” Regeneration is a spiritual transformation where the Holy Spirit takes us from death unto life. In the words of the apostle Paul, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor.5:17).

A glorious change takes place in the believers’ hearts when they receive Christ into their life by faith. This great change entails an exchange of the things of the world for the things of God. It is a total transformation, in which the new believer is literally made a new creature. The Spirit of God is the agent of regeneration that works to bring about this change in a person’s heart. The heart and soul of a person is the place where the Holy Spirit brings about a real change in the believer.


Sanctification begins at the new birth and gradually takes place over the lifetime of a believer. Sanctification is a process of Christian growth where the Holy Spirit gradually sanctifies the hearts and minds of Christians. John Owen believed that sanctification was a work of the Holy Spirit. He said, “Sanctification is an immediate work of the Spirit of God on the souls of believers.”

The goal of the Holy Spirit in sanctification is to make us like Christ. We are enabled to mortify the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit (Rom. 8:11). Sanctification is what God works in us by his Spirit.

The General Work of the Spirit

The Holy Spirit also enables believers to live the Christian life. He intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26-27). He illumines and guides believers into all truth (John 16:13-14). The Holy Spirit enables Christians to fight sin (Rom. 8:5-6). The Spirit sanctifies us (1 Peter 1:2). He gives us Christian assurance to know that we are children of God (Rom 8:15-16). There are numerous ways that the Holy Spirit works in our lives. Begin to reflect on everything that the Spirit has done and is doing in your life.

To be continued.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friendship in Hell by Jim Elliff

John Bunyan, the writer of Pilgrim's Progress, said that is "better to be born a toad than to die unconverted."

Why? Because toads don't go to hell and humans do.

The subject of hell is so solemn that our natural instinct is to either ignore it or reject it. Yet, like the cancer patient before his doctor, it is better to hear the whole truth.

Once a woman told me, with an nervous giggle, that she "guessed it would be best to go to hell since all her friends would be there." But she was wrong. Her acquaintances might be there, but they will not be her friends. Here is a list of the people the Bible says will be in hell:
Evil doers, blasphemers, wretches, those behaving like snakes and vipers, wicked slaves, weeds in the wheat, bad trees bearing bad fruit, chaff, vessels for common use, goats on His left hand, lovers of darkness rather than lovers of light, objects of wrath, mockers of God, disobedient, arrogant, the self-seeking, the sexually immoral, enemies of the cross of Christ, despisers of authority, experts in greed, lawless men, perverted persons, grumbles, faultfinders, scoffers, the adulterous, magicians, sorcerers, thieves, idolaters, the cowardly, the vile, and all liars.

Among the inhabitants of hell are those who follow the corrupt desires of their sinful nature, those who exchange the grace of God for a license for immorality, those who deny Jesus Christ our only sovereign and Lord, those who boast about themselves and flatter for their own advantage, those who divide you, those who do not have the Spirit, those who follow mere natural instinct, those who reject the preaching of the word and will not listen, those who devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers, and those who are disobedient to parents.

But hell also includes lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, those who worship and serve created things rather than the Creator, slaves of depravity, those who invent ways of doing evil, the senseless, faithless, heartless and ruthless, those who know their actions deserve death yet still do them while also approving of others who also do the same things. And hell includes all hypocrites.
These occupants of hell are not going to be on their best behavior. In fact, Jesus said those who live in hell will experience "weeping and gnashing of teeth." "Weeping" speaks of endless depression; "gnashing of teeth" speaks of eternal anger. There can be no amiable relationship with such people. Those fellow inhabitants of hell who once loved you here, will despise you there.

But this is not the main discomfort of hell. Puritan William Gurnall said, "We fear men so much, because we fear God so little. One fear cures another. When man's terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God."

Hell is a stark absence of all God's favor, an endless domination of sin, a place of pain and suffering, an asylum of pangs of conscience, anguish, despair, and uncontrollable hatred. Jeremy Taylor described it as "a death without death, an end without end, for death shall ever live, and their end never begin."

Nobody should want to go to hell. Though your own sin made you a future citizen of hell, you may still turn to Christ to be delivered from God's wrath. God made a way of escape through Jesus Christ.

The Bible calls Jesus "the Savior." The words means "Rescuer." He alone can rescue you from a certain future in hell. By taking man's sin on Himself at the cross, He paid the complete price for all who will come to Him. If you will believe in Him (trust or rely upon Him) you will escape the judgment you deserve. It is not faith in yourself that saves, or merely faith in general, but faith in the Rescuer alone.

Trust Christ the Savior and be released from your fears of hell forever.

"He who believes in Him has eternal life." John 6:47

Copyright © 2009 Jim Elliff
Permission granted for reproduction in exact form, including web address.
All other uses require written permission

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Gospel – Mark Dever

3-Good News from 9Marks on Vimeo.

What is it?

The good news is that:
  • The one and only God who is holy made us in his image to know him (Gen. 1:26-28).
  • But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him (Gen. 3; Rom. 3:23).
  • In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn from their sin and trust in him (John 1:14; Heb. 7:26; Rom. 3:21-26, 5:12-21).
  • He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted (Acts 2:24, Rom. 4:25).
  • He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness (Acts 17:30, John 1:12). If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God (John 3:16).
  • He is gathering one new people to himself among all those who submit to Christ as Lord (Matt. 16:15-19; Eph. 2:11-19).
Where is it in the Bible?

Romans 1-4 contains one of the fullest expositions of the gospel in all of Scripture, and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 contains a succinct summary of the gospel.

Why is it important?
  • A biblical understanding of the gospel is important because the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, and it is the only way for sinful people to be reconciled to a holy God.
  • Not only that, but everything in a church flows from its understanding of the gospel, whether preaching, counseling, discipleship, music, evangelism, missions, and on.


Francis Chan 2009 Conference Highlights

That's church? I don't even know where to start...

Francis Chan at The 2009 Northwest Ministry Conference during the General Session.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hard to Believe - Luke 9:23-26


On the surface, it makes sense. The Christian's mandate is to make disciples, so why not make church more attractive to unbelievers?

Spice up the presentation. Tone down the preaching. Tell everyone that Jesus will meet their felt needs.

But is making unbelievers comfortable truly the way to make disciples? Does promising the lost that Jesus can fix their lives bring them any closer to salvation, or are we selling them a synthetic gospel that cannot save? For the sake of bigger congregations, are churches today diluting or even neglecting the gospel?

John MacArthur answers those questions and more in Hard to Believe. In this series you'll learn:

Why is making unbelievers feel comfortable in church so dangerous?
What gives the gospel its power and why are so many of today's churches failing to tap into it?
What did God truly promise to those who embrace the gospel?
What did Jesus mean when He said "follow Me?"

Listen or read all 5 messages here.

How Shall The Righteous Live?

Message on Romans 1:17 continued by Pastor Ron Bridge of Rehoboth Baptist Church given on March 28th, 2010

Listen to part 1 of this message.

Download mp3 here

Monday, April 12, 2010

Crucified With Christ

Richard Wurmbrand, the author of this article, was imprisoned for a total of 14 years for doing Christian work in communist Romania. He later founded "The Voice of the Martyrs," a ministry which supports persecuted believers.

Suppose you were living 2,000 years ago in Palestine, that you were sinful, heavy with guilt, and Jesus told you, "Your sin is grave and deserves punishment. But tomorrow I will be flogged and crowned with a crown of thorns. They will drive nails into My hands and My feet and fix Me to a cross. And when I have died, you shall know that your sins are forgiven forever, that I was your substitute, your scapegoat. Will you accept My suffering for your offense, or do you prefer to bear the punishment yourself?"

Would you accept? In my prison cell Jesus put before me the problem I have just put to you. Then came the real question, the thing He had in mind from the beginning. "What if I incorporate you into My body, if you deny yourself as an independent self, and I will live in you henceforth and you will be 'crucified with Me' (Galatians 2:20), 'buried with Me' (Romans 6:4), and share the fellowship of My suffering (Philippians 3:10)?"

I have accepted this proposal. Christians are meant to have the same vocation as their King, that of cross-bearers. It is this consciousness of a high calling and of partnership with Jesus which brings gladness in tribulation, and makes Christians enter prisons for their faith with joy.

A person who smugly accepts Christ's dying for him and shouts "hallelujah" about the innocent Son of God receiving punishment he himself deserves is hardly a follower of Christ. Because sacrifice is implicit in a conversion, the call of an evangelist has the name "altar call." Every being placed upon the altar in Jerusalem--lambs, rams, and pigeons--died. Someone died for you. This time it is not an animal, but the Son of God. He has decreed it and nothing you can do will change His mind. You can only accept it in faith and ask for the privilege of henceforth being able to sacrifice yourself as well, for the glory of God (Romans 12:1).

--Adapted from 100 Prison Meditations.

HT: Moments With The Book

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Resurrected Life

"That I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection" (Phil. 3:10).

Christian, do you know the power of the resurrection of Christ? Are your thoughts those of one who is risen with Him, set on things above where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God? Are you, as being raised up with Him, dead to sin, dead to the pleasures, to the greatness, to the fading glory of the world which crucified the Lord of glory? Do the things of the world--those things which, as far as man was concerned, caused the death of Jesus--no longer exercise any influence over your thoughts and over your life?

Do you desire to be something in the world? Ah! you do not see yourself as dead in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14,15). The darkness which surrounded the cross is still upon your heart. You do not breathe the fresh air of the resurrection of Jesus, of the presence of your God. Oh! dull and senseless people of God--people ignorant of your real treasures, of your real liberty! Yes, to be alive with Christ is to be dead to all that the flesh desires.

But if the risen life of Christ, the joy of the light of His presence, the divine and tender love of which Jesus is the expression and the object, beam on you; if the things which please you are the beauty of holiness in the heavenly places, and the universal and perfect homage rendered to God by hearts which never tire, whose adorations serve but to renew their strength, and all things full of the glory of God, giving occasion to praises, whose source never dries up, and whose subjects never fail--if these things please you, then mortify your members which are upon the earth.

The friendship of the world is enmity with God. Christian, do you believe this? Death has written its sentence on all things here: by cherishing them you only fill his hand. The resurrection of Christ gives you a right to bury them, and to bury death itself with them in the grave, the grave of Christ; that "whether we live, we live unto the Lord" (Romans 14:8), inheritors with Him in a new life of all the promises. Remember that if you are saved, you are risen with Christ. May He, from whom all grace and every perfect gift proceed, grant you this.

--J.N. Darby

HT: Moments With The Book

Saturday, April 10, 2010

If Christ Be Not Risen

"If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." (1 Corinthians 15:14,17). Everything depends upon this one central fact: a risen Christ.

His Claims Unfulfilled

If Jesus Christ had not risen, what would it have meant so far as He Himself was concerned? It would have proved that the greatest claims He ever made were valueless, and that in dying He failed to do all that His own teaching said He would accomplish. He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). The interpretation of His meaning came by way of the resurrection. For a sign to cynical seekers, He said: "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40). To the critical multitudes He said: "I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (John 10:17,18). None of these things were true unless He rose again.

His Work Unfinished

If He had not risen, what would it have meant concerning His work? When He was crucified, one disciple betrayed Him, another denied Him, and then at the end of three years of public ministry we have the whole tragic story in this one sentence: "They all forsook Him, and fled" (Mark 14:50). With the death of Jesus, the whole movement was at an end--unless He came back.

Where is the Atonement if this man has gone down to death to abide in death? How can He break my bond, or set me free, or blot out my transgressions? If He rose not, preaching is empty. If He rose not, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins, held by them, bound by them, mastered by them, damned by them. If He rose not, His was an ordinary death, and the doctrine of justification is unutterable nonsense.

The Glorious Truth

"But now is Christ risen from the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:20). What glorious truth! The testimony of the disciples is our first line of proof. Their record of the Lord's various appearances, their unwavering testimony despite their own previous unbelief and the intense persecution they faced--that is the first line of proof. The testimony of Paul himself is also proof. What made Saul the persecutor into Paul the missionary? He saw Jesus and heard Him, and found out that He whom he had thought of as dead was alive, and so forevermore the motto of his thinking and preaching was, "It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God" (Romans 8:34).

Not Vain at All

The Apostle says if Christ did not rise, then "preaching is vain," but for nearly two thousand years the preaching of Christ has not been vain. Pardon follows it. Peace comes after it. Power results from it. The final line of evidence of actual and positive resurrection from the dead is the church, that holy company of men and women and children, gathered from all nations--gathered as the result of the preaching of Christ crucified and risen. Individuals who trust Him share His life, and that life is manifest as it masters them and changes them. Christ is risen!

--G. Campbell Morgan (adapted)

HT: Moments With The Book

Friday, April 9, 2010

God is Light - Bob Jennings

1 John 1:6 - If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Bob is an elder at

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spurgeon on Luke 23:31

"If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" — Luke 23:31

Among other interpretations of this suggestive question, the following is full of teaching: "If the innocent substitute for sinners, suffer thus, what will be done when the sinner himself --the dry tree--shall fall into the hands of an angry God?" When God saw Jesus in the sinner's place, He did not spare Him; and when He finds the unregenerate without Christ, He will not spare them. O sinner, Jesus was led away by His enemies: so shall you be dragged away by fiends to the place appointed for you. Jesus was deserted of God; and if He, who was only imputedly a sinner, was deserted, how much more shall you be? "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" what an awful shriek! But what shall be your cry when you shall say, "O God! O God! why hast Thou forsaken me?" and the answer shall come back, "Because ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh." If God spared not His own Son, how much less will He spare you! What whips of burning wire will be yours when conscience shall smite you with all its terrors. Ye richest, ye merriest, ye most self-righteous sinners--who would stand in your place when God shall say, "Awake, O sword, against the man that rejected Me; smite him, and let him feel the smart for ever"? Jesus was spit upon: sinner, what shame will be yours! We cannot sum up in one word all the mass of sorrows which met upon the head of Jesus who died for us, therefore it is impossible for us to tell you what streams, what oceans of grief must roll over your spirit if you die as you now are. You may die so, you may die now. By the agonies of Christ, by His wounds and by His blood, do not bring upon yourselves the wrath to come! Trust in the Son of God, and you shall never die.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

7 Miles - Matt Chandler

Matt Chandler is the lead pastor at The Village Church.
Original Sermon: The Call to Mission
Sermon Series: The Great Cause

HT: Truth Matters

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Old Cross and the New

"Unannounced and largely undetected, there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross; but while likenesses are superficial, the differences are fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique---a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content and emphasis differ.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam's proud flesh, it meant the end of the journey and carried into effect the sentence opposed by the law of Sinai.

The new cross, in contrast, is not opposed to our flesh. It is a friendly pal, the source of oceans of good, clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged---he still lives for his own pleasure. But now he takes delight in singing worship choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a high plane morally, if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand a surrendering of the old life before the new life can be received. He preaches similarities rather than contrasts. He seeks to create more interest in the gospel by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands. His brand of Christianity offers the same things the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing that the gospel offers---only the religious version is better."

-A.W. Tozer

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Knowing Christ

Paul's desire was "That I may know Him" (Philippians 3:10). Note that he did not say, "That I may know about Him." Many people will sympathize with you and possibly follow along in pursuit of knowledge about Jesus Christ. But say, like Paul did, that your goal is to know Him experientially in "the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death," and see how many others follow you. Yet this was the high ambition of the great apostle.

We cannot stress too emphatically that the word translated "know" means "to come to know by experience." Paul's goal was to come to know the Lord Jesus in a fullness of experiential knowledge that can only come through being identified with Christ and being like Him. A knowledge about Christ received from reading a book or listening to a sermon is too shallow and superficial to satisfy one like Paul. Conformity to Christ is his goal and he refuses to stop short of it.

The Power of His Resurrection

At first we might think that Paul has things out of order: "Resurrection ... suffering ... death." But remember that he is speaking about our experience, and the Christian experience begins with the believing sinner tasting of Christ's resurrection power in being born again. Throughout the New Testament, conversion is described as passing out of death into life (John 5:24; 11:25; Ephesians 2:1).

But the Christian life not only begins with receiving the life of the risen Christ; it also continues in exactly the same way. To live in the power of Christ's resurrection is to become more and more dead to the ways of the world and the lusts of the flesh, and to be more like Christ. "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11). The same power that raised up the Lord Jesus from the dead, works in the believer to provide victory in his daily life. It was the experiential knowledge of that power, and its influence on his own inner life, that Paul desired and pursued.

Participation in Christ's Sufferings

The sufferings of Christ which Paul had in mind are not the atoning sufferings of the cross in which Christ bore the penalty for sins. That burden He bore alone; no person could possibly share in those sufferings. Rather, Paul was thinking of that great spiritual process carried on in the soul of a man or woman who shares the Saviour's burden for a lost world. Our Lord suffered in His soul as He wept over Jerusalem. His heart was broken as He saw the multitudes as sheep having no shepherd. Such anguish made up a substantial portion of His suffering. It was such suffering that Paul longed to know in experience.

Believers are united with Christ not only that they may share His life themselves, but also that they may share His life of labor on behalf of others. One who does not know Christ in the fellowship of His sufferings is not properly prepared to serve Him. He took upon Himself the form of a servant (Philippians 2), and paid whatever price was necessary to be the Servant of all.

The Pursuit ended

Paul concludes with the expressed desire to be made "conformable unto His death." Elsewhere Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20) and "I die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31). This is something we naturally shrink from. But it was an attitude of self-crucifixion that conditioned our Lord's entire earthly life and made it so fragrant and beautiful in the blessing of others.

If we have read the full account of Paul's life in the Bible, then we have some idea of the reward awaiting him at the Judgment Seat of Christ. And since each of us has a full account of his own life, we know what awaits us in that day, too. Dear Christian, there is still time to daily pursue and experience this blessed and intimate knowledge of Christ in His resurrection, sufferings, and death!

--Adapted from Studies in Philippians by Lehman Strauss.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Jesus Our Substitute

"He [God] hath made Him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

This is beyond belief! An innocent man is about to be crushed by God. We have grown accustomed to seeing courtroom scenes on the news, but can you imagine seeing the lawyer on trial for the crime his client committed? Or even more incredible, can you imagine that the death penalty is handed out and it is the attorney who dies and not the defendant? That would be bizarre, but that's what we see when Jesus, our sinless Advocate, receives the punishment we--who are guilty--deserve.

Jesus is our High Priest, but what kind of priest is this who becomes the sacrifice? Priests offer sacrifices--but this priest is the sacrifice. This priest lays Himself on the altar. You see, Jesus died for sin--but not for His own sin. He had no sin. He was in every sense made sin for us. He became all of our rebellion, all of our lying, all of our cheating, all of our adultery, all of our filth, all of our ugliness. He became all of that on the cross. Otherwise, how could God crucify His Son?

Here's the gospel in a phrase. Because Christ died for us, those who trust in Him may know that their guilt has been pardoned once and for all. What will we have to say before the bar of God's judgment? Only one thing. Christ died in my place. That's the gospel.

--Condensed from "Jesus Our Substitute" by Alistair Begg.