Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jesus: More Than a Savior

Video clip from a sermon entitled "Christ Centered Relationships, Part 2" by Francis Chan at Cornerstone Community Church in Semi Valley, CA.

"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." -1 John 2:6

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The Great Dilemma

Excerpted from "Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church" by Paul Washer

You see, when you talk about the gospel, my dear friend, let’s set it up just clearly. The gospel begins with nature of God and it goes from there to the nature of man and the fallenness thereof. And it goes from there, those two great columns of the gospel come to set up for us what should be called and known as, in every believer’s mouth, the great dilemma. And what is that dilemma? If God is just he cannot forgive you.

The greatest problem in all of Scripture is this. How can God be just and at the same time the justifier of wicked men, when Scripture throughout the Bible says—especially I will draw from one text in Proverbs—“He who justifies the wicked is an abomination to God.” (Proverbs 17:15) And yet all our Christian songs boast about how God justifies the wicked.

That is the greatest problem. That is the acropolis of the Christian’s faith so said Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Charles Spurgeon and anyone else who has read Romans three. You see, you have got to fit this before people. The great problem is that God is truly just and all men are truly wicked, God to be just must condemn wicked man. But then God, for his own glory, put a great love with which he loved us, sent forth his Son who walked on this earth as a perfect man. And then according to the plan, the eternal plan of God, he went to that tree. And on that tree he bore our sin and he became, standing in the law place of his people, bearing our guilt, he became a curse.

“Cursed is every man who does not abide by all the things written in the book of the law so as to perform them.”

Christ redeemed us from the curse becoming a curse in our place.

So many people have this romantic, powerless view of the gospel that the Christ is there hanging on the tree suffering under the wounds of the Roman Empire and the Father did not have the moral fortitude to bear the suffering of his Son so he turned away.


He turned away because his Son became sin.

And so many when he is in that garden and he cries out, “Let this cup pass from Me,” people speculate, “Well, what was in the cup? Oh, it is the Roman cross. It is the whip. It is the nails. It is all this and all that.”

I do not want to take away from the physical sufferings of Christ on that tree, but the cup was the cup of God the Father’s wrath that had to be poured out on the Son. Someone had to die, bearing the guilt of God’s people, forsaken of God by his justice and crushed under the wrath of God, for it pleased the Lord to crush him.

Friday, May 28, 2010

True Spiritual Conversion

True conversion and regeneration is vital to being a Christian. Unfortunately, all too many in the professing church today believe that because they once said a prayer or walked an aisle that they completed "God's checklist of salvific criteria" and are now on their way to heaven. Mark Kielar of CrossTV gives a good summary of what a true, spiritual conversion is as opposed to the false, hypocritical, manmade "conversion" that is causing so much division in the professing church these days.

If you can't see the media player, click on the post title.

This is part of the "How God Converts the Human Soul" series. You can find the series at CrossTV's website here:


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A New Nature

The Lord Jesus Christ said to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7). Today there are many people that think of the new birth as a kind of change that takes place in one's life, or what they call a "Christian experience." But when the Bible talks about new birth it is because God actually gives a new life to the one who believes on the Lord Jesus. It is not an improvement of the old one, but a new one--born from above. Of course a change will result, because the new life wants to please God.

Trusting, Not Teaching

Nicodemus came to the Lord with the thought that he would get some teaching. Indeed the Lord Jesus is and was a wonderful teacher, but what the sinner needs first of all is to receive a new life, and so the Lord replied, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3). Man had teaching under the law, for "the law is holy ... just and good" (Romans 7:12). All those commandments and precepts laid down for man in the Old Testament were from God. But they did not give a new life, for the Scripture says, "If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law" (Galatians 3:21).

Why then did God give the law? Many people do not believe that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). If I have a child and there is a heavy suitcase which he thinks he can carry, how can I prove to him that he cannot? Just give him a chance to try. God did just that when He gave His commandments, and we have all failed miserably to keep them.

Rebirth, not Reform

What the Lord is showing here in John 3 is that salvation does not come by being reformed--it comes by being reborn. There has been a work of God for us at Calvary's cross when Jesus died for our sins and rose again, but there has to be something wrought inside us because the natural heart of man will never respond to God. God uses His precious Word applied by the power of the Spirit to accomplish this. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.... Being born again ... by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1 Peter 1:22,23). When we see our need of Christ, repent, and trust in Him, we are born again and receive a new life from God. That is why the believer desires different things. God has given the believer a new life, the "new man" that wants to please Him.

What About the Old Nature?

When someone is born again, what happens to the old nature? God does not improve it. He forgives our sins, but the nature that causes us to sin will remain with us as long as we are in this body. Even if one has been saved for fifty years, the fallen nature has not improved one bit, and it never will.

In Romans 6 we are told about what God has done in connection with our old nature, and what we are to do with it as well. This old nature is sometimes called "the flesh," "the old man," "sin," or "sin in the flesh." In verse 6 we are told "Our old man is crucified with Him." At the cross of Calvary, the Lord Jesus not only bore my sins, but His death was the end of my standing before Him as a child of Adam. God no longer sees the believer as a child of fallen Adam, for we have died out of that position and entered a new position before Him by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Romans 6:9-11).

Out With the Old, In With the New

Oh, you say, sometimes I want to do what is wrong! Now it is not the new life that wants to act that way--it is because you're allowing the "old man" to be active. Romans 6:11 says, "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." When temptation is presented to us we can turn from those bad thoughts and allow the Spirit of God through the "new man" to occupy us with Christ. The new man finds its joy and deliverance in looking away from self to Christ.

Let me use an illustration to help make this point clear. Let us suppose I plan to build something, and I have a pile of lumber which I have been saving for this purpose. I decide to hire a carpenter to build it for me, and I ask him to please use this lumber for the building. He goes out to look at the lumber and after a while he comes back saying, "I have looked over your pile of lumber and I have some bad news for you. Your lumber is all rotten. There is not one good piece in the whole pile." What did he do? He did not try to improve it, or use part of it. No! He condemned it. This is what God has done with our old nature, and what we should do, too.

My carpenter condemned my pile of lumber, but then he said, "I have some good news for you. I have brought you all the new lumber you need, and it will not cost you anything. It is a gift." It is indeed a sad discovery to find out how very bad the old nature really is, but this should only lead us to be more thankful for deliverance, knowing that our new standing before God is because of that blessed work accomplished for us at Calvary. Dear born-again believer, never forget that God sees you "in Christ Jesus" and "holy and without blame before Him in love" (Ephesians 1:4). How great is that!

Are you, dear reader, looking for something good in the old nature? God gave it up long ago, and if you give it up now you will be a happy person. Allow the Great Carpenter to throw a tarp over the pile of rotten lumber. It will not improve while under there, but he says just to consider it is not there. That is what it is to "reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin." When some bad thought comes into your mind, how are you going to be set free? If you allow the Spirit of God through the new man to occupy you with Christ, you will be set free.

Feeding the New Nature

It is vitally important that we read God's Word and pray. If we neglect this, the enemy knows our weak points and he will come and work on that "old man" to lead us into sin. A true believer can never be lost, but he can, like David of old, lose the joy of God's salvation and dishonor his Lord. The prayer of the Psalmist is good for us all: "Cleanse Thou me from secret faults. Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:12-14).

--Condensed from Two Natures in the Believer by G.H. Hayhoe.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Justified By What's Been Done For Us

Video clip: Alistair Begg explains how we are justified not by what we have done or by what has been done in us but by what has been done for us.

If you can't see the media player, click on the post title.


Monday, May 24, 2010

What is the Gospel? Are you Saved?

Video clip: Kevin Williams answers the questions: What is the Gospel? Are you saved? Do you know what saves a person?

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Discerning “X-MEN”

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Marked for life: discernment ministry in light of Ezekiel 9:1-11.

Someone once said that sin is as much breaking God’s heart as it is His Law. When God looked down on the perversity of the people on earth before the Deluge, it was recorded that He “was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:6b). When confronted by resident wickedness both without and within the professing church, Christians can manifest one of three reactions: approval (1 Corinthians 5:2), indifference (Zephaniah 1:12), or disapproval as indicated by the presence of either anger (Psalm 119:53) or grief (Psalm 119:136). So the question becomes, as we see the worldliness-wickedness invading the church, how do we feel about it? Are we agitated by, indifferent to, or accommodating of it?

Not unlike the society and church of our times, during Ezekiel’s ministry Judah found herself in a moral and spiritual “melt down.” Fraud, violence, adultery, and idolatry were running rampant amongst God’s chosen people. Idols had been set up in the Temple (Ezekiel 8:17; 9:9). From his location in Babylon, the Lord took Ezekiel on a virtual reality tour of the Temple, the place where on the Mercy Seat beneath the Cherubim, God’s Shekinah glory was to have been seated (Ezekiel 8:4). What he saw in that place of worship stunned the prophet. On his guided tour of the inner court, the Lord showed the prophet where first the people had substituted an idol image for Yahweh; where second, the elders worshiped animals; where third, the women sobbed over the death of Tammuz, a mythological fertility god who had married the Egyptian goddess Ishtar; and where fourth, the priests worshiped the sun (Ezekiel 8:5-18). Up-close and personal, the prophet saw how the nation had abominated into apostasy, how Israel had turned from worshiping the Creator to idolizing the creation and its creatures (See Romans 1:21-23.).

Yet in the midst of all those “alternative spiritualities,” and like the remnant of Elijah’s day who refused to bow their knee to Baal and kiss the idol god (1 Kings 19:18), some believers preserved themselves to be holy unto the Lord. So the Lord instructed the angel dressed in white to mark an “X” on the foreheads of the faithful, a mark that would spare them from the coming divine judgment (circa 600 BC).[1] Most have heard about “the mark of the beast”, the mark the deceived will receive at the end of the age, an identity without which they will neither be able to buy or sell (Revelation 14:9-12). The prophet Ezekiel wrote about a different mark, an “X” that was to be written on the foreheads of those in Judah who had refused to go along with the popular spiritual trends of that day. The “X” would spare them from the coming divine wrath. So the Lord instructed the angel: “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst” (Ezekiel 9:4). Pause with me . . . for a moment let’s project back to that era and ask ourselves the following question: If we had been alive in Ezekiel’s day, would the angel have marked us to be spared from divine judgment?

Continue reading here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What is the Gospel? (Dr. Alan Cairns)

Video clip: Dr. Alan Cairns explains what the Gospel is in a nutshell.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Knowing Your Election

When the gospel of God's grace was brought to the Thessalonians, they received it as the Word of God in the power of the Holy Ghost, and with much assurance (see 1 Thess. 1:5). They "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from heaven ... even Jesus" (vs. 9,10). They were saved by faith in the Saviour, Jesus.

In verse 4, however, we learn another truth concerning their salvation. Paul writes, "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God." They were saved by believing the Gospel, but they also learn they had been elected by God to be saved. These two truths appear to some to be contradictory, and human reasoning finds them to be irreconcilable. Consequently, either one truth or the other is received, but not both, and the result is that God's Word is only partly believed for lack of human understanding.

As a matter of Scriptural revelation, both truths are most precious; namely, God's sovereignty in choosing (electing) some to salvation, and man's responsibility believe and be saved. Inference is often wrongly drawn that because God chooses some to salvation that he chooses some to be lost. This, however, is erroneous, human assumption not based on Scriptural revelation. In fact, a multitude of Scriptures reveal His desire that all might be saved, and never is there one found that in the least indicates He chooses some to be lost.

In 2 Peter 3:9, we read He "is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish." John 3:16 tells us that "whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And in 1 Timothy 2:4 we read, He would "have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." That is God's Word.

Just so, however, is it equally true as revealed in Ephesians 1:4 that the believer has been chosen "in Him before the foundation of the world." Also, in 1 Peter 1:2 we read, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ."

Writing further to the saints to whom Paul had previously revealed "Knowing your election," he says in 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14, "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation," and then reveals the means: "through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." God's election of them is stated; the means whereby He brings His elected ones to salvation is by the Holy Spirit's conviction, and by their believing the truth set forth in the Gospel.

Why He chose me, I will never be able to fathom. However, I am assured by His Word that He did so. Jesus says in John 15:16, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you." In Deuteronomy 7:6-8 where Moses speaks of Jehovah choosing Israel for His earthly people, it was "Because the Lord loved you." That is the answer for the believer. This will evoke eternal praise from the redeemed.

An illustration may serve to show the truth of what we have before us. Imagine a house with a sign on the outside which reads: "WHOSOEVER WILL MAY COME." Many pass by, some enter the door. Inside there is a sign which reads: "CHOSEN IN CHRIST BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD." The latter is a truth for those who came into the house. They learn their salvation was all of God, and according to His eternal purpose to have an eternal companion, the Bride, for His Son.

If you believe, you have been chosen and owe all to Him. If you don't believe, you are lost and cannot blame God, for He says, "Whosoever will may come." No one will be turned away. Now notice both truths brought together in John 6:37: "All that the Father hath given Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."

From Moments For You Magazine, September-October 1988

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Renewing the Great Commission

by Michael Horton Professor - Westminster Seminary California

According to numerous studies, most Americans consider themselves “spiritual, not religious.” In other words, they dabble in whatever beliefs and practices they find intuitively valid and useful for daily living, but they resist any threat to their individual autonomy. Consumers in the spiritual marketplace they are willing to be, but not disciples of Jesus Christ. In spite of all the evangelistic efforts over the last several decades, including sprawling megachurches catering to every niche market, there has been no growth in reported conversions. In fact, church attendance is on the decline. Most Christians cannot articulate what they believe, much less why they believe it, and these tragic statistics include evangelicals as well as Unitarians.

We do not lack impassioned pleas for being more “missional.” A plethora of programs for outreach, discipleship, and spiritual disciplines are available at any Christian bookstore and on countless websites. Yet what we need most is a renewed understanding of and commitment to the Great Commission. We assume that we already know the nature of this Commission. We assume that we know its message, although the statistics do not bear that out. We assume that we already know the appropriate methods, although our feverish activism seems to lack the power of previous missionary movements.

In this brief space I want to explore some of the radical aspects of the mandate that Jesus gave to his church before he ascended to the Father...

Continue reading here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Doers, not just Hearers

Message on Romans 2:12-24, Deuteronomy 7:6-11 by Pastor Ron Bridge of Rehoboth Baptist Church given on May 9th, 2010

If you can't see the media player, click on the post title.

Download mp3 here

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Failure to Address Man’s Malady

Excerpted from "Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church" by Paul Washer

...Now we just walk in and talk to them, give them three exploratory questions and ask them if they want to pray a prayer and ask Jesus to come into their heart and we make a two fold son of hell who will never again be open to the gospel because the religious lie that we, as evangelicals, have spewed out of our mouth.

I will say something that Leonard Ravenhill used to say. “Now you understand why I preach in a lot of places once.” But that is the truth.

When we treat sin superficially, first of all we are fighting against the Holy Spirit. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin.”

There are very popular preachers today who are more concerned about giving you your best life now then they are eternity. And they brag about the fact that they do not mention sin in their preaching. I can tell you this. The Holy Spirit has nothing to do with their ministry lest he be working against. That would be the only thing.

Why? When a man says he has no ministry dealing with the sin of men, the Holy Spirit does. It is a primary ministry of the Holy Spirit to come and convict the world of sin. And so know this. When you do not deal specifically, passionately, lovingly with men and their depraved condition, the Holy Spirit is nowhere around you.

Also we are deceivers when we deal with the malady of men lightly like shepherds of Jeremiah’s day. “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying,

‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.”

We are not only deceivers, but we are immoral, like a doctor who denies his Hippocratic oath because he doesn’t want to tell someone bad news because he thinks that person will be cross against him, will be angry with him, will be sad. And so he does not tell them the news most necessary to save their life.

I hear preachers today, they say, “No. No, no, no, no. You don’t understand, brother Paul. We are not like the people of the day of John and Charles Wesley. We are not like the culture that Whitefield addressed or Edwards. We are not as hearty as they are. We are broken. We don’t have as much self esteem. We are feeble. We can’t bear such preaching.”

Listen to me. Have you ever studied the lives of these men? What they preached their culture couldn’t bear it either. No one has ever been able to bear the preaching of the gospel. They will either turn against it with a fierceness of an animal or they will be converted.

And to give you a thing about us being more feeble and not having the self esteem, our country and this world is overrun with this disgusting malady of self esteem. Our greatest problem is that we esteem self more than we esteem God.

We are also thieves when we do not speak much about sin. We are thieves.

Let me ask you a question. This afternoon, this morning, where did all the stars go? Did some cosmic giant come by in a basket and pick them all up and throw them in and carry them someplace else? Where did all the stars go this morning? They were there, but you couldn’t see them. But then the sky grew darker and darker and darker and as that night turned black as pitch the stars came out in the fulness of their glory.

When you refuse to teach on the radical depravity of men it is an impossibility that you bring glory to God, his Christ and his cross because the cross of Jesus Christ and the glory thereof is most magnified when it is placed in front of the backdrop of our depravity.

She loved much because she has been forgiven much and she knew how much she had been forgiven because she knew how wicked she was.

Oh, we are afraid to tell men of their wickedness and they can never love God because of it. We have robbed them the opportunity to boast not in self, but to follow the admonition, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Are You Ready?

by Mike Ratliff

42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42 ESV)

I know that I am a finite person who is incapable of knowing everything. I know this very well. I also know that it is impossible for any of us finite individuals to possess the knowledge with certainty of future events. I am fully aware of this so I am not making predictions here or saying that I know for certain that eschatological events are going to happen any day now. No, I am not saying that. No, but what I am saying, and have been saying for quite some time, is that unless God grants us a revival, the Church will continue with its tailspin into apostasy and we will be in for a very rough period of spiritual darkness and possible persecution. The move from Christian orthodoxy into the many forms of apostasy we are seeing is not just an American phenomenon, but is worldwide. Religious tolerance is so close to becoming a requirement nearly everywhere. When this happens, there will be no room for the exclusivity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, there will still be the Church and there will still be Christians, but real Christians will be persecuted, underground, and second-class citizens everywhere. This is the reality of enforced religious tolerance.

What does this tell us? I believe that this could be either another period in history in which the church must go underground for cleansing by the Lord or it could be what must happen that leads up to our Lord’s return. In any case, our Lord gave us instructions.

35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40 ESV)

The verbiage and structure of v35 speaks of preparedness. Christians who are prepared for their Lord’s return are not encumbered by the things that inhibits their freedom from working (cf. Exodus 12:11; 1 Peter 1:13). Not only that, but our Lord tells us that His servants are responsible to meet Him with burning torches when He returns. Of course, this is simply an analogy of the preparedness of those truly working in the Kingdom to make the way ready for their master’s return. Of course, in this analogy, they do not know when He will return. They must wait for the “knock at the door.” We must also wait. We must wait for that trumpet and shout, but still, until then, what are we to be doing till then? We are to be living with our eyes fixed on what is above where our Master is. We are to be living according to what concerns Him, not according to the ways and means of the world. Does this make sense? This is the essence of Colossians 3:1-4. Yes, I know that I have used this passage a great deal lately. It was pressed into me rather intently in my time alone with God in my time unplugged...

Continue reading here.

Repentance and Faith

"Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations" (Luke 24:47).

Repentance and faith are like two sides of the same coin; one cannot exist without the other. True repentance (the transformation of one's mind in its entire attitude toward God, submitting to His sovereign holiness and hatred of sin) is essentially synonymous with true faith (full commitment to, and trust in, the person and work of God's Son as one's Redeemer and personal Saviour). See Acts 20:21.

To repent means to accept the truth of the Bible that we are lost, dead in trespasses and sins, and deserving of God's judgment because of our sins. To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ means to place our full dependence on His sacrificial work on the cross for our eternal salvation. Faith is both belief of the facts concerning Christ, and trusting oneself entirely to Him.

The problem is that what has become known as "easy believism" is widespread, and multitudes have become "professing Christians," simply on the basis of a mental and verbal, least-common denominator "statement of faith," and/or some kind of "conversion experience," all of which are meaningless without genuine repentance. Repeating a prayer at the end of a gospel tract or sermon does not save, if it consists merely of words.

Repentance is not merely sorrow for past sins, but a complete change of mind, and this can only be proved real (even to the believer himself) by a changed life. "Repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance" (Acts 26:20).

--Adapted from Days of Praise and Growing

From Moments For You Magazine, Q1 1999

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dying to Self - John MacArthur

Humility is a demonstration of a person's spiritual maturity because when you come in on those terms, you grow down from there. You thought you were humbled at the time of your conversion, if you've walked with the Lord for very long, you should be lower than you were then. Now you understand how profound sin is because even after being a Christian you've understood that it's a part of the fabric of who you are. And wonder of wonders, the Lord has chosen to do things through you. Self-denial becomes a life pattern.

Now what does it mean as a Christian? Here are some practical things.

When you're not forgiven or neglected or purposely set aside and you sting and hurt with the insult or oversight, but your heart is happy and you're content to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ, that's dying to self.

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice is disregarded, your opinions are ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loyal silence, that is dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any annoyance, when you can stand face-to-face with foolishness, extravagance, spiritual insensitivity and endure it as Jesus endured it, that is dying to self.

When you're content with any food, any offering, any clothes, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God, that is dying to self.

When you never care to refer to yourself or to record your own good works, or seek commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown, that is dying to self.

When you see another brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor even question God while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances, that is dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart, that is dying to self.

So, you come to Christ with an attitude of self-denial and you grow down from there. Our self-denial isn't perfect, our self-suicide isn't perfect, we resurrect our egos and our own wills and thrust them out and intrude into the will of God and we have to seek His grace and forgiveness when we do that, but that is the deepest and purest and truest desire and longing and aspiration of our redeemed heart, even though it's far short of what we would want it to be.

Excerpted from The Necessary Components of Saving Faith
Listen or read all 5 messages from the series "Hard To Believe".

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Where Was God in the Flood of Nashville?

by Kevin Shrum | Christian Post Guest Columnist

There is a small phrase in the Bible that has been bothering me – especially since the tragic flood that nearly swept Nashville away. This small phrase is found in Luke 8:25 where Jesus’ cruise across the Sea of Galilee was interrupted by a windstorm that threatened to sink their entire mission enterprise. You know the story. The disciples set sail with Jesus across the Sea of Galilee, Jesus takes a nap, the storm foments the sea and threatens to sink their small boat, Jesus calms the storm, and the disciples are amazed. Then comes verse 25 – “He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that He commands even winds and water, and they obey Him?’” The small phrase – “He commands even winds and water, and they obeyed Him” – says much about the often comforting, sometimes disturbing, always present sovereignty of God. Let me explain.

When a tragedy takes place in our world most Christians do everything in their power to protect God’s good name. We will blame disasters on everything BUT God. We say, ”God could never do that; God would never do that.“ The unintended consequences of explaining away any role for God in the devastating disasters of life is that God is reduced to being a bench player until after the tragedy. That is, God becomes an ”after-the-fact” kind of God who is able only to comfort the grieving but is never a God who may design tragedy for our good and His glory. This kind of language about God for most of us is shocking!

Further, this kind of erroneous theology makes God out to be a reactionary God only. God can comfort in the tragedy, but He can never cause the tragedy. Rather than God being a part of the event, the tragic event is designed and caused by some misnamed power like Mother Nature or by saying the Accident god caused it or by saying that it’s Satan’s fault. If we make God out to be only a reactionary God we have unwittingly made Him less of a God than what caused the event itself. In essence, we have committed the sin of idolatry in creating a god to explain the tragedy rather than attempting to understand the mystery of the God’s sovereignty. We may not knowingly admit this claim, but it is the consequence of saying that God only shows up after the fact and not prior to the fact. God becomes the helpless God of heaven who must wait for a tragedy to pass before He can intervene.

Let’s look at Luke 8:22-25 in a different way. Let’s suppose that Jesus – the One who created and controls all things; the One who has all things at His disposable (John 1:3) – desired to design a circumstance to grow the faith of His followers and to demonstrate His sovereign power (and there may be more purposes that I cannot see). It would then follow that He designed the time they would launch their boat, He designed the timing and place of the storm, He designed raising the anxiety level of His disciples by falling asleep prior to the storm, and He designed the calming of the storm and the questioning of their faith. This kind of perspective makes sense of that phrase “He commands even winds and water, and they obey Him.” I take this to mean that Jesus was not caught off guard by the storm. Rather, He commanded what He created. He made the wind and the water and they did His bidding. Like the old saying goes, ”Has it ever occurred to us that nothing has ever occurred to God?“ I do not know how God directs what He has created, but I do know that Scripture teaches that God is sovereign even when I can’t get my finite mind around His infinite purposes.

Most of us are not ready for this kind of sovereignty. Neither am I. It makes us uncomfortable to speak of God in this way. It comes close to making God culpable for evil. But we cannot speak out of both sides of our mouth when it comes to God’s power. We cannot both claim that God has the power to do all things and then not be able to do all things. I have no other conclusion than to say that God is sovereign over all things and in all things. This is not to say that God does evil. It is to say that all things – both good and bad – are under His control. It is to say that God either causes a thing or permits a thing. It is to say that whether God permits a thing or causes a thing He always designs a thing for purposes that are sometimes beyond our grasp. It is to say that there is no God but God...

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All Roads Lead to Heaven?

All Roads Lead to Heaven? — Kathleen Parker Does Theology by Albert Mohler

What catches the attention of a columnist for The Washington Post? A recent column by Kathleen Parker indicates that theology has become a focus of national attention. Kathleen Parker used her column in The Washington Post to take on Franklin Graham and his belief that belief in Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.

Parker began her column with the fact that Franklin Graham prayed outside the Pentagon last Thursday, rather than inside, having been disinvited by the Pentagon as the speaker for its scheduled National Day of Prayer service. Graham, you will remember, was disinvited because of statements he made about Islam — statements directly referenced by the Army spokesman as “not appropriate.”

Those statements made clear reference to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only message of salvation, to Christ as the only Savior, and to Islam as an evil belief system that pulls millions away from faith in Christ and delivers no hope of salvation. In a later interview, Graham made his point about the uniqueness of the Christian Gospel, adding Hinduism as another example of a false religion.

All this was too much for Kathleen Parker, who asked: “Oh well, it doesn’t matter where one prays, right? All prayers lead to heaven. Or do they?”

She took direct aim at Franklin Graham’s theology, arguing that “Graham’s views didn’t sit very well with secular Americans or even non-evangelical Christians.” Well, probably not — and that serves to indicate what makes evangelical Christianity distinct from secular Americans and secularized Christianity.

But, Parker advised her readers, evangelicals are not likely to hold onto this belief for long. In her words:

Graham isn’t alone in his views. A survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors, conducted by an evangelical polling firm, found that 47 percent agree that Islam is “a very evil and a very wicked religion.” But such opinions may be confined mostly to an older generation. Evangelicals under 30 believe that there are many ways to God, not just through Jesus.

In essence, Kathleen Parker was advising secular America that the distinctive evangelical belief in the necessity of belief in Christ for salvation has a generational expiration date stamped on it. She then cites research by David Campbell of Notre Dame and Robert Putman of Harvard indicating that “nearly two-thirds of evangelicals under 35 believe non-Christians can go to heaven, vs. 39 percent of those over 65.”

Continue reading here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Born Again

"A recent poll indicated that one in every three adults in America confesses to being born again. Some fifty-nine million people thus claim to have had a life-changing experience. If that poll is even close to being accurate, it means that one of history's greatest revivals has not had much effect on society" (The Lord is Near 1999). In the past months, several prominent persons from the sports world, political arena, and entertainment circles have publicly stated they have been "born again." We praise the Lord for all who have truly been born of God, born from above, from every walk of life.

When our newborn grandson arrived recently, there was much joy in our family. By looking at his picture on the cover of this magazine, you can understand why we think he is a "grand" baby, and why we are delighted to have him in the family! Yet, his being born of Christian parents and grandparents does not make him a child of God, and it is our prayer that early in life he will be born again through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In John 2:23-25 we read that "Many believed in [Jesus'] name, when they saw the miracles which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for He knew what was in man." Their profession of faith was not genuine. It was based on miracles they saw, and not on the One who wrought the miracles. It was mere head knowledge, lip profession, and not the work of God in the heart by His Word and Spirit, which alone makes man a new creation in Christ. Another has appropriately said, "To seem to be a Christian, and yet not to be, is the deadliest delusion possible."

We seem to be living in a world of widespread and worthless profession. Millions say that they "believe," "have faith," and yet their actions do not agree with the words they profess with their lips. Unfortunately, the expression "born again" has been brought into disrepute by pseudo-Christians whose lives belie their profession. In most cases, the reason is that the one professing to be born again has little comprehension of its meaning. They may have merely agreed to some religious principles, or recited some words, or raised their hand, or been confirmed or baptized, without ever truly repenting of their sins and trusting in Christ personally as Saviour.

Unfolded in John chapter three is the clear and comprehensive teaching needed by all in the world--how a man can be born again. We commend to you the following articles on the new birth, the one essential to enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus was at first only a professor, not a possessor. As we enter this new epoch in time, make sure your profession is real and living in your life. It is better to never be born than to never be born again.

From Moments For You Magazine, Q1 2000

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Wideness in Gods Mercy?

Video clip: A Wideness in Gods Mercy? by John MacArthur
If you can't see the media player, click on the post title.

"What I have been saying to you is that evangelicalism is in a desperate situation. And that desperation is made manifest by its inability to distinguish who is a true Christian. We have abandoned any clear understanding of what it means to really be saved...we, in the sense, of broad evangelicalism.

Those of us who teach the Bible, those of us who uphold sound doctrine have to rise up and speak the truth. I've tried to show you the breadth of this problem and I want to conclude comments on people and issues with a particular focus this morning..." -John MacArthur

HT: Truth Matters

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Total Sovereignty of God - R.C. Sproul

Video clip: Message delivered at the 2004 Shepherds Conference.
If you can't see the media player, click on the post title.

Not What My Hands Have Done
Words: Horatius Bonar, Hymns of Faith and Hope, second series, 1861; these words come from Bonar’s longer hymn, “Not What These Hands Have Done.”

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, And set my spirit free.

I bless the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
His cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear, each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace; I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine, My God, my joy and light.
’Tis He Who saveth me, and freely pardon gives;
I love because He loveth me, I live because He lives.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

We're Losing it by Paul Washer

Video clip: Paul Washer sermon jam.
If you can't see the media player, click on the post title.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

When They Awake In Hell

Video clip: When They Awake In Hell by A.W. Pink (1886-1952).

If you can't see the media player, click on the post title or read the text below.

Here is A.W. Pink spotting the foul and deadly effects of a false gospel from his day and time…

If “modern evangelism” is weighed in the balances of Holy Writ, it will be found lacking; lacking that which is vital to genuine conversion, lacking what is essential if sinners are to be shown their need of a Savior, lacking that which will produce the transformed lives of new creatures in Christ Jesus.

The “evangelism” of the day is not only superficial to the last degree–but it is radically defective. It is utterly lacking a foundation on which to base an appeal for sinners to come to Christ. There is not only a lamentable lack of proportion (the mercy of God being made far more prominent than His holiness, His love than His wrath)–but there is a fatal omission of that which God has given for the purpose of imparting a knowledge of sin. There is not only a reprehensible introducing of humorous witticisms and entertaining anecdotes–but there is a studied omission of dark background upon which alone the Gospel can effectively shine forth...

Continue reading here.

Where Shall You Find a Rock?

by Samuel Davies, “Jesus Christ, the Only Foundation” (1757)

“The present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men! The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up!” 2 Peter 3:7, 10

The fiery deluge of divine vengeance, which has been gathering and swelling for thousands of years; but has been, as it were, restrained and kept within bounds by divine patience–shall then rise so high as to burst through all restraints, and overwhelm the guilty globe, and turn it into a universal ocean of liquid fire! This resistless torrent shall sweep away all the refuges of lies, and those who trusted in them–into the gulf of remediless destruction!

Well my friends, where shall we find a support to bear us up in this tremendous day? Where shall we find a rock to build upon, that we may be able to stand the shock, and remain safe and unmoved–in the wreck of dissolving worlds? What can uphold us–when this vast machine of our world, formed with so much skill and strength by the hands of a divine Architect, shall be broken up and fall to pieces?

Now, now is the time for us to find the refuge; it will be too late when all created supports are swept away, and this solid globe itself is dissolved beneath our feet into a sea of fire!

And where will you look? Where will you turn? This earth, and all its riches, honors, and pleasures–will prove to be but a quicksand in that day! Your friends and relations, were they ever so great or powerful–can then afford you no support! Therefore, think–where shall you find a rock on which you may build a happiness that will stand the shock in that dreadful day?

Everything else besides Christ . . .
is sliding sand,
is yielding air,
is a breaking bubble!
In that dread day . . .
wealth–will prove to be a vain shadow,
honor–will prove to be an empty breath,
pleasure–will prove to be a delusive dream,
your own righteousness–will prove to be a spider’s web!
If we rely on these, disappointment and doom are inevitable!

Nothing but Christ, nothing but Christ, can stably support us in that dread day! “He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress–I will never be shaken!” Psalm 62:2

His righteousness is infinitely perfect, equal to the highest demands of the divine law–and therefore a firm, immovable ground of trust. We may safely venture the weight of our eternal all–upon this rock! It will stand forever, without giving way under the heaviest pressure; without being broken by the most violent shock. Let thousands, let millions, with all the mountainous weight of guilt upon them, build upon this foundation, and they shall never be moved!

The firm foundations, the stately columns, the majestic buildings of Nineveh, Babylon and Persia, and all the magnificent structures of antiquity, though formed of the most durable stone, and promising immortality–are now shattered into ten thousand fragments, or lying in ruinous heaps!

But here in Christ–is a foundation for immortal souls–a foundation that will remain the same to all eternity! His righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, His strength an everlasting strength, and Himself the everlasting Father. He ever lives forever to make intercession for His people, and therefore he is able to save to the uttermost, to the uttermost point of duration–all who come unto God by Him!

Millions and millions of depraved, wretched, ruined creatures, have always found Him perfectly able, and as perfectly willing–
to expiate the most enormous guilt;
to deliver from the most inveterate corruptions;
and to save to the very uttermost!

Ten thousand times ten thousand, have built their hopes upon this rock–and it has never failed so much as one of them! Manasseh, Paul, and Mary Magdalen, and thousands more atrocious sinners–have ventured upon this all-sufficient rock with all their load of sin upon them, and found it able to sustain them!

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Genuine Faith - A.W. Tozer

“My fear is that the modern conception of faith is not the biblical one, that when the teachers of our day use the word they do not mean what the Bible writers meant when they used it. The causes of my uneasiness are these:

1. The lack of spiritual fruit in the lives of so many who claim to have faith.

2. The rarity of a radical change in the conduct and general outlook of persons professing their new faith in Christ as their personal Savior.

3. The failure of our teachers to define or even describe the thing to which the word ‘faith’ is supposed to refer.

4. The heartbreaking failure of multitudes of seekers, be they ever so earnest, to make anything out of the doctrine [of faith] or to receive any satisfying experience through it.

5. The real danger that a doctrine that is parroted so widely and received so uncritically by so many is false as understood by them.

6. I have seen faith put forward as a substitute for obedience, an escape from reality, a refuge from the necessity of hard thinking, a hiding place for weak character. I have known people to miscall by the name of faith high animal spirits, natural optimism, emotional thrills and nervous tics.

7. Plain horse sense ought to tell us that anything that makes no change in the man who professes it makes no difference to God either, and it is an easily observable fact that for countless numbers of persons the change from no-faith to faith makes no actual difference in the life.”

A. W. Tozer, “Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine” in Man the Dwelling Place of God, pages 30-31.

HT: Truth Matters