Saturday, July 31, 2010

Are People Regenerated by Their Decision?

Satan hasn't changed this trick much. Charles Spurgeon dealt with the critics of his day that were proponents of the idea that people are regenerated by Baptism. Today we're dealing with the proponents of the idea that people are regenerated by their decision.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The unchangeable method of God

(Matthew Mead, "The Almost Christian" 1661)

"I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:32. That is—such as see themselves as sinners, and thereby in a lost condition.
"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:10

God will have the soul truly sensible of the bitterness of sin—before it shall taste the sweetness of mercy. The plough of conviction must go deep, and make deep furrows in the heart, before God will sow the precious seed of grace there—so that it may have depth of earth to grow in.

This is the unchangeable method of God in bestowing grace—to begin with conviction of sin.

First to show man his sin—then his Savior;
first his danger—then his Redeemer;
first his wound—then his cure;
first his own vileness—then Christ's righteousness.

The sinner must see the worthlessness and vileness of his own righteousness—before he can be saved by Christ's righteousness. The Israelites are first stung with the fiery serpents—and then the brazen serpent is set up to heal them.

We must see the leprosy of our righteousness, and be brought to cry out, "Unclean, unclean!" We must mourn for Him whom we have pierced—and then He sets open for us "a fountain to cleanse us from all sin and impurity." Zechariah 12:10, 13:1.

Be convinced of the evil of sin—the filthy and heinous nature of it. Sin is the greatest evil in the world—

it wrongs God;
it wounds Christ;
it grieves the Holy Spirit;
it damns a precious soul.

All other evils cannot be compared with this. Though to DO sin is the worst work—yet to SEE sin is the best sight! Sin discovered in its vileness—makes Christ to
be desired in His fullness!

Alas! it is Christ's infinite righteousness which must atone for our sins—for it is an infinite God whom we have sinned against!

If ever your sin is pardoned—it is Christ's infinite mercy which must pardon it!

If ever you are reconciled to God—it is Christ's infinite merit which must do it!

If ever your heart is changed—it is Christ's infinite power which must effect it!

If ever your soul escapes hell, and is saved at last—it is Christ's infinite grace which must save it!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to Change America

How to Change the World
An Editorial by Pastor Anton Bosch

Everybody wants change. People want the way the city and the country is governed to change, and people want changes in their churches. President Obama won the presidency on the slogan “change you can believe in,” and currently every political candidate of every party in America is promising change. Many Christians and churches are actively campaigning for change in the country. There is no question that things need to change, but the question is how is that change going to be achieved and by whom?

Everybody expects change to come from the top. The President and the Pastor must change the country and the church. And if they can’t do it, then we need to get the right man in the job that will make the changes we need. But the truth is that leaders cannot bring about change when the people refuse to change.

Moses was the greatest spiritual and the greatest political leader of all time but in spite of all his gifts, skills and anointing could not get the people to change from a nation of fearful slaves to a victorious people of God. This left God with only one option and that was to destroy that whole generation. It is no different today. Even if Moses came back as the leader of this nation or of your church, he would not be able to make the people change if they did not change themselves.

The Leader is not the people. The Pastor is not the church and the President is not the nation. The ability and desire to change lies with each individual and change in the church and the country will not come until we, the people, begin to change.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Assurance of Salvation - Peace with God

Message on Romans 5:1-2, Isaiah 32:16-17 by Pastor Ron Bridge of Rehoboth Baptist Church given on July 18, 2010

"So the question is what makes the difference between such a person who is on his way to eternal damnation, and one who is justified by faith? What makes the difference? The difference is grace! Unmerited favor!... My friends each one of us in this church today were once under the cloud of God's wrath, and indeed, some of you may still be under the cloud of God's wrath. Oh yes, you may have made a profession of faith, you may have even been baptized. But you've not been changed in your heart. You don't love God. You love things more than God. You love yourself more than God. You're on that broad way that leads to destruction. But for those who believe in the person and the work of Jesus Christ for them the cloud of God's wrath will never break on them, it will never break on you because it broke on Jesus, it broke on Jesus, and because it did we who know him as Lord and Savior can have absolute assurance of our salvation." -Pastor Bridge

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

Download mp3 here

Summarizing the 6 Marks of Regeneration

I know there is a vast difference in the depth and distinctness of these marks among those who are Regenerate. In some people they are faint, dim, feeble, and hardly to be discerned. You almost need a microscope to make them out. In others they are bold, sharp, clear, plain, and unmistakable, so that he who runs may read them. Some of these marks are more visible in some people, and others are more visible in others. It seldom happens that all are equally manifest in one and the same soul. All this I am quite ready to allow.

But still, after every allowance, here we find boldly painted the six marks of being born of God. Here are certain positive things laid down by John, as parts of the Regenerate man’s character, as plainly and distinctly as the features of a man’s face. Here is an inspired Apostle writing one of the last general Epistles to the Church of Christ, telling us that a man born of God—

does not commit sin; (A regenerate person does not commit sin as a habit)

believes that Jesus is the Christ; (A regenerate person believes that Jesus Christ is the only Savior by whom their soul can be pardoned and redeemed)

does righteousness; (A regenerate person is a holy person)

loves the brethren; (A regenerate person has a special love for all true disciples of Christ)

overcomes the world; (A regenerate person does not make the world’s opinion their rule of right and wrong)

and keeps himself. (A regenerate person is very careful of their own soul)

Reader, if you have NOT these marks…

Awake to a sense of your danger. Arise from your sleep of indifference and unconcern. Know the immense peril of hell and eternal misery in which you stand. Begin to use diligently every means by which God is ordinarily pleased to give grace to men’s hearts, when they have not received it in their youth. Be diligent in hearing the Gospel preached. Be diligent in reading the Bible. Be diligent, above all, in prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

If you take this course, I have every hope for you. None ever sought the Lord Jesus Christ in simplicity and sincerity—and sought in vain.

If, on the contrary, you refuse to take this course, and will continue as you are, I have little hope for you, and many fears. If the Bible be true, you are not yet born again. You will not use the most likely means to obtain this mighty blessing. What can I say but this, “the Lord have mercy upon your soul!”

Reader, if you HAVE these marks I have been speaking of…

Be advised, and strive every year to make them more clear and plain. Let your repentance be a growing habit—your faith an increasing faith—your holiness a progressive holiness—your victory over the world a more decided victory—your love to the brethren a more hearty love—your watchfulness over yourself a more jealous watchfulness. Take this advice, and you will never repent of it. This is the way to be useful and happy in your religion. This is the way to put to silence the opposition of the enemies of truth. Let others, if they will, have Regeneration on their tongues, and nowhere else. Let it be your care to have it shining forth in your life, and to feel it in your heart.

~ J.C. Ryle

Taken from the week long series at "6 Marks of Regeneration"

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Die to Self, Surrender to Christ

Video clip of Paul Washer preaching on Romans 12:1

Friday, July 23, 2010

What exactly DOES Hebrews 6:4-6 mean, anyway?

When dialoging with Arminians and others who teach that a person can be “lost” after they have been truly born again, one of their pet passages is Hebrews 6:4-6:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Now, at face value, it does sound like the writer of Hebrews (hereafter referred to as “The Writer”) is saying that a person can be saved and then fall away to the point that they cannot be saved again. But is that really what Writer is saying? No, it isn’t, and we will see why.

The first thing we must do in order to study this passage properly is to get rid of the chapter and verse divisions and any paragraph formatting. While these tools help us to find where certain passages are located, they were not in the original manuscripts and can, more often than not, interfere with our understanding of Scripture. What happens, many times, is our mind sees the numbers, separates Scripture from Scripture, and we put up mental walls around the texts and chop them up into separate thoughts, rather then seeing the constant, continuous flow of thought the writer intended. We also tend to chop paragraphs apart form each other, instead of seeing that the author was writing one long paragraph (for example, Ephesians chapter 1 is actually one long paragraph, rather than a bunch of smaller ones).

That said, in order to understand what The Writer is saying in Hebrews 6:4-6, we actually need to go back and start at chapter 5, verse 12 and read through chapter 6, verse 8. So, here is Hebrews 5:12-6:8, with no breaks–

Continue reading here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interview With An Atheist

...always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7)

This video features a self-proclaimed atheist who explains Christianity better than most professing Christians today.

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


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sovereignty and Freedom - John MacArthur

Paul understood divine sovereignty. He also understood human responsibility. There’s a third thing he understood and I call it gospel duty...gospel duty. Verse 14 [Romans 10], this is really important. What’s our responsibility? Do we just get caught up in some kind of a esoteric discussion about how we relate these things to each other? Hardly. “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved,” then our duty shows up in verse 14, “How will they call on Him in whom they haven’t believed? How will they believe in Him whom they haven’t heard? How will they hear without a preacher? And how will they preach unless they’re sent?”

Wow...divine sovereignty, absolute. God chooses whom He wills, saves whom He will. Right alongside of that, human responsibility. If you believe whoever you are, and if you call on Him whoever you are, you’ll be saved. But that can’t happen unless you hear. And that can’t happen unless someone’s sent. This becomes gospel duty. This is critical. No wonder people say, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things.” Of course, every person who has ever heard the gospel and believes wants to embrace the one who brought the message with gratitude. -John MacArthur

Listen to the full message below. If you can't see the media player, click on the post title.

Download mp3 here.
Read the full transcript here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

It is Finished!

by Arthur Pink

"When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit." John 19:30

How terribly have these blessed words of Christ been misunderstood, misappropriated and misapplied! How many seem to think that on the cross the Lord Jesus accomplished a work which rendered it unnecessary for the beneficiaries of it to live holy lives on earth. So many have been deluded into thinking that, so far as reaching heaven is concerned, it matters not how they walk provided they are "resting on the finished work of Christ." They may be unfruitful, untruthful, disobedient, yet (though they may possibly miss some millennial crown) so long as they repudiate all righteousness of their own and have faith in Christ—they imagine they are "eternally secure."

All around us are people who are worldly-minded, money-lovers, and pleasure-seekers, yet who think all is well with them because they have "accepted Christ as their personal Savior." In their aspirations, conversations, and recreations, there is practically nothing to differentiate them from those who make no profession at all. Neither in their home-life nor social-life, is there anything but empty pretensions to distinguish them from others. The fear of God is not upon them, the commands of God have no authority over them, the holiness of God has no attraction for them.

"It is finished!" How solemn to realize that these words of Christ must have been used to lull thousands into a false peace. Yet such is the case. We have come into close contact with many who have no private prayer-life, who are selfish, covetous and dishonest—but who suppose that a merciful God will overlook all such things, provided they once put their trust in the Lord Jesus. What a horrible perversion of the truth! What a turning of God's grace "into a license for immorality!" (Jude 4). Yes, those who now live the most self-seeking and flesh-pleasing lives, talk about their faith in the blood of the Lamb, and suppose they are safe. How the devil has deceived them!

"It is finished!" Do those blessed words signify that Christ so satisfied the requirement of God's holiness, that holiness no longer has any real and pressing claims upon us? Perish the thought! Even to the redeemed, God says, "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16). Did Christ "magnify the law and make it honorable" (Isaiah 42:21) that we might be lawless? Did He "fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15) to purchase for us an immunity from loving God with all our hearts and serving Him with all our faculties? Did Christ die in order to secure a divine indulgence that we might live to please SELF? Many seem to think so. No, the Lord Jesus has left His people an example that they should "follow (not ignore) His steps."

"It is finished!" What was "finished? The need for sinners to repent? No indeed. The need for turning to God from idols? No indeed. The need for mortifying my members which are upon earth? No indeed. The need for being sanctified wholly, in spirit, and soul, and body? No indeed. Christ died not to make my sorrow for, hatred of, and striving against sin, useless. Christ died not to absolve me from the full discharge of my responsibilities unto God. Christ did not die—so that I might go on retaining the friendship and fellowship of the world. How very strange that any should think that He did. Yet the actions of many show that this is their idea.

"It is finished." What was "finished?" The sacrificial types were accomplished, the prophecies, of His sufferings were fulfilled, the work given Him by the Father had been perfectly done, a sure foundation had been laid on which a righteous God could pardon the vilest transgressor of the law who threw down the weapons of his warfare against Him. Christ had now performed all that was necessary in order for the Holy Spirit to come and work in the hearts of His people; convincing them of their rebellion, slaying their enmity against God, and producing in them a loving and obedient heart.

O, dear reader, make no mistake on this point. The "finished work of Christ" avails you nothing—if your heart has never been broken through an agonizing consciousness of your sinfulness. The "finished work of Christ" avails you nothing—unless you have been saved from the power and pollution of sin (Matthew 1:21). It avails you nothing—if you still love the world (1 John 2:15). It avails you nothing—unless you are a "new creature" in Him ( 2 Corinthians 5:17). If you value your soul, search the Scriptures to see for yourself; take no man's word for it.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Also For Us Who Believe

Message on Romans 4:23-25, Genesis 22:1-8 by Pastor Ron Bridge of Rehoboth Baptist Church given on July 4, 2010

"We must tread the steps of this faith of Abraham. God by his Word calls us to part with all for Christ. We'd be as a right hand or a right eye or even as an Isaac. We must part with those things which are competitors and rivals with Christ for the sovereignty of the heart. We must let them all go. God calls us to part with our Isaac sometimes and we must do it with a determined submission to God's holy will. So let me ask you this. Have ever wrestled to give up something to God?"
-Pastor Bridge

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

Download mp3 here

Saturday, July 17, 2010


He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End!
He is the keeper of Creation and the Creator of all!
He is the Architect of the universe and
The Manager of all times.
He always was, He always is, and He always will be...
Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone!
He was bruised and brought healing!
He was pierced and eased pain!
He was persecuted and brought freedom!
He was dead and brought life!
He is risen and brings power!
He reigns and brings Peace!
The world can't understand him,
The armies can't defeat Him,
The schools can't explain Him, and
The leaders can't ignore Him.
Herod couldn't kill Him,
The Pharisees couldn't confuse Him, and
The people couldn't hold Him!
Nero couldn't crush Him,
Hitler couldn't silence Him,
The New Age can't replace Him.
He is light, love, longevity, and Lord.
He is goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God.
He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure.
His ways are right,
His word is eternal,
His will is unchanging, and
His mind is on me.
He is my Redeemer,
He is my Savior,
He is my guide, and
He is my peace!
He is my Joy,
He is my comfort,
He is my Lord, and
He rules my life!
I serve Him because His bond is love,
His burden is light, and
His goal for me is abundant life.
I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise,
The power of the powerful,
The ancient of days, the ruler of rulers,
The leader of leaders, the overseer of the overcomers, and
The sovereign Lord of all that was and is and is to come.
He will never leave me,
Never forsake me,
Never mislead me,
Never forget me,
Never overlook me.
When I fall, He lifts me up!
When I fail, He forgives!
When I am weak, He is strong!
When I am lost, He is the way!
When I am afraid, He is my courage!
When I stumble, He steadies me!
When I am hurt, He heals me!
When I am broken, He mends me!
When I am hungry, He feeds me!
When I face trials, He is with me!
When I face persecution, He shields me!
When I face problems, He comforts me!
When I face loss, He provides for me!
When I face Death, He carries me Home!
He is God, He is faithful.
I am His, and He is mine!
God is in control, I am on His side, and
That means all is well with my soul.
(edited, author unknown)


Friday, July 16, 2010

A new creature

by Horatius Bonar, condensed from "Christ and the New Creation", 1867

"If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

What condemnation do these words pronounce upon the shallow, meager religion so common among us--making us feel that hardly any description of its professors could be more exaggerated or unreal, than that of being "new creatures."

Take yon member of the church. He wears the garb and bears the name of Christ. He is a fair average specimen of a large class. He has the profession of being a Christian; yet . . .
he is fond of the world;
he grasps at its gold;
he loves its fashionable gaiety;
he reads its novels;
he frequents its haunts of amusement;
he enjoys its company;
he relishes its foolish talking and jesting. Is he "a new creature" in Christ Jesus?

Is it possible that, with . . .
so much worldliness,
so much selfishness,
so much self-indulgence,
so much pleasing of the flesh,
he can have been "born again," whatever his profession may be?

"A new creature!" Then . . .
old feelings,
old habits,
old tastes,
old hopes,
old joys,
old sorrows,
old haunts,
old companionships
--all are gone! Old things have passed away, all things have become new!

Formerly, I sought the things of this world. So now, by the necessity of my new nature, I seek the things above. Sin has become hateful, holiness supremely attractive.

My vision has been purged, so that now I see everything as with a new eye; the evil, with an eye which loathes it; the holy, with an eye which loves it. I approach everything with . . .
new feelings,
new tastes,
new sympathies,
new antipathies.
I behold everything in a new light, and from a new point of view. Myself, this world, the world to come, God, Christ, and the everlasting joys--all these are to me now, what they have never been before! My whole inner man has changed respecting them. There has been a new creation! What, then, have I to do with sin, with the flesh, with the vanities of so vain a life, as the men of this world are leading?

Oh, the unimaginable blessedness of those on whom this new creation has taken place! Oh, the unutterable, the endless misery of those on whom no change has passed--in whom old things still remain!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

He who truly believes in Christ

by J. C. Ryle, condensed from "Do You Believe?"

There is a dead faith as well as a living one. There is a faith of devils as well as a faith of God's elect. There is a faith which is vain and useless, as well as a faith which justifies and saves. How shall a man know whether he has true saving faith? The thing may be found out! The Ethiopian may be known by the color of his skin; and the leopard may be known by his spots. True faith may always be known by certain marks. These marks are laid down unmistakably in Scripture. Reader, let me endeavor to set these marks plainly before you. Look at them carefully—and test your own soul by what I am going to say.

He who truly believes in Christ—has a NEW HEART. It is written, "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature—old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Cor. 5:17.) A believer has no longer the same nature with which he was born. He is changed, renewed, and transformed after the image of his Lord and Savior. He who minds first, the things of the flesh—has no saving faith. True faith, and spiritual regeneration, are inseparable companions. An unconverted person—is not a genuine believer!

He who truly believes in Christ—is a HOLY person in heart and life. It is written that God "purifies the heart by faith," and that Christians are "sanctified by faith." "Whoever has this hope in him, purifies himself." (Acts 15:9; 26:18; 1 John 3:3.). A believer loves what God loves—and hates what God hates. His heart's desire is to walk in the way of God's commandments, and to abstain from all manner of evil. His wish is to follow after the things which are just, and pure, and honest, and lovely—and to cleanse himself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. He falls far short of his aim, in many things. He finds his daily life, a constant fight with indwelling corruption. But he fights on—and resolutely refuses to serve sin. Where there is no holiness, we may be sure there is no saving faith! An unholy man is not a genuine believer!

He who truly believes in Christ—works godly WORKS. It is written, that "faith works by love" (Gal. 5:6). True belief will never make a man idle, or allow him to sit still, contented with his own religion. It will stir him to do acts of love, kindness, and charity, according as he sees opportunity. It will constrain him to walk in the steps of his Master, who "went about doing good." In one way or another, it will make him work. The works that he does may attract no notice from the world. They may seem trifling and insignificant to many people. But they are not forgotten by Him who notices a cup of cold water given for His sake. Where there is no working love—there is no faith. A lazy, selfish professing Christian—has no right to regard himself as a genuine believer!

He who truly believes in Christ—overcomes the WORLD. It is written, that "whoever is born of God, overcomes the world—and this is the victory which overcomes the world—even our faith" (1 John 5:4). A true believer is not ruled by the world's standard of right or wrong, of truth or error. He is independent of the world's opinion. He cares little for the world's praise. He is not moved by the world's censure. He does not seek for the world's pleasures. He is not ambitious of the world's rewards. He looks at things unseen—he sees an invisible Savior, a coming judgment, and a crown of glory which never fades away. The sight of these objects, makes him think comparatively little of this present world. Where the world reigns in the heart—there is no genuine faith. A man who is habitually conformed to the world—is not a genuine believer!

He who truly believes in Christ—has the witness of the Holy Spirit. He has hopes, joys, fears, sorrows, consolations, expectations, of which he knew nothing before he believed. He has internal evidences which the world cannot understand. Where there are no inward pious feelings—there is no faith. A man who knows nothing of an inward, spiritual, experimental religion—is not a genuine believer!

He who truly believes in Christ—has a special regard to the person of CHRIST Himself. It is written, "Unto you who believe—Christ is precious" (1 Peter 2:7). That text deserves especial notice. It does not say "Christianity" is precious, or the "Gospel" is precious, or "salvation" is precious—but Christ Himself! A true believer's religion, does not consist in mere intellectual assent to a certain set of propositions and doctrines. It is not a mere cold belief of a certain set of truths and facts concerning Christ. It consists in union, communion, and fellowship with an actual living Person, even Jesus the Son of God. It is a life of . . .
faith in Jesus,
confidence in Jesus,
leaning on Jesus,
drawing out of the fullness of Jesus,
speaking to Jesus,
working for Jesus,
loving Jesus, and
looking for Jesus to come again.
Such life may sound like enthusiasm to many. But where there is true faith, Christ will always be known and realized, as an actual living personal Friend! He who knows nothing of Christ as his own Priest, Physician, Redeemer, Advocate, Friend, Teacher, and Shepherd—knows nothing yet of genuine believing!

Where these marks of which I have been speaking, are utterly lacking, I dare not tell a man that he is a true believer. He may be called a Christian, and attend a Christian church. But if he knows nothing of these marks—I dare not pronounce him a believer. He is yet dead in trespasses and sins. Except he awakes to newness of life, he will perish everlastingly.

Show me a man who has these marks—and I feel a strong confidence about the state of his soul. He may be poor and needy in this world—but he is rich in the sight of God. He may be despised and sneered at by man—but he is honorable in the sight of the King of kings. He is traveling towards heaven! He has a mansion ready for him in the Father's house. He is cared for by Christ, while on earth. He will be owned by Christ before assembled worlds, in the life which is to come!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The nails which pierced Christ's hands!

by William Secker, condensed from "The Consistent Christian" 1660)

Though repentance is the act of man—yet it is the gift of God. It requires the same power to melt the heart—as to make it. As we are deeply fallen from a state of innocence, so we should rise to a state of penitence. Those sins shall never make a hell for us—which are a hell to us. Some people have sin enough for all their sorrows—but not sorrow enough for all their sins. Their eyes are windows to let in lusts—when they should be flood-gates to pour out tears!

When godly sorrow takes possession of the house—it will quickly shut sin out of doors. There must be a falling out with our lusts—before there can be a genuine falling off from our lusts. There must be a sincere loathing of sin in our affections—before a true leaving of sin in our actions. It is a hearty mourning for our transgressions, which makes way for a happy funeral of our corruptions!

Sinner, you have filled the book of God with your sins—and will you not fill the bottle of God with your tears? Remember, that when Christ draws the likeness of the new creature, His first brush is dipped in water: "Unless you repent—you shall all likewise perish!" Is it not better to repent without perishing—than to perish without repenting? Godly sorrow is such a grace, that without it—not a soul shall be saved; and with it—not a soul shall be lost! Is it not therefore better to swim in the water-works of godly repentance—than to burn in the fire-works of divine vengeance? Do not think that the tears which are shed in hell—will in the least abate the torments which are suffered in hell!

He who lives in sin, without repentance—shall die in sin, without forgiveness. There is no coming to the fair haven of glory—without sailing through the narrow strait of repentance. We must mourn for sin on earth—or burn for sin in hell! It is better traveling to heaven sadly—than to hell merrily!

It is the coldness of our hearts—which kindles the fire of God's anger. "They will look on Me whom they have pierced—and shall mourn!" Zechariah 12:10. Christians! The nails which pierced Christ's hands—should now pierce your hearts! You should now be deeply wounded with godly sorrow—for having so deeply wounded Him with your ungodly sins!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Religionists of the Day

by J.C. Philpot, condensed from "Faith's Standing-Ground" 1862.
If you can't see the media player, click on the post title.

"And everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to Me." Luke 21:17

Professors of religion have always been the deadliest enemies of the children of God.

Who were so opposed to the blessed Lord as the Scribes and Pharisees? It was the religious teachers and leaders who crucified the Lord of glory!

And so in every age the religionists of the day have been the hottest and bitterest persecutors of the Church of Christ.

Nor is the case altered now. The more the children of God are firm in the truth, the more they enjoy its power, the more they live under its influence, and the more tenderly and conscientiously they walk in godly fear, the more will the professing generation of the day hate them with a deadly hatred.

Let us not think that we can disarm it by a godly life; for the more that we walk in the sweet enjoyment of heavenly truth and let our light shine before men as having been with Jesus, the more will this draw down their hatred and contempt.

"And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not." John 17:14

Monday, July 12, 2010

Natural or Spiritual? by C.H. Spurgeon

The following excerpt is from "Natural or Spiritual?" — a sermon preached on Sunday morning September 1, 1861, at the Met Tab in London.

It is a well-known fact, and one which can be proved by the observation of every day, that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. Mark, we lay this down as a rule.

We do not say that the drunken or debauched natural man receives not the things of God. That is true; but we also insist upon it that the delicate and the refined natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God. I do not pick out some one case, and say the uneducated, illiterate, coarse, low-minded natural man cannot comprehend spiritual things; but all alike, the most intelligent, enlightened, and trained natural men, equally, do not, and cannot, and will not comprehend the things of the Spirit of God. Like our apostle, we take a wide range, and do not leave out one.

However amiable in natural temperament, however well trained by the best parental associations, however kept in check by the most excellent position in providence, however patriotic, however self-denying, however benevolent, however estimable in any other respects, the natural man does not and cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God.

Now—look around and search for the facts which prove the truth of this. How many natural men there are, and such as you would call good men too in some ways, who oppose violently the things of the Spirit of God? They do not believe them; nay, they say they are a lie. They cannot understand how men should be simpletons enough to believe such ridiculous things. Honestly do they imagine that they shall be snapping the chains of priestcraft and unrivetting the fetters of superstition, if they should come forward and attempt to prove that these spiritual things are a mere delusion.

There, gentlemen, we have lived to see you, under a profession of religion, actually oppose those spiritual things which this religion teaches. We have lived to see what we scarcely ever dreamed to be possible—clergymen of the Church of England themselves denying the truths which they swore they would defend, and in their "Essays and Reviews" seeking to cast down those spiritual things which once they professed to have understood when they claimed to have received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of their bishop.

We have not only in these times opened and avowed infidel lecturers who, like honest men deny everything openly, but we have the hypocritical Christian infidel who, like a dishonest thief and wolf in sheep's clothing, willing always to take the gain of godliness, denies godliness itself. Perhaps it was left for this age to permit wickedness to culminate to the highest, and to see the growth of the vilest hypocrisy that ever appeared among the sons of men.

We have had abundant proof that men of the most scientific minds, persons who have been exceedingly inquiring, men who have trod the realms of knowledge, and gone even to the seventh heaven of wisdom, that these have nevertheless proved that they could not receive the things of the kingdom of God, by their determined opposition and enmity against anything like the truth as it is in Jesus. When you hear them blaspheming the holy name of Christ, when you hear them bringing what they call "scientific facts" against the truth of revelation, be not amazed as though it were some new thing, but write this down in your memorandum book—the Holy Ghost said of old, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God," and these men live to prove that what the Spirit of God said was very truth.

A greater proportion of persons there are who do not so much oppose violently as more secretly despise and condemn. Well, they tell us, they dare say that the Christian religion is a very good thing for some people, and especially for old women and for persons that are on the borders of the grave, but still no rational being would endorse full all the doctrines of the gospel, and especially that particular form of them which John Calvin taught; for if there be any doctrines that excite more the spleen of the wise men than any other, it is the doctrines of grace, the doctrine of discriminating, distinguishing love, the doctrine of divine sovereignty, the doctrine of God, being really God, and not man.

Against these they have no words too bitter. "Oh," they say, "it is an exploded theory; it has had its day, and it has become effete," and so, without actually persecuting those who hold the truth, or without even setting themselves up by active efforts to put it down they do secretly with a sneer and with a jest, pass it by as a thing utterly unworthy of a rational person, a thing that is not for a moment to be thought of as being one half so important as the wing of a beetle, or as the particular flight of a sparrow, or the period of the migration of a swallow.

All the facts of natural history they think valuable and important, but these grander truths which have to do with the kingdom of God they despise utterly, and think they are but the dream of simpletons.

Again, I say, my brethren, marvel not at this. Let this be to you another argument that the Spirit of God knew what was in man, and rightly judged of the human heart when he said, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God."


Sunday, July 11, 2010

I am a perverse and unruly patient!

By John Newton (1725-1807)

I am bound to speak well of my Physician—He treats me with great tenderness, and bids me in due time to expect a perfect cure. I know too much of Him (though I know but little) to doubt either His skill or His promise.

It is true, I have suffered sad relapses since I have been under His care. Yet I confess, that the fault has not been His—but my own! I am a perverse and unruly patient! I have too often neglected His prescriptions, and broken the regimen He appoints me to observe. This perverseness, joined to the exceeding obstinacy of my disorders, would have caused me to be turned out as an incurable long ago—had I been under any other hand but His! Indeed—there is none like Him! When I have brought myself very low—He has still helped me. Blessed be His name—I am yet kept alive only by means of His perfect care.

Though His medicines are all beneficial—they are not all pleasant. Now and then He gives me a pleasant cordial; but I have many severe disorders, in which there is a needs-be for my frequently taking His bitter and unpalatable medicines!

We sometimes see published in the newspapers, acknowledgments of cures received. Methinks, if I were to publish my own case, that it would run something like this:

"I, John Newton, have long labored under a multitude of grievous disorders:
a fever of ungoverned passions,
a cancer of pride,
a frenzy of wild imaginations,
a severe lethargy, and
a deadly stroke!

In this deplorable situation, I suffered many things from many physicians, spent every penny I had—yet only grew worse and worse!

In this condition, Jesus, the Physician of souls, found me when I sought Him not. He undertook my recovery freely, without money and without price—these are His terms with all His patients! My fever is now abated, my senses are restored, my faculties are enlivened! In a word, I am a new man! And from His ability, His promise, and the experience of what He has already done—I have the fullest assurance that He will infallibly and perfectly heal me—and that I shall live forever as a monument of His power and grace!"


Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Love of God by A.W. Pink

There are three things told us in Scripture concerning the nature of God.

First, "God is spirit" (John 4:24). In the Greek there is no indefinite article, and to say "God is a spirit" is most objectionable, for it places Him in a class with others. God is "spirit" in the highest sense. Because He is "spirit" He is incorporeal, having no visible substance. Had God a tangible body, He would not be omnipresent, He would be limited to one place; because He is "spirit" He fills heaven and earth.

Secondly, "God is light" (1 John 1:5), which is the opposite of darkness. In Scripture "darkness" stands for sin, evil, death, and "light" for holiness, goodness, life. "God is light" means that He is the sum of all excellency.

Thirdly, "God is love" (1 John 4:8). It is not simply that God "loves," but that He is Love itself. Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature.

There are many today who talk about the love of God, who are total strangers to the God of love. The divine love is commonly regarded as a species of amiable weakness, a sort of good-natured indulgence; it is reduced to a mere sickly sentiment, patterned after human emotion. Now the truth is that on this, as on everything else, our thoughts need to be formed and regulated by what is revealed thereon in Holy Scripture. That there is urgent need for this is apparent not only from the ignorance which so generally prevails, but also the low state of spirituality which is now so sadly evident everywhere among professing Christians. How little real love there is for God. One chief reason for this is because our hearts are so little occupied with His wondrous love for His people. The better we are acquainted with His love—its character, fullness, blessedness the more will our hearts be drawn out in love to Him.

1. The love of God is UNINFLUENCED. By this we mean, there was nothing whatever in the objects of His love to call it into exercise, nothing in the creature to attract or prompt it. The love which one creature has for another is because of something in the object; but the love of God is free, spontaneous, uncaused. The only reason why God loves any, is found in His own sovereign will: "The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you" (Deut 7:7-8). God has loved His people from everlasting, and therefore nothing about the creature can be the cause of what is found in God from eternity. He loves from Himself "according to His own purpose" (2 Tim 1:9).

"We love Him, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). God did not love us because we loved Him; but He loved us before we had a particle of love for Him. Had God loved us in return for ours, then it would not be spontaneous on His part; but because He loved us when we were loveless, it is clear that His love was uninfluenced. It is highly important, if God is to be honored and the heart of His child established, that we should be quite clear upon this precious truth. God's love for me and for each of "His own" was entirely unmoved by anything in us. What was there in me to attract the heart of God? Absolutely nothing. But, to the contrary, there was everything to repel Him, everything calculated to make Him loathe me—sinful, depraved, a mass of corruption, with "no good thing" in me.

"What was there in me that could merit esteem,
Or give the Creator delight?
'Twas even so, Father, I ever must sing,
Because it seemed good in Your sight."

Continue reading here about the attributes of God's love:
2. The love of God is ETERNAL.
3. The love of God is SOVEREIGN
4. The love of God is INFINITE.
5. The love of God is IMMUTABLE.
6. The love of God is HOLY.
7. The love of God is GRACIOUS.

Self-Denial by Richard Baxter (1615-1691)

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23

You hear ministers tell you of the odiousness and danger and sad effects of sin; but of all the sins that you ever heard of, there is scarce any more odious and dangerous than selfishness; and yet most are never troubled at it, nor sensible of its malignity. My principal request therefore to you is, that as ever you would prove Christians indeed, and be saved from sin and the damnation which follows it—take heed of this deadly sin of selfishness, and be sure you are possessed with true self-denial; and if you have, see that you use and live upon it.

And for your help herein, I shall tell you how your self-denial must be tried. I shall only tell you in a few words, how the least measure of true self-denial may be known: wherever the interest of carnal self is stronger and more predominant habitually than the interest of God, of Christ, of everlasting life, there is no true self-denial or saving grace; but where God's interest is strongest, there self-denial is sincere. If you further ask me how this may be known, briefly thus:

1. What is it that you live for? What is that good which your mind is principally set to obtain? And what is that end which you principally design and endeavor to obtain, and which you set your heart on, and lay out your hopes upon? Is it the pleasing and glorifying of God, and the everlasting fruition of Him? Or is it the pleasing of your fleshly mind in the fruition of any inferior thing? Know this, and you may know whether self or God has the greatest interest in you. For that is your God which you love most, and please best, and would do most for.

2. Which do you most prize—the means of your salvation and of the glory of God, or the means of providing for self and flesh? Do you more prize Christ and holiness, which are the way to God—or riches, honor, and pleasures, which gratify the flesh? Know this, and you may know whether you have true self-denial.

3. If you are truly self-denying, you are ordinarily ruled by God, and His Word and Spirit, and not by the carnal self. Which is the rule and master of your lives? Whose word and will is it ordinarily that prevails? When God draws, and self draws—which do you follow in the tenor of your life? Know this, and you may know whether you have true self-denial.

4. If you have true self-denial, the drift of your lives is carried on in a successful opposition to your carnal self, so that you not only refuse to be ruled by it, and love it as your god—but you fight against it, and tread it down as your enemy. So that you go armed against self in the course of your lives, and are striving against self in every duty. And as others think—it then goes best with them, when self is highest and pleased best; so you will know that then it goes best with you—when self is lowest, and most effectually subdued.

5. If you have true self-denial, there is nothing in this world so dear to you, but on deliberation you would leave it for God. He who has anything which he loves so well that he cannot spare it for God, is a selfish and unsanctified wretch. And therefore God has still put men to it, in the trial of their sincerity, to part with that which was dearest to the flesh. Abraham must be tried by parting with his only son. And Christ makes it His standing rule, "Any of you who does not give up everything he has, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).

Yet it is true that flesh and blood may make much resistance in a gracious heart; and many a striving thought there may be, before with Abraham we part with a son, or before we can part with wealth or life; but yet on deliberation, self-denial will prevail. There is nothing so dear to a gracious soul, which he cannot spare at the will of God, and the hope of everlasting life. If with Peter we would flinch in a temptation—we should return with Peter in weeping bitterly, and give Christ those lives that in a temptation we denied Him.

6. In a word, true self-denial is procured by the knowledge and love of God, advancing Him in the soul—to debasing of self. The illuminated soul is so much taken with the glory and goodness of the Lord, that it carries him out of himself to God, and as it were estranges him from himself, that he may have communion with God. This makes him vile in his own eyes, and to abhor himself in dust and ashes. It is not a stoical resolution, but the love of God and the hopes of glory—which make him throw away the world, and look contemptuously on all below, so far as they are mere provision for flesh.

Search now, and try your hearts by these evidences, whether you are possessed of this necessary grace of self-denial. O make not light of the matter! For I must tell you that self is the most treacherous enemy, and the most insinuating deceiver in the world! It will be within you when you are not aware of it and will conquer you when you perceive not yourselves much troubled with it. Of all other vices, selfishness is both the hardest to find out and the hardest to cure. Be sure therefore in the first place, that you have self-denial; and then be sure you use it and live in the practice of it.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Examine Yourself - John MacArthur

Are you a Christian? Many people who claim to be point to some event in the past to substantiate their claim. But inviting Jesus to come into your life in the past is not proof that you are genuinely saved. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul says to the Corinthian church, " Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove yourselves (emphasis added)." He wouldn't have said that if some event in the past were obviously the answer. The Bible never verifies anyone's salvation by the past but by the present. If there is no evidence of salvation in your life now, you need to face the fact that you may not be a Christian. You need to examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. How does one do that? Jesus shows us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

The Distinguishing Mark of a Christian

Before Jesus was born, the religious leaders of Israel had already decided what it meant to live righteously. They had developed a system contrary to Scripture based on self- righteousness generated by doing good works. When Jesus entered the world, He shattered their religious system by upholding the standard revealed in God's Word. He revealed how a citizen of His Kingdom really lives.

If you want to know if you're a Christian, compare your life with the standard Christ presents in the Sermon on the Mount. One word summarizes His standard: righteousness. Examine the lives of many professing Christians, and you'll find no such righteousness. Someone once told me about a woman who said she was a Christian but was living with a man who was not her husband. First Corinthians 6:9 says that those characterized by sexual immorality ("fornicators") "shall not inherit the kingdom of God ." That woman was living in a state of unrighteousness. But righteousness characterizes true conversion.

Matthew 5:20, the key verse in the Sermon on the Mount, says, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." The scribes and Pharisees went to the Temple regularly, paid tithes, fasted, and prayed constantly. But Christ wasn't impressed with their religious performance. He said no one would enter His Kingdom whose righteousness didn't exceed theirs. Righteousness--living by God's standards--is what sets a person apart as God's child.

Hebrews 12:14 says, "Follow ... holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." Second Timothy 2:19 says, "The Lord knoweth them that are his; and, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." Titus 1:16 says that some people "profess that they know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." A person's profession of Christ means nothing apart from obedience and holiness. Some people believe you can come to Jesus Christ without a consequent change in life-style. But God expects a transformation. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." First John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Being righteous doesn't mean you never sin; it means you confess your sin to the Lord, repent of it, and despise it. First John 2:3 says, "By this we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." In John 14:15 Christ said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." First John 2:9 says, "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now." First John 3:9 says, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."

The Bible makes it clear that those who are genuinely saved are righteous and holy. They still sin, but with decreasing frequency. A true believer hates his sin (cf., Rom. 7:15-25) and repents of it, hungering and thirsting for what is right. He obeys God, loves his brother, and hates the evil world system. No one can be a Christian and continue living the way he did before he knew Christ. Making a decision years ago, going to an inquiry room, walking an aisle, or reading a tract on how to accept Christ is not a biblical criterion for salvation--the issue is what your life is like right now. If sin and unrighteousness characterize your life, there is a possibility you are a disobedient Christian--but there is a greater possibility you are not a Christian at all...

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Faith Made Stronger

Message on Romans 4:16-22, Genesis 17:15-22 by Pastor Ron Bridge of Rehoboth Baptist Church given on June 27, 2010

"Genuine faith is not passive. It is active. Faith is a gift from God and He expects us to do something with it. What do you think it is that He expects us to do? Live by it. Live by it. What is faith? Well, lets be reminded of what we've said. It is a heart felt genuine belief that what God has done in Christ is the sufficient and only way of salvation. It is to believe what God has said is true and to believe it to the extent that what God says then becomes the principle of our lives. In other words, it is to venture one's whole life on God."
-Pastor Bridge

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

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Monday, July 5, 2010

On Personal Bible Study

by Tim Challies

My knowledge of Scripture is nowhere near encyclopedic. However, I am quite sure that if I were to sit back today and read the Bible from cover to cover I would not find a direct command from God saying “Thou shalt read the Bible daily.” I would not find a guide to personal devotions and I wouldn’t find chapter and verse requiring daily quiet times. However, neither do I need to have that kind of explicit command in order to understand the value of spending time every day reading the Bible.

When I think about the area of daily Bible study I find my mind drawn to the issue of assurance of salvation—whether or not a Christian can be certain that he is saved. I think I am led this way because the Bible is so central, so integral to the Christian life, that to feel no love for it, no desire to study it, must be a sign of spiritual sickness. I would certainly never say that a person who does not want to study the Bible or who does not enjoy studying the Bible is not a Christian. But I would venture to say that the Christian life is so dependent upon Scripture that a person who has no regard for the Bible and who shows little interest in it would have good reason to seriously consider his salvation. Such a person would do well to examine his soul to see if he really has come to know the Lord.

Let’s look to just a few reasons why we, as Christians, should desire to know and study the Bible...

Continue reading here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

Each year on July 4th our nation observes its annual celebration of Independence Day. Festivities of all kinds are held which serve to remind us of the freedom that we enjoy. This freedom is not to be taken for granted and ever since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 a new appreciation for freedom has been felt by many resulting in a wave of patriotism that has not been witnessed since World War II. Many have considered, perhaps for the first time, the tremendous cost to procure this freedom, realizing that freedom has come at the price of many precious lives being offered on battlefields throughout the world. I trust that every United States citizen reading this cherishes the freedom we have, not only on July 4th, but every day of the year.

The Bible has much to say about freedom, not so much the kind of freedom mentioned above, but the freedom we can have from sin and its consequences. Consider the following dialogue between the Lord Jesus and some religious Jews of His day recorded in John 8:31-36, "If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered Him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant [slave] of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." It is interesting to see that as soon as the Lord Jesus broached the subject of freedom, His hearers immediately thought of being free from the tyranny of other men. Thus their response was that they were free from men (which was actually not true, for they were in bondage to the Roman Empire). But the Lord's reply ("whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin") revealed to them a much deeper form of bondage that enslaved them--the bondage of sin.

These words, though addressed to religious Jews 2,000 years ago, apply equally to all men at all times. The Bible clearly states, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Since all have sinned, and whoever commits sin is the servant of sin, we must conclude that all are in bondage to sin. You cannot escape this conclusion, for the Word of God declares it. If you are honest with yourself you will admit that your own experience agrees with the testimony of the Word, for you know that you have sinned and that there are particular sins that enslave you. Add to this bad news the truth that sin has terrible consequences beyond this life, for we read in Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death" and in Hebrews 9:27, "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." God is holy and hates sin, and as the divine Judge of the universe, this is the two-fold penalty that He has passed because of sin.

Were we to end this article at this point, all would be doom and gloom. But did we not read of the Lord Jesus speaking of being made free? We most assuredly did! He stated clearly and emphatically that "the truth shall make you free" and "if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." What did He mean by those words spoken as He was looking on to Calvary's cross where He would lay down His sinless life for us and bear the two-fold penalty of sin in our stead? The Bible says, "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3) and that "Christ also hath suffered once for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). Yes, dear friend, in love for you and me the Lord Jesus allowed wicked men to put Him on a cross and on that cross He suffered, bled and died for our sins. It was there that God "made Him sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). God treated His Son as if He were the sinner, executing His divine justice by pouring out His wrath against sin. After three hours of awful judgment, Jesus cried out, "It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost" (John 19:30). The two-fold penalty against sin (death and judgment) was paid!

That wondrous day, when the Son of God laid down His spotless life for sinners, is the true Independence Day. Because of what happened on that day, you can be set free from sin's bondage and its penalty by claiming the Lord Jesus, by faith, as your Saviour. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). The moment you trust in Christ and His finished work at Calvary you will be redeemed, which means to be "set free by a purchase price." Then, and only then, will you experience true freedom from sin, and you will gladly give Christ all the glory for your new-found freedom, knowing that "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18,19). We mentioned the many lives offered on battlefields to procure our nation's freedom, but salvation brings with it the knowledge that Christ "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26). Such is the infinite value of the Lord Jesus, and the work He did to put away sin!

I would like to relate briefly the conversion of Jesse, a middle-aged man who is now serving a life sentence for murder in a State Penitentiary. I met Jesse at a Bible study which I conduct in a county jail. I found him to be very remorseful for what he had done, so much so that he entertained committing suicide. It was a privilege to point Jesse to the Saviour of sinners and within four weeks he turned in true repentance and faith to the One who said, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). He found true freedom in Christ and on the day of his sentencing (six months after he trusted Christ) I was able to say to his parents what Jesse had intimated to me many times, "Your son may be spending the rest of his natural life behind bars, but he is truly free." In my correspondence and visitation with him since then, his freedom through Christ has been manifested again and again. May this freedom, dear reader, be yours also!

--Dennis J. Oberg

Friday, July 2, 2010

Repent or Perish!

by Arthur Pink

"Unless you repent—you too will all perish!" Luke 13:3

These were the words of the incarnate Son of God. They have never been cancelled; nor will they be as long as this world lasts. Repentance is absolute and necessary if the sinner is to make peace with God (Isaiah 27:5), for repentance is the throwing down the weapons of rebellion against Him. Repentance does not save, yet no sinner ever was or ever will be saved without it. None but Christ saves—but an impenitent heart cannot receive Him.

A sinner cannot truly believe—until he repents. This is clear from the words of Christ concerning His forerunner, "For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him" (Matthew 21:32).

It is also evident from His clarion call in Mark 1:15, "Repent—and believe the gospel." This is why the apostle Paul testified "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). Make no mistake on this point dear reader, God "now commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30).

In requiring repentance from us, God is pressing His righteous claims upon us. He is infinitely worthy of supreme love and honor, and of universal obedience. This we have wickedly denied Him. Both an acknowledgment and amendment of this is required from us. Our disaffection for Him and our rebellion against Him are to be owned and made an end of. Thus repentance is a heartfelt realization of how dreadfully I have failed, all through my life, to give God His rightful place in my heart and daily walk. The righteousness of God's demand for my repentance, is evident if we consider the heinous nature of sin. Sin is a renouncing of Him who made me. It is refusing Him His right to govern me. It is the determination to please myself; thus, it is rebellion against the Almighty. Sin is spiritual lawlessness, and utter disregard for God's authority. It is saying in my heart: "I do not care what God requires—I am going to have my own way! I do not care what God's claim upon me is—I am going to be master over myself!" Reader, do you realize that this is how you have lived?

True repentance issues from a realization in the heart, wrought therein by the Holy Spirit, of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, of the awfulness of ignoring the claims of Him who made me, of defying His authority. It is therefore a holy hatred and horror of sin, a deep sorrow for it, and acknowledgment of it before God, and a heart-forsaking of it. Not until this is done will God pardon us.

"He who covers his sins shall not prosper! But whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). In true repentance the heart turns to God and acknowledges, "My heart has been set upon a vain world, which could not meet the needs of my soul. I forsook You, the fountain of living waters, and turned unto broken cisterns that can hold no water. I now own and bewail my folly!" But more, it says, "I have been a disloyal and rebellious creature—but I will be so no longer. I now desire and determine with all my might to serve and obey You as my only Lord. I flee to You as my present and everlasting Portion!"

Reader, be you a professing Christian or not—it is repent or perish. For everyone of us, church members or otherwise, it is either turn—or burn! Turn from your course of self-will and self-pleasing; turn in brokenness of heart to God, seeking His mercy in Christ; turn with full purpose of heart to please and serve HIM—or be tormented day and night, forever and ever, in the Lake of Fire! Which shall it be? Oh, get down on your knees right now and beg God to give you the spirit of true repentance!

"Him has God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior—to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31). "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death!" (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Signs of the Times

Keep in mind this was written in the 19th century. How much more does it apply now!

Sign of the Times by J. C. Ryle, October 21, 1884

Enormous luxury, extravagance, self-indulgence, mammon-worship, and an idolatry of fashion and amusements, are sorrowful marks of our times.

With all our outward show of religion, is there any proportionate increase of internal reality? With all this immense growth of external Christianity, is there any corresponding growth of vital godliness? Is there more faith, repentance, and holiness among the worshipers in our churches? Is there more of that saving faith without which it is impossible to please God, more of that repentance unto salvation without which a man must perish, and more of that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord? Is our Lord Jesus Christ more known and trusted and loved and obeyed? Is the inward work of the Holy Spirit more realized and experienced among our people? Are the grand verities of justification, conversion, sanctification, more thoroughly grasped and rightly esteemed by our congregations? Is there more private Bible reading, private prayer, private self-denial, private mortification of the flesh, private exhibition of meekness, gentleness, and unselfishness? In a word, is there more private religion at home in all the relations of life?

These are very serious questions, and I wish they could receive very satisfactory answers. I sometimes fear that there is an enormous amount of hollowness and unreality in much of the Church religion of the present day, and that, if weighed in God's balances, it would be found terribly wanting.

For after all, we must remember that it is written, 'Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.' The great Head of the Church has said, 'This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.' He has also said, 'The true worshipers shall worship in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him.' If there is one thing more clearly taught than another in the Word of God, it is the utter uselessness of formal outward worship, however beautifully conducted, when the hearts of the worshipers are not right in the sight of God.

I suspect that the Temple worship in the days when our Lord Jesus Christ was upon earth was as perfectly and beautifully performed as possible. I have little doubt that the music, the singing, the prayers, the dress of the priests, the gestures, the postures, the regularity and punctuality of the ceremonial observances, the keeping of the feasts and fasts, were all perfection itself, and there was nothing faulty or defective. But where was true saving religion in those days? What was the inward godliness of men like Annas and Caiaphas and their companions? What was the general standard of living among the fierce zealots of the law of Moses who crucified the Lord of Glory? You all know as well as I do. There is only one answer. The whole Jewish Church, with all its magnificent ritual, was nothing but a great whited sepulcher, beautiful without, but utterly rotten and corrupt within. In short, the Jewish Church was intended by God to be a beacon to all Christendom, and I am certain that these are days in which its lessons ought not to be forgotten.

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