Sunday, October 31, 2010

Here I Stand!

"Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen." -Martin Luther

See Chris Castaldo's explanation of what happened when Luther was asked to recant before the Diet of Worms in 1521.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Priesthood of Believers

by Peter Leithart

This weekend, Protestants commemorate Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door, a call to disputation that marks the symbolic starting point for the Reformation. As Luther slashed through the corruptions of late medieval Catholicism, “priesthood of all believers” rapidly became one of the great slogans of the Reformation.

Every Christian is a cleric, Luther proclaimed in one of his earliest treatises, The Freedom of a Christian, and those who “are now boastfully called popes, bishops, and lords” are in reality “ministers, servants, and stewards, who are to serve the rest in the ministry of the word”—servants of the servants of God. Whether he knew it or not, Luther was ringing the changes on a patristic teaching that had never wholly been lost during the medieval period.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What's the Least I Can Do?

by Dane Ortlund @ Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology

That's the question we all tend to roll out of bed asking. What's the least I can do here? What's the minimum requirement? What bar do I have to meet, after which I can do what I want to do?

It's the question Peter asked with respect to forgiveness--what's the least number of times I can forgive before finally having the right to stop forgiving? (Matthew 18:21-35)

It's the question the Pharisees asked with respect to marriage--what's the least excuse I can have for divorcing my wife? (Matthew 19:1-12)

It's the question the rich young man asked with respect to morality--what's the least I can do to have eternal life? (Matthew 19:16-22)

C. S. Lewis insightfully writes:

Our temptation is to look eagerly for the minimum that will be accepted. We are in fact very like honest but reluctant taxpayers. We approve of an income tax in principle. We make our returns truthfully. But we dread a rise in the tax. We are very careful to pay no more than is necessary. And we hope—we very ardently hope—that after we have paid it there will still be enough left to live on. ('A Slip of the Tongue,' in The Weight of Glory [Touchstone 1996], 140).

The alternative?

'But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.' --Matthew 6:33

'. . . how shall he not also with him graciously give us all things?' --Romans 8:32

Taxpaying obedience is miserable. Quit dividing your time between you and God. Kill your self-preservation instinct. Kill it. Galatians 2:20.

Violent all-out surrender is our only rest; our only real, solid joy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Life in Christ: Dead to Sin

Message on Romans 6:3-7 by Pastor Ron Bridge of Rehoboth Baptist Church given on Sep 19, 2010

"Every failure that we experience is not because the Holy Spirit is not strong enough, it's not because God doesn't want us to be Holy. Every, every failure that we experience is due in some way even a small way to the fact that we are still self-reliant, still putting confidence in ourselves, in our ability in the flesh. Guess what, the flesh will always fail us, always fail us because it is the nature of the flesh to sin. I can tell you my own personal experience of fighting and struggling against sin by my own strength is a losing proposition it's always a losing proposition. If we are spiritually wise we will learn the warning signs that we are slipping into self-reliance, and there are some very clear warning signs that we are slipping into self-reliance. It begins with a shallowness in prayer." -Pastor Bridge

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

Download mp3 here

Monday, October 25, 2010

Justification by Jesus Christ Alone (John Gerstner)

The late John Gerstner contrasts the historic Protestant view of justification with Rome's.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

What Does Worldliness Look Like?

by Phil Johnson

Christians in earlier generations were a lot more concerned about worldliness than we typically are. Many evangelicals these days don't even seem to be aware that worldliness is still a sin.

A major shift seems to have occurred in less than three decades' time. I have vivid recollections of the two semesters I spent in fundamentalist purgatory in the mid-1970s. Worldliness was one of the most oft-mentioned sins by chapel speakers at the Baptist college where I was enrolled.

Continue reading here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Shai Linne - Preaching The Gospel

Shai Linne certainly preaches the true Gospel in this video clip from 2008.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dangerous Ministry?

by Rick Holland

I love missions. And I really love our church’s missionaries.

One of my favorite parts of our ministry is when we get to interview missionaries on Sunday mornings. A few weeks ago I interviewed Rosie Martinez. She works with inner city girls who are orphans, drug addicts, and prostitutes in Mexico City. She is a fireball for Jesus. You should watch the video of her testimony on the Grace Community Church website to recalibrate your gospel priorities.

Among the many encouraging and challenging things she shared with Crossroads on that Sunday, there was something unexpected. Unexpected, scary, and refreshing.

One of the questions I asked her was if there were any opportunities for us to come to Mexico City for a short-term ministry trip.

“Yes!” she gleamed.

“But I cannot ensure the safety of anyone who comes.”

The room got very still. She went on to tell us that the drug cartels did not want her invading their territories and stealing their prostitutes, even if it was Jesus who was doing the stealing. Being beaten, shot, and even killed is a real threat to her and those who minister with her every day.

I haven’t stopped thinking about what she said to us. “I cannot ensure your safety if you come to minister with me.” I wonder how many parents would be willing to send their high school or college students to spend a week with her. I wonder what I would say if one of my sons wanted to go.

The verse that has been echoing in my mind since that day is Acts 20:24. Paul was saying a final goodbye to the Ephesians elders who had traveled to Miletus to see him. During that tearful interchange he made this profound statement:

“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”

To put it in Rosie’s terms, his safety was not ensured and he was content with that because of the inestimable value of participating in gospel ministry.

All this makes me ask myself some hard questions:
  1. Is my life too “dear” to myself?
  2. Am I willing to do ministry where and when my safety is not ensured?
  3. Will I let my sons risk their lives for Jesus if they are inclined?
  4. Am I passionate about “finishing my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus”?
  5. Am I too comfortable in my ministry?
I hope you will ask similar questions today…

This article first appeared here at Approaching Damascus.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

“Half-Baked” Christianity

by Pastor Larry DeBruyn for Worldliness

A meditation upon Hosea 7:8.

"Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not. And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this." Hosea 7:8-10, KJV

In a previous generation, a churchman observed of the church's relationship to the surrounding culture of that era and said: "I looked for the church and found it in the world. I looked for the world and found it in the church." In the history of American Christianity there perhaps has never been a time when the criticism uttered by that Englishman against the church of his day is not also an apt indictment of Christianity in our culture today.

Continue reading here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Justification by Faith - C.H. Spurgeon

A Sermon by C. H. Spurgeon given on April 28th, 1867.

"A man, when the Spirit of God is bringing him to Christ, discovers that his past life has been marred badly, by serious offences against the law of God. Before the Spirit of God comes into our soul, we are like being in a room in the dark: we cannot see in it. We cannot discover the cobwebs, the spiders, the foul and loathsome things that may be lurking there. But when the Spirit of God comes streaming into the soul, the man is astonished to find that he is what he is, and especially if he sits down and opens the book of the law, and, in the light of the divine Spirit, reads that perfect law, and compares with it his own imperfect heart and life. He will then grow sick of himself, even to loathing and, sometimes, despair. Take but one command. Perhaps there are some here who will say, "I know I have been very chaste all my life, for the command saith, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery,' and I have never broken it; I am clean there." Ay, but now hear Christ explain the command, "He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Now, then, who amongst us can say that we have not done that? Who is there upon earth, if that be the meaning of the command, who can say, "I am innocent?" If the law of God, as we are told by Scripture, has to deal, not with our outward actions alone, but with our words, and with our thoughts, and with our imaginations—if it is so exceeding broad that it applies to the most secret part of a man, then who of us can plead guiltless before the throne?"

Listen below or read the complete sermon here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Say "Aah": Take This Spiritual Tongue Test

By Sinclair Ferguson

My first doctor was a man of great personal warmth and reassuring presence. As a child, I thought of him with deepest admiration and affection.

However, there was one part of his examinations I always disliked—when he spoke the words “Stick out your tongue, and say ‘aah.’” Yet while always feeling terribly discomfited by this procedure, I was also always amazed that he could apparently tell so much about my health by this “tongue test”! He always did it, so it must have been important.
Well now, later in life, I have come to a much greater appreciation of how important the tongue test is–only now in the sphere of spiritual health. I see the results of the spiritual tongue test as an incredibly important measure of the condition of our lives.

There is no right living without a healthy tongue. Its significance is out of all proportion to its size. James saw that clearly when he wrote that the tongue resembles the rudder that steers the mighty ship through the seas (Jas. 3:4). Some other truths about the tongue:

1. Your tongue is evidence of the condition of your heart. The mouth speaks out of the fullness of the heart (Matt. 12:34). It is the heart’s exit door. From it emerge the breaking stories on what is taking place in the hidden recesses of the mind, will, and affections. Our words resemble so many media people rushing to file their reports. Unfortunately, often the reports seem to be contradictory: “With the tongue we praise Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness”(Jas.3:9). Our tongues can bring us into danger from the fire of hell, says Jesus: we call our brother a fool; we stab him verbally in the back and murder his reputation before men. Within the hour the same tongue is singing the praises of God with great satisfaction. What kind of heart expresses itself so inconsistently?

But the issue is more complex that just the words we use. Our heart “speaks” through our lip, even when the grammar we employ is at variance with what our heart really thinks. We cannot avoid giving ourselves away when we open our mouths. The discerning spirit, at least, will always “hear” what we really think.

Fortunately, that principle is two-edged. As someone wrote to a preacher after hearing one of his sermons: “It was not so much what you said as your manner of speaking that struck me.” And such was supremely true of our Lords Jesus Christ. People were struck by his “gracious words” (Lk. 4:22). They heard his heartbeat. The tongue is the index of the condition of the heart.

Continue reading here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bringing the Double Mind to Singleness of Faith

By J. I. Packer

I expect that when you hear the phrase “living by faith,” you think only of Christians trying to exist without guaranteed financial support and that when you hear the word “fundamentalism” you think only of a version of Evangelicalism that seems to you coarse, crass, combative, crude, and best avoided. Thus noble words get narrowed and debased. “Fundamentalism” was actually coined to identify the virtue of faithfulness to Christian fundamentals and “living by faith” was a Reformational way of characterizing Christian existence. That is why Richard Baxter’s treatise, The Life of Faith, written three centuries ago, is an analysis of the Christian response to all life-situations. This piece is about that, too.

What is the life of faith? Well, what is faith? Do not take seriously the legendary child’s definition of faith as “believing what you know ain’t so,” even when (as happens) unbelieving adults embrace it. The human mind cannot believe what seems false; skepticism rots belief as a chinook turns snow to slush. Scripture is clear that faith is the positive response of the whole person to God’s total revelation, perceived as such.

By faith “a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God himself speaking therein: and acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come” (Westminster Confession, 14:2).

Faith, then, is an exercise of mind and heart whereby we learn what God tells us in Scripture about himself and ourselves; we shudder at what is said about our lostness without Christ; promises of grace to sinners, and the Christ whom those promises set forth; and we apply to ourselves Bible teaching about God’s work, will and ways, in order to see what attitudes honor God, and what actions will please him, in each situation. Faith knows that God shapes all situations as means to our final good and in light of that knowledge seeks biblical guidance on what to aim at, pray for, hope for, prepare for, and actually do; how to handle one’s relationship to God and to the rest of creation and how to use one’s opportunities for glorifying God.

Thus the life of faith must be thoughtful, conscientious and, at the same time, enterprising. Every Christian’s life should reflect, first in private prayer and then in public performance too, Carey’s famous maxim—“Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.”

It is a sad fact that people who profess faith often come short of its fullness. Sometimes knowledge and belief of God’s truth are divorced from personal trust and obedience. That is the “dead” faith of which James speaks in his first and second chapters. Sometimes trust is not guided by truth, so that faith becomes superstition. Sometimes real trust for salvation in the Christ of the gospel fails to lead us to interpret what God sends by what he says in his Word. That is the vice of “double-mindedness,” which ruins both one’s prayers and one’s walk.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Eye of God

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. -Psalm 14:1-3

This photo is a very rare one, taken by NASA. This kind of event occurs once in 3000 years. This is a picture NASA took with the Hubbell telescope called 'The Eye of God.'

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? -Psalm 8:3-4

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. -Psalm 19:1-4

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

16 False Hopes that Will Send Many to Hell

by Kevin Williams

The Bible warns that there are many false converts who are holding onto a false hope (Matt 7. 13-15) and so here is a list of false religious hopes that can send people to Hell. As you read them “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.” (2 Cor. 13:5) and make sure you are not trusting in a false hope. Your eternity is at stake.

1. Being Born into a Christian Family.
2. Being Baptized and Joining the Church.
3. Having an Intellectual Understanding of the Gospel / Believing Biblical Doctrine
4. Being a Pastor, or Serving in a Church or Doing Evangelism
5. Moral Reformation
6. Having an Emotional Experience, Whether Joy or Conviction
7. Being Healed
8. Seeing a Supernatural Vision/or Having an Angelic Encounter
9. Being Blessed with Material Things/Riches/Money
10. Keeping the Law / Legalism (Trusting in Works)
11. Listening To Hard Radical Preaching
12. Having Answers to Your Prayers
13. Having “Religious Views: Christian” on your Facebook, or Similar
14. Praying a ‘sinners prayer’ or Similar, ‘accepting Jesus’, ‘made a decision for Jesus’ or walking an aisle
15. A Pastor told me I am saved or ‘welcome to the family of God’
16. Having a ‘Spiritual Gift’ like Tongues or Prophecy

Read the explanation for each false hope here.


(Octavius Winslow, "Evening Thoughts")

What is our path to glory, but the path of
tribulation, of suffering, and of death? Our
Lord and Master, in the expression of His
wisdom and love, forewarns us of this: "In
the world you shall have tribulation."

What are all the supports of the believer in
seasons of trial, suffering, and bereavement,
but so many manifestations of the life of the
Lord Jesus? This it is that keeps the soul . . .
buoyant amid the billows,
strong in faith,
joyful in hope,
soaring in love.

Thus is Jesus . . .
the life of every grace,
the life of every promise,
the life of every ordinance,
the life of every blessing.

Yes, of all that is really costly and
precious to a child of God, Jesus is . . .
the substance,
the glory,
the sweetness,
the fragrance,
yes, the very life itself!

Oh! dark and lonely, desolate and painful indeed
would our present pilgrimage be, but for Jesus!

If in the world we have tribulation; in
whom do we have peace? In Jesus!

If in the creature we meet with fickleness and
change; in whom do we find the Friend who loves
at all times? In Jesus!

When adversity comes as a wintry blast, and
lays low our comforts; when the cloud is upon
our tabernacle; when health, and wealth, and
influence, and friends are gone; in whom do
we find the covert from the wind, the faithful,
tender Brother born for adversity? In Jesus!

When temptation assails,
when care darkens,
when trial oppresses,
when bereavement wounds,
when heart and flesh are failing;
who throws around us the protecting shield,
who applies the precious promise,
who speaks the soothing word,
who sustains the sinking spirit,
who heals the sorrow,
who dries the tear? Jesus!

Where sin struggles in the heart, and guilt
burdens the conscience, and unbelief beclouds
the mind; whose grace subdues our iniquities,
whose blood gives us peace, and whose light
dispels our darkness? Jesus!

And when the spark of life wanes, and the
eye grows dim, and the mind wanders, and
the soul, severing its last fetter, mounts
and soars away, Jesus, in that awful moment,
draws near in form unseen, and whispers in
words unheard by all but the departing one,
now in close communion with the solemn
realities of the invisible world, "Fear not;
I am the resurrection and the life. He who
believes in Me will live, even though he dies!"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Answer to Life's Greatest Question

"...And so, I go back to where I started. You're going to live forever. Everybody is. Bodies die, people don't, and you will live forever as you. Annihilation again is a lie, soul sleep is a lie, reincarnation is a lie, evolution is a lie, you're not evolving into somebody else and you're not cycling back as somebody else, you're you and you'll be you forever somewhere and you have only two places as possibilities. First Timothy 4:8 Paul says, "Bodily discipline is only of little prophet." You spend all your time fussing around with your physical body, it has little prophet because it's a perishable commodity. "But godliness is profitable for all things." Why? Because it holds promise not only for the present life but for the life to come. If you're going to work on something, work on the part of you that lasts forever. See this society in which we live, maniacal about the perishing flesh and indifferent to the eternal soul.

All evangelism, beloved, begins here. It is not about this life. It is not about prosperity in this life. It is not about health in this life. It is not about happiness in this life. It is not about healing in this life. It is not about success. It is not about money. It is not about possessions. It is not about freedom from trouble, that's junk-bond evangelism. It's not about that. That bilks people out of their souls on false premises. Run from people who sell that, they're false teachers. And so if you're going to do some evangelism, you've got to move people from Jesus is going to fix me here, to Jesus is going to deliver me in the life to come. Until the sinner really understands that, evangelism can't even start." -John MacArthur

Read or listen to the full message here.
© 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by permission

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Looking at the Ten Commandments on 10-10-10

Do you consider yourself to be a good person? Most people do. However, most of us differ on the definition of “good.” The Bible says that God is good, and the Ten Commandments are His standard of goodness. So, we will look at God’s Law. With a tender conscience, ask yourself if you have obeyed the following:

1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
(Have you always loved God above all else?)

2. You shall not make yourself an idol.
(Have you made a god in your mind that you’re more comfortable with, a god to suit yourself?)

3. You shall not take God’s name in vain.
(Have you ever used God’s holy Name as a cuss word?)

4. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.

5. Honor your father and mother.

6. You shall not murder.
(God considers hatred to be as murder.)

7. You shall not commit adultery.
(“Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” — Matthew 5:27-28; this also includes sex before marriage).

8. You shall not steal.
(Have you ever stolen anything? — the value of the item is irrelevant.)

9. You shall not lie.
(Have you lied even once? Including answering these questions.)

10. You shall not covet.
(Have you ever jealously desired what belongs to others?)

The Bible says that God will punish all murderers, rapists, thieves, liars, adulterers, etc. He will even judge our words and thoughts. On Judgment Day, will you be found to be guilty or innocent of breaking His commandments? Find out here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Does James 2 contradict Romans 4?

by John MacArthur

The most serious problem these verses pose is the question of what James 2:24 means: "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone." Some imagine that this contradicts Paul in Romans 3:28: "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." John Calvin explained this apparent difficulty:
It appears certain that [James] is speaking of the manifestation, not of the imputation of righteousness, as if he had said, Those who are justified by faith prove their justification by obedience and good works, not by a bare and imaginary semblance of faith. In one word, he is not discussing the mode of justification, but requiring that the justification of all believers shall be operative. And as Paul contends that men are justified without the aid of works, so James will not allow any to be regarded as Justified who are destitute of good works ... Let them twist the words of James as they may, they will never extract out of them more than two propositions: That an empty phantom of faith does not justify, and that the believer, not contented with such an imagination, manifests his justification by good works. [Henry Beveridge, trans., John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 3:17:12 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966 reprint), 2: 115.]
James is not at odds with Paul. "They are not antagonists facing each other with crossed swords; they stand back to back, confronting different foes of the gospel." [Alexander Ross, "The Epistle of James and John," The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), 53.] In 1:17-18, James affirmed that salvation is a gift bestowed according to the sovereign will of God. Now he is stressing the importance of faith's fruit—the righteous behavior that genuine faith always produces. Paul, too, saw righteous works as the necessary proof of faith.

Those who imagine a discrepancy between James and Paul rarely observe that it was Paul who wrote, "Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!" (Rom. 6:15); and "Having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (v. 18). Thus Paul condemns the same error James is exposing here. Paul never advocated any concept of dormant faith.

When Paul writes, "by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight," (Rom. 3:20),
he is combatting a Jewish legalism which insisted upon the need for works to be justified; James insists upon the need for works in the lives of those who have been justified by faith. Paul insists that no man can ever win justification through his own efforts ... James demands that a man who already claims to stand in right relationship with God through faith must by a life of good works demonstrate that he has become a new creature in Christ. With this Paul thoroughly agreed. Paul was rooting out 'works' that excluded and destroyed saving faith; James was stimulating a sluggish faith that minimized the results of saving faith in daily life. [D. Edmond Hiebert, The Epistle of James (Chicago: Moody, 1979), 175.]
James and Paul both echo Jesus' preaching. Paul's emphasis is an echo of Matthew 5:3: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." James's teaching has the ring of Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven." Paul represents the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount; James the end of it. Paul declares that we are saved by faith without the deeds of the law. James declares that we are saved by faith, which shows itself in works. Both James and Paul view good works as the proof of faith—not the path to salvation.

James could not be more explicit. He is confronting the concept of a passive, false "faith," which is devoid of the fruits of salvation. He is not arguing for works in addition to or apart from faith. He is showing why and how, true, living faith always works. He is fighting against dead orthodoxy and its tendency to abuse grace.

The error James assails is faith without works; justification without sanctification; salvation without new life.

Again, James echoes the Master Himself, who insisted on a theology of lordship that involved obedience, not lip-service. Jesus chided the disobedient ones who had attached themselves to Him in name only: "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46). Verbal allegiance, He said, will get no one to heaven: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21).

That is in perfect harmony with James: "Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves" (1:22); for "faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself" (2:17).

Excerpted from Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles, by John MacArthur.

This article originally appeared here at Grace to You.
© 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by permission

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Are You Saved? Test Yourselves!

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! - 2 Corinthians 13:5

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

2. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, - 1 John 2:4

3. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. - 1 John 2:9

4. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. - 1 John 2:15

5. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us eternal life. - 1 John 2:24,25

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

No, You Are Not The Center of The Universe!

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. -Genesis 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. -John 1:1-3,14

Our infinitesimal minds cannot begin to grasp the size of the universe. But even more staggering is the fact: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16

Monday, October 4, 2010

The prosperity of the wicked

(William Secker, "The Consistent Christian" 1660)

"For I envied the arrogant—when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Psalm 73:3

We should never judge the inward conditions of men—by the outward dispensations of God. The greatness of our estates—is no argument of the goodness of our hearts. To prize ourselves by what we have—and not by what we are; is to estimate the value of the jewel—by the box which contains it. Grace and gold can live together; but the smallest degree of grace in the heart—is preferable to a thick chain of gold around the neck.

Lest riches should be accounted evil in themselves—God sometimes gives them to the righteous; and lest they should be considered as the chief good—He frequently bestows them on the wicked. But they are more generally the portion of God's enemies—than His friends.

Here on earth, it is sometimes evil with the righteous—and well with the wicked. Those who live most upon God, sometimes fare worst from the world. You cannot read the wrath of God—in the black lines of adversity; or the love of God—in the white lines of prosperity.

God often gives a full cup of temporal blessings to wicked men—though there are dregs at the bottom! They may be fruitful vines—and yet only laden with sour grapes. It is seldom that the sparkling diamond of a great estate—is set in the golden ring of a pious heart. Riches have made many good men—worse; but they never made any bad man—better.

Though a Christian is made happy in the world—yet he is not made happy by the world. There are many who are temporally happy, who will be eternally miserable; and many are now temporally miserable, who will be eternally happy.

"God causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good—and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:45. The sun of prosperity shines upon the dunghill—as well as upon beds of spices. The rain of adversity falls upon the fruitful garden—as well as the barren wilderness. The abundance of the infidel is a golden chain—to bind him to the earth; and the apparent miseries of the believer are as fiery chariots—to convey him to heaven!

If we look for a saint, he is not always to be found upon a bed of down—but sometimes he has been seen on a heap of dust. Poor Lazarus rises up to heaven—and rich Dives sinks down to hell. We must not infer the absence of God's affections—from the presence of numerous afflictions. A saint is glorious in his misery—but a sinner is miserable amidst all his glory.

"Judge nothing according to appearance—but judge righteous judgment." That apple which has the fairest skin—may have the rottenest core. The most choice pearls—are often enclosed in the most hideous shells.

"Deliver my soul from the wicked—who have their portion in this life." Psalm 17:14. The things of the world—are the only happiness of the men of the world. A man's estate in this world may be great—and yet his state for the eternal world may be fearful. God may say to him as to Pharaoh, "For this purpose have I raised you up—that I might show My power upon you." The same hand which now pours abundance on ungodly men like oil—will soon pour down wrath upon them like fire! Under all their wealth—their hearts are sinful; and after all the riches have fled—their situation will be doleful!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Gift Nobody Wants

Message on Matthew 7:13 and Mark 1:14 by Paul Washer

An illustration I haven’t given in a long time, but I just love to give is just so simple. Say I show up late here today and the pastor is all mad at me because I show up late and so, pastor, don’t be mad at me. I walk in. I am like this and it is about as good as I get. And he says, “What happened?”

I said, “Well, I was changing the tire on my car and the lug nut went out in the middle of the road and I wasn’t thinking and I walked out there and I picked it up and when I picked it up there was a logging truck weighing 30 tons going 120 miles an hour and it is like five feet in front of me and I couldn’t move and it ran me over so that is why I am late.”

He is going to go, “There are only two possibilities, logically.” I am sure he studied classical logic. There are only two possibilities. One is I am absolutely insane or I am a liar.

And when he says, “You are either insane or a liar, now I am going to sit here and debate on which it is,” I am going to say, “Why are you saying I am either insane or a liar. Why don’t you believe me?”

And he says, “Because it is absolutely against nature. It is an impossibility to have an encounter with a logging truck going 120 miles an hour that weighs 30 tons and not somehow be changed by that encounter.

Now how can you say you have had an encounter with God and not been changed along with millions of other Americans? They have had an encounter with God, but they have not been changed.

So God now has less power than a logging truck.

Listen to the full message below.

Seeker-Friendly Churches

by John MacArthur

Many in the church today believe that the only way to reach the world is to give the unchurched multitudes what they want. Hundreds of churches have followed precisely that theory, actually surveying unbelievers to learn what it would take to get them to attend.

Subtly the overriding goal is church attendance and worldly acceptability rather than a transformed life. Preaching the Word and boldly confronting sin are seen as archaic, ineffectual means of winning the world. After all, those things actually drive most people away. Why not entice people into the fold by offering what they want, creating a friendly, comfortable environment, and catering to the very desires that constitute their strongest urges? As if we might get them to accept Jesus by somehow making Him more likable or making His message less offensive.

That kind of thinking badly skews the mission of the church. The Great Commission is not a marketing manifesto. Evangelism does not require salesmen, but prophets. It is the Word of God, not any earthly enticement, that plants the seed for the new birth (1 Peter 1:23). We gain nothing but God's displeasure if we seek to remove the offense of the cross.

My complaint is with a philosophy that relegates God and His Word to a subordinate role in the church. I believe it is unbiblical to elevate entertainment over biblical preaching and worship in the church service. And I stand in opposition to those who believe salesmanship can bring people into the kingdom more effectively than a sovereign God. That philosophy has opened the door to worldliness in the church.

This article originally appeared here at Grace to You.
Adapted from
Ashamed of the Gospel, © by John MacArthur. All rights reserved. Used by permission.