Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Big Question

"Have you been born again?" The question is not "Have you joined a church?" or "Are you trying to do your best?" or "Do you have religion?" but "Are you twice-born?" "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

We enter the physical world by birth. Spiritual life likewise is entered with a birth. We become members of a human family by birth; we become members of the family of God by birth, by being "born again." There is no other way to get into the human family except by birth, and there is no other way to get into God's family except by the new birth. Neither education, nor cultivation, nor reformation, nor "turning over a new leaf," will accomplish this. What is needed is not a new "leaf" but a new "life"! "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).

A New Nature Needed

By physical birth we become partakers of the human nature; by being born again we become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). A Christian is the product of a divine "begetting" (James 1:18). The second birth is not an improvement of the old nature; it is the imparting of an entirely new nature. The old nature is hopelessly corrupt and incapable of ever being made fit for His presence (Romans 3:9-20; 8:7). The new birth requires a creative act of the Holy Spirit. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10).

Not "Trying" But "Trusting"

"Trying to follow Christ" is not Christianity. "Christianity is not imitation of Christ," it is the indwelling of Christ. Christianity is not trying to do anything. It is trusting Christ who has done it all! He has "finished the work" and there is nothing left to do but simply to receive and trust Him. He shed His precious blood on the cross and the work is all done once and forever! Cease trying and begin trusting!

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

Simply "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 16:31). "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 John 5:1). "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12,13).

You are born again, you become a Christian by trusting a Person--receiving a Person. The very moment you do this, the Lord Jesus Christ comes in and life begins!

What Is Meant By "Believe"?

To "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" means more than simply believing the historic facts concerning Him. Intellectual belief about Christ is not sufficient. The belief which brings salvation must be "with the heart," that is, with the whole being (Romans 10:10). This belief also includes repentance: "Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). "God ... now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30).

The faith which saves, then, includes the necessity to repent, and to receive Christ as Saviour and Lord, to rest upon Him alone for salvation. It means to trust Him so utterly and completely that, if He should fail, there would be no hope at all!

May I Know That I Am Born Again?

This is an important question. We know that we are born again by the testimony of God's Word. God says, "He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as explained by God's Word? If so, then you are saved, you are "born again," you have "passed from death unto life." God says so! Take God at His Word, and go on your way rejoicing!

One Final Word

You may "belong to a church," you may be "trying to do the best you can," you may be "striving to live right." Your outward life may be the model of moral correctness, and you may be looked up to, honored, revered and respected. Yet, if you have not been "born again" you are just as lost as if you had never heard of Christ. Yes, you may teach in the Sunday school, read the Bible, sing, shout, "feel happy," and all the rest--but if you have never been "born again" you are still in your sins and a stranger to the Lord Jesus Christ! (Matthew 7:21-23).

Scripture verses quoted from the King James Version (KJV).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Communion With God

"Whereas to the Puritans communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small thing. The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way that we are not. The measure of our unconcern is the little that we say about it.

When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God.

Modern Christian books and magazines contain much about Christian doctrine, Christian standards, problems of Christian conduct, techniques of Christian service—but little about the inner realities of fellowship with God. Our sermons contain much sound doctrine—but little relating to the converse between the soul and the Saviour.

We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters.

Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us.

But how different were the Puritans! The whole aim of their ‘practical and experimental’ preaching and writing was to explore the reaches of the doctrine and practice of man’s communion with God."

J. I. Packer - A Quest for Godliness (Crossway, 1994), p. 215 (chapter 12).

HT: Truth Matters

The Prayer that Damns Many to Hell

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Assurance - Donald Grey Barnhouse

Download the full mp3 message here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spiritual Muscle Development

by Paul Tripp

So, what happens inside of you when you are asked to wait? Is waiting, for you, a time of stengthening or weakening? Have you ever stopped to consider why God asks you to wait? Let me point you to one of his purposes.

Waiting Is Giving You Time

When God asks you to wait, what happens to your spiritual muscles? While you wait, do your spiritual muscles grow bigger and stronger or do they grow flaccid and atrophied? Waiting for the Lord isn’t about God forgetting you, forsaking you, or being unfaithful to his promises. It’s actually God giving you time to consider his glory and to grow stronger in faith. Remember, waiting isn’t just about what you are hoping for at the end of the wait, but also about what you will become as you wait.

Waiting always presents me with a spiritual choice-point. Will I allow myself to question God’s goodness and progressively grow weaker in faith, or will I embrace the opportunity of faith that God is giving me and build my spiritual muscles? (see Psalm 27:4)

It’s so easy to question your belief system when you are not sure what God is doing. It’s so easy to give way to doubt when you are being called to wait. It’s so easy to forsake good habits and to take up habits of unfaith that weaken the muscles of the heart. Let me suggest some habits of unfaith that cause waiting to be a time of increasing weakness rather than of building strength. These are bad habits that all of us are tempted to give way to.

Continue reading here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What answers does the Bible give for the "problem of evil"?

Dr. D.A. Carson - "What answers does the Bible give for the 'problem of evil'?"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gathering Happiness:

A lesson from Jonathan Edwards and the Apostle Paul.

This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Exodus 12:2 (NKJV)

One of Jonathan Edwards' resolutions, number 22 to be precise, was as follows: Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of. At first glance this seems to be a very selfish motive, but when viewed in the light of Scripture it appears more clearly to be very sound advice. Jesus speaks of the violent taking heaven by force (Mat. 11:12) by which is meant that no one sleeps their way into heaven! All who enter the kingdom of God do so because they desire it above all else and are determined to gain it.

Listen to the apostle Paul: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it (1 Cor. 9:24); I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14); I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, righteous Judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Tim.4:8). Reading these words, one has to admit that Paul anticipated Edwards' desire and lived in such a way as to obtain for himself as much happiness in the other world as he possibly could. Paul was the prototype which Edwards followed and both of them exerted all the power, might, vigor and so forth that they could muster in making heaven sure.

Knowing these two men, we are sure that no charge of selfishness could ever stick to either of them. Both demonstrated a selfless love for the church, both spent their lives for the benefit of others and for the glory of God. Neither of them amassed anything close to a fortune in this life and yet we can be certain that as they were obedient to Christ they amassed a great deal in the next. Of course, the treasure of heaven is not the same as treasure on earth. Heavenly treasure won't be measured in kilograms or carats, in the square footage of mansions, or in the number of angelic servants cutting the lawns or cleaning the windows. heavenly treasure is more likely to be a deeper knowledge of, and experience of, the infinite love of God. Paul's great desire is expressed in the words: that I may know Him (Phil. 3:10a). That Edwards would concur is evident from his greatest work: The Religious Affections, in which the knowledge and love of God take center stage.

When Jesus told His disciples to lay up treasure in heaven (Mat. 6:19-21), He was speaking of their happiness (joy) in the eternal life to come. In order to have such a treasure then, it has to be gathered now – there will be no more gathering when this life is over. What lesson do these two men teach? Exert every effort in this life to obtain happiness in the next by applying yourself to know Christ, worship Christ, and serve Christ, and so lay up treasure in heaven which can never fade away.

That's not a bad New Years resolution, is it?

For the Kingdom,
Pastor Ron Bridge,
Rehoboth Baptist Church

Friday, January 21, 2011

Groaning over Grieving the Holy Spirit

by John Piper from

One of the poems I wrote during my leave of absence grew out of my sorrows over grieving the Holy Spirit. It is bad enough to know that God is dishonored by my sin. But to hear Paul connect my particular sins with grieving the Holy Spirit was even more painful.

This he does in Ephesians 4:30–32. He says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” And then he names my sins: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

There are mysteries in the self-sufficient Spirit being grieved. And there are many sorrows in saints who do it. And there is a day coming when it will be done no more.

               Doubly Relieved

My patient Comforter, my God,
     My Life, my Breath, my holy Zeal,
My soul is doubly sorrowful:
     That I still sin against your Seal,

And sinning cause my Sovereign grief.
     I know it is your holy way
To make your grief serve perfect joy,
     But I still pray, O bring the day

When, in the twinkling of an eye,
     My soul will doubly be relieved:
I will not ever sin again,
     And you will nevermore be grieved.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An Old Man on a Shelf

A friend of mine expressed concern that his aging father is battling thoughts of suicide. “Dad used to be a juggernaut of activity, always engaged in business, church projects, and helping others. But now his aging body is breaking down, and he’s been set aside on a sick bed shelf. He feels worthless.” But he’s not.

Suppose a statue on its shelf capable of speech, and ask of it, “Why are you there?”

It would reply, “Because my master, the sculptor, placed me here.”

“Why are you so motionless?”

“Because he willed me to be so.”

“Of what use are you? What does it profit you to be here?”

“I am not here for my own sake, but solely because it is the will of my master.”

“But you can’t even see!”

“No; but he sees me, and chooses that I should stay here.”

“Wouldn’t you want to have the power to move and go nearer to your master?”

“Not unless he wills it.”

“Don’t you have any wishes of your own?”

“None; for I am where my master placed me, and his pleasure is the sole object of my existence.” – Unknown

But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father,

We are the clay, and Thou our potter;

And all of us are the work of Thy hand. — Isaiah 64:8

May the Lord give us the courage and faithfulness to stay at our posts until HE calls us home. Though it may not seem very glamorous, because the King has posted us, no assignment is more noble.

For us, our Lord Jesus stood as a brass pillar till the last breath was beaten out of His nostrils. That’s how He served us. So ought we serve Him. Some saints are called to show their faithfulness spectacularly, burning at a martyr’s stake. Others are called to do it privately, lingering for years on a sick bed. In our Lord’s eyes, joyful endurance in either situation is spectacular. Soon, such will hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

--Mark Chanski


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sincerity Doesn’t Count

by Jim Elliff

Suppose we have an altercation about the straightness of a wall. “It’s not straight,” I say. “It is straight,” you say. Our argument goes through stages: firmness, pleading, tears—but no resolve comes out of our attempts to convince. What should we do?

There is only one way to solve this difference of opinion—the plumb must be dropped. OK, I know that there are more sophisticated ways, but this is a proven one. And I don’t mean that we should drop a piece of fruit. The plumb-bob is a weight suspended by a string. It usually has a point on the end. As many of you already know, the plumb or plummet is a sure-fire way to settle an argument about straightness. When you suspend the plumb next to the wall, the alignment of the string tells the truth.

The Bible is such a plumb. Put it up against your life and you find out the truth about yourself.

“But I know I’m a Christian. I can just feel it.” Well, it really doesn’t matter what you feel or how sincere you are. It’s the Bible that reveals the truth about us. “But my pastor told me I was a Christian.” Doesn’t solve it. “But I’ve always gone to church. Surely I’m a Christian.” Nope, not enough.

At the end of the day, it’s not what you think you are that counts, but what God says a true Christian is.

In other words, you can be deceived... more

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Are You God-Centered or Self-Centered?

Video excerpt of Mark Kielar asking nine questions to test if you are God-centered or self-centered.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I don't know why you're clapping; I'm talking about you

This is a video excerpt from the message Paul Washer preached in 2002 at a youth conference. The audience was in shock then and many audiences continue to be shocked by it today.

Watch the full message here.

Real Passion vs. Artificial Enthusiasm

by Phil Johnson

When we consider Christ as the very incarnation of divine glory, it ought to put all our other passions in proper perspective. It ought to make us ashamed that our focus is so far off and we are not really passionate about the one thing that ought to excite us the most.

We imitate all the world's passions. We invent gimmicks to try to win worldly people by appealing to whatever mania has captured our culture's attention at the moment. We devote our energies and our emotions to things that are not even worthy of our attention. We do things to stir artificial passion—which is an especially sinister form of false worship.

Our passions should not need to be whipped up by spiritual cheerleaders and stadium chants. We shouldn't have to be worked into an emotional state by hype and melodrama and musical manipulation. If we can get pumped to a fever pitch by some rock-star pastor's antics rather than by the truth of the biblical message, then whatever we are feeling isn't even a legitimate passion in the first place...

Continue reading here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What did Jesus (not) say about... God's desire for us?

by Dan Phillips

"God wants you to have your best life right now."

The perspective I'm reading into the phrase is that of the old Schlitz commercial: "You only go around once in life so you've got to grab for all the gusto you can." On religious lips, the intent is not to deny an afterlife nor celestial blessings — just to sideline them by focusing everything on the here and now. "Best life now" means good health, good loving, good money, good house, good goodies, good success in my endeavors. It means success and prosperity on my terms, here and now.

Does Jesus say that's God's priority for us? It has to stand as a singular perversity that this meaning is extracted from John 10:10b — "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." That someone could read this verse and immediately connect "life" with material prosperity, or success in pursuing my goals, is very revealing. And not in a good way.

Is that what God sees, when He looks down on mankind?...
Read on here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What Happens In The New Birth?

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

What Happens in the New Birth? -John Piper

So let’s turn now to the question: What happens in the new birth? I will try to put the answer in three statements. The first two we will deal with today, and the third we will deal with (Lord willing) next week. 1) What happens in the new birth is not getting new religion but getting new life. 2) What happens in the new birth is not merely affirming the supernatural in Jesus but experiencing the supernatural in yourself. 3) What happens in the new birth is not the improvement of your old human nature but the creation of a new human nature—a nature that is really you, and is forgiven and cleansed; and a nature that is really new, and is being formed by the indwelling Spirit of God.

Listen to or read both messages at the following links.
What Happens In The New Birth Part 1
What Happens In The New Birth Part 2

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dependence On God

"I believe that one of the chief characteristics of our sinful nature, or 'flesh' as it is called in most Bible translations, is an attitude of independence toward God. Even when we know and agree that we are dependent on Him, we tend out of habit to act independently.... Undoubtedly, one of the reasons God allows us to fall before temptation so often is to teach us experientially that we really are dependent on Him to enable us to grow in holiness.

One of the best ways, apart from those painful experiences of failure, to learn dependence is to develop the discipline of prayer. This forces us in a tangible way to acknowledge our dependence on the Holy Spirit. This is true because, for whatever else we may say about prayer, it is a recognition of our own helplessness and absolute dependence on God.

It is this admission of helplessness and dependence that is so repugnant to our sinful spirit of self-sufficiency. And if we are naturally prone by temperament to be disciplined, it is even more difficult to acknowledge that we are dependent on Christ and His Spirit instead of our own self-discipline."

Jerry Bridges - The Discipline of Grace

HT: Truth Matters

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sheep: "This time it's personal"

by David Murray

Throughout Scripture, sinners in general, and God’s people in particular, are described as sheep. And those God sends to lead them are equally frequently called shepherds. Today we will look at the character of the sheep, and tomorrow at the character of the shepherd. We start with the sheep because the key to leading as a shepherd is in understanding the nature of sheep.

I pastored for 12 years in the Scottish Highlands. During that time, I was surrounded by sheep: sheep on the roads, sheep on the mountains, sheep on the beeches, sheep in my yard. O, yes, and sometimes sheep in the shepherds' fields. My study on the Isle of Lewis was 12 inches away from a field full of sheep. Sometimes at night I would look up from my computer and see many pairs of luminous green eyes staring at me through my window! I got to know sheep pretty well. What did I learn?

Continue reading here.

Monday, January 3, 2011


by Phil Johnson

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).
"Rejoice always" (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

Authentic joy is not about temperament. I hope you don't think of joy as a personality quirk that belongs to naturally upbeat people. True joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It's not a mood or a reaction that is triggered by external stimulus like slapstick or funny stories. True Christian joy is not a sensual emotion.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Treasures of the Snow

"Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?" (Job 38:22).

ARE there "Treasures of the Snow"? There must be, or God wouldn't have asked Job if he had considered them. Is not one of the treasures, the treasure of beauty itself? The beauty seen in our picture is--can we not say--

The Treasure of Art.

The Master Artist shows His skill in the Winter season by covering the bleakest scenes with the most graceful beauty of dazzling white. Every flake of snow, uniquely different than the others, is combined with millions more, formed and placed together by the Divine Sculptor. "He saith to the snow, be thou on the earth" (Job 37:6). The Lord Himself is not only the Designer-Craftsman, but He is also the Supplier of His material to beautify His creation.

"The Treasures of the Snow" are also seen in the ways God uses it. Surely, we can say there is

The Treasure of God's Power.

The prophet Isaiah tells us "The snow from heaven . . . watereth the earth . . . that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater" (Isaiah 55:10). Depleted water supplies are dependent upon heavy snowfalls in the mountains. Farmers usually desire a heavy cover for their acreage of land to protect and nourish the soil and crops and to keep from destructive freezing. God's power is a treasure for man's sustenance.

Then, too, God says in Job 38:22, "The snow . . . which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war." History tells us how God has used His snow to turn the tide of battle amongst the nations. Thus God uses His snow, saying, "Be thou on the earth . . . He causeth it to come, whether for correction (or, as a rod), or for His land, or for mercy" (Job 37:6,13). God's power is used in God's judgments.

Then, too, "The Treasures of the Snow" are seen in
The Treasure of Precious Truths Symbolized by it.

Through the prophet, in Isaiah 1:18, the Lord says, "Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow." White symbolizes the purity of Divine requirement for entrance into the presence of God. Speaking of the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city which shall rule over the earth, John, in Revelation 21:27, says, "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth." David had a sense of this when, having sinned and being brought to repentance, he prayed, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:7). Thus, snow pictures the purity required by God, and the means of receiving it. The washing God provides is the precious blood of Jesus shed on Calvary. 1 John 1:7 tells us: "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin." This is the only cleansing agent that washed the filthy sinner "whiter than snow," and makes him fit for the City of God.

"Hast thou entered into the Treasures of the Snow?" The Lord asked Job that question. He asks it of you and me. What is your answer?