Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

What shall I wish you?
   Treasures of earth?
Songs in the springtime,
   Pleasure and mirth?
Flowers on your pathway,
   Skies ever clear?
Would this assure you

What shall I wish you?
   What can be found
Bringing you sunshine
   All the year 'round?
Where is the treasure,
   Lasting and dear,
That shall assure you

Faith that increaseth,
   Walking in light;
Hope that aboundeth,
   Happy and bright;
Love that is perfect,
   Casting out fear;
These shall assure you

Peace in the Saviour,
   Rest at His feet,
Smile of His countenance
   Radiant and sweet,
Joy in His presence!
   Christ ever near!
This will assure you

—F.R. Havergal

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I am Not Ashamed of the Scandal

Watch, listen or download the full message by Paul Washer here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What did you get for Christmas?

Watch, listen or download the full message by Michael Brackett here.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Great Transformation

I sometimes meet with persons who claim to be Christians and Believers and all that, but they have never experienced any change that they can remember from their babyhood. Well, dear Friend, there must have been such a change if you are a Christian! I will not say that you ought to know the day and the hour, but, depend upon it, if you are now what you were when you were born, you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity! If there has not been a turning, you are going the wrong way! Every man must be turned from the way in which father Adam set his face, for our face is towards sin and destruction, and we must be turned right round so as to have our faces towards holiness and everlasting life.

Where there is not such a turning, there is the most solemn cause for heart-searching, humiliation and for the seeking of salvation! Have you undergone a great transformation? The necessity for it is no fantasy of mine, remember. It is that most solemn word of the New Testament—“You must be born again.” There must be a complete and total change in you, so that the things you once loved you come to hate and the things you hated you are made to love—as great a change as there was in Ephraim who was formerly glued to his idols and then came to abhor them!

I pray you all search and see whether such a difference has been made in your hearts by the Holy Spirit—for a mistake here will be fatal. If you have never undergone such a renewing, let the prayer be breathed that the Holy Spirit may now renew you in the spirit of your mind. And if you hope that such a change has taken place upon you, then may God grant it may be a real abiding conversion, so that you may remain in Grace and go from strength to strength till the idols are utterly abolished and your whole nature shall become the temple of the living God! Thus, we have two remarks—a sovereign prediction and a marvelous change.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Next Great Christmas

Watch, listen or download the full message by Jake Klassen here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Marching Orders for a Backslidden Church

The text I have chosen for this morning is 1 Corinthians 16:13.  It is a short but really potent verse near the end of Paul's letter to that troubled church. And this is a verse that outlines itself. Four simple imperatives: be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  And there you have my outline in the exact words of the text itself. Four points, separated by commas.

I chose that text not merely because it sort of preaches itself, but mainly because this year I wanted to bring a word of encouragement and support to beleaguered pastors who are trying to minister faithfully in these troubled, difficult times.  It is hard to be biblical and faithful.  It is not at all easy.

The church of our generation is shot through with deep seated problems. The evangelical movement in particular is hopelessly confused, divided, frivolous, fleshly, man centered. Even some of today's best known and largest evangelical churches deliberately seem to cultivate irreverence, superficiality, worldliness, compromise, carnal behavior, infidelity, and sometimes even the rankest kinds of heresy. In a hundred different ways the contemporary evangelical movement is exactly like the church at Corinth. Every problem that plagued Corinth is a hallmark of the culture in which you and I are called to serve Christ.

And I don't know about you, but for me, it's actually a great encouragement to know that every major problem we have to deal with in the church of the 21st century, Paul likewise dealt with in Corinth. His epistles to that church are full of wise counsel and sound ministry philosophy for you and for me and the ministries in which we serve. And we need to pay close attention to Paul because, frankly, what he says about church leadership and ministry runs contrary to our natural instincts. And Paul’s advice to this church is certainly in conflict with the wisdom of this world, the fashions of our culture and even the self styled gurus of evangelical church growth.

Continue reading, download or listen to the full message by Phil Johnson here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The People Who Missed Christmas: The Innkeeper

by John MacArthur
No room.” Those shameful words describe more than the inn in Bethlehem. They apply just as aptly to today’s world. Sadly, in all the busyness of our Christmas celebrations, people still make no room for Jesus. Without even realizing it, they miss Christmas, just like most of the people in and around Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born.
Did you know most people miss Christmas every year? That may sound rather silly, especially in North America, where we drown during the holidays in a sea of Christmas advertising. Still, I’m convinced that most people miss Christmas. They observe the season because culture says it’s the thing to do, but the masses are utterly oblivious to the reality of what they are celebrating. So much fantasy and myth have been imposed on the holiday that people are numb to the real miracle of Christ’s birth. The legitimate emotion of the holiday has given way to a maudlin and insincere self-indulgence.
A newspaper I saw had a two-page spread featuring some man-on-the-street interviews where people offered their opinions of the real meaning of Christmas. The views ranged from mawkish to irreverent. Some were sentimental, saying Christmas is a family time, a time for children, and so on. Others were humanistic, seeing Christmas as a time to celebrate love for one’s fellow man, the spirit of giving, and that sort of thing. Others were crassly hedonistic, viewing Christmas as just another excuse to party. Not one person made mention of the incomprehensible miracle of God’s birth as a human baby.
What a mess Christmas is! We have compounded the holiday with so many traditions and so much hype and hysteria that we miss the utter simplicity of Christ's birth. It is ironic that of all holidays, this one has become the most complex. It is no wonder so many people miss Christmas.
Yet one thing hasn’t changed since the time of Joseph and Mary: nearly everyone missed that first Christmas, too. Like people today, they were busy, consumed with all kinds of things—some important, some not—but nearly everyone missed Christ. The similarities between their world and ours are striking. Every one of these people has a counterpart in modern society.

Continue reading here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Has Christmas Lost Its Meaning?

Watch, listen or download the full message: "You Cannot Save Yourself" by Don White here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Quiet Christmas

The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (Isaiah 32:17-18)

Have you ever longed for peace and quiet? As I write workmen are ripping shingles off the church walls and hammering in all the nails that held them there to the accompaniment of some VERY HEAVY METAL. I am finding it hard to concentrate and wish I had some ear plugs. Interlude. Well, I went home and now have ear plugs which are snugly in place. I also have a CD of Old English melodies which is softly playing in the background and together they make an effective defense against the assault on my sensibilities. A pretty radical course of action? You might say so, but a very necessary one if I am going to survive the day!

We live in a noisy world, but it is not just the decibel level we have to be concerned about, it is the type of noise. In many parts of the world it is the noise of war, the shooting, the explosions and the cries of the wounded, dying and displaced. In our cities it is the noise of crime. Everywhere it is the noise of commerce, of making, transporting, buying, advertising, selling and all that goes with it, especially at this time of year – the great holiday rush. All mankind is caught up in this worldly noise in one way or another, and while some, such as the Amish, seek to escape by fostering a simpler lifestyle, and those who live in tents in Outer Mongolia are naturally insulated from it, all people are, in one degree or another, captive to it because the spirit of the age is a noisy, restless spirit (Isa. 17:12,13a).

The fact is that the loudest noise we have to deal with is the noise of our own hearts. Augustine famously said: Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee. Too often, Christians, who should have found rest in Christ are filled with the same noise as the world. We are to be in the world but not consumed with the things, concerns and worries of the world. In the midst of the restless, roaring and sinful sea of human uncertainty we must stand as a beacon, a lighthouse of stability and peace pointing the way to quietness of spirit that is found in Christ alone.

So, do we have a noisy or a quiet spirit? The answer to that will determine how we keep Christmas. A Christian Christmas should be a quiet Christmas. What do I mean? I don't mean that we should not have fun and fellowship, laughter and singing. I mean we should have the quietness of heart and mind that comes from reflecting on what Christ has done for us in becoming incarnate. By His life, death and resurrection we are made righteous, and as Isaiah says: The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Are you caught up in the noise of the season – or about to be? Perhaps it is time for some radical action to distance yourself and protect your heart and mind from the world's noisy assault.

May you have a quiet and blessed Christmas.
Pastor Ron Bridge of Rehoboth Baptist Church

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Christmas Question (Excerpt)

Delivered December 25th, 1859, by C. H. Spurgeon on Isaiah 9:6

This morning, however, the principal object of my discourse, and, indeed, the sole one, is to bring out the force of those two little words, "unto us." For you will perceive that here the full force of the passage lies. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given." The divisions of my discourse are very simple ones. First, is it so? Secondly, if it is so, what then? Thirdly, if it is not so, what then?

I. In the first place, IS IT SO? Is it true that unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given? It is a fact that a child is born. Upon that I use no argument. We receive it as a fact, more fully established than any other fact in history, that the Son of God became man, was born at Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. It is a fact, too, that a Son is given. About that we have no question. The infidel may dispute, but we, professing to be believers in Scripture, receive it as an undeniable truth, that God has given his only begotten Son to be the Savior of men. But the matter of question is this: Is this child born to us? Is he given to us? This is the matter of anxious enquiry. Have we a personal interest in the child that was born at Bethlehem? Do we know that he is our Savior?—that he has brought glad tidings to us?—that to us he belongs? and that we belong to him? I say this is matter of very grave and solemn investigation.

It is a very observable fact, that the very best of men are sometimes troubled with questions with regard to their own interest in Christ, while men who never are troubled at all about the matter are very frequently presumptuous deceivers, who have no part in this matter. I have often observed that some of the people about whom I felt most sure, were the very persons who were the least sure of themselves. It reminds me of the history of a godly man named Simon Brown, a minister in the olden times in the City of London. He became so extremely sad in heart, so depressed in spirit, that at last he conceived the idea that his soul was annihilated. It was all in vain to talk to the good man, you could not persuade him that he had a soul; but all the time he was preaching, and praying, and working, more like a man that had two souls than none. When he preached, his eyes poured forth plenteous floods of tears, and when he prayed, there was a divine fervor and heavenly prevalence in every petition. Now so it is with many Christians. They seem to be the very picture of godliness; their life is admirable, and their conversation heavenly, but yet they are always crying,—

"'Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought,
Do I love the Lord or no?
Am I his or am I not?

So does it happen, that the best of men will question while the worst of men will presume.

Read the full sermon here or, listen here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Eight Christmas Contrasts (Re-post)

1. Jesus underwent a human birth so that we who believe on Him might have a heavenly birth. (Luke 2:11; John 1:12)

2. Jesus took His place in a manger in a stable, so that we might have heavenly mansions. (Luke 2:7; John 14:2)

3. Jesus became a member of a human family so that we might become members of the family of God. (Matthew 2:11; Galatians 3:26)

4. Jesus made Himself subject to others so that we, through the power of His Spirit at work through us, might be made free. (Luke 2:51; Galatians 5:1)

5. Jesus laid His glory aside so that we might receive glory. (Philippians 2:6,7; 1 Peter 5:4)

6. Jesus became poor so that we might become spiritually rich. (Matthew 8:20; 2 Corinthians 8:9)

7. Jesus was born, to the praise of angels, so that we can we born again, to the praise of angels. (Luke 2:13,14; Luke 15:10)

8. Jesus, who was pursued by an evil and dangerous ruler, went to the cross to destroy a far more evil and dangerous ruler. (Matthew 2:13; Hebrews 2:14)

--Adapted from "The Contrasts of Christmas" by Donald Grey Barnhouse.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Unless you repent—you too will all perish!

Read the transcript here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

His Way or the Highway (Trailer)

Watch, listen or download the full message by Randy Wages here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Can Dead Bones Live?

Watch, listen or download the full message by Maarten Kuivenhoven here.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

God's Way of Peace

The Verdict

God knows us; He knows what we are, He knows what He meant us to be, and He sees the vast difference between these two things. God’s testimony concerning man is that he is a sinner: “there is none righteous, no, not one…. There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12). God declares man to be a lost one, a stray one, a rebel, a hater of God. Man is not a sinner occasionally, but a sinner always; not a sinner in part, with many good things about him, but wholly a sinner, with no compensating goodness. He is evil in heart as well as life, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
When the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the soul it sees this judgment is true. Conviction of sin is just the sinner seeing himself as he is—the way that God has seen him all along. Then every fond idea of self-goodness vanishes away. The things in him that once seemed good appear empty, and the bad things so very bad, that every hope of being saved because of something in his own character is taken away. He sees that he cannot save himself, nor even help God to save him. He is lost, and he is helpless.
Doings, feelings, strivings, prayings, givings, abstainings, and the like, are found to be no relief from a sense of guilt, and, therefore, no resting-place for a troubled heart. If sin was just a disease or a misfortune, religious deeds might be seen as favorable symptoms of returning health. But sin is more than a disease, and the sinner is not merely sick, but condemned by the righteous Judge. None of these goodnesses can give him peace, for they cannot assure him of a complete and righteous pardon.

The Remedy

The question, “How can I be made fit to come before the Lord?” cannot be answered with an appeal to personal character, or goodness of life, or prayers, or performances of religion. The sinner’s peace with God does not come from within. No grounds of peace or elements of reconciliation can be extracted from himself. His one qualification for peace is that he needs it.
A sinner’s peace can only come from God, and it is in knowing God that he gets it: “Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace” (Job 22:21). God Himself is the fountainhead of our peace. His revealed truth in the Bible is the channel through which this peace finds its way into us, and His Holy Spirit is the great interpreter of that truth to us.
God has declared Himself to be gracious, and has told us that this grace is for the ungodly, the unholy, the unfit, the dead in sin. He has embodied this grace in the person and work of His beloved Son. Turn your eye to the cross and see these two things: the crucifiers and the Crucified. The crucifiers, the haters of God and His Son, represent us. The Crucified is God Himself—incarnate love. It is the God who made you, suffering and dying for the ungodly.
Hear the word of the Lord concerning this finished work:
  • “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
  • “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).
  • “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).
  • “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
  • “His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).
These expressions speak of something more than love. The deep, true, real love of God is in each of them, but so are justice and holiness. If we were going to be saved from eternal death, there was the need of a death; righteousness demands this. To meet this terrible necessity, the Son of God became a man and died! Love led Him down to the cradle; love led Him up to the cross! He died as the sinner’s substitute. He died to make it a righteous thing for God to cancel the sinner’s guilt and annul the penalty of his everlasting death.
Had it not been for His death, grace and guilt could not have looked each other in the face. God and the sinner could not have been brought together; righteousness would have forbidden reconciliation. As we know, righteousness is as divine and real a thing as love. Without this perfect sacrifice, it would not have been right for God to receive the sinner, nor safe for the sinner to come.
What peace there is for the stricken conscience in the truth that Christ died for the ungodly! The cross is the payment of the sinner’s penalty, the extinction of his debt, and the tearing up of the charges which were against us. Just as the cross is the payment, so is the resurrection God’s receipt—for the full amount—signed with His own hand.

The Response

The sinner may well ask: “How can I come before God, and stand in His presence, with happy confidence on my part, and gracious acceptance on His?” He wants you to come to Him exactly as you are, without even one vain thought that by a little waiting, or working, or praying, you can make yourself ready, or persuade Him to make you fit to receive salvation.
Faith is the link, the one link, between the sinner and the Sin-bearer. Faith is not a work or exercise of our minds, which must be properly performed in order to qualify or fit us for pardon. Faith is not a religious duty, which must be gone through according to certain rules, in order to induce Christ to give us the benefits of his work. Faith is simply receiving the divine record concerning the Son of God, recognizing the completeness of His great sacrifice for sin, and the trueness of the Father’s testimony to that completeness.
Here are just a few examples of what God has spoken about faith: 
  • “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Hebrews 11:6).
  • “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
  • “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
  • “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).
  • “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
  • “This is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 3:23).
These are some of the many texts which show that it is our belief of God’s testimony concerning His own free love, and the work of his Son, that makes us partakers of the blessings which that testimony reveals. They show us that it is the object of faith—the person, or thing, or truth of which faith lays hold—that is the soul’s peace and consolation. They also announce most solemnly the necessity of believing, and the greatness of the sin of unbelief.
God can never be satisfied with you on account of any goodness about you, so why should you attempt to be satisfied with anything which will not satisfy Him? There is just one thing with which He is entirely satisfied—the person and work of His only begotten Son. It is with Him that He wants you to be satisfied. How much better would it be to take God’s way at once, and be satisfied with Christ? Then pardon and peace will be given without delay.
“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
—Condensed from God’s Way of Peace by Horatius Bonar.