Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Should We Pray For? by John Piper

One way to answer this question is to look at what the early church prayed for. Here is a list gathered from the New Testament. It can guide you in how you pray. I suggest that periodically you pray through this list just to test whether your prayers are leaving out anything the New Testament included. We don't have to pray all of these each time we pray. But over time it would be good if our prayers had the breadth and depth of the New Testament prayers.

They called on God to exalt his name in the world.
Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name (Matthew 6:9).

They called on God to extend his kingdom in the world.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10 ).

They called on God that the gospel would run and triumph.
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

They called on God for the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13; cf. Ephesians 3:19).

They called on God to vindicate his people in their cause.
And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? (Luke 18:7).

They called on God to save unbelievers.
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved (Romans 10:1).

They called on God to direct the use of the sword.
"Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying through all prayer and supplication on every occasion . . ." (Ephesians 6:17-18)

They called on God for boldness in proclamation.
Pray at all times in the Spirit . . . and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:18-19)

And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness (Acts 4:29).

They called on God for signs and wonders.
And now Lord . . . grant your servants to speak thy word with boldness . . . while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:30).

Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit (James 5:17 -18).

They called on God for the healing of wounded comrades.
Let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up (James 5:14-15).

They called on God for the healing of unbelievers.
It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery; and Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him (Acts 28:8).

They called on God for the casting out of demons.
And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer" (Mark 9:29)

They called on God for miraculous deliverances.
So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church . . . When he realized [he had been freed], he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying (Acts 12:5,12).

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake (Acts 16:25-26).

They called on God for the raising of the dead.
But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, rise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up (Acts 9:40).

They called on God to supply his troops with necessities.
Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11).

They called on God for strategic wisdom.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him (James 1:5).

They called on God to establish leadership in the outposts.
And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed (Acts 14:23).

They called on God to send out reinforcements.
Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest (Matthew 9:38).

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off (Acts 13:2-3).

They called on God for the success of other missionaries.
I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, (Romans 15:30-31).

They called on God for unity and harmony in the ranks.
I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (John 17:20-21).

They called on God for the encouragement of togetherness.
[We are] praying earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? (1 Thessalonians 3:10).

They called on God for a mind of discernment.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more in with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9-10).

They called on God for a knowledge of his will.
And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1:9).

They called on God to know him better.
[We have not ceased to pray for you to be] increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10 ; cf. Ephesians 1:17 ).

They called on God for power to comprehend the love of Christ.
I bow my knees before the Father . . . that you may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:14,18).

They called on God for a deeper sense of assured hope.
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers . . . that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:16,18).

They called on God for strength and endurance.
[We have not ceased to pray for you to be] strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy (Colossians 1:11 ; cf. Ephesians 3:16).

They called on God for deeper sense of his power within them.
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers . . . that you may know . . . what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe (Ephesians 1:16, 19).

They called on God that their faith not be destroyed.
I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren (Luke 22:32).

Watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man (Luke 21:36).

They called on God for greater faith.
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24 ; cf. Ephesians 3:17).

They called on God that they might not fall into temptation.
Lead us not into temptation (Matthew 6:13).

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).

They called on God that he would complete their resolves.
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power (2 Thessalonians 1:11).

They called on God that they would do good works.
[We have not ceased to pray for you that you] lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work (Colossians 1:10).

They called on God or forgiveness for their sins.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12).

They called on God for protection from the evil one.
Deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Church Discipline and Fox News

John Leadley Dagg, the author of a well-known and influential church manual of the nineteenth century, noted: “It has been remarked, that when discipline leaves a church, Christ goes with it.” If so, and I fear it is so, Christ has abandoned many churches who are blissfully unaware of His departure.

The Fox News story can be read here. Its odd that this lady has a problem with her sins being made public at the church but does not have a problem telling Fox News about it.

The great task of the church is to prove itself to be the genuine church revealed in the New Testament. We must regain the New Testament concern for fidelity of doctrine, purity of life, and unity of fellowship.

Matther 18:15-20

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”




James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries

Monday, December 22, 2008

Please Pardon the Intermission - A New Addition to the Family

My posting has been pleasantly interrupted by the birth of my 3rd grand child.

Trinity Grace McKnight
7lbs 6oz
17 3/4"
I will resume posting after Christmas unless my Opa responsibilities slow down a bit.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Romans 1:18-32 - Why we Need the Gospel Part 2

Last week I gave you a brief overview of Romans1:18-32. This week I will deal with verses 18-23. There will be another post that follows dealing with the remaining verses.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

The Wrath of God:

Wrath is God’s anger directed toward sin. It is determined holy indignation, not emotional or uncontrolled. God is perfect in His wrath just as He is perfect in His love. God’s wrath is an expression of His holy love. If God is not a God of wrath, His love is no more than frail, worthless sentimentality; the concept of mercy is meaningless; and the Cross was a cruel and unnecessary experience for His Son. Wrath is essential. When this is realized, we understand that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), that He has the power to save and destroy (James 4:12), and He is to be feared, because He has the power to destroy both body and soul in hell (Luke 12:4 and Matthew10:28). He perfectly hates evil, and He perfectly loves righteousness. In evangelicalism today, this is forgotten. After all, what are we saved from? God’s love? No, we are saved from God’s wrath (Romans 5:9). The Puritan Thomas Watson said, “Is God so infinitely holy? Then how unlike to God sin is…No wonder, therefore, that God hates sin, being so unlike to Him, nay, so contrary to Him; it strikes at His holiness.” Wrath is the only logical response that a holy God could have toward sin and evil.

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

God’s wrath is being revealed because we do not honor Him as God, we do not give Him thanks, and we have exchanged the glory that belongs to Him and are giving it to idolatry. What Calvin observed long ago is still true today: the human heart, is an idol factory. Ken Sande wrote, “An idol is not simply a statue of wood, stone or metal; it is anything we love and pursue in place of God, and can be referred to as a ‘false god’ or a ‘functional god.’ In biblical terms, an idol is something other than God that we set our hearts on (Luke 12:29; 1 Cor 10:6), that motivates us (1Cor 4:5), that masters or rules us (Ps119:133), or that we serve (Matt. 6:24)”. A.W. Tozer said, “Idolatry begins in the mind when we pervert or exchange the idea of God for something other than what He really is” Have you replaced God with something or someone else? Is your idol health, wealth, pleasure, prestige, sports, education, success, power, YOU?

Hopefully you are giving consideration to how this works in your life. There is a lot of application that we could get into here. I trust the Holy Spirit will convict.


I want to briefly touch on how this applies to worship. Does your worship honor God, give Him thanks and give Him glory, or is your worship centered on you? The self esteem gospel made popular by Robert Schuller is going strong in many churches today. Worship has been reduced to whatever can be done in order for people to feel good about themselves. The result of this kind of worship can be found in the seeker sensitive, emergent, and liberal church movements today. Hymns have been replaced with music that has little or no theological substance. Preaching has been reduced to topical sermons about things that are important to the “Community”. Missions have been reduced to digging water wells in Guatemala and building restaurants in the Sudan. The gospel message is non-existent and replaced with old, new age philosophies. Glory, honor and thanks to God have been given over to glory, honor and thanks to self. We get what we want and we certainly will get what we deserve.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God (Lev 10:3, 1 Chron 16:24-29; Psalms 148; Romans 15:5-6), and for him to fail to give God glory is the ultimate offence.

Is there any hope? The hope is found in verses 16-17. "The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." Our only hope is that the righteousness God demands from us would be freely given to us, namely, God's own righteousness, to be received by faith. You may have this now because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, who paid the debt so that everyone who believes in him might be saved.




References:
English Standard Version Study Bible
New American Standard Bible
Logos
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Kittle and Freidrich)
Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Rienecker and Rogers)
Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XIX
McArthur New Testament Commentary Romans 1-8

Monday, November 10, 2008

Romans 1:18-32 God's wrath on unrighteousness

I plan for this to be a multi-part posting. This is the first installment and others will follow as I can get them written.

This past week I've heard a number people talk about how bad things are and how they are only going to get worse. People speculate that America as we know it will never be the same. Others talk about selling everything they own and moving to another country. These, like so many others, felt that the person elected to be president would make or break this country. One was called the messiah by some and the other a maverick, both promising changes. Who we elect for president will NOT fundamentally change the problems we experience in this country or this world. I point you to Romans 1:18-32.

Here we can read the indictment, the judgment, and the result of that judgment. Man has failed to give glory, honor and thanks to God, indictment. Therefore He has "given us up", judgment. The result of that judgment is man's wickedness to the extreme, a problem that cannot be fixed by a president. This is why politics and so many other things must be much less a priority and replaced with the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

You see, the problem we have is a sin problem which can only be solved by repentance of our sins and putting our trust in Jesus Christ. This is no longer a nation that trusts God. It’s a nation that has turned away from God and has put their trust in man. In effect, what we have done is create an idol, a god to suit ourselves, and turned away from the God of the bible. If you are putting your trust and faith in President elect Obama you will be sadly disappointed. The same is true to those who thought that Senator McCain would do any better. As long as our dependence is on someone other than God we will continue in the direction we are heading and things will only get worse. Our dependence needs to be on the One who gave us life and continues to do so.


Indictment
Judgment
Result of the judgment

God's Wrath on Unrighteousness – Romans 1:18-32 (ESV)
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.


Lord willing, the next posts will expound further on the text above. Potential titles:

The wrath of God
The Indictment
God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity
God gave them up to dishonorable passions
God gave them up to a debased mind
Now for the good news

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Day After the Elections of 2008 - James White

Psalm 2
1Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves,and the rulers take counsel together,against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apartand cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my Kingon Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree:The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of ironand dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;be warned, O rulers of the earth.11 Serve the Lord with fear,and rejoice with trembling.12 Kiss the Son,lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.



From Alpha and Omega Ministries

Sunday, November 02, 2008

John Piper's Heart in the 2008 Election

Psalm 93
The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from Everlasting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church - Paul Washer

Preached Wednesday, October 22nd at the Revival Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Paul Washer delivers a urgent appeal to the Christians and Churches in North America that many have been believing a false gospel and have false assurance of their salvation. He lists 10 indictments against the modern Church system in America. We need a reformation and revival of a biblical standard! It will not happen unless we stop what we are doing and turn towards God and God alone. The sermon is long but it will provide enough for you to meditate on for months to come.

1. A practical denial of the sufficiency of scripture.
2. An ignorance of God.
3. A failure to address man’s malady.
4. An ignorance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
5. An ignorance of the doctrine of regeneration.
6. An unbiblical gospel invitation.
7. Ignorance regarding the nature of the church.
8. A lack of loving and compassionate church discipline.
9. A silence on separation – A lack of teaching on holiness.
10. Sociology and psychology has replaced the scriptures.

You can listen to the sermon here.


Transcript part 1
Transcript part 2
Transcript part 3

Friday, October 24, 2008

Paul Washer at Deeper - The Idolatry of Decisional "Evangelism"

"The greater part of America claim to be born again and they are not."

The Valley of Dry Bones - Ezekiel 37

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

It is Not Death to Die - Sovereign Grace

It is not Death to Die
It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears
Chorus
O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore
Original words by Henri Malan (1787–1864). Translated by George Bethune (1847).
Music, chorus, and alternate words by Bob Kauflin

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

9/11 and My Sin



I remember exactly where I was on September 11th 2001. I was working in Rhourd El Baguel, Algeria when a friend came to my office to tell me that an airplane had just flown into one of the twin towers in New York City. The thought of such a thing was beyond belief but it was true. Every year since I think about that day, my thoughts, fears and a hatred I had for people who would do such an evil thing.

A thought comes to mind as we get close to 9/11. When I recall the events of that day and the days afterward, I think that the evil acts of that day are no different than the evil that I commit when I sin against a holy, holy, holy God. What I saw on 9/11 gives me a glimpse of what my own sin is like. It’s evil and it’s against the one who gives me life and who has provided for me, though his Son, forgiveness of my sin. What Jesus bore on the cross was my sin, my very own sin and He died as a once for all time sacrifice so that I can know forgiveness.

Romans 12:9 says “Abhor what is evil”. The word “Abhor” means to despise, to hate bitterly. It expresses a strong feeling of horror and contains the idea of separation.

Sin is not cute or funny or to be lightly regarded or excused. Sin is despicable and deadly, and God’s instructions to His people go past that of not sinning ourselves, but commands us to detest, loathe and hate sin. It is not to be tolerated or danced around or chucked under the chin, as would a mother pet a favored child. For sin is insidious and to be greatly feared. Make no mistake, sin is evil.

Do we see our sin properly?

Do we see our sin the same way God sees our sin?

Take this 9/11 to consider your sin and what it really is and how you should really feel about it.

Father, help me to feel the same way about my sin as I felt about the evil I saw on 9/11/2001. Father, help me to see my sin the same way as you see my sin. Amen.


Yet I Sin

Eternal Father,
Thou are good beyond all thought,
But I am vile, wretched, miserable, blind;
My lips are ready to confess, but my heart is slow to feel, and my ways reluctant to amend.
I bring my soul to thee; break it, wound it, bend it, mould it.
Unmask to me sin's deformity, that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it.
My faculties have been a weapon of revolt against thee; as a rebel I have misused my strength, and served the foul adversary of they kingdom.
Give me grace to bewail my insensate folly,
Grant me to know that the way of transgressors is hard, that evil paths are wretched paths, that to depart from thee is to lose all good.
I have seen the purity and beauty of they perfect law, the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns, the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls, yet I daily violate and contemn its precepts.
Thy loving Spirit strives within me, brings me Scripture warnings, speaks in startling providences, allures by secret whispers, yet I choose devices and desires to my own hurt, impiously resent, grieve, and provoke him to abandon me.
All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them cry pardon.
Work in me more profound and abiding repentance;
Give me the fullness of a godly grief that trembles and fears, yet ever trusts and loves, which is ever powerful, and ever confident;
Grant that through the tears of repentance I may see more clearly the brightness and glories of the saving cross.

The Valley of Vision

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Prayer by C. H. Spurgeon December 30, 1877:


"Lord, there are so many today who are running away from the truth. Oh, that You would be pleased to speak by Your Spirit that Your word may be known. Lord, hold us fast to the truth of Your word, bind us to it. May we not be ashamed of the truth of Your word but proclaim it boldly without compromise. May we not wish to be thought cultured, nor aim to keep in step with the times. May we be side by side with You, O bleeding Savior; and be content to be rejected, be willing to take up unpopular truth, and to hold fast despised teachings of sacred Scripture to the end.
Oh make us faithful unto death."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

John Bunyan - Scripture Memory - Pilgrim's Progress - John Piper

Three times Bunyan says that the key was in Christians "chest pocket" or simply his "chest." I take this to mean that Christian had hidden it in his heart by memorization and that it was now accessible in prison for precisely this reason. This is how the promises sustained and strengthened Bunyan. He was filled with Scripture. Everything he wrote was saturated with Bible. He poured over his English Bible, which he had most of the time. This is why he can say of his writings, "I have not for these things fished in other men's waters; my Bible and Concordance are my only library in my writings." Charles Spurgeon put it like this: "He had studied our Authorized Version . . . till his whole being was saturated with Scripture; and though his writings . . . continually make us feel and say, 'Why, this man is a living Bible!' Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak with out quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God."

Bunyan reverenced the Word of God and trembled at the prospect of dishonoring it. "Let me die . . . with the Philistines (Judg. 16:30) rather than deal corruptly with the blessed word of God." This, in the end, is why Bunyan is still with us today rather than disappearing into the mist of history. He is with us and ministering to us because he reverenced the Word of God and was so permeated by it that his blood is "Bibline" and that "the essence of the Bible flows from him."

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Jimmy Finds Real Life - Rev J. W. Lawless Jr



My sister sent this to me today and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. The first time I heard my dad preach was on skid row in downtown Ft Worth. The first time I handed out a tract was with my dad while he preached open air. My dad was attending seminary preparing for the ministry and I was in 2nd grade. After he graduated and took his first church in Central, NM he continued to preach open air but this time it was a family affair. We sang, my dad preached and we passed out tracts. I remember these times like they were yesterday. Below is a story my dad wrote. I will deliver it in 2 parts over the next few days.




Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Yet I Sin - Valley of Vision

Eternal Father,

Thou art good beyond all thought,
But I am vile, wretched, miserable, blind;

My lips are ready to confess,
but my heart is slow to feel,
and my ways reluctant to amend.

I bring my soul to thee;
break it, wound it, bend it, mould it.

Unmask to me sin’s deformity,
that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it.

My faculties have been a weapon of revolt
against thee;
as a rebel I have misused my strength,
and served the foul adversary of thy kingdom.

Give me grace to bewail my insensate folly,
Grant me to know that the way of transgressors
is hard,that evil paths are wretched paths,
that to depart from thee is to lose all good.

I have seen the purity and beauty of thy perfect law,
the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns,
the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls,
yet I daily violate and contemn its precepts.

Thy loving Spirit strives within me,
brings me Scripture warnings,
speaks in startling providences,
allures by secret whispers,
yet I choose devices and desires to my own hurt,
impiously resent, grieve,
and provoke him to abandon me.

All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them
cry pardon.

Work in me more profound and abiding repentance;
Give me the fullness of a godly grief
that trembles and fears,
yet ever trusts and loves,
which is ever powerful, and ever confident;

Grant that through the tears of repentance
I may see more clearly the brightness
and glories of the saving cross.

-Valley of Vision

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Baptism Service - Curtis McKnight

Yesterday, Saturday , was a very special day for my family. Curtis, my son-in-law made his public professon of faith and was baptized. Below is his testamony and the video of his baptism.

I considered myself a good person when I was growing up. I have never been to jail. I have never done illegal drugs. I made good grades in school, went to college, have a loving wife. By this worlds standards I am an upstanding citizen. About 3 years ago, my family and I started going to church, and I was invited to a bible study where my eyes were opened little by little to truth about how good I was. God’s word showed me that I am a sinner in a need of a Savior. I have stolen things, no matter how small it is I am still a thief in God’s eyes. I have looked upon another woman with lust and in God’s eyes that is committing adultery. I have lied and taken the Lords name vein. I was headed to one place and that was hell. God has worked on me in the past 3 years through His word and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is by the Grace of God that I have been given faith and I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. His sacrifice was payment for my transgressions. He is sufficient for all things. Faith has produced repentance and obedience, and today I am filled with joy to profess publicly my faith in Jesus Christ.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

SBC Church Sign - Midland, Texas

I saw the following sign on an SBC billboard here in Midland, Texas:

“Jesus died for myspace in heaven”

No!
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
He was despised,
We did not esteem Him.
Our griefs He Himself bore,
Our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
Chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
By His scourging we are healed.
God has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief;
He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
Isaiah53
Jesus died because His sacrifice was the only way that I/you might know forgiveness of our sin, it was the only way we could be justified before God. Friends there is no "MySpace" in heaven without repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
This is the sort of seeker friendly evangelism that will have many believing that they are saved when indeed they are not. They will wake up someday to their eternal shock.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Need for Sound Discernment…on a Golf Course

From the Slice of Laodicea blog:

When it comes to the importance of warning believers of false teaching, I have often used the analogy of a toddler or preschooler finding a jug of anti-freeze. It looks pretty and blue, sort of like that shocking colored Gatorade or Kool-aid in the refrigerator. It’s the same consistency. It comes packaged in the same kind of plastic container. Why not drink it?

Continue reading here.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The longer you stay away from God... - CH Spurgeon


“The longer you stay away from God, the more deeply you will sin. If you keep on in the wrong path, not only will you have sinned the more, but that sin will have taken a more terrible hold upon you. Habits begin like cobwebs, but they end like chains of iron. A man might more readily have swept away the temptation when it was new to him than he will be able to do when, having yielded to it many a time, the devil has learned the way to master him. May God help you to flee from sin as soon as you perceive it, lest you be caught in its net of steel and be held in it to your
eternal destruction!”—

The disease of sin... - CH Spurgeon


“The disease of sin is everywhere in the realm of manhood and it is all the more certainly proved to be everywhere because so many people cannot see it! This is why you cannot see sin in yourselves—it has made all the various faculties of your soul to mortify so that you cannot feel the pains which this mortal disease would otherwise have caused you. Thus your heart has lost any tenderness that it may have had, naturally, and your conscience is seared as with a hot iron so that it cannot warn you of the mischief within, but prophesies smooth things, while all is in a state of ruin, destruction and dismay—and will be so forever unless God, by His Grace, shall work a miraculous change.”—

Saturday, July 05, 2008

They are enemies of the Cross of Christ... - CH Spurgeon


“They are ‘the enemies of the Cross of Christ,’ who try to belittle this great Atonement and to make it out to be a very small affair, next to nothing in importance. As I have often said of some preachers, they teach that Jesus Christ did something or other, which in some way or other, is in some measure or other connected with our salvation. We do not teach any such hazy ideas as that! We say that He laid down His life for the sheep and that for those sheep He has made a perfect, complete and effectual Redemption by which He has delivered them from the wrath to come. Blessed is he who rejoices in that doctrine of the Cross of Christ!”

There is no possibility of converting anybody... - CH Spurgeon


“There is no possibility of converting anybody by persuasion, by logic, by rhetoric, or anything of the sort. It is the work of God, and the work of God, alone! And though He uses instrumentality in almost every case, yet He will not use that instrumentality which thinks itself sufficient for
the work. He will make us know that we are nothing—and then He will make everything of us. He does not mind how much He makes of His servants when all that He does for them brings the more glory to His own name, and they do not, even with their little finger, touch the honor of
it, or wish to do so.”

Friday, July 04, 2008

How about you preacher? - CH Spurgeon


“I have preached the Gospel, now, these 30 years and more, and some of you will scarcely believe it, but in my vestry behind that door, before I come to address the congregation in this Tabernacle, I tremble like an aspen leaf. And often, in coming down to this pulpit, have I felt my knees knock together—not that I am afraid of any one of my hearers—but I am thinking of that account which I must render to God, whether I speak His Word faithfully or not. On this service may hang the eternal destinies of many. O God, grant that we may all realize that this is a matter of the most solemn concern! May we all come to God by Christ Jesus, that everything may be right with us, now, and right for eternity! God grant that it may be!”—

When that great saint and preacher, Augustine, lay dying..... - CH Spurgeon


“When that great saint and preacher, Augustine, lay dying—and I venture to say of Augustine that among all who were born of women, there has hardly ever been a greater than he—his mind was equal to any philosophy for its depth, its length and its breadth. And as an instructor in
theology he still remains, under Christ, next to the Apostle Paul, the master-teacher of the churches—yet, as he lay dying, he asked to have certain texts of Scripture printed in large capitals. Which do you suppose he chose? You may think that he selected some deep and mysterious passage about the high doctrine which he so greatly loved, but he did nothing of the kind. He chose those texts of Scripture which we commonly quote to sinking sinners—such as these—‘He that believes on the Son has everlasting life.’ ‘Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ And that great saint feasted his dying eyes on the texts which we usually give to babes in Christ’s faith, or those who are seeking the Savior, for they suited him just then!”


The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. It has the power to save you, it has the power to sustain you and it has the power to glorify you. It is God's gospel that we must teach and preach. Anything less will create false converts destined for an eternity in hell.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It will never do for men to be led to think... - CH Spurgeon


“It will never do for men to be led to think that they are healed before they know that they are sick unto death, or to imagine that they are clothed before they see themselves to be naked, or to be taught to trust Christ before they are aware that they have anything for which they have
need to trust Him. It would be a happy circumstance if, in our preaching, we could have a blending of these two elements so that we could have somewhat of our forefathers’ deep experimental teaching and, with it, and growing out of it a plain, unfettered delivery of the Gospel declaration, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Sovereignty of God - CH Spurgeon


"There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than the doctrine of divine sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty hath ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children of God ought more earnestly to contend than the dominion of their Master over all creation---the kingship of God over all the works of His own hands---the throne of God, and His right to sit upon that throne.

On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and to make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth, and when we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter, then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love. They love Him anywhere better than they do when He sits with His scepter in His hands and His crown upon His head. But it is God upon the throne we love to preach. It is the God upon the throne whom we trust."


-Spurgeon, delivered May 4, 1856 in a sermon titled "Divine Sovereignty"

"Oh you legalist who are looking to yourselves..." CH Spurgeon


“O you legalists who are looking to yourselves for some arguments with which to prevail with God! O you who look to your sacraments, to your outward forms, to your pious deeds and your almsgivings for something that will move the heart of God—know this, that these things are no
lever that can ever move Him to 1ove! Nothing but your sin and misery can ever stir His mercy! And you look to the wrong place when you look to your merits to find a plea why He should show pity upon you!"

Spurgeon Quote on the Gospel


"The hearing of the gospel involves the hearer in responsibility. It is a great privilege to hear the gospel. You may smile and think there is nothing very great in it. The damned in hell know. Oh, what would they give if they could hear the gospel now? If they could come back and entertain but the shadow of a hope that they might escape from the wrath to come? The saved in heaven estimate this privilege at a high rate, for, having obtained salvation through the preaching of this gospel, they can never cease to bless their God for calling them by his word of truth. O that you knew it! On your dying beds the listening to a gospel sermon will seem another thing than it seems now."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

That Memorable Night - CH Spurgeon


I have dwelt upon the efficacy of His Blood; but no tongue can ever speak of its worth. I pray that God the Spirit may lead some of you to put your trust simply, wholly, and entirely, on the Blood of Jesus Christ. See the Saviour hanging on the Cross; turn your eye to Him, and say, "Lord, I trust Thee; I have nothing else to trust to; sink or swim, my Saviour, I trust Thee." And as surely, sinner, as thou canst put thy trust in Christ, thou art safe. He that believeth shall be saved, be his sins ever so many; he that believeth not shall be damned, be his sins ever so few, and his virtues ever so many. Trust in Jesus now!


"My hope is built on nothing lessThan Jesu's Blood and Righteousness;I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesu's Name; On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.

"I had rather be poor in His service..." - CH Spurgeon


"I had rather be poor in His service than rich in my own. If you think you can walk in holiness without keeping up perpetual fellowship with Christ, you have made a great mistake. If you would be holy, you must live close to Jesus."

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Worthless Counterfeit - CH Spurgeon


"Christ will be master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. If your life is unholy your heart is unchanged; you are an unsaved person. If the Saviour has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a hatred of sin and a love of holiness, the grace which does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves his people, not in their sins, but from them. 'Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.' 'Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.' If not saved from sin, how shall we hope to be counted among his people. Lord, save me even now from all evil, and enable me to honor my Saviour."

How do you fear God? - John Piper

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Irreverance III - Pastor Morris Brooks

This is the last of a series over at the Pressing On blog. Pastor Brooks is the pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Midland, Texas.

This irreverence in the American church is not just in the worship service, but pervades every area of Christian life. Recently my family and I were at Jason's Deli one evening when another family sat down next to us. One of the men was wearing a "religious" tee shirt, and thought, I'm quite sure, that he was providing a cool witness of his Christianity with its catchy wording, as if it is the catchy wording that provides the witness. I sat there with a mouth full of turkey croissant sandwich thinking, "This guy's not serious," and slowly shaking my head at the irreverence he was projecting, all the while he was probably thinking how cool his tee shirt is because of its hip phrasing that will witness to the unchurched, for why else would he wear it. The tee shirt said, "GETTING DOWN WITH THE MOST HIGH," and went on to quote Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the shadow of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Irreverance II - Pastor Morris Brooks

This is part 2 of a 3 part seris over at Pressing On blog by Pastor Morris Brooks pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Midland, Texas.

You might be thinking to yourself, "Wait a minute, you are picking on the contemporary church crowd. What about the coat and tie traditional crowd?" Honestly, they can be just as guilty. Let's look at Isaiah 29:13 "Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote." Wearing your Sunday best, repeating the liturgy, praying out of a prayer book, and singing three hymns accompanied by an organ does not make you reverent. Much of the contemporary movement was a reaction to the lifeless, heartless, traditional service where the reverence was ritualized, not internalized. Reverence begins in the heart and its attitude towards God, and at the heart of true worship is reverence towards God. Part of why we are to gather together is to corporately revere God; and in that corporate reverence is a testimony to the greatness of this God who commands such honor and respect.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Irreverance - Pastor Morris Brooks

The following is a snippet from a blog post over at Pressing On blog.

Isaiah 8:13 tells us, "It is the Lord of hosts whom you shall regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread." Men, what are you saying to the Lord when you come in to appear before Him dressed for the beach or the golf course? In the presence of the Lord is not a place to be "hot" or a place to chill out. By your demeanor, your attitude, or your dress are you regarding the Lord as holy?

Amen brother, I am looking forward to the future entries on this very important subject.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Sometimes we mistake a crowd for a church" - Dr Al Mohler


“The crowd is so large that has been gathering over the course of this day that Jesus is required to do what a teacher must do and that is find some way to get distance from the crowd that is necessary to be seen and heard. In this case Jesus gets into a boat and goes slightly off shore in order that he might teach. The crowd is a very important factor to this passage.


The crowd is a matter of some question–some challenge, some perplexity–to us as well. Is has become clear that evangelical Christians in particular have a hard time understanding the nature of a crowd. We are tempted to think of a crowd as a great gathering of receptivity.


We understand that the crowd is gathering because something has been happening. We as evangelicals sometimes mistake a crowd for a church. It’s hard for us sometimes to understand what’s going on. Jesus helps to clarify this for his own disciples.”
–Albert Mohler, The Parable of the Sower, sermon at Covenant Life Church (Gaithersburg, MD) on May 4, 2008.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Impact Midland - Why Colonial Bible Church Exists

"Why Colonial Bible Church Exists" is presented by Pastor Brian Fairchild.

We exist for 3 reasons:

1. To exault Jesus Christ.
2. To build up each other in the faith.
3. To expand the kingdom of God by preaching His words.

How do we do this?

1. We must maintain a high view of God.
2. We must maintain a high view of scripture.
3. We must maintain a low view of ourselves and the world.
4. We must have an accurate view of the church.
a. The church is not a social club.
b. The church must work God's way.

You can listen to the program here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Slavery and True Liberty - John Macarthur


The following is excerpted from the new material in John’s revised edition of The Gospel According to Jesus (Zondervan, 2008).


Understood correctly, the gospel is an invitation to slavery. When we call people to faith in Christ, we need to stress that fact in the same way Jesus did. On the one hand, the gospel is a proclamation of freedom to sin’s captives and liberty to people who are broken by the bondage of sin’s power over them. On the other hand, it is a summons to a whole different kind of slavery: “Having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). As the apostle Peter wrote, “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God” (1 Peter 2:16).

Both sides of the equation are vital. There is a glorious freedom in being the slaves of Christ, because “if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). On the other hand, being a true follower of Christ means the end of human autonomy. And that is as it should be, because self-determination turns out to be nothing more than an illusion anyway. The only kind of liberty it offers is “free[dom] in regard to righteousness” (Romans 6:20)—and that is the very essence of bondage to sin. Its inevitable end is death and destruction. If we want true liberty from sin and all its fruits, it’s not autonomy that we need, but a different kind of bondage: complete surrender to the lordship of Christ.

In other words, everyone serves some master. No one is truly independent and self-governing. We are all enslaved in one way or the other. In the words of the apostle Paul:
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. (Romans 6:16-21)

No message can rightly be called the gospel if it glosses over or denies those truths. The gospel according to Jesus calls sinners to give up their independence, deny themselves, submit to an alien will, and abandon all rights in order to be owned by and controlled by the Lord. By confessing Jesus as Lord (Kurios), we automatically confess that we are His slaves (douloi).

What does this mean in practical terms? To borrow the words of Edwin Yamauchi,
It means that we have been captured, beaten, and enslaved. We discover, however, that our captor is a Despot of love and mercy. Neither is there anything slavish or servile about our slavehood, for we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear but the spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15). Nor has our reduction to slavery been a debasement or an abasement. . . . We have been elevated to serve in a heavenly court and have been invested with a higher nature.

. . . [It also] reminds us of our ransom from another master at an incredible price. It was not with the fabulous sums of all the royal estates we were bought, nor was it for handsome features or some prized skill we were purchased. But rather unlovely, without any merit, rebellious at heart, we were redeemed with the precious blood of the Master Himself.
Having thus been bought by Christ we are entirely His.

There’s no other possible way to view it.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Is doctrine important?

Its hard to believe that anyone would even ask the question yet we have several local churchs in Midland, Texas where I live that have answered the questions with a resounding NO!. Its become the norm in the seeker/emergent church of the tares today. The following is a piece written by John Macarthur of Grace Community Church and Grace To You answering the question.

Why Doctrine Matters.

Is it enough to “believe in Jesus” in some amorphous sense that divorces “faith” from any particular doctrine about Him, or is doctrine—and the content of our faith—really important after all?

Scripture plainly teaches that we must be sound in the faith—which is to say that doctrine does matter (1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 4:2-3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1). It matters a lot.

“If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Tim. 6:3-4, emphasis added).

Sound, biblical doctrine is a necessary aspect of true wisdom and authentic faith. The attitude that scorns doctrine while elevating feelings or blind trust cannot legitimately be called faith at all, even if it masquerades as Christianity. It is actually an irrational form of unbelief.

God holds us accountable for what we believe as well as how we think about the truth He has revealed. All Scripture testifies to the fact that God wants us to know and understand the truth. He wants us to be wise. His will is that we use our minds. We are supposed to think, meditate, and above all, to be discerning.

The content of our faith is crucial. Sincerity is not sufficient.

Consider, for example, these well-known verses. Note the repeated use of words like truth, knowledge, discernment, wisdom, and understanding:

“Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom” (Psa. 51:6).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psa. 111:10).

“Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Thy commandments” (Psa. 119:66).

“Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2:2-6).

“The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding” (Prov. 4:7).

“We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9).

“In [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that He wants us to use our minds. And one of the most vital duties facing every Christian—especially in an era (such as ours) when the church is overrun with contradictory ideas and spiritual confusion—is the duty of discernment. As those who would be faithful Bereans of the Word (Acts 17:11), we must be careful to watch our lives and our doctrine closely (1 Tim. 4:16).

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Does God so Loved the World? - John MacArthur

Love is the best known but least understood of all God's attributes. Almost everyone who believes in God these days sees Him as a God of love. I have even met agnostics who are quite certain that if God exists, He must be benevolent, compassionate, and loving.

All those things are infinitely true about God, of course, but not in the way most people think. Because of the influence of modern liberal theology, many suppose that God's love and goodness ultimately nullify His righteousness, justice, and holy wrath. They envision God as a benign heavenly grandfather-tolerant, affable, lenient, permissive, devoid of any real displeasure over sin, who without consideration of His holiness will benignly pass over sin and accept people as they are.

Liberal thinking about God's love also permeates much of evangelicalism today. We have lost the reality of God's wrath. We have disregarded His hatred for sin. The God most evangelicals now describe is all-loving and not at all angry. We have forgotten that "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31). We do not believe in that kind of God anymore.

We must recapture some of the holy terror that comes with a right understanding of God's righteous anger. We need to remember that God's wrath does burn against impenitent sinners (Psalm 38:1-3). That reality is the very thing that makes His love so amazing. Only those who see themselves as sinners in the hands of an angry God can fully appreciate the magnitude and wonder of His love.

In that regard, our generation is surely at a greater disadvantage than any previous age. We have been force-fed the doctrines of self-esteem for so long that most people don't really view themselves as sinners worthy of divine wrath. On top of that, religious liberalism, humanism, evangelical compromise, and ignorance of the Scriptures have all worked against a right understanding of who God is. Ironically, in an age that conceives of God as wholly loving, altogether devoid of wrath, few people really understand what God's love is all about.

How we address the misconception of the present age is crucial. We must not respond to an overemphasis on divine love by denying that God is love. Our generation's imbalanced view of God cannot be corrected by an equal imbalance in the opposite direction, a very real danger in some circles. I'm deeply concerned about a growing trend I've noticed-particularly among people committed to the biblical truth of God's sovereignty and divine election. Some of them flatly deny that God in any sense loves those whom He has not chosen for salvation.

I am troubled by the tendency of some-often young people newly infatuated with Reformed doctrine-who insist that God cannot possibly love those who never repent and believe. I encounter that view, it seems, with increasing frequency.

The argument inevitably goes like this: Psalm 7:11 tells us "God is angry with the wicked every day." It seems reasonable to assume that if God loved everyone, He would have chosen everyone unto salvation. Therefore, God does not love the non-elect. Those who hold this view often go to great lengths to argue that John 3:16 cannot really mean God loves the whole world.

Perhaps the best-known argument for this view is found the unabridged edition of an otherwise excellent book, The Sovereignty of God, by A. W. Pink. Pink wrote, "God loves whom He chooses. He does not love everybody." [1] He further argued that the word world in John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world…") "refers to the world of believers (God's elect), in contradistinction from 'the world of the ungodly.'"[2]

Pink was attempting to make the crucial point that God is sovereign in the exercise of His love. The gist of his argument is certainly valid: It is folly to think that God loves all alike, or that He is compelled by some rule of fairness to love everyone equally. Scripture teaches us that God loves because He chooses to love (Deuteronomy 7:6-7), because He is loving (God is love, 1 John 4:8), not because He is under some obligation to love everyone the same.

Nothing but God's own sovereign good pleasure compels Him to love sinners. Nothing but His own sovereign will governs His love. That has to be true, since there is certainly nothing in any sinner worthy of even the smallest degree of divine love.

Unfortunately, Pink took the corollary too far. The fact that some sinners are not elected to salvation is no proof that God's attitude toward them is utterly devoid of sincere love. We know from Scripture that God is compassionate, kind, generous, and good even to the most stubborn sinners. Who can deny that those mercies flow out of God's boundless love? It is evident that they are showered even on unrepentant sinners.

We must understand that it is God's very nature to love. The reason our Lord commanded us to love our enemies is "in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45). Jesus clearly characterized His Father as One who loves even those who purposefully set themselves at enmity against Him.

At this point, however, an important distinction must be made: God loves believers with a particular love. God's love for the elect is an infinite, eternal, saving love. We know from Scripture that this great love was the very cause of our election (Ephesians 2:4). Such love clearly is not directed toward all of mankind indiscriminately, but is bestowed uniquely and individually on those whom God chose in eternity past.

But from that, it does not follow that God's attitude toward those He did not elect must be unmitigated hatred. Surely His pleading with the lost, His offers of mercy to the reprobate, and the call of the gospel to all who hear are all sincere expressions of the heart of a loving God. Remember, He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but tenderly calls sinners to turn from their evil ways and live.

Reformed theology has historically been the branch of evangelicalism most strongly committed to the sovereignty of God. At the same time, the mainstream of Reformed theologians have always affirmed the love of God for all sinners. John Calvin himself wrote regarding John 3:16, "[Two] points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish." [3]

Calvin continues to explain the biblical balance that both the gospel invitation and "the world" that God loves are by no means limited to the elect alone. He also recognized that God's electing, saving love is uniquely bestowed on His chosen ones.

Those same truths, reflecting a biblical balance, have been vigorously defended by a host of Reformed stalwarts, including Thomas Boston, John Brown, Andrew Fuller, W. G. T. Shedd, R. L. Dabney, B. B. Warfield, John Murray, R. B. Kuiper, and many others. In no sense does belief in divine sovereignty rule out the love of God for all humanity.

We are seeing today, in some circles, an almost unprecedented interest in the doctrines of the Reformation and the Puritan eras. I'm very encouraged by that in most respects. A return to those historic truths is, I'm convinced, absolutely necessary if the church is to survive. Yet there is a danger when overzealous souls misuse a doctrine like divine sovereignty to deny God's sincere offer of mercy to all sinners.

We must maintain a carefully balanced perspective as we pursue our study of God's love. God's love cannot be isolated from His wrath and vice versa. Nor are His love and wrath in opposition to each other like some mystical yin-yang principle. Both attributes are constant, perfect, without ebb or flow. His wrath coexists with His love; therefore, the two never contradict. Such are the perfections of God that we can never begin to comprehend these things. Above all, we must not set them against one another, as if there were somehow a discrepancy in God.

Both God's wrath and His love work to the same ultimate end-His glory. God is glorified in the condemnation of the wicked; He is glorified in every expression of love for all people without exception; and He is glorified in the particular love He manifests in saving His people.

Expressions of wrath and expressions of love-all are necessary to display God's full glory. We must never ignore any aspect of His character, nor magnify one to the exclusion of another. When we commit those errors, we throw off the biblical balance, distort the true nature of God, and diminish His real glory.

Does God so love the world? Emphatically-yes! Proclaim that truth far and wide, and do so against the backdrop of God's perfect wrath that awaits everyone who does not repent and turn to Christ.

Does the love of God differ in the breadth and depth and manner of its expression? Yes it does. Praise Him for the many manifestations of His love, especially toward the non-elect, and rejoice in the particular manifestation of His saving love for you who believe. God has chosen to display in you the glory of His redeeming grace.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

George Whitefield - The Almost Christian - Part III


III. Proceed we now to the general thing proposed, namely, to consider the folly of being no more than an almost Christian.


1. And the FIRST proof I shall give of the folly of such a proceeding is, that it is ineffectual to salvation. It is true, such men are almost good; but almost to hit the mark, is really to miss it. God requires us "to love him with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our strength." He loves us too well to admit any rival; because, so far as our hearts are empty of God, so far must they be unhappy. The devil, indeed, like the false mother that came before Solomon, would have our hearts divided, as she would have had the child; but God, like the true mother, will have all or none. "My Son, give me thy heart," thy whole heart, is the general call to all: and if this be not done, we never can expect the divine mercy.


Persons may play the hypocrite; but God at the great day will strike them dead, (as he did Ananias and Sapphira by the mouth of his servant Peter) for pretending to offer him all their hearts, when they keep back from him the greatest part. They may perhaps impose upon their fellow- creatures for a while; but he that enabled Elijah to cry out, "Come in thou wife of Jeroboam," when she came disguised to inquire about he sick son, will also discover them through their most artful dissimulations; and if their hearts are not wholly with him, appoint them their portion with hypocrites and unbelievers.


2. But, SECONDLY, What renders an half-way-piety more inexcusable is, that it is not only insufficient to our own salvation, but also very prejudicial to that of others.


An almost Christian is one of the most hurtful creatures in the world; he is a wolf in sheep's clothing: he is one of those false prophets, our blessed Lord bids us beware of in his sermon on the mount, who would persuade men, that the way to heaven is broader than it really is; and thereby, as it was observed before, "enter not into the kingdom of God themselves, and those that are entering in they hinder." These, these are the men that turn the world into a luke-warm Laodicean spirit; that hang out false lights, and so shipwreck unthinking benighted souls in their voyage to the haven of eternity. These are they who are greater enemies to the cross of Christ, than infidels themselves: for of an unbeliever every one will be aware; but an almost Christian, through his subtle hypocrisy, draws away many after him; and therefore must expect to receive the greater damnation.


3. But, THIRDLY, As it is most prejudicial to ourselves and hurtful to others, so it is the greatest instance of ingratitude we can express towards our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. For did he come down from heaven, and shed his precious blood, to purchase these hearts of ours, and shall we only give him half of them? O how can we say we love him, when our hearts are not wholly with him? How can we call him our Savior, when we will not endeavor sincerely to approve ourselves to him, and so let him see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied!


Had any of us purchased a slave at a most expensive rate, and who was before involved in the utmost miseries and torments, and so must have continued for ever, had we shut up our bowels of compassion from him; and was this slave afterwards to grow rebellious, or deny giving us but half his service; how, how should we exclaim against his base ingratitude! And yet this base ungrateful slave thou art, O man, who acknowledgest thyself to be redeemed from infinite unavoidable misery and punishment by the death of Jesus Christ, and yet wilt not give thyself wholly to him. But shall we deal with God our Maker in a manner we would not be dealt with by a man like ourselves? God forbid! No. Suffer me, therefore, To add a word or two of exhortation to you, to excite you to be not only almost, but altogether Christians. O let us scorn all base and treacherous treatment of our King and Savior, of our God and Creator. Let us not take some pains all our lives to go to haven, and yet plunge ourselves into hell as last. Let us give to God our whole hearts, and no longer halt between two opinions: if the world be God, let us serve that; if pleasure be a God, let us serve that; but if the Lord he be God, let us, O let us serve him alone. Alas! why, why should we stand out any longer?


Why should we be so in love with slavery, as not wholly to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil, which, like so many spiritual chains, bind down our souls, and hinder them from flying up to God. Alas! what are we afraid of? Is not God able to reward our entire obedience? If he is, as the almost Christian's lame way of serving him, seems to grant, why then will we not serve him entirely? For the same reason we do so much, why do we not do more? Or do you think that being only half religious will make you happy, but that going farther, will render you miserable and uneasy? Alas!


This, my brethren, is delusion all over: for what is it but this half piety, this wavering between God and the world, that makes so many, that are seemingly well disposed, such utter strangers to the comforts of religion? They choose just so much of religion as will disturb them in their lusts, and follow their lusts so far as to deprive themselves of the comforts of religion. Whereas on the contrary, would they sincerely leave all in affection, and give their hearts wholly to God, they would then (and they cannot till then) experience the unspeakable pleasure of having a mind at unity with itself, and enjoy such a peace of God, which even in this life passes all understanding, and which they were entire strangers to before. It is true, it we will devote ourselves entirely to God, we must meet with contempt; but then it is because contempt is necessary to heal our pride. We must renounce some sensual pleasures, but then it is because those unfit us for spiritual ones, which are infinitely better. We must renounce the love of the world; but then it is that we may be filled with the love of God: and when that has once enlarged our hearts, we shall, like Jacob when he served for his beloved Rachel, think nothing too difficult to undergo, no hardships too tedious to endure, because of the love we shall then have for our dear Redeemer. Thus easy, thus delightful will be the ways of God even in this life: but when once we throw off these bodies, and our souls are filled with all the fullness of God, O! what heart can conceive, what tongue can express, with what unspeakable joy and consolation shall we then look back on our past sincere and hearty services. Think you then, my dear hearers, we shall repent we had done too much; or rather think you not, we shall be ashamed that we did no more; and blush we were so backward to give up all to God; when he intended hereafter to give us himself?


Let me therefore, to conclude, exhort you, my brethren, to have always before you the unspeakable happiness of enjoying God. And think withal, that every degree of holiness you neglect, every act of piety you omit, is a jewel taken out of your crown, a degree of blessedness lost in the vision of God. O! do but always think and act thus, and you will no longer be laboring to compound matters between God and the world; but, on the contrary, be daily endeavoring to give up yourselves more and more unto him; you will be always watching, always praying, always aspiring after farther degrees of purity and love, and consequently always preparing yourselves for a fuller sight and enjoyment of that God, in whose presence there is fullness of joy, and at whose right-hand there are pleasures for ever more. Amen! Amen


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

George Whitefield - The Almost Christian - Part II

II. I proceed to the second general thing proposed; to consider the reasons why so many are no more than almost Christians.

1. And the first reason I shall mention is, because so many set out with false notions of religion; though they live in a Christian country, yet they know not what Christianity is. This perhaps may be esteemed a hard saying, but experience sadly evinces the truth of it; for some place religion in being of this or that communion; more in morality; most in a round of duties, and a model of performances; and few, very few acknowledge it to be, what it really is, a thorough inward change of nature, a divine life, a vital participation of Jesus Christ, an union of the soul with God; which the apostle expresses by saying, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." Hence it happens, that so many, even of the most knowing professors, when you come to converse with them concerning the essence, the life, the soul of religion, I mean our new birth in Jesus Christ, confess themselves quite ignorant of the matter, and cry out with Nicodemus, "How can this thing be?" And no wonder then, that so many are only almost Christians, when so many know not what Christianity is: no marvel, that so many take up with the form, when they are quite strangers to the power of godliness; or content themselves with the shadow, when they know so little about the substance of it. And this is one cause why so many are almost, and so few are altogether Christians.

2. A second reason that may be assigned why so many are no more than almost Christians, is a servile fear of man: multitudes there are and have been, who, though awakened to a sense of the divine life, and have tasted and felt the powers of the world to come; yet out of a base sinful fear of being counted singular, or contemned by men, have suffered all those good impressions to wear off. It is true, they have some esteem for Jesus Christ; but then, like Nicodemus, they would come to him only by night: they are willing to serve him; but then they would do it secretly, for fear of the Jews: they have a mind to see Jesus, but then they cannot come to him because of the press, and for fear of being laughed at, and ridiculed by those with whom they used to sit at meat. But well did our Savior prophesy of such persons, "How can ye love me, who receive honor one of another?" Alas! have they never read, that "the friendship of this world is enmity with God;" and that our Lord himself has threatened, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me or of my words, in this wicked and adulterous generation, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father and of his holy angels?" No wonder that so many are no more than almost Christians, since so many "love the praise of men more than the honor which cometh of God."

3. A third reason why so many are no more than almost Christians, is a reigning love of money. This was the pitiable case of that forward young man in the gospel, who came running to our blessed Lord, and kneeling before him, inquired "what he must do to inherit eternal life;" to whom our blessed Master replied, "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal:" To which the young man replied, "All these have I kept from my youth." But when our Lord proceeded to tell him, "Yet lackest thou one thing; Go sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor; he was grieved at that saying, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions!" Poor youth! He had a good mind to be a Christian, and to inherit eternal life, but thought it too dear, if it could be purchased at no less an expense than of his estate! And thus many, both young and old, now-a-days, come running to worship our blessed Lord in public, and kneel before him in private, and inquire at his gospel, what they must do to inherit eternal life: but when they find they must renounce the self- enjoyment of riches, and forsake all in affection to follow him, they cry, "The Lord pardon us in this thing! We pray thee, have us excused." But is heaven so small a trifle in men's esteem, as not to be worth a little gilded earth? Is eternal life so mean a purchase, as not to deserve the temporary renunciation of a few transitory riches? Surely it is. But however inconsistent such a behavior may be, this inordinate love of money is too evidently the common and fatal cause, why so many are no more than almost Christians.

4. Nor is the love of pleasure a less uncommon, or a less fatal cause why so many are no more than almost Christians. Thousands and ten thousands there are, who despise riches, and would willingly be true disciples of Jesus Christ, if parting with their money would make them so; but when they are told that our blessed Lord has said, "Whosoever will come after him must deny himself;" like the pitiable young man before-mentioned, "they go away sorrowful"" for they have too great a love for sensual pleasures. They will perhaps send for the ministers of Christ, as Herod did for John, and hear them gladly: but touch them in their Herodias, tell them they must part with such or such a darling pleasure; and with wicked Ahab they cry out, "Hast thou found us, O our enemy?" Tell them of the necessity of mortification and self-denial, and it is as difficult for them to hear, as if you was to bid them "cut off a right-hand, or pluck out a right-eye." They cannot think our blessed Lord requires so much at their hands, though an inspired apostle has commanded us to "mortify our members which are upon earth." And who himself, even after he had converted thousands, and was very near arrived to the end of his race, yet professed that it was his daily practice to "keep under his body, and bring it into subjection, lest after he had preached to others, he himself should be a cast-away!" But some men would be wiser than this great apostle, and chalk out to us what they falsely imagine an easier way to happiness. They would flatter us, we may go to heaven without offering violence to our sensual appetites; and enter into the strait gate without striving against our carnal inclinations. And this is another reason why so many are only almost, and not altogether Christians.

5. The fifth and last reason I shall assign why so many are only almost Christians, is a fickleness and instability of temper.

It has been, no doubt, a misfortune that many a minister and sincere Christian has met with, to weep and wail over numbers of promising converts, who seemingly began in the Spirit, but after a while fell away, and basely ended in the flesh; and this not for want of right notions in religion, nor out of a servile fear of man, nor from the love of money, or of sensual pleasure, but through an instability and fickleness of temper.

They looked upon religion merely for novelty, as something which pleased them for a while; but after their curiosity was satisfied, they laid it aside again: like the young man that came to see Jesus with a linen cloth about his naked body, they have followed him for a season, but when temptations came to take hold on them, for want of a little more resolution, they have been stripped of all their good intentions, and fled away naked. They at first, like a tree planted by the water-side, grew up and flourished for a while; but having no root in themselves, no inward principle of holiness and piety, like Jonah's gourd, they were soon dried up and withered. Their good intentions are too like the violent motions of the animal spirits of a body newly beheaded, which, though impetuous, are not lasting. In short, they set out well in their journey to heaven, but finding the way either narrower or longer than they expected, through an unsteadiness of temper, they have made an eternal halt, and so "returned like the dog to his vomit, or like the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the more!" But I tremble to pronounce the fate of such unstable professors, who having put their hands to the plough, for want of a little more resolution, shamefully look back. How shall I repeat to them that dreadful threatening, "If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him:" And again, "It is impossible (that is, exceeding difficult at least) for those that have been once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and the powers of the world to come, if they should fall away, to be renewed again unto repentance." But notwithstanding the gospel is so severe against apostates, yet many that begun well, through a fickleness of temper, (O that none of us here present may ever be such) have been by this means of the number of those that turn back unto perdition. And this is the fifth, and the last reason I shall give, why so many are only almost, and not altogether Christians.