Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sovereign Shepherd

Jesus says "I am the good Shepherd, the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." John 10:11. What does this really mean to us? Do sheep ask the shepherd to come to them, die for them and save them? Can the sheep admit or deny the true Shepherd in their life?

Jesus is always there, we as sheep sometimes do not see Him clearly, but He is there nonetheless. "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the father; and I lay down My life for the sheep." John 10:14-15
His own sheep He knows. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27.

Sheep are considered by biologists to be perhaps the dumbest land animals by comparing the size of their brain to the size of their body. They have no sense of direction, and for a defense mechanism they simply run around in circles. Predators need only wait on the sheep to wear themselves out and then they have an easy victim.

Time and again we are characterized as sheep. We need direction and guidance. We cannot know which direction we are going and we have no way of defending ourselves. But "all things are possible through Christ who strenghtens me." Thankfully and humbly we can submit to the good Shepherd, for when He calls His sheep we hear His voice and He guides us and protects us and keeps us in His fold.

"Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equiping you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever, Amen." Hebrews 13:20-21

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Pious Detour

"It is not necessary that we should have any unexpected, extraordinary experiences in meditation. This can happen, but if it does not, it is not a sign that the meditation period has been useless. Not only at the beginning, but repeatedly, there will be times when we feel a great spiritual dryness and apathy, an aversion, even an inability to meditate. We dare not be balked by such experiences. Above all, we must not allow them to keep us from adhering to our meditation period with great patience and fidelity. It is, therefore, not good for us to take too seriously the many untoward experiences we have with ourselves in meditation. It is here that our old vanity and our illicit claims upon God may creep in by a pious detour, as if it were our right to have nothing but elevating and fruitful experiences, and as if the discovery of our own inner poverty were quite beneath our dignity. With that attitude, we shall make no progress." —Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Merit Mongers

I know I have posted this before but it has been almost two years, this is one of my favorite quotes by A. W. Pink, and I believe it gets at the root of the problem with so many church's today.

"God’s sovereign election is the truth most loathed and reviled by the majority of those claiming to be believers. Let it be plainly announced that salvation originated not in the will of man, but in the will of God (see John 1:13; Rom. 9:16), that were it not so none would or could be saved—for as the result of the fall man has lost all desire and will unto that which is good (John 5:40; Rom. 3:11)—and that even the elect themselves have to be made willing (Ps. 110:3), and loud will be the cries of indignation raised against such teaching.

It is at this point the issue is drawn. Merit-mongers will not allow the supremacy of the divine will and the impotency unto good of the human will, consequently they who are the most bitter in denouncing election by the sovereign pleasure of God, are the warmest in crying up the freewill of fallen man." —A. W. Pink (1886–1952)
Quote taken from The Sovereignty of God by A. W. Pink

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cheap Imitation

"There has never been a time, since the Church of Jesus Christ was founded, when there has not been a vast amount of trivial and mere nominal religion among professing Christians. I am sure it is the case in the present day. Wherever I turn my eyes I see abundant cause for the warning, "Beware of inferior religion. Be genuine. Be thorough. Be authentic. Be true."

How much religion among some members of the Church consists of "nothing but churchmanship!" They belong to the Established Church. They are baptized in her baptistery, married in her sanctuary, preached to on Sundays by her ministers. But the great doctrines and truths preached from her pulpits have no place in their hearts, and no influence on their lives. They neither think, nor feel, nor care, nor know anything about them. And is the religion of these people authentic Christianity? It is nothing of the kind. It is a cheap imitation. It is not the Christianity of Peter, and James, and John, and Paul. It is "Churchianity," and no more.

How much religion among some Independents consists of "nothing but disagreement!" They pride themselves on having nothing to do with the formal denomination church. They rejoice in having no ritual, no forms, no bishops. They glory in the exercise of their private judgment, and the absence of everything ceremonial in their public worship. But all this time they have neither grace, nor faith, nor repentance, nor holiness, nor spirituality of conduct or conversation. The experimental and practical piety of the old Separatist is a thing of which they are utterly destitute. Their Christianity is as sapless and fruitless as a dead tree, and as dry and marrowless as an old bone. And is the Christianity of these people authentic? It is nothing of the kind. It is cheap imitation. It is not the Christianity of the Reformers of the past. It is "Nonconformity" and nothing more.

How much Ritualistic religion is utterly false! You will sometimes see men boiling over with zeal about outward expressions of worship such as church music and order of service, while their hearts are manifestly in the world. Of the inward work of the Holy Spirit--of living faith in the Lord Jesus--of delight in the Bible and religious conversation--of separation from worldly silliness and entertainment--of zeal for the conversion of souls to Christ--of all these things they are profoundly ignorant. And is this kind of Christianity authentic? It is nothing of the kind. It is a mere name.

How much Evangelical religion is completely make believe? You will sometimes see men professing great affection for the pure "Gospel," while they are, practically speaking, inflicting on it the greatest injury. They will talk loudly of soundness in the faith, and have a keen nose for heresy. They will run eagerly after popular preachers, and applaud evangelical speakers at public meetings. They are familiar with all the phrases of evangelical religion, and can converse fluently about its leading doctrines. To see their faces at public meetings, or in church, you would think they were eminently godly. To hear them talk you would suppose their lives were tied up all kinds of religious activity. And yet these people in private will sometimes do things of which even some heathens would be ashamed. They are neither truthful, nor sincere, nor honest, nor just, nor good-tempered, nor unselfish, nor merciful, nor humble, nor kind! And is such Christianity as this authentic? It is not. It is a worthless fake, a wretched cheat and farce.

How much Revivalist religion in the present day is utterly false! You will find a crowd of false believers bringing discredit on the work of God wherever the Holy Spirit is poured out. How many people today will profess to be suddenly convinced of sin, to find peace in Jesus--to be overwhelmed with joys and ecstasies of soul--while in authenticity of religion they have no grace at all. Like the "rocky-soil" hearers, they endure but for a short time. "In the time of testing they fall away" (Luke 8:13). As soon as the first excitement has passed, they return to their old ways, and resume their former sins. Their religion is like Jonah's gourd, which came up in a night and perished in a night. They have neither root nor vitality. They only injure God's cause and give occasion to God's enemies to blaspheme. And is Christianity like this authentic? It is nothing of the kind. It is a cheap imitation from the devil's mint, and is worthless in God's sight.

I write these things with sorrow. I have no desire to bring any section of the Church of Christ into contempt. I have no wish to cast any slur on any movement which begins with the Spirit of God. But the times demand very plain speaking about some points in the prevailing Christianity of our day. And one point, I am quite sure demands attention, is the abounding lack of authenticity which is to be seen on every side." —J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Images of Idolatry

It is very easy for us to comment on the idolatry in the material things of this world. Often times we condemn people for how they seem to worship their cars, homes, or any number of things that they possess in this world. They may claim to not worship these things but anything put ahead of God is idol worship. But these aren't the things I am lead to write about today. I want to speak of an idolatry that is foreign to alot of professing Christians, but it is idol worship none the less, quite frankly it is serious indeed.

Does a picture of the last supper hang in your home? Idol worship. Statue, painting, drawing, cross-stitching, book cover, or sculpture with a man-made image of Jesus? Idol worship. A movie with someone playing the part of the triune God? Idolatry! "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth." Ex. 20:4

"A true image of God is not to be found in all the world; and hence...His glory is defiled, and His truth corrupted by the lie, whenever He is set before our eyes in a visible form....Therefore, to devise any image of God is itself impious; because by this corruption His majesty is adulterated, and He is figured to be other than He is." --John Calvin

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses expounds on the prohibition of making images of God. He reminds the people that they were not allowed to see God at Mt. Sinai only hear His words. We should be reminded that any images we make of God or His Son are really just borrowing from the images we already have of an evil, sinful, fallen world. We would be wise to heed His words and not put mental or material images of Him at the forefront of our worship.

Lost Hymns

Only a Sinner

Naught have I gotten but what I received;
Grace hath bestowed it since I have believed;
Boasting excluded, pride I abase;
I’m only a sinner, saved by grace!

Once I was foolish, and sin ruled my heart,
Causing my footsteps from God to depart;
Jesus hath found me, happy my case;
I now am a sinner, saved by grace!

Tears unavailing, no merit had I;
Mercy had saved me, or else I must die;
Sin had alarmed me fearing God’s face;
But now I’m a sinner saved by grace!

Suffer a sinner whose heart overflows,
Loving his Savior to tell what he knows;
Once more to tell it would I embrace—
I’m only a sinner saved by grace!

Only a sinner, saved by grace!
This is my story, to God be the glory—
I’m only a sinner, saved by grace!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bestowal of Salvation

"While it is true that the Gospel issues a call and a command to all who hear it, it is also true that ALL disregard that call and disobey that command— "They all with one consent began to make excuse" (Luke 14:18). This is where the sinner commits his greatest sin and most manifests his awful enmity against God and His Christ: that when a Savior, suited to his needs, is presented to him, he "despises and rejects" Him (Isaiah 53:3).

This is where the sinner shows what an incorrigible rebel he is, and demonstrates that he is deserving only of eternal torments. But it is just at this point that God manifests His sovereign and wondrous GRACE. He not only planned and provided salvation, but he actually bestows it upon those whom He has chosen.

Now this bestowal of salvation is far more than a mere proclamation that salvation is to be found in the Lord Jesus: it is very much more than an invitation for sinners to receive Christ as their Savior. It is God actually saving His people. It is His own sovereignty and all-powerful work of grace toward and in those who are entirely destitute of merit, and who are so depraved in themselves that they will not and cannot take one step to the obtaining of salvation. Those who have been actually saved owe far more to divine grace than most of them realize. It is not only that Christ died to put away their sins, but also the Holy Spirit has wrought a work in them—a work which applies to them the virtues of Christ’s atoning death.

It is just at this point that so many preachers fail in their exposition of the Truth. While many of them affirm that Christ is the only Savior for sinners, they also teach that He actually became ours only by our consent. While they allow that conviction of sin is the Holy Spirit’s work and that He alone shows us our lost condition and need of Christ, yet they also insist that the decisive factor in salvation is man’s own will." —A. W. Pink (1886–1952)

Excerpt taken from an article titled "Experimental Salvation" by A. W. Pink

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Miller Time

I have previously introduced Brother David Miller to you here, but I wanted to give you a little more info and some links to ten sermons that will be sure to edify the soul and glorify Christ. David has been preaching for 42+ years. He pastored for five years before serving as Director of Missions for Little Red River Baptist Association (Arkansas), a position he held for 25 years. An itinerant preacher, David has been in full-time evangelism (Line Upon Line Ministries) since 1995. He served on the Board of Trustees of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, for eight years. He currently prefers the title “Country Preacher-at-Large.”

"One of the most powerful preachers I know is a man by the name of David Miller" —Albert Mohler

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Believe

Often times we use the terms I believe or we believe in our day to day speech or even in our church's doctrinal statement. These terms are often used to relay our thoughts or opinions of certain scriptures or doctrines. I use these terms and often cringe after I say it. There is one thing paramount to say on this issue. I believe in "Sola Scriptura" or the absolute infallibility of Scripture, that it is the direct, God-breathed Word of God. It is without error and absolutely true. Therefore what I believe is in direct accord with what God has said through His chosen writers.

Scripture doesn't at anytime contradict itself, it only seems that way to some because they pick a certain passage out and twist it to fit their own "beliefs". I will admit it isn't always an easy thing to do, but we must "die to self" as Paul says and put all we say about scripture into the context God was using it in Himself. "Present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of truth" 2 Tim. 2:15.

Many churches have built their foundations on their interpretations of certain passages of scriptures without even looking at the original language, context, or grammatical rules used in the statements they are using. This is why expository preaching is so crucial and fundamental. Dr. Steve Lawson says about election in particular, but scripture in general "It is easy to understand but hard to accept". I wish that we would all hold to the truth that all scripture is God-breathed and therefore Divinely inspired and authored. So we would have to say nothing on what we believe, but what God has said.

"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" 2 Tim. 3:16-17

Monday, August 18, 2008

Real Religious

Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

Have you ever heard anyone describe another person this way? Oh he's real religious; what does that mean? What are they really trying to say by this statement. Do they mean that this person has obtained a higher level of spiritual enlightenment or do they mean he's on his way to Heaven because he does so many good things for God? Or maybe he just doesn't drink, smoke or swear anymore, perhaps he just started going to church or maybe he even teaches Sunday school class. How are we to spot those who are real religious or better yet how are we to spot one who has the one and only true religion? Maybe they should all wear a backward collar so we can all know who they are or maybe they should just wear a t-shirt that says "religion inside".

Sometimes I'm still so amazed at what people deem to be religious or even spiritual, have you ever noticed that for the most part their perception of what's religious is always an outward work or action that gets the credit for being religious, even from Christians? So it seems to me that many people think that being real religious means praying in public just before they eat a meal or just giving up bad habits or doing good deeds. But do outward actions really describe what true religion is? How about an attitude of gratitude or a great hatred for sin, or a meek and humble spirit, or someone who has great spiritual discernment in the things of God, perhaps someone who's every thought is consumed with Jesus Christ and the Word of God, (the Bible) and the seriousness of his own sinfulness. It's a sad state of the church today that so many Christians forget all to soon that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance".

I wonder what someone would say the next time they refer to someone as being real religious and you were to respond with "oh yea you mean he loves the Lord with all of his heart, mind and strength and his neighbor as himself?" He might respond with I don't know; then you could say "well then how do you know he's real religious?" Perhaps this might even open a door to share the only real religion with them, the Gospel of Grace. Because being real religious doesn't mean you have eternal life, only the true religion promises that. Just look at the Pharisees who were the most religious people of their day outwardly and Jesus called them hypocrites, fools, snakes, blind guides. So don't be fooled by outward actions alone, look for the real religion that is displayed only by the fruit of the spirit!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Heart of the Matter

In modern Christianity the number one form of invitation after a lackluster topical sermon seems to be "Jesus is knocking on your heart, won't you let Him in today?" Preachers that use this invitation are sorely missing the mark. They will often use Rev. 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him, and he with Me." One of the problems with the invitation given so often is that Jesus was speaking of the lukewarm church Laodicea that bore His name. It was not for professing unbelievers. These people claimed His name for their church but they were "neither hot nor cold".

We are told over and over in scripture that the heart is evil and corrupt. God will "remove your heart of stone and replace it with one of flesh". Why would Christ knock on the door of an evil, cold, stone heart and ASK to come in if He was going to remove it? It is that same corrupt heart that leads us to the pride in thinking that we can either keep Jesus out or let Him in at our own will. Salvation is of the Lord and if His will is to save a wretched sinner (like myself), He by no means needs my permission. He did not need anyone's permission to create the heavens and the earth, nor did He need permission to create you or me. We must remove this heretical teaching from our pulpits and our "hearts".

Friday, August 15, 2008

From Bondage to Bondage

I am not 100% sure of the source of this quote but I believe it does speak volumes of truth.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy always followed by dictatorship.

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency and from dependency back into bondage." Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (1747-1813)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Death of a Church

"Death (of a Church) occurs when unbelievers are allowed to take over ministries in the church. It happens when a church becomes more concerned with form and liturgy than it is with life on a spiritual level. Death occurs when a church becomes more concerned about welfare and social ills than it is about salvation. It happens when a church loves systems more than it loves Jesus Christ. And it happens when a church becomes more concerned with material things than spiritual reality. That's how a church dies. It all is a result of sin.

Sin--in any form that the church tolerates, whether it is in the members or the leaders. Tolerance of sin begins the cycle; then comes the tolerance of unbelievers in the church until no one cares who is a believer or an unbeliever. The end comes when the man who runs the church isn't a believer. Sins of commission and omission kill a church little by little. When that happens, Christians become carnal. Soon afterwards, unbelievers come into the church, and then a total tolerance for sin exists. The church begins to die, and the people who really love Jesus Christ leave only to be replaced by people who don't know Him." —John MacArthur

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Disgusting Character

"Your favourite subjects are God's eternal purposes, absolute sovereignty, unchangeable love and distinguishing grace and yet, you neglect the clearest precepts and most important duties of God's Word. Your life is characterized by pride, covetousness, anger, malice and all kinds of other unholy passions, which make you a scandal to Christianity and cause the godly to be sorrowful. What a grievous condition to be in! You may argue with others in seeking to vindicate divine sovereignty but it will do no good, either to others or yourself. It is clear that you are an enemy in your heart and a rebel in your life against the sovereign God whose rights you claim to uphold. By neglecting his precepts and transgressing his laws, you virtually deny his absolute authority and renounce his supreme dominion. You obey the law of your own sinful lusts and pursue worldly pleasure. You do not love your Maker and Lord, neither do you serve him. May that omnipotent, sovereign grace, which you talk about without experiencing it, deliver and save your soul. Truly, it would be hard to find a more disgusting character outside of hell than you." —Abraham Booth (1734-1806)

Excerpt taken from the The Reign of Grace, by Abraham Booth

Friday, August 08, 2008

Quote of the Day

"There is no broader way to apostasy than to reject God's sovereignty in all things concerning the revelation of himself and our obedience, refusing to 'bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ'. From the refusal to submit to God's sovereignty over all things, including our eternal salvation, arose Pelagianism, Arminianism and every present-day heresy." —John Owen (1616-1683)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The law sheweth us our sin; the Gospel sheweth us a remedy for it. The law sheweth us our condemnation; the Gospel sheweth us our redemption. The law is the word of wrath; the Gospel is the word of grace. The law is the word of despair; the Gospel is the word of comfort. The law is the word of unrest; the Gospel is the word of peace.

The law saith, Pay thy debt; the Gospel saith, Christ hath paid it. The law saith, Thou art a sinner, despair, thou shalt be damned; the Gospel saith, Thy sins are forgiven thee, be of good comfort, thou shalt be saved. The law saith, Make amends for thy sins; the Gospel saith Christ hath made it for thee. The law saith, Where is thy righteousness, goodness, and satisfaction? The Gospel saith, Christ is thy righteousness, thy goodness, and satisfaction. The law saith, Thou art bound and obliged to me, to the devil, and to hell; the Gospel saith, Christ hath delivered thee from them all." —Patrick Hamilton (1503-1528)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Disdains of Grace

Abraham Booth (1734-1806)"By its very definition grace, as it is worked out in our salvation, is in direct opposition to all works and worthiness. We discover from this that those who seek to join grace and works together are terribly deceived. They may make high claims concerning their own holiness of life. However, it is clear from the Word of God and from the very nature of grace that they are on a road that will certainly lead to the everlasting ruin of their souls. Perhaps grace will prevent this, that very grace of which they have such false and corrupt ideas. Divine grace disdains the assistance of men and women's poor and imperfect efforts in the work of salvation. This is the exclusive right of grace alone. Any attempt to complete what grace begins betrays our pride, offends the Lord and cannot be for our spiritual advantage. Never forget that grace is either absolutely free or it is not grace at all. Never forget that anyone who professes to be saved by grace must believe in his heart that he is saved entirely by that grace. If he does not, then he is being inconsistent in matters of the greatest importance." —Abraham Booth (1734-1806)

Excerpt taken from the The Reign of Grace, by Abraham Booth