Saturday, October 31

Read Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards

I love the works of Jonathan Edwards. His is a humble and holy affection for God. It would be a pity for today's readers to dismiss him for hasty and ill-conceived conclusions about him based on a teacher's biased criticism. Read him. And I agree with Chuck Colson who penned the following article, that at the top of his writings, I see great merit in Edwards' Religious Affections. An updated interpretation on Religious Affections can be found in Sam Storms' Signs of the Spirit (Crossway, 2007). Also, consider reading Gerald R. McDermott's Seeing God: Jonathan Edwards and Spiritual Discernment (Regent College, 2000).

The following was on BreakPoint yesterday. 

If all you know of Jonathan Edwards is his classic sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, you don’t know the man who may be America’s most important and original theologian. That’s why if you listen to Ken Boa this month as he discusses Jonathan Edward’s best-known book, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections—one of my all-time favorites—you’re in for a treat.

As Ken Boa explains, Edwards was something of a prodigy. Born in 1703 in Connecticut, by age 5 he was studying Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. He entered Yale at age 13, graduated at 17, and stayed on to continue his masters and teach. At 26, he became pastor of the most influential church outside of Boston.

But Jonathan Edwards was not only a pastor who played a crucial role in America’s first Great Awakening, he was also a missionary to Native Americans, an early president of Princeton, and a prolific writer.

In addition, Edwards and his wife, Sarah, were also loving parents of 11 children. Of their 929 descendents, history shows there have been 13 college presidents, 86 college professors, 430 ministers, 314 war veterans, 75 authors, 100 lawyers, 30 judges, 66 physicians, and 80 holders of public office. That includes three U.S. senators, seven congressman, three mayors, three governors, a vice president of the United States, and a controller of the United States Treasury. Don’t tell me teaching biblical worldview to your children isn’t important!

Edwards’ most well-known book, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, was written after The Great Awakening. As Ken Boa describes, not only was Edwards a catalyst for this great revival, he was also one of its primary analysts and critics.

Along with great renewal, the Great Awakening also brought its abuses. And many mistook certain outward religious behaviors—fainting in a service, for example—as signs of true religion.

So it is that in Religious Affections, Edwards explained how affections are at the heart of true religion. By affections, he meant both the understanding and the will of the heart. Edwards looked at both negative and positive signs of true religion. And he strongly emphasized that gracious and holy affections, as he called them, have their exercise and fruit in Christian practice.

Historian Mark Noll says generations have learned of his piety and his theology, “but there were no successors to his God-entranced world-view.”

This is what we must recover today—that God-entranced worldview, what John Piper calls Edwards’ “sweet marriage of reason and affection, of thought and feeling, of head and heart, study and worship.”

As Edwards writes in Religious Affections, “Is there anything which Christians can find in heaven or earth, so worthy to be the objects of their admiration and love, their earnest and longing desires, their hope, and their rejoicing, and their fervent zeal, as those things that are held forth to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ?...How great a cause have we therefore to be humbled to the dust!”

No wonder this man had such a God-entranced worldview! We would all do well to study his greatest work—especially with a teacher as gifted as Ken Boa.

Friday, October 30

"The Deeps" from The Valley of Vision

Give me a deeper repentance,
a horror of sin,
a dread of its approach;
Help me chastely to flee it,
and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be thine alone.
Give me a deeper trust,
that I may lose myself to find myself in thee,
the ground of my rest,
the spring of my being.
Give me a deeper knowledge of thyself
as saviour, master, lord, and king.
Give me deeper power in private prayer,
 more sweetness in thy Word,
more steadfast grip on its truth.
Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action,
and let me not seek moral virtue apart from thee.
Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman,
that my being may be a tilled field,
the roots of grace spreading far and wide,
until thou alone art seen in me,
thy beauty golden like summer harvest,
thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.
I have no master but thee,
no law but thy will,
no delight but thyself,
no wealth but that thou givest,
no good but that thou blessest,
no peace but that thou bestowest.
I am nothing but that thou makest me,
I have nothing but that I receive from thee,
I can be nothing but that grace adorns me.
Quarry me deep, dear Lord,
and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

Tuesday, October 27

Is Grace Conditional? (Blog :: Desiring God)

Many Christians rightly praise God for His unconditional love, that is, love without any "strings attached." And, of course, it is absolutely true that no human being can fulfill any qualifications BEFORE God shows them His love. But did you realize, dear believer, that God's grace is often spoken of as conditioned upon our obedience, an obedience which we cannot produce by ourselves, but must be produced just the same? Read below for a similar truth from John Piper's blog (see site at the end). Piper says:

Sometimes readers of the Bible see the conditions that God lays down for his blessing and they conclude from these conditions that our action is first and decisive, then God responds to bless us.

That is not right.

There are indeed real conditions that God often commands. We must meet them for the promised blessing to come. But that does not mean that we are left to ourselves to meet the conditions or that our action is first and decisive.

Here is one example to show what I mean.

In Jeremiah 29:13 God says to the exiles in Babylon, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” So there is a condition: When you seek me with all your heart, then you will find me. 

So we must seek the Lord. That is the condition of finding him.


But does that mean that we are left to ourselves to seek the Lord? Does it mean that our action of seeking him is first and decisive? Does it mean that God only acts after our seeking?


Listen to what God says in Jeremiah 24:7 to those same exiles in Babylon: “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”

So the people will meet the condition of returning to God with their whole heart. God will respond by being their God in the fullest blessing. But the reason they returned with their whole heart is that God gave them a heart to know him. His action was first and decisive. 

So now connect that with Jeremiah 29:13. The condition there was that they seek the Lord with their whole heart. Then God will be found by them. But now we see that the promise in Jeremiah 24:7 is that God himself will give them such a heart so that they will return to him with their whole heart. 

This is one of the most basic things people need to see about the Bible. It is full of conditions we must meet for God’s blessings. But God does not leave us to meet them on our own. The first and decisive work before and in our willing is God’s prior grace. Without this insight, hundreds of conditional statements in the Bible will lead us astray. 

Let this be the key to all Biblical conditions and commands: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13). Yes, we work. But our work is not first or decisive. God’s is. “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

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Sunday, October 25

Baptismal Words from Philip Henry

These are words that Philip Henry, father to Matthew Henry (of the 18th C commentary), wrote for his children and which became their baptismal statement:
I take God to be my chief end and highest good.
I take God the Son to be my prince and Savior.
I take God the Holy Spirit to be my sanctifier, 
     teacher, guide, and comforter.
I take the Word of God to be my rule in all my actions
    and the people of God to be my people
    under all conditions.
I do hereby dedicate and devote to the Lord all that I am,
    all that I have,
    and all I can do.
And this I do deliberately, freely, and forever.
--taken from Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Deep in the Christian Life

Saturday, October 24

On Recapturing God's "Rainbow," and "Purple," and "Green"

Two Saturdays back I spoke with our Men's Group about the need for us Christians to recover from our society ideas and truths that belong rightly to God. It may seem inane to discuss it (or at least "tongue-in-cheek"), but I mean colors like "green," and "purple," or rainbows, etc., all of which have been hi-jacked by our culture. A few years ago, the "Rainbow Coalition," under Jesse Jackson took God's mark in the sky for their own as a way of appealing to a broad spectrum of races and creeds. Purple is purportedly the representative color for gays. And "green" has been wrested away by an environmental agenda.

My point (though simple and somewhat light-hearted) is for believers in the Creator God to disallow such kingdom distortions by reclaiming every color and symbol, as well as every nation and person for God. Indeed, ALL belongs to God, for "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and they who dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1). And we who love God do well to be jealous for His glory not to be compromised by evil's attempt to twist or pervert God's world, lowering it to fit the nefarious ends of a God-ignoring world.

God created the rainbow to remind us of his grace and mercy in withholding worldwide judgment by flood. Purple has been used for royalty since it was so expensive to create, but certainly not to support a perversion of God's intended sexual order. And green? You would think environmentalists were the first to press upon the world the need to care for our environment, when it was a creation ordinance from God to Adam to exercise dominion over the earth! Christians should gladly recycle. Let us recapture these and not let Satan or cultures take them over.

That's all.

Friday, October 23

The Three "Whos" of Our Ecstatic Position


It is God who justifies. God declares us free. GOD! None less, and there is no one higher! This first "Who" is singular literally in that there are no plural answers as you see in the following two "Who's". The answer is plain and simple, . . . and appropriately PROFOUND! God justifies! Who's going to come after the true believer? Paul is not saying that none will try. Further, he is not offering that none will succeed. They will try. They will succeed in killing Christians. So? So, they will not, -- they CAN not touch the believer where it really counts, where it truly hurts--in the hidden recesses of the heart, in the present security he enjoys from his Lord, in the eternal destiny of his soul! It is God who justifies. PERIOD!  No power in heaven, on earth or beneath the earth can contradict or countermand God's declaration, "You're MINE!" Amazing grace! Answer? No one shall bring ANY charge against God's elect. PERIOD. End of court.

  • Christ Jesus is the one who died. He took our judgment upon himself.
  • More, Christ Jesus was raised from the dead. He triumphed over death, the result of judgment.
  • More still, Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God. The position of power and authority.
  • Further, Christ Jesus is interceding for us! Conjoined with v. 26, we have the overwhelming help of both the Spirit and of Jesus himself standing in there interpreting and empowering our weak prayers. But we must pray!
  • Tribulation?
  • Distress?
  • Persecution?
  • Famine?
  • Nakedness?
  • Danger?
  • Sword?
Note that this last question is NOT "who shall keep us out of heaven?" We typically think of salvation in terms of location (probably because we've not been taught very well that it is in our relationship with Christ that we find our greatest delight!) Paul asks, who'll separate us from God's love? What an unbelievable blessing to experience not just God's accepting "nod" reluctantly allowing us into heaven, but his wide open arms grabbing us . . . and not letting go! Relish that thought. Oh, the kindness and love of God. His ways are past finding out!!

Thursday, October 22

What's All the Talk About Being Judgmental?

If you can "fog a mirror," you've heard someone accuse another of being "judgmental." As a pastor I can say that few subjects are more misunderstood than judging. What does it mean that a Christian shouldn't judge anything? And if they can, when is it right?

Everyone seems to have "down pat" Matthew 7:1-5 passage, "Judge not that you be not judged. . . . " Fewer seem to have looked into the subject further to see if they've captured the fullness of this necessary truth. It's necessary because how we understand this doctrine determines how we treat people and if we honor God.


Well, this cannot be true if only we turned to John 7:24, "Do not judge by appearances, but JUDGE WITH RIGHT JUDGMENT." Seems plain enough. Consider also, 1 Corinthians 2:15, "The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one." Consider the verses immediately following our Matthew 7:1 portion. In verse 6, it says, "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs." In other words, be careful to whom you present the gospel. If they do not want to hear it, don't force it. They simply cannot understand it yet. (No, we are not pronounce epithets on unbelievers--"dogs, pigs"). He is just saying that as a dog cannot see the value of holy items, nor pigs appreciate pearls, so too, the lost cannot appreciate holy things. The POINT? The believer has to make a call here, a call which requires discernment to know who is or who is not a "dog," or "pig." This discernment is nothing less than a judgment. So, right after Matthew urges us not to judge, he says that we must be discerning. The point again? Do not judge people's motives; you cannot see them, so it's wrong to assume them.


There is a difference between "judging," and being "judgmental." The first is the objective act of making a judgment call, the second describes one who is known for habitually making judgments--or being excessively critical. The same thing goes for "condemn" and "condemnatory." What is to be avoided, of course, is the proud sense of superiority that some assume in thinking that they are the ones who are supposed to pass judgment on all things whether or not they have any connection to it at all. A meddling spirit, or a superiority attitude are both to be deplored, repented of and summarily forsaken.

Many folks' interest is piqued with regard to this subject, presumably because no one wants their motives to be judged like this. Others resist judgment of any kind because they are patently living wrongly (and they know it), but they are trying to slip out from under the pressure of friends and family holding them accountable for their actions. They don't want anyone telling them what to do!


The Scriptures are clear that there is no place for the presumptuous judging of people's motives. All that is left to God who sees the heart. But there is a need for godly, discerning judgment in our lives. We must not allow the sin of the former to negate the biblical necessity of the later. 


Wednesday, October 21

"Doing It My Way" Is Not God's Way

The following comes thanks to Adrian Warnock.

How well the devil knows our human weakness! There is no method, therefore, that he more frequently uses . . . than just to play on this problem of self as it is present in every one of us. The ways in which he does so are almost endless. He works on self in order to encourage pride. He tries to make us proud of our gifts, our brains, our understanding, our knowledge. . . .

Another form which this evil can take stems from the fact that various desires always tend to arise from self—the desire for importance, the desire for position . . . All this leads above everything else to a sprit of self-satisfaction . . . Furthermore this condition leads to selfishness and self-centredness. Self is always interested in itself. Everything revolves round this particular entity; and it becomes the centre of a constellation. That in turn leads to jealousy and envy . . .

To the extent that we are governed by self we are sensitive, and as such we can be easily hurt, easily depressed, and discouraged. Self is always watching for insults and slights. It is always hypersensitive. It is delicate, it is sensitized to everything; the slightest speck troubles it and alarms it. Self is totalitarian; it demands everything, and it is irritated and hurt if it does not get everything. As a consequence it becomes a most fruitful cause of quarrels and divisions and unhappiness . . .

If you have a great brain, it is no credit to you, you were born with it. If you have a wonderful singing voice, you have not produced it, it was given you. What are you boasting about? All that you have is not the result of your action and activity; it is something with which God has endowed you . . .

Paul always kept the grace of God in view; it kept him humble; it kept his spirit sweet; it kept him from the horrible sin of self and of pride and self-importance. Christians have nothing to boast of. We are what we are entirely as the result of the grace of God.
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Christian Warfare : An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10 to 13 (Edinburgh; Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1976), 334.


Tuesday, October 20

What Kind of Ecumenism?

Thanks to Heidleblog and Against Heresies we get a glimpse into the wisdom of Martin Lloyd-Jones on the kind of ecumenism in which he is willing to engage.

He says,
"What is the Christian church? That is the question. You cannot discuss church unity unless you are clear in your mind as to what the church is. Now here is the great divide. The ecumenical people put fellowship before doctrine. We are evangelicals; we put doctrine before fellowship."

Click  Against Heresies  for his very insightful message.


Monday, October 19

A Shot Across the Bow of the Evangelical Church. ECT??

In a day when doctrine is at the least repressed or at worst, totally ignored, many seem more interested in "getting together" (fellowship) than standing for the truth of the Gospel. For many of us, the action on the part of so many of our respected leaders to not only sign but support the Evangelical and Catholics Together (ECT) movement is disconcerting in light of our stance on biblical doctrine and upon reformational theology. And while some have patently expressed their misgivings about the concord doctrinally, still they did affix to it their name. We would not promote division among God's people to be sure. But neither can we engage in the kind of pandering that blurs necessary doctrinal differences. I often share with classes at church that though I am reformed in belief, my love for those in the Arminian camp is unabated. And I refuse to wave any flag except "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Calvinism may be a negative term to many. I do not believe such doctrines because Calvin held to them, but because they are biblical. I respect any who clearly proclaim Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior and call for faith in him alone plus nothing! And while they may disagree with my approach, I trust they'd grant me the same respect. But we must be extremely careful of aligning ourselves with those whose doctrines run counter to foundational theological truth. And while we freely admit that there may be spiritually strong individuals within the Roman Catholic tradition, it is in my opinion in spite of their doctrines and not because of them. (Perhaps the same accusation could justly be leveled against many evangelical churches!)

I know that numbers of evangelical leaders have written to the subject of an effete and anti-intellectual evangelicalism. And rightly so. There are numerous critiques wisely assessing the current evangelical malaise. (One of the weakest points has been the fundamental/evangelical skittishness regarding the nature of spirituality. In our rush to "get people saved," we lost the beauty of spirituality and short-circuited the process of growth). But I continue. The problem is not necessarily in the critic's diagnoses, but in their prescription. We do not need to leave reformational truth and align ourselves with other traditions. We need to reform what we have! If we are anti-intellectual, then let us foster the life of the mind, not, as it were, throw evangelicalism "under the bus" through compromise!

Further, we do not need to "emerge," or find ways to reach postmoderns, or hold hands with Rome. What we DO need to do is to repent of our unbelief in the power of the Word of God (1 Kings 13). Let us repent as well of our practical denial of the work of the Holy Spirit, and of prayerlessness. (The prayerlessness of the evangelical movement is not necessarily the cause of her ineffectiveness in the world, but it most certainly underscores their faithlessness in the power of God. We would aver, however, that prayerlessness does indeed contribute a great deal to the church's pervasive weakness and propensity to turn away to lesser methods). Let us especially repent of our low and God-denying view of His sovereign glory as the uniting factor of man's very existence.

After repenting, let us affirm loudly and zealously that we are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the "power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). Further, let us strongly promote spiritual growth as is found in 2 Peter 1:3 ff. We already have everything we need for life and godliness. What need we seeking concert elsewhere? "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). TO WHOM INDEED!

Sunday, October 18

Dr. Wernher Von Braun on Science & God

For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name!  (Amos 4:13)
In this modern world of ours many people seem to think that science has somehow made such religious ideas as immortality untimely or old fashioned. I think science has a real surprise for the skeptics. Science, for instance, tells us that nothing in nature, not even the tiniest particle, can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is transformation. If God applies this fundamental principle to the most minute and insignificant parts of His universe, doesn't it make sense to assume that He applies it to the masterpiece of His creation, the human soul?

Dr. Wernher Von Braun, founder of U.S. space exploration program

Saturday, October 17

Seven Steps Toward Renewal

Before you dismiss "mystics," read the following from Richard Foster. They are not intended as the "end-all" of spiritual growth, but they do cause the church to think about how they live out faith in Jesus Christ. 

1.  Let's become intentionally Godward in our orientation. Not self-oriented, not success-oriented, not church-oriented, not seeker-oriented, but God-oriented.

2.  Let's stop using a marketing approach to church life. The church is not a vendor of religious goods and services but the Community of Faith, living in faith and through faith and by faith alone. We do not need to mimic the entertainment industry of our culture. We win people to Christ not by entertainment but by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

3.  We should become intentional about learning the "habits of the heart" for Biblical holiness. We need daily spiritual disciplines rather than sporadic bursts of inspiration or enthusiasm. 

4.  Let's quit using the strutting peacock CEO of contemporary culture as a model for Christian leadership. 

5.  Let's make certain that our Godward orientation is always for the sake of the world. The Church exists for the sake of the world, which at the very minimum means less stress on preserving our institutions and more stress on serving the poor. [I don't take it that Foster is here supplanting God's glory as the central uniting factor, just pointing out a very important aspect of church life. Jesus defined "true religion and undefiled" as "caring for the widows and the fatherless in their affliction." James 1:27] 

6.  Let's get rid of our "edifice complex." Buildings are not bad, but neither are they the sum total of everything important either. Let's use buildings to help and serve people and not as monuments to our own egos. 

7.  Let's engage in vigorous, culture-sensitive evangelism. All peoples need to hear the good news of Jesus and His love. 

Wednesday, October 14

Not Ashamed of Christ

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33).
Spurgeon said,
Gracious promise! It is a great joy to me to confess my Lord. Whatever my faults may be, I am not ashamed of Jesus, nor do I fear to declare the doctrines of His cross. O Lord, I have not hid Thy righteousness within my heart.
There are many ways to acknowledge or deny our Lord. And he is most gracious to us. Still, we do not want to be on the denying end do we? 

For many, if Jesus were more “Cool” they could tolerate Him. But no matter, we’ll help make the church He is building seem “cool.” Perhaps then, they think, folks will want to have him!? Oh? The call of Christ is to die, not to party. This has not been abrogated.

I pray--O, Lord, there are many today who are turning against the faith of our fathers. For some, being "cool" is not at issue. Rather, it is apparently not sophisticated enough for them? True, the past shows that many within her ranks have preferred ignorance to a well-informed battle. Anti-intellectualism has made its mark. These seem to think that the Gospel is not enough any more; it’s doctrines effete, un-intellectual. Now, somehow we need to “hold hands” with Rome, as if there weren’t enough blood on their hands, that now they need to draw the protestant church into agreement with them! Let us NOT deny our Lord, let us not “blush to speak His name or fear to own His cause.” But shall we turn away from You to other faiths? How? "To whom shall we go. You have the words of eternal life!"

Spurgeon further adds:
Sweet is the prospect which the text sets before me! Friends forsake and enemies exult, but the Lord does not disown His servant. Doubtless my Lord will own me even here and give me new tokens of His favorable regard. But there comes a day when I must stand before the great Father. What bliss to think that Jesus will confess me then! He will say, "This man truly trusted Me and was willing to be reproached for My name's sake; and therefore I acknowledge him as Mine." The other day a great man was made a knight, and the Queen handed him a jeweled garter; but what of that? It will be an honor beyond all honors for the Lord Jesus to confess us in the presence of the divine Majesty in the heavens. Never let me be ashamed to own my Lord. Never let me indulge a cowardly silence or allow a fainthearted compromise. Shall I blush to own Him who promises to own me?

Tuesday, October 13


In the church's hustle to become "all things to all men," she seems to have overlooked the all-pervasive judgments so prominent in the Bible. That "the earth is Lord's" (Ps. 24:1) implies far more than comfort to those who love God! It implies more significantly that those who persistently and unfailingly resist Yahweh as King will one day find him to be their Judge! The church needs to voice this awesome concern again instead of cowering behind institutionalized walls. The LORD God will not deny his absolute Sovereignty just because many today want to present him as the "softer side" of the universe!

One example of such judgment is recorded in Ezekiel 35 regarding the land of Edom, a people just south of Israel. They had a history of resistance against Israel, not even allowing them on one occasion to use their land as a passageway when fleeing after their 400 year bondage in Egypt, even though they promised not to use any of their natural resources! (Num. 20:14-21) God pronounces judgment against them saying, "I will lay your cities waste, and you shall become a desolation, and you shall know that I am the LORD. Because you cherished perpetual enmity and gave over the people of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity." Because of their wholesale disregard for God's people, He says, "I will fill its mountains with the slain. . . . I will make you a perpetual desolation" (vv. 4-5, 8-9). Do you see the obvious parallelism? "Because you cherished PERPETUAL ENMITY, I will make you a PERPETUAL DESOLATION." Dread was their lot, because they did not fear God enough to respect His people. God hasn't changed today. Though judgment may issue slowly by our count, it will most certainly come.

How are we to see this? What attitude should fill the Christian?

First, DELIGHT. Not delight that other countries will suffer destruction, but delight that God is NOT the weak, effete, pitiable personage so many make Him out to be; delight that our God reigns, that, in fact, "the earth IS the LORD's and the fullness thereof" no matter what our culture would have us believe.

Second, FEAR. Fear because God is a God to be feared. Over and over again throughout Ezekiel's prophecy we read these words, "Then you will know that I am the LORD." This phrase is repeated four times alone in the fifteen verses of chapter 35! Don't be duped by God's patience into imagining Him to be anything less than awesome and thorough in His judgment! He waits for men to repent, but a day will come--that failing--that He will require all mankind to own Him as the Sovereign of the Universe. Indeed, "every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:11).

Third, MISSIONIZE. Yes, if these things are true, then we must go public. Jesus did not come to condemn the world--NOT because He was a 'softy' but because THEY WERE ALREADY CONDEMNED! We need to get the word out so that we may, as Jude says, "save others by snatching them out of the fire" (v. 23). 


Sunday, October 11

The Purpose of God's Decrees by Thomas Boston

The Creation of the Sun and Moon 
by Michelangelo (1512)

And this is no other than his own glory. Every rational agent acts for an end; and God being the most perfect agent, and his glory the highest end, there can be no doubt but all his decrees are directed to that end. Rom 11:36, "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever." "that we....should be to the praise of His glory," Eph 1:12. In all, he aims at his glory; and seeing he aims at it, he gets it even from the most sinful actions he has decreed to permit. Either the glory of his mercy or of his justice is drawn from them. Infinite wisdom directs all to the end intended. More particularly, 

God Glorified in the Creation of the World 

This was God's purpose in the creation of the world. The divine perfections are admirably glorified here, not only in regard of the greatness of the effect, which comprehends the heavens and the earth, and all things in them; but in regard of the marvellous way of its production. For he made the vast universe without the concurrence of any material cause; he brought it forth from the womb of nothing by an act of his efficacious will. And as he began the creation by proceeding from nothing to real existence, so in forming the other parts he drew them from infirm and inert matter, as from a second nothing, that all his creatures might bear the signatures of infinite power. Thus he commanded light to arise out of darkness, and sensible creatures from an insensible element. The lustre of the divine glory appears eminently here. Hence David says, Psalm 19:1. "The heavens declare the glory of God." They declare and manifest to the world the attributes and perfections of their great Creator, even in his infinite wisdom, goodness, and power. All the creatures have some prints of God stamped upon them, whereby they loudly proclaim and show to the world his wisdom and goodness in framing them. Hence says Paul, Rom. 1:20, "The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead."

Saturday, October 10

Is the Church Full of Hypocrites?

By R. C. Sproul
(Find article HERE)

About thirty years ago, my close friend and colleague, Archie Parrish, who at that time led the Evangelism Explosion (EE) program in Fort Lauderdale, came to me with a request. He indicated that on the thousands of evangelistic visits the EE teams made, they kept a record of responses people made to discussions of the gospel. They collated the most frequent questions and objections people raised about the Christian faith and grouped these inquiries or objections into the ten most frequently encountered. Dr. Parrish asked if I would write a book answering those objections for evangelists to use in their outreach. That effort resulted in my book Objections Answered, now called Reason to Believe. Among the top ten objections raised was the objection that the church is filled with hypocrites. At that point in time, Dr. D. James Kennedy responded to this objection by replying, “Well, there’s always room for one more.” He cautioned people that if they found a perfect church, they ought not to join it, since that would ruin it.

The term hypocrite came from the world of Greek drama. It was used to describe the masks that the players used to dramatize certain roles. Even today, the theatre is symbolized by the twin masks of comedy and tragedy. In antiquity, certain players played more than one role, and they indicated their role by holding a mask in front of their face. That’s the origin of the concept of hypocrisy.

But the charge that the church is full of hypocrites is manifestly false. Though no Christian achieves the full measure of sanctification in this life, that we all struggle with ongoing sin does not justly yield the verdict of hypocrisy. A hypocrite is someone who does things he claims he does not do. Outside observers of the Christian church see people who profess to be Christians and observe that they sin. Since they see sin in the lives of Christians, they rush to the judgment that therefore these people are hypocrites. If a person claims to be without sin and then demonstrates sin, surely that person is a hypocrite. But for a Christian simply to demonstrate that he is a sinner does not convict him of hypocrisy.

The inverted logic goes something like this: All hypocrites are sinners. John is a sinner; therefore, John is a hypocrite. Anyone who knows the laws of logic knows that this syllogism is not valid. If we would simply change the charge from “the church is full of hypocrites” to “the church is full of sinners,” we would be quick to plead guilty. The church is the only institution I know of that requires an admission of being a sinner in order to be a member. The church is filled with sinners because the church is the place where sinners who confess their sins come to find redemption from their sins. So in this sense, simply because the church is filled with sinners does not justify the conclusion that the church is filled with hypocrites. Again, all hypocrisy is sin, but not all sin is the sin of hypocrisy.

When we look at the problem of hypocrisy in the New Testament era, we see it most clearly displayed in the lives of those who claimed to be the most righteous. The Pharisees were a group of people who by definition saw themselves as separated from the normal sinfulness of the masses. They began well, seeking a life of devoted godliness and submission to the law of God. However, when their behavior failed to reach their ideals, they began to engage in pretense. They pretended they were more righteous than they were. They gave an outward facade of righteousness, which merely served to conceal a radical corruption in their lives.

Though the church is not filled with hypocrites, there is no denying that hypocrisy is a sin that is not limited or restricted to New Testament Pharisees. It is a sin with which Christians must grapple. A high standard of spiritual and righteous behavior has been set for the church. We often are embarrassed by our failures to reach these high goals and are inclined to pretend that we have reached a higher plateau of righteousness than we’ve actually attained. When we do that, we put on the mask of the hypocrite and come under the judgment of God for that particular sin. When we find ourselves enmeshed in this type of pretense, an alarm bell should go off in our brains that we need to rush back to the cross and to Christ and to understand where our true righteousness resides. We have to find in Christ, not a mask that conceals our face, but an entire wardrobe of clothing, which is His righteousness. Indeed, it is only under the guise of the righteousness of Christ, received by faith, that any of us can ever have a hope of standing before a holy God. To wear the garments of Christ in faith is not an act of hypocrisy. It is an act of redemption.

Dr. R.C. Sproul is founder and president of Ligonier Ministries and senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew's in Sanford, Florida, and he is author of the book Faith Alone.


Friday, October 9

An Evening of Eschatology with Piper, Storms, Wilson & Hamilton

The following is a transcript of the video which can be found HERE. It's 2 hours long, so find a good spot and watch!

The Meaning of the Millennium
A Conversation with John Piper, Doug Wilson, Sam Storms, and Jim Hamilton

By Various September 27, 2009

The following is background by John Piper on this event and the issues being discussed. Listen to the audio or watch the video for the conversation itself.

On September 27, 2009, Desiring God and Bethlehem College & Seminary hosted “An Evening on Eschatology” at the Downtown Campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. It was attended by about 800 people who sat in the darkened sanctuary while six cameras were trained on the brightly lit roundtable where the four participants sat in a circle.

For two hours I moderated, more or less, a discussion among Jim Hamilton (professor of New Testament at Southern Seminary in Louisville), Sam Storms (pastor of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City), and Doug Wilson (pastor of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho).

The discussion was intended to focus on the relationship between the thousand-year reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation 20 and the return of Christ to this earth visibly and physically to reign. This thousand years is usually called “the millennium.” Revelation 20 is the only place in the Bible where the length of this period is mentioned.

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. . . those who had not worshiped the beast . . . came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. . . . And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations” (Revelation 20:1-4, 7-8).

Concerning this thousand years (millennium), there have been three major views in the history of the church. Each of these views was represented in the discussion by an advocate who believes the view to be true.

Premillennialism (represented by Jim Hamilton): The return of Christ happens before (pre-) the thousand-year reign of Christ, which is a reign of the risen Christ on the earth.

Amillennialism (represented by Sam Storms): The return of Christ happens after the thousand-year reign, a reign that occurs in heaven, in the intermediate state, and not upon the earth. Those who have died in faith and entered into the presence of Christ share his rule and reign during the current church age in which we now live.

Postmillennialism (represented by Doug Wilson): The return of Christ happens after (post-) the thousand-year reign, which corresponds to the Christian age, and the reign of Christ from heaven leads the church to triumph by and through the gospel to such an extent that the Great Commission will be successfully fulfilled, and the Christian faith will pervade all the cultures of all the nations of men. All Christ's enemies will be subdued in this way, with the exception of death, which he will destroy by his coming.

None of the views insists that the “thousand years” is an exact number, but all of them allow that it may be symbolic of a very long time (from a human standpoint).

As moderator, I tried to see that each view was fairly represented and defended. My own view is the one represented by Jim Hamilton—historic premillennialism. I think amillenialism is the next most plausible view. Postmillennialism has a long and respected history. In fact, the most influential dead theologian in my life, Jonathan Edwards, was a postmillennialist. Indeed, most of the early missionaries of the modern missionary movement, like William Carey, shared this view as well—the strong conviction that the gospel would triumph in all the world and subdue all other religions, with gospel power, not military power.

There are biblically attractive things about each of these views, and none of them, in their best representation, bears such marks as to suggest the advocates are undermining the precious gospel of Christ. On the contrary, each of them has strengths that specifically honor parts of the Bible that the others seem to honor less.

Postmillennialism seems to honor the power of the gospel and the promises for the Old Testament for the triumph of God’s people over all the nations. Amillennialism seems to honor the warnings of bleak end times as well as the seamlessness between Christ’s coming and the immediate destruction of death, the removal of the enemies of the cross, and the beginning of the new heavens and new earth. Premillennialism seems to honor the plainest meaning of Revelation 20 and the seemingly literal meaning of many Old Testament promises.

All of these views are upheld by teachers who warmly embrace the inspiration, authority, and inerrancy of the Bible. This is especially true of the roundtable participants. We were glad to host this event with a view to showing that across these differences of interpretation (which were vigorously defended in the discussion) there is a profound brotherhood in the gospel.

What do we hold as crucial in regard to death, resurrection, and the second coming of Jesus? Section 14 of the Bethlehem Elder Affirmation of Faith gives our answer:

14.1 We believe that when Christians die they are made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, and are taken consciously into the presence of Christ, which is more glorious and more satisfying than any experience on earth.

14.2 We believe in the blessed hope that at the end of the age Jesus Christ will return to this earth personally, visibly, physically, and suddenly in power and great glory; and that He will gather His elect, raise the dead, judge the nations, and establish His kingdom. We believe that the righteous will enter into the everlasting joy of their Master, and those who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness will be consigned to everlasting conscious misery.

14.3 We believe that the end of all things in this age will be the beginning of a never-ending, ever-increasing happiness in the hearts of the redeemed, as God displays more and more of His infinite and inexhaustible greatness and glory for the enjoyment of His people.

I want to thank publicly Jim, Sam, and Doug for their energetic and truth-pursuing participation in the roundtable. It was, and is, a deep joy to be a part of this brotherhood.

Eager to understand more,

Pastor John

Note: For further reading on these eschatological positions:

* Doug Wilson’s Heaven Misplaced (postmil)
* Kim Riddlebarger’s Case for Amillennialism and the dozens of articles by Sam Storms (amil)
* Craig Blomberg’s Case for Historic Premillennialism

Thursday, October 8

Is The Evangelical Church Still Bleeding?

In his lecture to the National Association of Evangelicals, David F. Wells spoke of the subtle but pervasive influence worldly culture has exercised over the church especially in the last 40 years. She has succumbed to a marketing mentality, judging her growth and therefore success by such measurements instead of Scripturally oriented tests. The result? Wells answers,
In adapting itself to this culture, the Church, far more than was the case twenty-five years ago, is having its character and its purposes, and the way it functions, defined for it. [This was written in 1995] There is nothing wrong with commerce per se, but . . . there is something profoundly wrong in trading Christ, or in thinking that religion is the commerce of the soul.
Will marketing produce success? Wells answers, yes, "but not necessarily much that has much to do with the Kingdom of God." Rather, "it is God who defines our needs and the reason for that is that left to ourselves we would not understand our needs aright because we are rebels against God. We are hostile bot to God and to His law. . . . 
He further offers, "A Church, if it is really true to itself, is never going to be a worldly success. Its gospel is stupid." And here, Wells draws out a powerful biblical lesson:
Many, we know, are called but few are chosen. Much seed is sown, but only a little produces a rich harvest. And when Christ returns is he going to find faith on the face of the earth? Is it right, then, for the Church to prostrate itself obsequiously before the world in this sorry quest to become a going and successful enterprise? . . . An evangelical faith that is not passionate about truth and righteousness is a faith which is a lost cause." . . . But,
What is most lost is what most needs to be recovered. It is the unsettling, disconcerting, moral presence of God in our midst. He can no longer be the junior partner in our religious enterprises and he can never be just an ornamental decoration upon our Church life. It is because God rests so inconsequentially upon the Church that the Church is free to plot and to devise its success in its own way. That is why so many of our forebears in the faith would scarcely even recognize us as their children today.
I highly recommend for every pastor and church leader to read this small but packed booklet. Pray for the Lord to open the eyes of His people so that they may once again proclaim boldly the Gospel of which Paul said he was not ashamed (Rom. 1:16).

Is the evangelical church still bleeding? We'd have to say yes. But it certainly does not have to stay that way. There is power in the blood to save all who call upon Jesus' name. All that remains is for God's people to believe in the power of the Spirit to drive the truth home to the hearts of even the most obdurate of individuals.


Wednesday, October 7

Without Truth, All is Manipulation-Os Guinness

Check out this brief clip which brings out a vital aspect of living according to truth.

Check out YouTube for more from Os Guinness . . .

Tuesday, October 6

God Said the Bible is God's Word

"Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Just as the Holy Spirit came upon the womb of Mary, so He came upon the brain of a Moses, a David, an Isaiah, a Paul, a John and the rest of the writers of the divine library. The power of the Highest overshadowed them, therefore that holy thing which was born of their minds is called the Holy Bible, the word of God. The writing of Luke will, of course, have the vocabulary of Luke and the work of Paul will bear the stamp of Paul’s mind. However, this is only in the same manner that the Lord Jesus might have had eyes like his mother’s or hair that was the same color and texture as hers. He did not inherit her sins because the Holy Spirit had come upon her. If we ask, how could this be, the answer is God says so. And the writings of men of the Book did not inherit the errors of their carnal minds because their writings were conceived by the Holy Spirit and born out of their personalities without partaking of their fallen nature. If we ask, how could this be, again the answer is God says so. (Donald Grey Barnhouse, The Invisible War)

Monday, October 5

Do You Weep Like Jesus?

The following is derived for the most part from a sermon I preached yesterday.

And when he drew near and saw the city [Jerusalem], he wept over it (Luke 19:41).

Jesus was the perfect man, and he cried. Actually, the word here means “to sob deeply, affectingly.” We see little in Scripture mentioning his tears, but it’s there. The plight of mankind being what it is—blind and hard-hearted, it’s no wonder that he wept. He wept at the grave of Lazarus, not because his friend had died, but because the people still didn’t get it—that he was indeed the Savior of men come to release men from sin’s awful grip. But they didn’t get it. What’s worse is most people still don’t. The way is broad that leads to destruction and MANY enter there! (Mt. 7:13) Should this not cause even the lukewarm Christian to shudder and the tender heart to weep! “Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow” (Lamentations 1:12). This plaint of Jeremiah’s could easily be applied to our Lord and ten times over! You cannot match the depth of Jesus’ heart, so too you cannot top his threshold for sorrow.

Jesus knew the history of this great city. It’s highest purpose was to promote the exclusive worship of the one true God. And though judgment had to come, his heart broke still over the devastation yet to come from Rome. So, as Jesus draws near to that ancient city, all the plans for it, for the world flood over him. They didn’t get it. Very few ever really do. Is it any wonder that Jesus lamented all that Jerusalem missed? You offer infinite hope to sinful mankind and instead of clamoring after it, they despise it, and go whoring after other gods! It’s enough to make a true man cry. It’s should make a godly person cry! “Ah, would that you had known . . .” (Luke 19:42). It’s as if Jesus were crying, “I wish you could see what you’ve missed. I wish you knew the beauty and wonder over which you stumble. But you cannot. You will not!”

Do You Weep Like Jesus?

In his classic on the Sermon on the Mount, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes how the godly do indeed weep, or mourn over sin, starting with themselves: 
As I confront God and his holiness, and contemplate the life that I am meant to live, I see myself, my utter helplessness and hopelessness. I discover my quality of spirit and immediately that makes me mourn. I must mourn about the fact that I am like that. But obviously it does not stop there. A man who truly faces himself, and examines himself and his life, is a man who must of necessity mourn for his sins also, for the things he does. . . . Any man who is at all a Christian is smitten with a sense of grief and sorrow that he was ever capable of such things in action or in thought, and that makes him mourn.

When our own sin causes us to mourn, then we are in a better position to weep over the sins of the world about us. Oh, that we who enjoy the pleasure of God on us, will weep in sympathetic vibration with the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, October 4

You CAN Trust Him! (A Must-Read)

The following is best read aloud, and, as you will discover, . . . with feeling!! This will bless your soul. 

You Can Trust Him
S. M. Lockridge

No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.
He's enduringly strong;
He's entirely sincere.
He's eternally steadfast;
He's immortally graceful.
He's imperially powerful;
He's impartially merciful.

He's the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this world.
He's God's Son. He's a sinners Savior.
He's the centerpiece of civilization.
I'm trying to tell you, Church—You can trust Him!

He does not have to call for help,
And you can't confuse Him.
He doesn't need you and he doesn't need me.
He stands alone in the solitude of Himself.

He's august and He's unique.
He's unparalleled; He's unprecedented;
He's supreme and pre-eminent.

He's the loftiest idea in literature.
He's the highest personality in philosophy.
He's the supreme problem of higher criticism.
He's the fundamental doctrine of true theology.
He's the cardinal necessity of spiritual religion.

He's the miracle of the age.
He's the superlative of everything good that you can call Him.
I'm trying to tell you—you can trust Him!

He can satisfy all of our needs
and He can do it simultaneously.
He supplies strengths for the weak.
He's available for the tempted and tried;
He sympathizes and He sees.

He guards and He guides.
He heals the sick. He cleansed the lepers.
He forgives sinners.
He discharges debtors;
He delivers the captives.
He defends the feeble;
He blesses the young.
He regards the aged;
He rewards the diligent.
He beautifies the meek.
I'm trying to tell you—you can trust Him!

He's the key to knowledge.
He's the wellspring of wisdom.
He's the doorway of deliverance.
He's the pathway to peace.
He's the roadway to righteousness.
He's the highway to holiness.
He's the gateway to glory.
You can trust Him!

He's the Master of the mighty.
He's the Captain of the conquerors.
He's the Head of the heroes.
He's the Leader of the legislators.
He's the Overseer of the overcomers.
He's the Governor of the governors.
He's the Prince of princes.
He's the King of kings.
He's the Lord of lords.
You can trust Him!

His office is manifold.
His promise is sure.
His life is matchless.
His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.
His love never changes.
His Word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous.
His yoke is easy.
His burden is light.
I wish I could describe Him to you!

He's indescribable because He's incomprehensible.
He's irresistible and He's invincible.
You can't get Him off your hands.
You can't get Him out of your mind.
You can't outlive Him and you can't live without Him
Pilate couldn't stand Him when he found out he couldn't stop Him.
Pilate couldn't find any fault in Him.
The witnesses couldn't get their testimonies to agree.
Herod couldn't kill Him.
Death couldn't handle Him.
And thank God the grave couldn't hold Him.

There was nobody before Him.
There will be nobody after Him.
He had no predecessor, and He'll have no successor.
You can't impeach Him,
and He's not going to resign.