Saturday, September 25

Why Does Jesus Have to Knock on the Church's Door When He's the LORD of the Church?!

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with meRevelation 3:20

Revival hinges on God's awakening his own people. It is they who have fallen into unbelief, who have mixed themselves with the world. "Ephraim mixes himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake not turned" (Hosea 7:8). The church has, in essence, lost sight of their raison d'être, their very reason for existence, their purpose. When this happens they retreat into any number of lesser aberrations, none of which truth supports or the Spirit embraces.  

Most often used to share the gospel with the lost, this verse is intended for the church. Jesus is pictured standing outside knocking in order to gain entrance . . . into his own church! How can that be? 

Other questions arise: 1) Is this really the Church? 2) Is Jesus outside the Church, or something else? 3) Why knock?

1. Is This the Church?
Laodicea, where this occurs, was a church. Revelation 3:14 says so. A negative pattern had taken over this group of believers. A first-century sort of materialism had hi-jacked their hearts rendering them spiritually comatose, unresponsive to her very Savior! Because mammon had their hearts, Jesus couldn't. You can't serve both (Luke 16:13). Remember? Sounds so much like the American church that for years we have heard and preached this text precisely with that in mind. 

2. Is Jesus Standing Outside the Church or Something Else?
Well, he's standing at the door. But it would seem that it is actually the Church's heart from which Jesus is excluded. And it is in the heart of the believer that communion with God takes place. When the body of believers gathers in Jesus' name, then their hearts collectively welcome Jesus to the table for loving fellowship. But where other things impose themselves into our hearts, little concern is given to the person of Jesus. His place is relegated to a banner over our doorway reminding us (when we look at it) that Jesus in fact did die for our sins and save us. Memorials aside, we simply get on with life on our own it seems . . . life without Jesus. And few today have caught on to what they have done!

3. Why Does Jesus Have to Knock?
Isn't he the very Life of the Church? Irrespective of their attitude toward him, isn't Jesus still the lifeblood of his body? Well, . . . yes. He is. So, why knock? One argument would be that Jesus (like I once read of the Holy Spirit) is very much a "gentleman" and doesn't barge in on his own unbidden. The ESV Study Bible suggests that Jesus knocks as a master at his own house, expecting his servants to jump up and let him in. Perhaps so. But they are not being very servant like at this point. May I suggest that the act of knocking requires several things: 1) that we be alert to hear Jesus when he does knock. 2) Sitting down in loving communion with your servants is not best preceded by pounding on the door and demanding to be let in. And 3) knocking forces contrition. True believers may feel that lump in their throats, that knot in their stomachs, that guilt for not having realized sooner that Jesus wasn't even in the room! 

If this means anything to you, please let it mean that 1) you'll repent of your own hardheartedness, and 2) that you'll commit yourself to praying that Jesus will knock on churches all across this nation. Only as the Body of Christ yearns for communion with Jesus will they be in a position to cry out for more God-exposure, more light, more repentance, and more salvation. 

Will you join me in this cry for revival?

Friday, September 24

Christian: You FRUSTRATED?


Your Christian life discourage you?

Much of it comes from ignorance. What kind? Well, the kind similar to a man standing in a bread line when he has $1,000,000 in his bank account! Why would he live as though he had nothing? Yet, much Christian dissatisfaction comes for the same reason. We wrestle and struggle and fight to secure what we already have!? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever! Bottom line: it’s unbelief. For example, read the following from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotions. If God has already accepted us believers IN JESUS CHRIST, then it’s not what WE do either way. Right? Read on . . .
"Accepted in the beloved." Ephesians 1:6
What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term “acceptance” in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine complacence, nay, even of divine delight. [complacence here means “to be pleased with”] How marvellous that we, worms, mortals, sinners, should be the objects of divine love! But it is only “in the beloved.”
Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own experience, at least, that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively, and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted. If they could but see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and all their low despondencies do not really depress them in their Father’s sight!

Rejoice then, believer, in this: thou art accepted “in the beloved.” Thou lookest within, and thou sayest, “There is nothing acceptable here!” But look at Christ, and see if there is not everything acceptable there.

·       Thy sins trouble thee; but God has cast thy sins behind his back, and thou art accepted in the Righteous One.

·       Thou hast to fight with corruption, and to wrestle with temptation, but thou art already accepted in him who has overcome the powers of evil.

·       The devil tempts thee; be of good cheer, he cannot destroy thee, for thou art accepted in him who has broken Satan’s head.

Know by full assurance thy glorious standing. Even glorified souls are not more accepted than thou art. They are only accepted in heaven “in the beloved,” and thou art even now accepted in Christ after the same manner. 

So, if we're already accepted in Christ (the Beloved) don't try to earn it. He did that already. Live in it. Live knowing that more than $1,000,000 is your account. The priceless blood of Jesus Christ secures it all!


Wednesday, September 22

The Night I Heard God

The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. --Lamentations 3:25–26 (KJV)

Don't fret. Ward off anxiety. Relax in the Lord. Wait on Him. This is a comfortingly consistent theme in the Bible.

Psalm 37:7
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Micah 7:7
But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

Psalm 62:1
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. 

My wife, Phyllis and I were chatting just before going to bed a couple of nights ago. We were tired . . . a good tired. But really tired just the same. It had been a long day, though nothing momentous had preoccupied us. Phyllis and I both have the occasion in our calling to be in front of our laptops quite a bit. We are happy to have this "new" technology at hand. That night, I began to wonder how much such gazing and typing and searching and thinking had been affecting us? I wondered if this had jaded our ability to "hear" God in the silence, if so much "doing" had had the tendency to crowd out "being." I wondered if so much information at our finger tips has rendered meditation and original thought obsolete, or perhaps nearly so? 

There is a place for quiet reflection, for what the Psalmist says above, waiting "in silence" (62:1). In our noise-infested culture, I've come to know by experience that "silence" really IS "golden." Frankly, it was on Sunday night after a long and blessed day, that I had taken the trash to the curb, only to find myself marveling at the nearly absolute quiet. (That's unusual on Main Street even in the small town of Perry, NY!). I quite literally could hear the blood in my ears!? I decided there at 10:45 pm that I could not go in. Not yet. So, I looked around, calmly overcome by sereneness. No iPod. No electronic interference--ear-buds or TV. The three-quarter moon, the shadows in the street lights, a meandering skunk, . . . and the stillness. Ah, the stillness! Then I sat on the front porch . . . calm . . . tranquil . . . at rest.  And I heard God.

Yes, I think that's the way I'll end this post. . . . I heard God

I heard God . . . 

The Christian's Great Cause for Rejoicing!

“Let Israel rejoice in him.” — Psalm 149:2
Be glad of heart, O believer, but take care that thy gladness has its spring in the Lord. Thou hast much cause for gladness in thy God, for thou canst sing with David, “God, my exceeding joy.”

Be glad that the Lord reigneth, that Jehovah is King! 
Rejoice that he sits upon the throne, and ruleth all things! 

Every attribute of God should become a fresh ray in the sunlight of our gladness.

·       That he is wise should make us glad, knowing as we do our own foolishness.
·       That he is mighty, should cause us to rejoice who tremble at our weakness.
·       That he is everlasting, should always be a theme of joy when we know that we wither as the grass.
·       That he is unchanging, should perpetually yield us a song, since we change every hour.
·       That he is full of grace, that he is overflowing with it, and that this grace in covenant he has given to us; that it is ours to cleanse us, ours to keep us, ours to sanctify us, ours to perfect us, ours to bring us to glory—all this should tend to make us glad in him. 

This gladness in God is as a deep river; we have only as yet touched its brink, we know a little of its clear sweet, heavenly streams, but onward the depth is greater, and the current more impetuous in its joy. The Christian feels that he may delight himself not only in what God is, but also in all that God has done in the past. The Psalms show us that God’s people in olden times were wont to think much of God’s actions, and to have a song concerning each of them. So let God’s people now rehearse the deeds of the Lord! Let them tell of his mighty acts, and “sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.” Nor let them ever cease to sing, for as new mercies flow to them day by day, so should their gladness in the Lord’s loving acts in providence and in grace show itself in continued thanksgiving.  Be glad ye children of Zion and rejoice in the Lord your God.

from Spurgeon's Morning & Evening Devotions for the morning of September 22

Saturday, September 18

Train Your Child to Love Church & the Lord's Supper

I have loved reading J. C. Ryle for many years. My all-time favorite is his wonderfully thought out Holiness. Please get it and read it! But the following is for parents and comes from his short booklet, The Duties of Parents. I recommend the J. C. Ryle site, HERE. Make it your favorite too if he ministers to you as he has to me.

“Tell your children of the duty and privilege of going to Church, and joining in the prayers of the congregation. Tell them that wherever the Lord’s people are gathered together, there the Lord Jesus is present in a special way, and that those who are absent must expect, like the Apostle Thomas, to miss out on a blessing.
“Tell them of the importance of hearing the Word of God preached, and that it is God’s ordained way of converting, sanctifying, and building up the souls of men. Tell them how the Apostle Paul commands us not to “give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but to encourage one another—and all the more as we see the Day approaching.” [Hebrews 10:25]

“It is a sad sight in a church when nobody comes to the Lord’s Table but the older people, and the young men and the young women all turn away. But it is a sadder sight still when no children are to be seen in a church, except those who come to the Sunday School, and are often obliged to attend. Let none of this guilt lie at your doors. There are many boys and girls in every city, besides those who come to Sunday School, and you who are their parents and friends should see to it that they come with you to church.

“Do not allow them to grow up with a habit of making vain excuses for not coming. Make them clearly understand, that so long as they are under your roof, it is the rule of your house for every one in good health to honor the Lord on the Lord’s day, and that you believe that the healthy person who refuses to go to church on the Lord’s Day brings great harm to his soul.

“Do not be discouraged because your children do not see the full value of church and the Lord’s Supper now. Just train them to have a habit of regular attendance. Set it before their minds as a high, holy, and solemn duty, and believe me, the day will very likely come when they will bless you for your efforts.”

Friday, September 17

A Cure for the Anxious in Heart

I was helped by this devotion from Spurgeon. Yes, there are times when I have anxious thoughts going through my mind. I happened onto this and it caught my eye, the eye of faith. I pass it on for your growth and encouragement.

“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings.”
— Psalm 112:7

Christian, you ought not to dread the arrival of evil tidings; because if you are distressed by them, what do you more than other men? Other men have not your God to fly to; they have never proved his faithfulness as you have done, and it is no wonder if they are bowed down with alarm and cowed with fear: but you profess to be of another spirit; you have been begotten again unto a lively hope, and your heart lives in heaven and not on earthly things; now, if you are seen to be distracted as other men, what is the value of that grace which you profess to have received? Where is the dignity of that new nature which you claim to possess?

Again, if you should be filled with alarm, as others are, you would, doubtless, be led into the sins so common to others under trying circumstances. The ungodly, when they are overtaken by evil tidings, rebel against God; they murmur, and think that God deals hardly with them. Will you fall into that same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do?

Moreover, unconverted men often run to wrong means in order to escape from difficulties, and you will be sure to do the same if your mind yields to the present pressure. Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Your wisest course is to do as Moses did at the Red Sea, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.” For if you give way to fear when you hear of evil tidings, you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure which nerves for duty, and sustains under adversity. How can you glorify God if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God’s high praises in the fires, but will your doubting and desponding, as if you had none to help you, magnify the Most High? Then take courage, and relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of your covenant God, “let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and Evening : Daily Readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

Thursday, September 16

Ten Missional Prayers for the Church Today--James Emery White

1.  That pastors would see other churches in their immediate vicinity as a co-laborer, not as the competition.

2.  That members of churches would see themselves as ministers and missionaries, dying to themselves for the sake of the cause, as opposed to consumers who care most about whether they are fed, ministered to, or served themselves.

3.  That parachurch organizations would be parachurch organizations – meaning serving alongside the church while giving the local church the pre-eminence it deserves – and allowing the partnership to reach its full redemptive potential in light of the biblical mandate.

4.  That church planters would commit to being a) sent by a church; b) called by a community; and c) eager to go where no one has gone.  Instead of a) sending themselves; b) going to where they simply desire to live; and c) remaining blind to the reality that they’ll be the 11th McDonalds in a row of ten existing ones.

5.  That all seminaries would remember that they exist to serve the church, and that they would serve the church to such a degree that their students would be more on fire to serve and build the local church after they have graduated than before they entered.

6.  That those committed to discipleship, and rightly so, would quit pitting it against evangelism as if any emphasis on “reaching out” somehow takes away from “building up”, creating a false dichotomy that doesn’t exist biblically.

7.  That older generations would quit worrying about whether they are being catered to sufficiently, and would become more interested in whether they are passing the baton on to the next generation that is so desperate and hungry for mentoring.

8.  That the false dichotomy between a concern for personal or sexual morality, and social justice, would evaporate.  Instead, that we would see that being salt and light applies to both concerns: being as concerned for a culture of divorce as much as we are for the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

9.  That the pendulum between whether to share the gospel or engage in social ministry would also disappear.  That we would see them not as an either-or, but a both-and; we are to give a cup of water and the bread of life, feeding both stomach and soul.

10.That we would understand that lost people are not the enemy, but instead the objects of the Father’s heart – and thus, they should be the objects of ours.  That we would join the Father as He sets out to find His lost sheep, search for His lost coin, and look desperately down the road for His prodigal son.

James Emery White

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Saturday, September 11

Don't Sell Out God for Substitutes!

For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
Jeremiah 2:13
A Cistern--designed to hold water in arid climates
I think it was my wife, Phyllis who first alerted me to these words, and she from Piper? The point is that this is a devastatingly powerful verse! Below, are words of Octavius Winslow (19th C). PLEASE do not read OVER these words. Land on them. Let them sink in. Meditate right here. Soak a while. Their truth is too current to side-step.
GOD speaks of it as involving two evils—the evil of forsaking Him, and the evil of substituting a false object of happiness for Him. Dear reader, the true painfulness of this subject consists not in the sorrow which your heart may have felt in seeing your cisterns broken. Ah no! the true agony should be, that you have, in your wanderings and creature idolatry, sinned, deeply sinned, against the Lord your God. This, and not your loss, ought to lay you low before Him. This, and not your broken scheme of earthly happiness, ought to fill you with the bitterness of sorrow, and clothe you with the drapery of woe. Oh! to have turned your back upon such a God, upon such a Father, upon such a Friend, and to have supposed that even a universe of creatures could have made you happy without Him, ought to bring you to His feet exclaiming, “God be merciful to me, the chief of sinners!” 

If you have the time, then please read the rest of the article from this online entry
Is it no sin to have said to God, as you have a thousand times over—”I prefer myself to You—my family to You—my estate to You—my pleasure to You—my honor to You”? Is it no sin to have taken the gifts with which He endowed you, or the wealth with which He entrusted you, and forming them into a golden image, to have fallen down before it, exclaiming, “This is your god, O my soul?” Oh yes, it is a sin, the guilt and the greatness of which no language can describe.
And is it no sin, O believer in Jesus, to have turned away, in your unbelief and inconstancy, from the glorious redemption which the Lord has obtained for you at such a price, and to have sought the assurance and the joy of your salvation from other sources than it? What! is not the atoning work of Jesus sufficient to give your believing soul solid rest, and peace, and hope, but that you should have turned your eye from Him, and have sought it in the polluted and broken cistern of self?
Oh, slight not the precious blood, the glorious righteousness, the infinite fullness, and the tender love of Jesus thus. No, you dishonor this precious Jesus Himself! Shall He have wrought such an obedience, shall He have made such an atonement, shall He have died such a death, shall He have risen and have ascended up on high, all to secure your full salvation and certain glory, and will you derive the evidence and the comfort of your acceptance from any other than this one precious source—”looking unto Jesus!” Look away, then, from everything to Jesus. No matter what you are, look away from self—to Jesus [emphasis mine].
What to do when we are this way? Read on . . .
Ask Him for a sense of His reconciled love—ask Him for the Spirit of adoption—ask Him for a filial, loving, and obedient heart—ask Him for a meek, lowly, and submissive will. Yes, pour out your heart before Him: God waits to grant your utmost desire breathed out to Him in the name of Jesus. He has given you His beloved Son—oh largess worthy of a God!—oh gift of gifts, priceless and precious beyond all thought!—what inferior blessing will He then, withhold?

Friday, September 10

Even the Devils Have Faith?!

Does It Shock You?
It comes as a shock to people that demons have faith! What do they believe? For one thing, they believe in the existence of God; they are neither atheists nor agnostics. They also believe in the deity of Christ. Whenever they met Christ when He was on earth, they bore witness to His sonship (Mark 3:11–12). They believe in the existence of a place of punishment (Luke 8:31); and they also recognize Jesus Christ as the Judge (Mark 5:1–13). They submit to the power of His Word. 

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord!” (Deut. 6:4) This was the daily affirmation of faith of the godly Jew. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19, niv). The man with dead faith was touched only in his intellect; but the demons are touched also in their emotions. 

They believe and tremble
But it is not a saving experience to believe and tremble. A person can be enlightened in his mind and even stirred in his heart and be lost forever. True saving faith involves something more, something that can be seen and recognized: a changed life. “Show me thy faith without thy works,” challenged James, “and I will show thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18).  

How could a person show his faith without works? Can a dead sinner perform good works? Impossible! When you trust Christ, you are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Being a Christian involves trusting Christ and living for Christ; you receive the life, then you reveal the life. Faith that is barren is not saving faith. The Greek word translated “dead” in James 2:20 carries the meaning of “barren or idle,” like money drawing no interest.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Jas 2:18). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

Thursday, September 9

Complain to God? Sure!

Here, David is crying out to God for mercy in confession. In the whole of Psalm 38 one feels the angst bound up within his heart. Question: When was the last time we voiced such a plaint before God? I think it is perhaps unusual these days. Read just 3 verses selected from the whole of the 22 verses. . . .
My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. ” (Psalm 38:5–8
Several factors in this Psalm emerge when sin overtakes:
1) There's no attempt to avoid, or re-frame the sin to sound better than it is.
2) He feels free to "dump on" God, to tell the Lord everything he feels. There's a freedom in such complaining. 
3) He recognizes the source of his sorrow (sin), and the Source of his salvation (God). He is not just having a "bad day."
4) He gets help, not from the bottle, or from sports or from the phone, but from God alone! 
5) He doesn't throw his hands up in disgust saying, "Where is God when you need him?" He goes to God and sort of "forces" upon Him his sorrow. He unloads on God. 

Again I ask, how frequently do we just unload on our loving Lord? Are we quicker to turn to a friend than to the One who should be our BEST friend? Just wondering.

Don't be a complaining person, but if you will, complain to the One who cares and solves our troubles.

Wednesday, September 8

A Call to God Love by 17th C. George Herbert

George Herbert  1593-1633

Way back in college, my sister, Kathi and I attended the same elective (a "yawner"), . . . ready? "Seventeenth Century Prose and Poetry." Really, I had hope that this class may yield something out of my normal range (which wouldn't have taken much). And though much was a bit on the dull side (especially then), at least one writer loomed large in my mind -- George Herbert. Now, some 37-ish years later, here's an example:
Love II
Immortal Heat, O let thy greater flame
    Attract the lesser to it: let those fires,
    Which shall consume the world, first make it tame;
And kindle in our hearts such true desires,
As may consume our lusts, and make thee way.
    Then shall our hearts pant thee; then shall our brain
    All her invention on thine Altar lay,
And there in hymns send back thy fire again:
Our eyes shall see thee, which before saw dust;
    Dust blown by wit, till that they both were blind:
    Thou shalt recover all thy goods in kind,
Who wert disseized by usurping lust:
    All knees shall bow to thee; all wits shall rise,
    And praise him who did make and mend our eyes.
And there is an example . . . But, if you read this carefully, there is a very modern prayer inferred. How do our minds compete against our hearts in love for Jesus Christ. Herbert was well aware of this and wrote often of it. Whether or not you enjoy poetry, his sentiments are accurate and (as poems can do) surfaces our hypocrisy, exposing it so that it may be amended. May it be so . . . and thank you 17th C Prose and Poetry. Hope you enjoyed it too, Kathi! :-)


Tuesday, September 7


Thy main plan, and the end of thy will 
   is to make Christ glorious and beloved
     in heaven 
   where he is now ascended,
   where one day all the elect will behold his glory
   and love and glorify him for ever. 
. . . 
Thou has led me to place all my nature
     and happiness
   in oneness with Christ,
   in having heart and mind centered only on him,
   in being like him in communicating good to others;

This is my heaven on earth,
But I need the force, energy, impulses of thy Spirit
   to carry me on the way to my Jerusalem.
Here, it is my duty
   to be as Christ in this world,
   to do what he would do,
   to live as he would live,
   to walk in love and meekness;
   then would he be known,
   then would I have peace in death.
An abbreviated prayer from:
The Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotions

Saturday, September 4

What Is Man?

“When small men begin to cast long shadows, it is a sure sign that the sun is setting."

So, too, I would claim that when men’s views of God are low, they will inevitably run hard to promote themselves. The following quotation from Blaise Pascal will not tickle the ears of the modern who loves to laud mankind, treating him as a god! But it will reveal what a great scientist and a true Christian felt about humanity.
What is man in nature? A nothing compared to the infinite, a whole compared to the nothing, a middle point between all and nothing, infinitely remote from an understanding of the extremes . . . equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed. . .

Let us then realize our limitations. We are something and we are not everything. Such being as we have conceals from us the knowledge of first principles, which arise from nothingness, and the smallness of our being hides infinity from our sight.

Our intelligence occupies the same rank in the order of intellect as our body in the whole range of nature.

Limited in every respect, we find this intermediate state between two extremes reflected in all our faculties. Our senses can perceive nothing extreme; too much noise deafens us, too much light dazzles; when we are too far or too close we cannot see properly; are argument is obscured by being too long or too short; too much truth bewilders us.

—Blaise Pascal, Pensées, 61-63 (emphasis mine) Tyler Kenney at DGM
Right views of God promote right views of man. None can be compared to the greatness of the great God "who dwells in light unapproachable." We rise or fall over our own thoughts of truth. Let's make sure we are on the right side of it!

Friday, September 3

Kept in Heaven . . . for You.

He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, ” (1 Peter 1:3–4)
Those words, "kept in heaven for you" suggest two marvelous truths. 1) Someone does the keeping, which is God himself through Jesus Christ. And, 2) someone is being kept, and that is the true believer. That Peter is writing to believers is easily identified in the phrase "to those who are elect exiles . . ." (v. 1). The term, "elect" is more often than not used in order to accentuate the security of the redeemed who find themselves under great duress and therefore liable to feeling neglected, unloved or even rejected. The term "elect" is meant to encourage the saints, not become a watershed doctrine between Calvinists and Arminians. Elect by God means (among other things) held tightly, lovingly, and powerfully by none less than God himself, a doctrine which becomes increasingly dear as one's life hangs in the balance for Jesus' sake!

Birthed by God
The One who keeps is the same who births. This occurrence "caused us to be born again" does not appear elsewhere in the Bible (OT or NT) except one other time in 1 Peter 1:23. 
"Peter’s conception of new birth includes 'entrance into a new order of existence, but combines with it that of divine parentage: men enter the new life as children of its Author' (Hort 1898: 33, in Baker Exegetical Commentary). 
The emphasis here is not on our being born ANEW (though that is included), but rather on God having produced new children by His seed, or "the word of God" (1:23). One of the reasons we can be said to be "kept" is because God produced children of his own incorruptible seed! Our security does not rest, therefore, in our own ability to keep the law, or to obey God as important as these things are. But our being kept is owing entirely to God's own fathering of a new child, even we who have been born-again!

Birthed to What?
God caused us to be birthed to what? 1) A living hope (not a bunch of legalistic dead activities, and forced worship)! Oh, no! Lively, as in full of life! Do we have it? Further, we were birthed to 2) an inheritance (in heaven, with Jesus Christ and God, the Father), which is described with three modifiers: it's imperishable, it's undefiled, and unfading

Kept in Heaven for You
If indeed, it is God himself who "keeps" us and therefore who secures our place in heaven, it is outside ourselves and thus not liable to our human whimsy, our ups and downs. Can we see that once we've gotten through the other descriptions of the birthing process and the nature of our final inheritance with Christ, that our being kept is a natural result of such a magnificent work of grace! Of course we are kept, and our inheritance is undefiled and unfading. After all, look Who insured that we'd be birthed--God himself! 

Is that not enough?

Thursday, September 2

An FAQ on the Difference between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity

Thanks to Justin Taylor's site, Between Two Worlds for this explanation. If you do not read the whole article, at least check out the Mormon views on God, Christ and salvation! Please, if you say you love Jesus Christ as savior, do not allow this world to "squeeze you into its mold," but rather "test" (judge) so as to "discern what is the will of God" (Rom. 12:2).


The following is adapted from the section on Mormonism (or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) in the ESV Study Bible article on religious cults. The attempt is to be concise yet still accurate. I’ve added questions in bold to break it up a bit.

What do Mormons believe about apostasy and restoration?
Mormons claim that “total” apostasy overcame the church following apostolic times, and that the Mormon Church (founded in 1830) is the “restored church.”

What’s the problem with this understanding?
If the Mormon Church were truly a “restored church,” one would expect to find first-century historical evidence for Mormon doctrines like the plurality of gods and God the Father having once been a man. Such evidence is completely lacking. Besides, the Bible disallows a total apostasy of the church (e.g., Matt. 16:18; 28:20; Eph. 3:21; 4:11–16), warning instead of partial apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1).

What do Mormons believe about God?
Mormons claim that God the Father was once a man and that he then progressed to godhood (that is, he is a now-exalted, immortal man with a flesh-and-bone body).

What does the Bible teach about the nature of God?
Based on the Bible, God is not and has never been a man (Num. 23:19; Hos. 11:9). He is a spirit (John 4:24), and a spirit does not have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). Furthermore, God is eternal (Ps. 90:2; 102:27; Isa. 57:15; 1 Tim. 1:17) and immutable (or unchangeable in his being and perfections; see Ps. 102:25–27; Mal. 3:6). He did not “progress” toward godhood, but has always been God.

What do Mormons believe about the Trinity and polytheism?
Mormons believe that the Trinity consists not of three persons in one God but rather of three distinct gods. According to Mormonism, there are potentially many thousands of gods besides these.

What does the Bible teach about the Triune God?
Trusting in or worshiping more than one god is explicitly condemned throughout the Bible (e.g., Ex. 20:3). There is only one true God (Deut. 4:35, 39; 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:18; 46:9; 1 Cor. 8:4; James 2:19), who exists eternally in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14).

What do Mormons believe about human exaltation?
Mormons believe that humans, like God the Father, can go through a process of exaltation to godhood.

What does the Bible teach about humanity?
The Bible teaches that the yearning to be godlike led to the fall of mankind (Gen. 3:4ff.). God does not look kindly on humans who pretend to attain to deity (Acts 12:21–23; contrast Acts 14:11–15). God desires humans to humbly recognize that they are his creatures (Gen. 2:7; 5:2; Ps. 95:6–7; 100:3). The state of the redeemed in eternity will be one of glorious immortality, but they will forever remain God’s creatures, adopted as his children (Rom. 8:14–30; 1 Cor. 15:42–57; Rev. 21:3–7). Believers will never become gods.

What do Mormons believe about Jesus?
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ was the firstborn spirit-child of the heavenly Father and a heavenly Mother. Jesus then progressed to deity in the spirit world. He was later physically conceived in Mary’s womb, as the literal “only begotten” Son of God the Father in the flesh (though many present-day Mormons remain somewhat vague as to how this occurred).

What does the Bible teach about Jesus?
Biblically, the description of Jesus as the “only begotten” refers to his being the Father’s unique, one-of-a-kind Son for all eternity, with the same divine nature as the Father (see note on John 1:14; cf. John 1:18; 3:16, 18; see also John 5:18; 10:30). Moreover, he is eternal deity (John 1:1; 8:58) and is immutable (Heb. 1:10–12; 13:8), meaning he did not progress to deity but has always been God. And Mary’s conception of Jesus in his humanity was through a miracle of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20).

What do Mormons believe about our eternal destiny?
Mormons believe that most people will end up in one of three kingdoms of glory, depending on one’s level of faithfulness. Belief in Christ, or even in God, is not necessary to obtain immortality in one of these three kingdoms, and therefore only the most spiritually perverse will go to hell.

What does the Bible teach about our eternal destiny ?
The Bible teaches that people have just two possibilities for their eternal futures: the saved will enjoy eternal life with God in the new heavens and new earth (Phil. 3:20; Rev. 21:1–4; 22:1–5), while the unsaved will spend eternity in hell (Matt. 25:41, 46; Rev. 20:13–15).

What do Mormons believe about sin and atonement?
Mormons believe that Adam’s transgression was a noble act that made it possible for humans to become mortal, a necessary step on the path to exaltation to godhood. They think that Christ’s atonement secures immortality for virtually all people, whether they repent and believe or not.

What does the Bible teach about sin and atonement?
Biblically, there was nothing noble about Adam’s sin, which was not a stepping-stone to godhood but rather brought nothing but sin, misery, and death to mankind (Gen. 3:16–19; Rom. 5:12–14). Jesus atoned for the sins of all who would trust him for salvation (Isa. 53:6; John 1:29; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).

What do Mormons believe about salvation?
Mormons believe that God gives to (virtually) everyone a general salvation to immortal life in one of the heavenly kingdoms, which is how they understand salvation by grace. Belief in Christ is necessary only to obtain passage to the highest, celestial kingdom—for which not only faith but participation in Mormon temple rituals and obedience to its “laws of the gospel” are also prerequisites.

What does the Bible teach about salvation?
Biblically, salvation by grace must be received through faith in Christ (John 3:15–16; 11:25; 12:46; Acts 16:31; Rom. 3:22–24; Eph. 2:8–9), and all true believers are promised eternal life in God’s presence (Matt. 5:3–8; John 14:1–3; Rev. 21:3–7).

Wednesday, September 1

Work Hard and Don't Be Lazy

Work Hard and Don’t Be Lazy! Thanks to Grace To You!


Here are twenty practical principles from Proverbs to motivate you to work hard and avoid laziness. After you read through these principles, take the time to go back through and look up the origin of each principle in the book of Proverbs.

1. Remember, working hard is first a mindset (and so is laziness). [Proverbs 10:5; 15:19; 22:13; 26:13, 16]

2. Working hard and staying on task is a matter of self-control. [Proverbs 16:32b; 25:28]

3. Get up early. Try to stand up right when the alarm clock goes off. [Proverbs 20:13; 24:30-34; 26:14; 31:15]

4. Do hard jobs first and easier jobs second; then you can have fun. [Proverbs 22:29; 21:20; 24:27]

5. Love what you do as a vocation, regardless of what it is. Ask God to grant His blessing and favor in your work (cf. the account of Joseph in Genesis 39). [Proverbs 12:11, 14b; 28:19]

6. Don’t try to make money by deceit or fraud. If you do, God will punish you, sooner or later. [Proverbs 3:9-10; 10:2; 11:18; 15:27; 16:8; 20:14; 28:8, 20]

7. Be honest with your employer about how much you work. If you’re lazily collecting a paycheck, that’s stealing. [Proverbs 14:23; 20:17; 22:16; 30:8-9]

8. Don’t work so much, however, that you need to re-introduce yourself to your family. Strive for a healthy balance between your work and your family life. [Proverbs 13:11, 25; 15:16-17; 23:4-5; 24:3-4]

9. If you travel too much (according to your wife’s/family’s honest, loving assessment), seek to curb your travel, if possible. Perhaps another position would provide greater harmony in your home. [Proverbs 11:29; 15:22, 32; 18:15, 22; 19:20; 21:16]

10. If your wife is regularly wondering how the bills are going to be paid, and you’re not taking initiative to lead, confess your failure in leadership and take control of your family finances. [Proverbs 16:26; 19:14; 21:5; 26:15]

11. Treat your work (house cleaning, school work, or whatever it is) as though you will reap a harvest from your labors. [Proverbs 20:4; 27:18, 23-27]

12. Don’t work only in order to receive. Rather, find satisfaction in simply doing good work for God and men. [Proverbs 3:27-28; 12:26; 21:25-26; 24:21-22; 25:21-22]

13. Lazy people often assume that others owe them a handout (whether they’ve worked hard or not). Don’t fall into an entitlement mentality. [Proverbs 13:4]

14. When you are asked to serve in some way, don’t attempt to take the path of least resistance (because of laziness). [Proverbs 10:26; 19:15]

15. Consider how much more would be accomplished for the kingdom of Christ if you worked as hard in ministry as you do for a paycheck. [Proverbs 18:9]

16. Consider how your employer would evaluate you if his assessment was based on your work ethic in ministry. (Would you be fired?) [Proverbs 21:2]

17. If you are a lazy person, or if you tend toward laziness in certain areas of your life, confess your sin to God. Whether at home, at work, or in ministry, admit to God that you haven’t been working as hard as you should (He knows already), and ask Him to cleanse you from sin. [Proverbs 28:13]

18. Abandoning laziness and growing in diligence means you must be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Here are some practical steps you can take: [Proverbs 12:24, 27; 31:27]

    a. Ask the Spirit to make you a hard worker for God.
    b. Read, re-read, and even memorize the proverbs that pertain to both laziness and work.
    c. Trust God to overcome any bad habits you’ve developed regarding work and diligence.
    d. When you are tempted to be lazy, seek the Spirit’s help in prayer and remind yourself what the Word of God teaches.

19. Show how the Proverbs on diligence and laziness are important by reading them to your family and then applying the biblical principles. Discuss with your family how you can hold one another accountable to be diligent workers for God and men. [Proverbs 1:8; 2:1-2; 3:1-2; 4:1-2, 10-11, 20; 5:1-2; 6:20; 7:1-3; 8:32-36; 22:17-21; 23:15-25]

20. Ask God to give you opportunities to become a hard worker, and then look for Him to answer in every realm of your life (home, work, school, ministry, etc.). [Proverbs 6:6-11; 24:30-34]

Lance Quinn
Grace to You