Friday, November 26

Satan's Schemes Backfire

We walk cautiously between fear of the devil on the one hand, and treating him flippantly on the other. One truth the believer must affirm is the victory of Jesus Christ over sin, self, AND the devil! It is for this reason I have loved the stanza from Martin Luther's famous hymn: 

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure; One little word shall fell him.

And this from Desiring God Blog:
According to Jonathan Edwards, Satan's desire to destroy man in the garden grew out of envy. His haughtiness and pride were insulted to see earthborn creatures receiving such honor while he, a native of heaven with such natural strength and knowledge, was cast down and dishonored. Thus, in this jealousy, Satan deceived Eve to bring an end to the insult.

Edwards paints the scene, and then he exposes the irony:

And oh, how may we conclude Satan triumphed when he had brought 'em down! How did he as it were laugh, to think how sorrowfully they found themselves disappointed in their expectations of coming to higher honor and being like gods.

But their fall has been the occasion of their being advanced to much greater dignity than before, brought much nearer to God, far more nearly united to him, [and] are become his members, his spouse, and in many respects more honored than the angels. . . .

This very act of Satan has been the occasion of bringing about the very thing, the destruction of which he therein aimed at, and that in higher degrees. (Miscellanies #156, paragraphing added)

The irony with Satan is that all his schemes for evil—whether in Eden, at the cross, or in your life—do precisely the opposite of what he intends. In his attempt to ruin man by killing him with sin, Satan only opened the door for a greater win: unbreakable union with God through Jesus Christ.

Just like with the helpless schemes of Joseph's brothers, no matter what Satan may mean with his evil deeds, God means them ultimately for his glory and the greater good of those who love him (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28).

John Piper touches on this same irony in his sermon about how Satan's murder of the Messiah was actually a suicide: "Judas Iscariot, the Suicide of Satan, and the Salvation of the World."

Wednesday, November 24

Thanks for Greater Things

“The glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams.”
— Isaiah 33:21
Broad rivers and streams produce fertility, and abundance in the land. Places near broad rivers are remarkable for the variety of their plants and their plentiful harvests. God is all this to his Church. Having God she has abundance. What can she ask for that he will not give her? What want can she mention which he will not supply? “In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things.” Want ye the bread of life? It drops like manna from the sky. Want ye refreshing streams? The rock follows you, and that Rock is Christ. If you suffer any want it is your own fault; if you are straitened you are not straitened in him, but in your own bowels.
With theses words begins Spurgeon in this morning's devotional. It is a wonderful beginning. I am immediately convicted of my paucity with regard to crying out to God. How small are my prayers. Too little do I ask of Him. Slow of heart am I to reach out in ways which magnify His gracious heart. Such slowness demeans our Lord in our own eyes. I say "in our own eyes" because nothing can truly demean Him. Oh, let us this Thanksgiving holiday season, not only give Thanks, but show our gratefulness by asking God for more, thus revealing Him to the be the magnanimous Giver that He is!
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. ” (John 15:7–11)  
What kind of fruit? All kinds, not just new converts (which is vital). Fruit here means that in every area of our lives, where Christ is foundational, and the Spirit is functional, our lives will show fruit, in faith, in hope, in prayers, in love. The greater is God, the greater and more frequent our prayers, and the higher our hopes!

Tuesday, November 16

The Reformation's Conflict with Rome: Why it must Continue! by Robert L. Reymond

The following is a re-posting. Please read and heed! 


The Reformation's Conflict with Rome: Why it Must Continue!, by Robert L. Reymond, Mentor, 2001, 155pp. 


As the old saying goes, ‘You shouldn't judge a book by its cover'. And as far as this volume is concerned, the hoary cliche holds good. I mean, take a good look at the cover, ignoring the words for a moment. For starters it's purple, which alternates with pink as my teenage daughter's favourite colour. Then did you notice the little diamond motif? Everyone knows that diamonds are a girl's best friend. Taken together these two features might suggest that what we have here is a fine specimen of chick lit. But that ain't the case. Reymond is a bloke and his offering isn't about knitting, ponies or romance. So, you can't judge this book by its purple, diamondy cover. But you can judge it by it's subtitle, The Reformation's Conflict with Rome: Why it must Continue! Did you get that? It's not The Reformation's Conflict... What was all that About? or Why it was a bad thing and should Stop! Oh no, unlike some Evengelicals,  Robert Reymond wants the conflict to continue. 'Why on earth is that?' You might ask. I'm not telling you.

Seeing as this is ostensibly a book review, you might expect me to attempt to summarise Reymond's monograph and offer an appraisal of his efforts. But, no. I'm not even going to use the review as an excuse to dilate on the subject in hand with some thoughts of my own. Not this time. What I'm going to do is list the kind of people who should give serious attention to this book. So, here goes:

If you think that the Reformation's conflict with Rome is is about as relevant today as a mobile phone that doesn't take photos, then you should read this book.

If you think that the difference between the Reformers and Rome on justification by faith alone or justification by faith plus works are of little consequence to sinners in the light of the day of judgement, then you should read this book.

If you think that it doesn't matter that Rome elevates its traditions and the infallible declarations of the pope to the same level as Scripture, then you should read this book.

If you think that recent Protestant attempts at rapprochement with Rome like Evangelicals and Catholics Together are a jolly good idea, then you should read this book.

If you think that the Reformation's alone's are not needed to preserve the integrity of the gospel against Rome's and's then toll lege, take and read.

Even if you are none of the above, then this monograph will help you to see with fresh eyes the momentous difference between Rome and authentic biblical Christianity. Your vision of the gospel of free grace will be clarified and enhanced. You too should read this book. 

The trouble is, having said all that, the book is sadly out of print. You won't get a copy from the publisher, but has one left in stock and some new copies are available from the Amazon Marketplace. Failing that, you'll have to make do with a diseased secondhand copy. I mean, have you never sneezed while reading? Be brave. Even if you can only get a scabby used copy, take the risk and read this refreshingly honest account of the Reformation's Conflict with Rome: Why it must Continue!

Monday, November 15

Rees Howells, A Man We Should Know

Years ago, I read an amazing book, Rees Howells: Intercessor. I used it in Sunday’s Sermon by way of illustration. In the process, I had thought to re-read the book, but my copy is literally falling apart, so I looked for a newer copy and found this blog post. It’s too good to pass up. I quote it in its entirety. It’s found at Promptings, by Violet . . .

I have just finished reading a mess-up-your-life kind of book: Rees Howells : Intercessor. This biography of Rees Howells was written by Howells’ friend and colleague, Norman Grubb (in cooperation with Howells' widow, son and secretary, and having at his disposal Mr. Howells' letters and the transcribed talks where he told many of the stories in the book). If you haven’t ever read it, you should. Well, maybe not. If you’re happy with the way you are, don’t. Because it might stir things up.

Born in South Wales October 10, 1879, Rees was always a good boy. As a youngster he loved to be in church "under the influence of God." When he was 22, he left Wales for America with the ambition to see the world and make money.

When he got to America, he got a job with his cousin Evan Lewis and continued living the religious life he had lived in Wales. Thus when his cousin asked him one day if he was ‘born again,’ he was miffed. "My life is as good as yours," he said.

However over the next weeks, his cousin kept at him. After a time of seeking, an illness and hearing the testimony of a converted Jew, he saw himself for the sinner he was, and personally accepted Jesus into his life.

Shortly after he returned to Wales in 1904, the Welsh revival broke out. He became involved in it and worked at discipling new converts. However, he and his friends sensed spiritual needs in their own lives. And so in the summer of 1906 they spent their summer holiday at the Llandrindod Wells convention (a Welsh equivalent to the English Keswick Conference) where Howells made a pivotal decision.

From the first meeting, Howells was deeply moved. The realization dawned on him that the Holy Spirit was a person, and not an ‘influence.’ In his words:
He said to me, "As the Savior had a body, so I dwell in the cleansed temple of the believer. I am a Person. I am God, and I am come to ask you to give your body to Me that I may work through it. I need a body for my temple but it must belong to Me without reserve for two persons with different wills can never live in the same body. Will you give me yours? But if I come in, I come as God, and you must go out. I shall not mix Myself with your self."
This precipitated a five-day struggle in Mr. Howells. From the first, he realized it was an unconditional surrender, of which he said:

"I had received a sentence of death, as really as a prisoner in the dock. I had lived in my body for twenty-six years, and could I easily give it up....I wept for days. I lost seven pounds....Nothing is more real to me than the process I went through for that whole week. The Holy Spirit went on dealing with me, exposing the root of my nature which was self, and you can only get out of a thing what is in its root. Sin was canceled, and it wasn’t sin He was dealing with; it was self..."
Some of the things he came to a point of surrender over:

1. His love of money: "The Lord told him that He would take out of his nature all taste for money and any ambition for the ownership of money."

2. His choice in making a home: "I saw I could never give my life to another person, to live to that one alone.

3. His ambition:"Supposing he had a mission in a town and another mission opened in the same place; if there was jealousy between the two, and it was better for the town only to have one, then it would be his which would have to go."

4. His right to a good reputation: "As he was thinking of men of the Bible who were full of the Holy Ghost, and particularly John the Baptist, the Lord said to him, "Then I may live through you the kind of life I lived through them."

Finally on Friday of that week he came through.

The book continues with stories of how God worked through this man teaching him faith and intercession as he prayed for the sick, prayed for the salvation of friends and acquaintances, gave up raising his own son to work as a missionary, traveled without any money in his pocket, bought estates, established a Bible school, and prayed for international events, especially during the World War II. And all the while God also continued to deal with his self-life.


Does this ring familiar to you? I wonder if it isn’t on exactly this issue – the surrender of the self-life to the Holy Spirit – that we who have come to Jesus are most radically sifted. It determines whether we grow or remain stunted, are useful to God or are set aside from getting His assignments because of our own agendas, will someday see our life’s efforts last or burn up.

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20 NKJV

"Therefore I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship." Romans 12:1 NIV

"Jesus takes us over for His enterprises, His building schemes entirely and no soul has any right to claim where he shall be put." Oswald Chambers

For entire article:

Wednesday, November 10

The Husband's Cleansing Love for His Wife

Some of you may be wondering where my new posts have been? Non-existent, . . . obviously. But, let me get my feet wet again. 

Talking with two prayer partners, Gary and Dan Tuesday morning, Dan asked about Ephesians 5:26, " . . . having cleansed her by the washing of water by the word." You'll recollect that this passage teaches the dual responsibility/privilege of both God and husbands to serve their respective brides as a cleansing agent. We can understand (I think) how that would occur with God and his church. After all, we're familiar with such songs as, "What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus." And this cleansing work continues throughout our earthly existence so that when we sin as Christians, if we confess those sins, Christ is faithful to forgive them and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Fine. And wonderful! But how do we husbands do this for our wives? Remember, the text in Ephesians 5 is a dual one, including both God and husbands. Since only Jesus can sanctify us and make us holy, husbands must accomplish this as surrogates of heaven. We can help our wives love God more, live more holy lives, and walk purely with both God and us. If we're to do this, then it is incumbent upon us to walk purely ourselves, hating sin and loving righteousness. Further, it is necessary for us to encourage our wives by our attendance to them, making it not only possible, but easy to pursue Christ. How might this happen? I cannot help but think that we must pray for and with them in a natural not rote or tedious way. Remember, we are doing this so that they will move seamlessly into that love relationship with God for which He created us. And this cannot be accomplished by reducing all acts of faith to adherence to a set of rules found in a manual somewhere. No, this kind of cleansing love must emanate from our hearts and produce a living, breathing yearning for our Lord.

I'm sure that there is much more to it than this, but this will ( I trust) move us in the right direction. I wonder if this "jives" with your idea of husband-hood?