Saturday, December 22

Enjoy Grace by Hating Your Sin

The Babylonian Destruction of Jerusalem, from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493

Sin led to Judah's awful destruction. Jeremiah 39 tells us that Nebuchadnezzar killed all of the sons of Zedekiah (king of Judah) in front of him. Then he slew all of the nobles before him, put out Zedekiah's eyes, placed him shackles and led him away to Babylon! Dreadful scene. Unbelievably harsh. What is made clear is that sin was the cause. Jeremiah's case was the opposite. Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to take care of him. In verse 18, we read that the LORD (Yahweh) was the one who did all of this, the bad as well as the good. I so appreciated the emphasis that John Barry gives to this passage that I am copying it directly over to you. There's actually hope here. . . . IF

It’s important to pause occasionally to reflect on the cost of sin. If we don’t, we can find ourselves living in it without thought of the ramifications. Few passages illustrate the cost of sin more vividly than the fall of Jerusalem recorded in Jer 39. The fall of Jerusalem is brutal, depressing, and sadistic, but we can learn from Jeremiah’s account of the event.
We could view Jeremiah’s depictions as merely historical, or we could recognize the theological lessons they offer: Sin is expensive. Sin will destroy you. Sin will bring a nation to its knees. Sin will leave you begging for mercy. Sin is death. That’s what God’s people learned from this event: Disobeying Yahweh is a costly action. It’s not that God wants His people to endure this pain, but pain is a natural consequence of their decisions. He cannot defend people who refuse to live as beacons of light—of goodness, beauty, and blessing—to the world. If they aren’t willing to live in His image, then He is not willing to be their defender. If Yahweh did not allow for Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem, the people would never learn. And the exile that comes in this moment is also a natural result of their sin.

When we’re faced with the horror of the destruction of Jerusalem, we’re given a choice: Will we listen to the prophets of our age and respond accordingly? Will we hear God when He calls us back to obedience? Or will we continue to live in sin and suffer the consequences?
As a side effect of the grace that God has given us in Jesus, many people assume that sin is somehow okay—that it’s okay to allow it to exist. God’s response is the opposite. The grace is unmerited, and we must respond with the only merited response: complete dedication and obedience to Him. We must see the death of sin and deny it.

What sin is currently present in your life? What do you need to repent from? Have you asked God for direct you in this?          
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Friday, December 21

Fearing the End of the World? DON'T!!

At the risk of repeating what I just wrote to our Church members, after writing this, I thought it wise to send it out to "the world." Note: I've been sending John Piper's daily advent readings to the church on a daily basis. So, the first part is mine, and second, obviously, Piper's. God strengthen us all. 

Mayan prophecies and prince of Darkness considered, many might be, at least to some degree, prone to fear on this day when the end of the world is coming. Actually, the prophecies record that today would be the end of one era and the beginning of essentially, "The Age of Aquarius."

Did any of this make you fear? Don't! Today's reading suggests why. Jesus Christ is ETERNAL. So? you might ask. So, whatever prognosticator's and devil worshippers would have us believe (and we should take them somewhat seriously), nothing, I mean NOTHING takes our LORD by surprise, or throws Him off His plan. NOTHING! (Did I already say that?). And we should most definitely take God seriously!!

Read this closely. “No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17, ESV). Did you see that? "This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD." All the people of God, not just the Jews of Isaiah's day rest under this promise. Notice too: "And their vindication is from me, declares the LORD." This means that our success in the court of this world's attacks is assured since our Advocate (Lawyer) is God. And "if God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31. See also Num. 14:9; 2 Kgs 6:16; Ps. 118:6; 1 Jn. 4:4).

Be blessed as you stake your hopes in Christ alone!

Standing together before God,
Pastor Dave
Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” —John 18:37 
This is a great Christmas text even though it comes from the end of Jesus’s life on earth, not the beginning. 
The uniqueness of his birth is that he did not originate at his birth. He existed before he was born in a manger. The personhood, the character, the personality of Jesus of Nazareth existed before the man Jesus of Nazareth was born. 
The theological word to describe this mystery is not creation, but incarnation. The person—not the body, but the essential personhood of Jesus—existed before he was born as man. His birth was not a coming into being of a new person, but a coming into the world of an infinitely old person. 
Micah 5:2 puts it like this, 700 years before Jesus was born:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. 
The mystery of the birth of Jesus is not merely that he was born of a virgin. That miracle was intended by God to witness to an even greater one—namely, that the child born at Christmas was a person who existed “from of old, from ancient days.”

Thursday, December 20

Hope in Dark Times from Gabriel's Announcement!

And the angel answered him, I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, . . .  (Luke 1:19)

Zechariah didn’t believe the angel. So, now the angel must identify himself as God’s messenger. In the most authoritative tone that rises to insurmountable proportions, Gabriel utters a word that sets not just Zechariah, but all unbelief back on it’s heels:

“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.” Volumes are bound up in these few words! It’s as if Gabriel were saying, “What? You don’t believe me? That’s the end of the matter. Who do you think you’re talking to now? What? Do you think that God is like everyone else, unable to see the whole picture? What? Is God’s mind so addled or his power so frail that he cannot perform this simple task? I’m not simply some “fly-by-night” messenger boy who just went through puberty. My knowledge of life didn’t begin yesterday. This message I bring to you was written on the parchment of eternity before ever there was a universe, much less an earth and sinners upon it. You imagine, do you, that your faithlessness can prevent the sure mercies of God? Can the Almighty not open the Red Sea and stop the sun in it’s path for a day. Has he not given life to the dead, and children to the childless, and salvation to the hopeless? What impossibility has the Lord God NOT performed that you should doubt him now? You are a mere man of few years and yet I cannot do as I say? I tell you, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.” Rest assured, Christmas birth and Easter resurrection are my plan, and shall I not carry it out? In a universe of such complexity that boggles the minds of the wisest men, shall it be thought the least bit inconceivable that I have considered every possibility and planned out perfectly every detail and enabled every person in my will? Archimedes may have said, “Give me a lever and I can move the world.” That’s child’s play. I remind you again, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God.”

O dear Christian, what task looms so large before your eyes that God cannot change it? What sin has captured you from which this God cannot free you? What Katrina catastrophe or Connecticut* tragedy unseats our God from his throne of eternal wisdom and limitless compassion? When shall we learn like Job, to cup our hand over our mouth and say no more? Mysteries abound all about us. We have entered into a realm inexplicably outside our ability to understand. But, Oh, not one which we cannot appreciate. For he who formed all things beautiful has granted unto man the eyes to see it, so that both the beauty and our discerning eye swell our hearts for the Creator. 

*Reference to the senseless slaughter of an entire kindergarten class with the principal and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, 14 Dec., 2012.  

Thursday, November 22

Holy & Reasonable Thanksgiving

American Thanksgiving can be a wonderful holiday celebration. I say it CAN be. It may be (and no doubt it is) nothing other than yet one more day to feed the many appetites of the flesh--food, fun, football [American style], and a day or two off from our vocations. None of these, mind you, is necessarily bad in itself. But it was originally planned to be a day commemorating God's protection and providence in bringing the religiously disenfranchised to a new world where they might find freedom to worship God as conscience dictated. Indeed, all men are free to worship God (god) in any way they wish. They are--make no mistake about it--NOT free to create God; that is something quite outside the purview of their abilities. And the right worship of God is not something which we may determine. We need the help of God in his holy Word, the Bible. The true God has and will exercise his unique right to determine HOW he is to be worshiped. 

That said, for those who submit to God's Kingship, there is very much for which we might be thankful, not the least of which is the forgiveness of sin, which paves the way to a blessed life with God both here and forever in heaven. But many mistake the basis of God's forgiveness of sin. First, they imagine their sins are not as bad as God knows them to be! Second, beyond that they may imagine God to be that grandfatherly and somewhat demented "deity" who fumbles about boringly in heaven, one who naively winks and "forgives" us all because he really thinks a lot of us. After all, we "mean well," and (many mistakenly think) he needs us! Nothing could be further from the truth. Man has grossly offended the thrice-holy God. He needs no one, for the Godhead is complete within itself. Furthermore, most don't seem to realize (or they've forgotten) that man is intensely unholy and therefore God cannot have them in his presence. “You . . . are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, ” (Habakkuk 1:13a). So, there are huge hurdles to overcome. Many don't seem to understand this today.

So, with this in mind I thought it vital to our right teaching and therefore to our correct celebration to quote Oswald Chamber's devotion for November 19th. Please read this slowly. Much is gotten into few words. But critical words they are. If you appreciate this, you may just be well along your way to a proper giving of thanks to Him who who is most worthy of all praise. May God bless you. 

And when He is come, He will convict the world of sin.… John 16:8 
Very few of us know anything about conviction of sin; we know the experience of being disturbed because of having done wrong things; but conviction of sin by the Holy Ghost blots out every relationship on earth and leaves one relationship only—“Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned.” When a man is convicted of sin in this way, he knows with every power of his conscience that God dare not forgive him; if God did forgive him, the man would have a stronger sense of justice than God. God does forgive, but it cost the rending of His heart in the death of Christ to enable Him to do so. The great miracle of the grace of God is that He forgives sin, and it is the death of Jesus Christ alone that enables the Divine nature to forgive and to remain true to itself in doing so. It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives us because He is love. When we have been convicted of sin we will never say this again. The love of God means Calvary, and nothing less; the love of God is spelt on the Cross and nowhere else. The only ground on which God can forgive me is through the Cross of my Lord. There, His conscience is satisfied.
Forgiveness means not merely that I am saved from hell and made right for heaven (no man would accept forgiveness on such a level); forgiveness means that I am forgiven into a recreated relationship, into identification with God in Christ. The miracle of Redemption is that God turns me, the unholy one, into the standard of Himself, the Holy One, by putting into me a new disposition, the disposition of Jesus Christ.
Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

Tuesday, September 18

Speaking Out Against the Sins of Our Day. That's LOVE!

Abraham Lincoln is quoted as having said, "To sin by silence when they should protest, makes cowards out of men." Lincoln certainly lived in disturbing times, as do we. But we seem to be at a loss for wise and sane voices to speak out against false doctrine today. Many seem to be more concerned with how others will perceive them than about the dreadful destiny of the deceived! Let us speak out for truth! Let us "cry aloud" so that others may be diverted from the errors that sap the spiritual from the individual leaving them bereft of anything godly! Now, isn't that vastly more important than whether anyone perceives of me as nice? Read this devotional from the pen of John Barry . . .

How should we respond when those around us seem to be not only falling short of the glory of God, but actually abandoning God’s work? What should we do when we witness neighbors or friends tolerating or even justifying acts of injustice, oppression, greed, or idolatry? We live in such a time. So did the prophet Micah:

Woe is me! For I have become like the gatherings of summer, like the gleanings of the grape harvest, when there is no cluster of grapes to eat or early ripened fruit that my soul desires. The faithful person has perished from the land, and there is none who is upright among humankind. All of them lie in wait; each hunts his brother with a net. Their hands are upon evil, to do it well; the official and the judge ask for the bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul; and they weave it together (Mic 7:1–3).

Micah did what should be done—he spoke up; he told the truth. When we find ourselves in evil times among evil people, we must do the same. God may be calling us to be a voice crying in the wilderness (John 1:19–25; compare Isa 40:3). By boldly proclaiming the truth, we may make a way for others to come back to God.

Much of the world is corrupt, and it is our job as Christians to fight such corruption, to stand above it, and to help others find the better way—God’s way. The brokenness of our world is not simple. How many people are led astray unconsciously? How often does money or power trump the rights of the vulnerable? Do we recognize injustice when we see it? Do we have the courage to speak up, even when it hurts?

Micah provides an example here, too. Although he spoke vividly about God’s coming judgment on Samaria, he also told us where we would find the Savior who would heal our brokenness once and for all—in Bethlehem.

How are you standing against the evils of our age?


Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Friday, August 31

Hi-jacking the Truth in "Truth in Love"

This is such a common mistake on the part of many in the church that I feel it necessary to re-post Tony Reinke's article "Speaking the Truth in Love." It seems that what happens (quite unintentionally I'm sure) is that everyone wants the "love" part so much that inadvertently truth gets hijacked! This must not be. Read on and see how Tony describes this phrase in the context of Ephesians:

For much of my Christian life I have had a one-sided view of “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). I assumed that the verse meant only that when hard news or rebuke needed to be brought, it should be done with tenderness and sensitivity. I was wrong.

Not totally wrong. I understood correctly the verb and the love: that hard news and rebuke should always be brought with appropriate sobriety, humility, and never with arrogance and harshness.

But I neglected to focus on the other part of Paul’s phrase: the noun and “the truth.” The context of the passage helps to explain Paul’s meaning.

In his sermon, How the Saints Minister to the Body (1992), Pastor John explains the earlier context:

First, the equippers of the saints in verse 11 are all truth agents:
              apostles (the authoritative, foundational witnesses to the truth),
              the prophets (the charismatic speakers of truth that apply it with supernaturally guided pointedness),
              the evangelists (who do the work of evangelism with the truth of the gospel in regions where apostles have planted the church),
              the pastors and teachers (who take the truth and use it to feed and protect the flock of God).

Every one of these offices centers on the truth of God and Christ and the gospel. These people are truth agents.

Second, verse 13 says that the goal of building up the body of Christ is to attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. So the building begins with equippers who are all agents of truth, and the aim of the building is unified knowledge, that is, unified grasp of truth.

Third, we have seen that verse 14 shows Paul’s great concern: As we grow into corporate Christlikeness, we are not to be babes who are blown around by every wind of doctrine. The issue is stability in true doctrine, so that we will not be deceived by false doctrine.

Thus, our call to speak the truth in love to one another is gospel-oriented.
Today we gather together as Christians to worship our God. If we are led by faithful preachers, that is a gift from God equips us to speak truth. As we gather, we find opportunities to speak the truth of the gospel to one another. This is how we serve and protect one another doctrinally. This is how we build up one another and build unity in our churches. This is how God gives grace to others through us (Ephesians 4:29).

At its core, we speak the truth in love when we care enough to speak the gospel into the lives of those around us. This is God’s everyday calling for every Christian, including Sundays.

Tuesday, August 28

Can Anyone "DECIDE" For Christ? God's Sovereignty in Salvation

Lingo is bound to interject itself into any society. But nowhere is it potentially so devastating as among true Gospel-believing Christians. One such term that wormed it's way into our spiritual vernacular is the word "decide." You hear it when evangelists ask, "Are you ready to decide for Christ, to be saved?" Is this biblical? Well, not if our "decider" (our will) is fallen, corrupt. Read this excerpt from Tozer to see what I mean. Remember, Tozer died in 1963, so it's amazing how relevant his writings are to current issues. If you would like to have a brief article like this delivered to your email daily, please go to Literature Ministries International

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. —John 1:12–13
There is another and worse evil which springs from this basic failure to grasp the radical difference between the natures of the two worlds. It is the habit of languidly “accepting” salvation as if it were a small matter and one wholly in our hands. Men are exhorted to think things over and “decide” for Christ, and in some places one day each year is set aside as “Decision Day,” at which time people are expected to condescend to grant Christ the right to save them, a right which they have obviously refused Him up to that time. Christ is thus made to stand again before men’s judgment seat; He is made to wait upon the pleasure of the individual, and after long and humble waiting is either turned away or patronizingly admitted. By a complete misunderstanding of the noble and true doctrine of the freedom of the human will, salvation is made to depend perilously upon the will of man instead of upon the will of God.

However deep the mystery, however many the paradoxes involved, it is still true that men become saints not at their own whim but by sovereign calling. POM037–038
Sovereign God, I’m Your servant. I’ll share the message, I’ll pray for response, but only You can draw an unsaved person to faith in Christ. Thank You for the privilege of having even a small part in Your sovereign work. Amen.
Tozer, A. W. (2001). Tozer on Christian leadership: A 366-day devotional. Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread.

Sunday, August 26

Don't Fear for the Church!

An example of over-generalization

I weary of hearing those "theologians" who have a defeatist attitude toward Christ and His church. To hear some talk, you'd think that the church is on her last leg. And some feel that in order to correct this apparent denigration, the church must, as it were, reinvent herself. All things fall under intense scrutiny. While there are areas that need attention, a case in point is a remark I've heard from numerous people. "The church is so mean" they say. So, "if we would only be like Jesus, people would come, be saved, enjoy a new conversation and the church will grow!" Those who declare such things have not read their Bibles very well, for one need not look far before finding Jesus running off the Pharisees and even the multitudes who had come looking for a welfare hand-out with no strings attached (John 6). And what do modern church leaders say to Jesus' frequent rejoinder to the crowds that if they would be HIS disciple, then they must be willing to "hate mother, father, brother, sister and even their own life" (Matt. 10; Luke 9 & 14). Such statements are numerous and clear. So whatever church folk might like to say about them, still they must (if they're honest) deal with the fact that Jesus did in fact say these things. I hope we assume that Jesus knew what he was doing?! But to hear some people talk you would think that they imagine Jesus to be a poor evangelist, or misguided and out of date. Our talk is so brazen and/or pusillanimous as to border on blasphemy!

Some today will even sound the death knell on the church preferring rather other organizations to her, or by so changing the face of church that it hardly resembles anything connected with the real body of Christ. I am afraid that fads and style mean more to some leaving seminary than the sheer honesty required of any who stand faithful to Jesus' name. Let us not allow the spirit of the age to lure us into a faithless shuffle. Let us own our loyalty to Jesus above all other loves, and accept the consequences always associated with any who rightly declare that Jesus is Lord. And let us do this in a world of religions seemingly fighting to displace Jesus Christ in favor of a milder, more tolerant approach to the world. Jesus warned, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Mt. 10:34). And he who spoke these words also stated unapologetically, "I will build my church" (Mt. 16:18). Jesus will build it despite us. Do we imagine that he did not know through what the church would have to go? Jesus WILL build without fail. Do we not realize that he knew exactly over which hurdles his bride would have to climb? Jesus will build HIS church, and not some cheap facsimile of it. We take hope in such Almighty declarations. We need such statements, for they are true. And we need them because our vanity is so prone to inflation and our hearts so susceptible to self-deception. God open our eyes to the truth of His Word. It will not fail, nor shall His church!

Saturday, August 25

No One Is a Problem to God - A. W. Tozer

There is an overweening attitude throughout society and even among the so called "religious" toward the gospel of Jesus Christ. It would seem that many who claim to believe the "good news" nevertheless stake their hopes to their own goodness and abilities and in so doing deceive themselves while denigrating the magnitude of Jesus' atoning sacrifice. We mustn't take a few terms related to the gospel and think that using them IS the gospel. Words must go together with other words in the proper order if they are to be received as intended by their author. The God who made language knew quite well how to speak so that his words might have the most profound effect upon the hearts of the sin-dulled populace of earth. But even among the enlightened redeemed, distrust may emerge which fails to appreciate the awe-inspiring power of God to save even the most recalcitrant (Rom. 1:16). The following is but one example of how arrogant humankind (converted as well as lost) can distort the truth and so lose sight of God's glory. A. W. Tozer writes:
Let No man imagine that he is a problem to God.
For him to do so is to assume that he is very much greater than he is in fact and to claim for himself powers which he does not in reality possess.
It is a none too subtle form of egotism to picture ourselves as great sinners, letting our imagination mount till we see ourselves strong and dangerous rebels, after the likeness of the Satan of Milton’s Paradise Lost, actually threatening the security of the throne of God. We thus dramatize ourselves to hide our pitiful weakness.
That a man, by his sin, may ruin himself and greatly injure others is true. His sin, when seen in relation to himself and others, is great; but when set over against the boundless power and limitless resources of the Deity, it is as nothing at all.
Our theology is too much colored by our secret self-admiration. We picture God as draining the riches of heaven and consuming the last ounce of His strength to save us. This gives us a highly enjoyable feeling that we are capable of mighty world-shaking deeds so terrible that even God respects our power to do evil. The lurid overcoloring of pulpit rhetoric has worked to destroy the truth of God’s sovereignty and to greatly overstate man’s prowess as a sinning rebel.
A man may sin to the limit of his ability and still be no great problem to the Deity. “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).
God is infinite and man is finite, which is to say that every man’s sin, however terrific it may seem to him, must have a limit, while God’s grace can have none. Always God must be out ahead, or He would not be God.
Let us put our pride under our feet and admit frankly that our sins are not big nor mighty nor noble. For my own part I will admit that my own sins have related me more nearly to the roach than to the rampant lion. There is nothing romantic about sin. It is a sordid and shameful thing practiced by moral cads so weak that they take advantage of God’s kindness to defy Him and so cowardly that they run whining to Him for help when trouble comes.
Tozer, A. W., & Snyder, J. L. (1997). The Early Tozer : A Word in Season : Selected Articles and Quotations (55–56). Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread.

Friday, August 17

Fear Not, Christian! There's Victory Over Attacks on Truth

The Christian need not be daunted by attacks against the church or himself. And we are indeed under attack! Truth shall prevail. Better, Christ shall prevail. Better still, Jesus Christ has already prevailed! He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in [Christ].” (Colossians 2:15) It's true that there are attacks. There always have been, and always will be as long as sin exists in this fallen world. This should not promote indifference on our part, but induce an even greater commitment to "stand firm" (Eph. 6:13) in the faith. Yes, and we who believe must know the Scriptures well, for it is in them that we proclaim victory in Jesus' name (Heb. 4:12). So, on the one hand, know that whatever attacks we may undergo in this generation, others have faced them before. "Do not be surprised" Peter warns (1 Peter 4:4). On the other hand, do whatever anyone should do when under attack, clean your weapon and know how to use it! Be prepared always to make a defense to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope you have within you (1 Peter 3:15). Don't sulk, or indulge in self-pity. Oh, no! They also attacked our Lord in such a way. And should we imagine that we should escape the same? (John 15:20) Spurgeon fought difficult battles against apostasy in his lifetime, and did it ably and humbly. And though beset by depressions he maintained an ardent faith in the face of horrible attacks both from within and from the religious culture. Still, as the following illustrates, Spurgeon consistently held firmly to the fact that the victory is ours in Jesus Christ our Lord.

And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 2 Kings 6:16 
HORSES and chariots, and a great host, shut up the prophet in Dothan. His young servant was alarmed. How could they escape from such a body of armed men? But the prophet had eyes which his servant had not, and he could see a greater host with far superior weapons guarding him from all harm. Horses of fire are mightier than horses of flesh, and chariots of fire are far preferable to chariots of iron.

Even so is it at this hour. The adversaries of truth are many, influential, learned, and crafty; and truth fares ill at their hands; and yet the man of God has no cause for trepidation. Agencies, seen and unseen, of the most potent kind, are on the side of righteousness. God has armies in ambush which will reveal themselves in the hour of need. The forces which are on the side of the good and the true far outweigh the powers of evil. Therefore, let us keep our spirits up, and walk with the gait of men who possess a cheering secret, which has lifted them above all fear. We are on the winning side. The battle may be sharp, but we know how it will end. Faith, having God with her, is in a clear majority: “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

Charles H. Spurgeon, The Checkbook of Faith


Thursday, August 16

There is a Real Eternal Hell

I suppose that there isn't one doctrine of the Bible that hasn't come under attack, or for which some who held them have not died a martyr's death. All doctrines of God's Word are vital. One which has been under attack in recent years (again) is the teaching about an eternal condemnation in hell. Many think it's unfair of God! But may I remind my readers that when questioning a puzzling truth, we must always begin with the character of the One we're accusing, in this case God. Is he good? Is he wise? Is he not the One who is full of grace, and who's mercy is everlasting? And does not the same Bible that says these things also affirm that God is love? Is he not the One about whom Romans 5:8 speaks, "When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us?" If these things are true, then we are quite ill-equipped to be able to accuse God of anything. How can we trust that our viewpoint is flawless? Why do we imagine that if God is as great as He is, that somehow we might know better than He what is good and right?! Now, when it comes to any questionable doctrine (questionable to us, that is) our stance (if Christian) must be a submissive one, even if engaged. J.C. Ryle wrote the following in his commentary on Mark 3:30. Is hell real? The answer is more about the one to whom we listen. Hear Ryle's comments:
"We ought to notice, in the last place, that it is possible for a man's soul to be lost forever in hell. The words of our Lord are distinct and express. He speaks of one who "has never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation."

This is an dreadful truth, beyond doubt. But it is a truth, and we must not shut our eyes against it. We find it asserted over and over again in Scripture. Figures of all kinds are multiplied, and language of every sort is employed, in order to make it plain and unmistakable. In short, if there is no such thing as "eternal damnation," we may throw the Bible aside, and say that words have no meaning at all.

We have great need to keep this dreadful truth steadily in view in these latter days. Teachers have risen up, who are openly attacking the doctrine of the eternity of punishment, or laboring hard to explain it away. Men's ears are being tickled with plausible sayings about "the love of God," and the impossibility of a loving God permitting an everlasting hell. The eternity of punishment is spoken of as a mere "speculative question," about which men may believe anything they please. In the midst of all this flood of false doctrine, let us hold firmly the old truth. Let us not be ashamed to believe that there is an eternal God--an eternal heaven--and an eternal hell. Let us recollect that sin is an infinite evil. It needed an atonement of infinite value to deliver the believer from its consequences--and it entails an infinite loss on the unbeliever who rejects the remedy provided for it. Above all, let us fall back on plain scriptural statements, like that before us this day. ONE PLAIN TEXT IS WORTH A THOUSAND ABSTRUSE ARGUMENTS."
 God help us to truly hear the Bible and to abide by it.

Friday, August 10

4 Disturbing Trends in the Contemporary Church

from Aug 08, 2012 

According to several studies, American evangelicals generally do not know what they believe and why they believe it. Consequently, most share with the wider culture a confidence in human goodness and a weak view of the need for God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ. According to these reports, most evangelicals believe that we are saved by being good and that there are many ways of salvation apart from explicit faith in Jesus Christ.

Here are a few of the disturbing trends that need to be checked and reformed in contemporary church life:

1. We are all too confident in our own words
We are all too confident in our own words, so that churches become echo chambers for the latest trends in pop psychology, marketing, politics, entertainment, and entrepreneurial leadership. We need to recover our confidence in the triune God and His speech, as He addresses us authoritatively in His Word.

2. We are all too confident in our own methods
We are all too confident in our own methods for success in personal, ecclesial, and social transformation. We need to be turned again to God’s judgment and grace, His action through His ordained means of grace.

3. We are all too confident in our own good works
We are all too confident in our own good works. We need to repent and be brought again to despair not only of our sins but of our pretended righteousness.

4. We are all too enamored of our own glory
We are all too enamored of our own glory, the kingdoms that we are building. We need to be brought back to that place of trust in Christ where we are deeply aware of “receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:28), because God is building it for His own glory, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.

Only as we turn our ears away from the false promises of this passing age to God’s Word, to His saving revelation in Christ as the only gospel, and to the glory of the triune God as our only goal, can we expect to see a genuine revival of Christian discipleship, worship, and mission in the world today.

Excerpt adapted from Michael Horton’s foreword in R.C. Sproul’s latest book, Are We Together? Available now from

Thursday, August 2

Don't Be Discouraged by Your Lack of Gifts

 "Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” Exodus 4:12

Christian leaders sometimes challenge believers to move from being mere spectators to participators in the kingdom as God ordained. This is right and good to do. But there are some who become waylaid by what they consider mediocrity, or their own inabilities. Comparison is their greatest hindrance to Christian growth. "I'm not like thus and so." This then, has the injurious effect of hampering their godly desires toward Jesus Christ. And they turn into "couch" Christians even in the pew. Let not the lowly say so. God has ordained all kinds of gifts for the good of the Church body. We need all to perform as He has empowered through His Spirit. Didn't Moses complain that he was slow of speech, thus incapable to confront Pharaoh? But this can be more to our favor than eloquence. Spurgeon, referring to Exodus 4:12, says it so well . . .

MANY a true servant of the Lord is slow of speech, and when called upon to plead for his Lord, he is in great confusion lest he should spoil a good cause by his bad advocacy. In such a case it is well to remember that the Lord made the tongue which is so slow, and we must take care that we do not blame our Maker. It may be that a slow tongue is not so great an evil as a fast one, and fewness of words may be more of a blessing than floods of verbiage. It is also quite certain that real saving power does not lie in human rhetoric, with its tropes, and pretty phrases, and grand displays. Lack of fluency is not so great a lack as it looks. (Spurgeon, C. H., The cheque book of the bank of faith)

One further thought. Those who are silver-tongued are more tempted to depend upon their eloquence than others. It is to our detriment when due to our giftedness we turn less to God and attempt to labor on without His aid. Take what God has given you, large or small, and use it only as He directs and always take care to do it to HIS GLORY! Both you and others will be blessed.

Tuesday, July 31

Chick-fil-A Denounced for Being Pro-Family

The following is just one issue related to the recent Chick-fil-A comment by CEO Dan Cathy. But given the unreasonable homosexual agenda, even well spoken, God adoring statements become vilified. This is not unexpected in a world that hates God. Why not pick on other sins as well? I will write to this issue more later, but for now, I will simply copy James Emery White's recent post. May I just say at this point, I am more concerned about the agenda of so-called Christians. Are they in agreement with the homosexual agenda? Do they not read what God says in the Bible about these things. They are not hidden, and they are not new either. This leads us to the clear conclusion that the homosexual agenda is being used by (?) to bring repression on God and the true church that names Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. More on this in another post. For now, hear Dr. White's comments:

The Chick-fil-A Mirror

Every now and then an event comes along that offers a unique reflection of our world.  A mirror, if you will, of what our culture has become.

One took place this past week through the catalyst of three words from the CEO of a restaurant chain:

“Guilty as charged.”

Dan Cathy, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, gave an interview to Baptist Press.  Correctly saying that there is no such thing as a “Christian business,” he did offer that organizations such as his can operate on biblical principles “asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have.”

Then came the match that lit the fire.

When asked about the company’s support of the traditional family, Cathy simply said, “Well, guilty as charged.”

He then went on to say, “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit.  We are a family-owned business, a family-led business…our restaurants are typically led by families…We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families.”

Gasp!   How dare he say that when it comes to families, his support goes with the historic, traditional understanding of millennia that reflects his Judeo-Christian values.

At least that seemed to be the collective response from such cultural epicenters as the media.

The Baptist Press interview was picked up by the Huffington Post, Associated Press, USAToday, Los Angeles Times and more – most with the phrase “anti-gay” in the headline – fueled by the “revelation” that the privately-owned business donated to Christian groups that opposed homosexuality.

[Of course, overlooked were the millions of dollars Chick-fil-A gives each year to other charitable causes.  For example, they fund foster care programs, schools of higher learning, and children’s camps.  They provide scholarships for the employees to attend college, and this past Friday, they provided free meals for the police force in Aurora, Colorado.]
Many on twitter and in the blogosphere immediately labeled them a hate group.

Yes, a hate group.
Then the mayor of Boston vowed to block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant in the city because it is a business “that discriminates against a population.”

The Jim Henson Company of Kermit and Miss Piggy fame said they will stop providing toys for the fast food chain’s kids’ meals because the company won’t endorse same-sex marriage.  They plan on donating money already received from Chick-fil-A to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

Ed Helms, star of the sitcom The Office, publicly promised a personal boycott.

Okay, let’s put our big-boy pants on for a minute.

Cathy never uttered the words “anti-gay” in the interview.  All he did was state, when pointedly asked, his support for the traditional family as outlined in the Bible.

Further, the company made it clear following Cathy’s comments that they had no intention of entering the policy debate over same-sex marriage, and that the Chick-fil-A “culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”

And indeed, there has never even been a hint of discrimination in Chick-fil-A’s history.

So Chick-fil-A is not a hate group, does not discriminate, and is not actively working in the realm of public policy.

It just has personal core values.

But my, what a mirror this has provided, and the reflection is worth noting in detail.

Fifty years ago, any support of homosexual practice would have ended your business.  Now, the threat to your business is support of the traditional family.

It is a fascinating progression that has taken place in American culture.

First, classical Christian orthodoxy was marginalized.

Second, it became ostracized.

Third, it became demonized.

Fourth, it became penalized.

And now the move would seem to be to have it criminalized.

Defining discrimination as disagreement, and then disagreement as a hate crime, is one of the more frightening developments of our time.

But developed it has.

As the Baptist Press reporter has since said of the tempest over Cathy’s remarks, “I don’t understand why that’s a bad thing all of a sudden.  It was not an anti-gay statement.  It was a pro-family statement.”

But that’s the point.

That’s the reflection given to us in this mirror.

Welcome to our world.

James Emery White


“'Guilty as charged,' Cathy says of Chick-fil-A's stand on biblical & family values”; read online.

“Chick-fil-A steps out of public debate on gay marriage”; read online.

“Boston mayor vows to keep Chick-fil-A out of city”; read online.

“Some Chick-fil-A news reports called ‘distorted’”; read online.

“In Defense of Eating at Chick-fil-A”; read online.

“Huckabee launches ‘Chick-fil-A Day’ for Aug. 1”; read online.

“Muppets company severs ties with Chick-fil-A over gay marriage stance”; read online.

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Friday, July 27

Nature and Grace: How They Differ. Which are you?

Would you know the difference between how worldly people and grace-filled christians live? Please read this from Thomas a Kempis. . . . And please don't rush through it! See how closely allied you are with each. It may shock you!

The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, pay careful attention to the movements of nature and of grace, for they move in very contrary and subtle ways, and can scarcely be distinguished by anyone except a man who is spiritual and inwardly enlightened. All men, indeed, desire what is good, and strive for what is good in their words and deeds. For this reason the appearance of good deceives many.
Nature is crafty and attracts many, ensnaring and deceiving them while ever seeking itself. But grace walks in simplicity, turns away from all appearance of evil, offers no deceits, and does all purely for God in whom she rests as her last end.
Nature is not willing to die, or to be kept down, or to be overcome. Nor will it subdue itself or be made subject. Grace, on the contrary, strives for mortification of self. She resists sensuality, seeks to be in subjection, longs to be conquered, has no wish to use her own liberty, loves to be held under discipline, and does not desire to rule over anyone, but wishes rather to live, to stand, and to be always under God for Whose sake she is willing to bow humbly to every human creature.
Nature works for its own interest and looks to the profit it can reap from another. Grace does not consider what is useful and advantageous to herself, but rather what is profitable to many. Nature likes to receive honor and reverence, but grace faithfully attributes all honor and glory to God. Nature fears shame and contempt, but grace is happy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus. Nature loves ease and physical rest. Grace, however, cannot bear to be idle and embraces labor willingly. Nature seeks to possess what is rare and beautiful, abhorring things that are cheap and coarse. Grace, on the contrary, delights in simple, humble things, not despising those that are rough, nor refusing to be clothed in old garments.
Nature has regard for temporal wealth and rejoices in earthly gains. It is sad over a loss and irritated by a slight, injurious word. But grace looks to eternal things and does not cling to those which are temporal, being neither disturbed at loss nor angered by hard words, because she has placed her treasure and joy in heaven where nothing is lost.
Nature is covetous, and receives more willingly than it gives. It loves to have its own private possessions. Grace, however, is kind and openhearted. Grace shuns private interest, is contented with little, and judges it more blessed to give than to receive.
Nature is inclined toward creatures, toward its own flesh, toward vanities, and toward running about. But grace draws near to God and to virtue, renounces creatures, hates the desires of the flesh, restrains her wanderings and blushes at being seen in public.
Nature likes to have some external comfort in which it can take sensual delight, but grace seeks consolation only in God, to find her delight in the highest Good, above all visible things.
Nature does everything for its own gain and interest. It can do nothing without pay and hopes for its good deeds to receive their equal or better, or else praise and favor. It is very desirous of having its deeds and gifts highly regarded. Grace, however, seeks nothing temporal, nor does she ask any recompense but God alone. Of temporal necessities she asks no more than will serve to obtain eternity.
Nature rejoices in many friends and kinsfolk, glories in noble position and birth, fawns on the powerful, flatters the rich, and applauds those who are like itself. But grace loves even her enemies and is not puffed up at having many friends. She does not think highly of either position or birth unless there is also virtue there. She favors the poor in preference to the rich. She sympathizes with the innocent rather than with the powerful. She rejoices with the true man rather than with the deceitful, and is always exhorting the good to strive for better gifts, to become like the Son of God by practicing the virtues.
Nature is quick to complain of need and trouble; grace is stanch in suffering want. Nature turns all things back to self. It fights and argues for self. Grace brings all things back to God in Whom they have their source. To herself she ascribes no good, nor is she arrogant or presumptuous. She is not contentious. She does not prefer her own opinion to the opinion of others, but in every matter of sense and thought submits herself to eternal wisdom and the divine judgment.
Nature has a relish for knowing secrets and hearing news. It wishes to appear abroad and to have many sense experiences. It wishes to be known and to do things for which it will be praised and admired. But grace does not care to hear news or curious matters, because all this arises from the old corruption of man, since there is nothing new, nothing lasting on earth. Grace teaches, therefore, restraint of the senses, avoidance of vain self-satisfaction and show, the humble hiding of deeds worthy of praise and admiration, and the seeking in every thing and in every knowledge the fruit of usefulness, the praise and honor of God. She will not have herself or hers exalted, but desires that God Who bestows all simply out of love should be blessed in His gifts.
This grace is a supernatural light, a certain special gift of God, the proper mark of the elect and the pledge of everlasting salvation. It raises man up from earthly things to love the things of heaven. It makes a spiritual man of a carnal one. The more, then, nature is held in check and conquered, the more grace is given. Every day the interior man is reformed by new visitations according to the image of God.

The Imitation of Christ, Book 3, Chapter 54.


Saturday, July 14

Are You Really Saved? Which Jesus Do You Know?

Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven; but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21

As a Pastor, it has been my lot to surface this verse and to deal with it with God's people. And unless it be misunderstood, I have applied it's terrifying impact upon myself as well! What a shocker it would be if I were to have professed to have been a Christian "all my life," gone through school and thereupon to have entered ministry for years only to discover at the judgment that Matthew 7:21 applied to ME!! 

You may say to me, "Oh, but you haven't seriously applied it to yourself have you? Surely, after all these years of serving God, you would know by now that you are saved!" That's a valid question certainly. But if I understand the tenor of this verse, I MUST consider it carefully especially in light of the proofs that are cited immediately after it, that is, "prophecying" (preaching), "casting out demons" and doing "many mighty works" and all "in Jesus' name"!! See what I mean? These are not slight spiritual acts. Now, let me answer the concern with an affirmation. I do believe that my salvation is secure. But I also believe that it is important to take such verses seriously . . . quite seriously! How else can we treat such things?

So, having given this background, let us hear from A. W. Tozer, who reveals how vague mankind has been with regard to Jesus' person. We best not fall into this pattern. Building on the same verse, Tozer writes:
We can only conclude that Jesus is universally popular today because He is universally misunderstood.
Everyone admires Jesus, but almost no one takes Him seriously. He is considered a kindly idealist who loved babies and underprivileged persons. He is pictured as a gentle dreamer who was naïve enough to believe in human goodness and brave enough to die for His belief. The world thinks of Him as meek, selfless and loving, and values Him because He was what we all are at heart, or would be if things were not so tough and we had more time to cultivate our virtues. Or He is a sweet, holy symbol of something too fine, too beautiful, to be real, but something which we would not lose nevertheless from our treasure house of precious things.
Because the human mind has two compartments, the practical and the ideal, people are able to live comfortably with their dreamy, romantic conception of Jesus while paying no attention whatsoever to His words. It is this neat division between the fanciful and the real that enables countless thousands of persons to say “Lord, Lord” in all sincerity while living every moment in flat defiance of His authority.
Tozer on the Almighty God : A 366-day devotional. 2004. Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread.

May the Lord stir up his people to a healthy and thorough self-examination!