Sunday, June 24

The Message of the Bible in 221 Words (DGM)

Borrowed from Desiring God Ministries. If you're looking for a concise description of the Gospel, you may appreciate this.

D. A. Carson:
God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.
But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16;2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).
For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London, UK: Evangelical Alliance, 1986), 80.

Posted originally on DGM by Josh Etter | Jun 23, 2012

Thursday, June 7

Charles Spurgeon's Last Sermon & My Debt of Gratitude

Thanks to LOGOStalk, I re-post the following. But first let me ask your indulgence for doing so. I realize anyone can RE-post something. But I select the ones I do . . . obviously . . . for their import. I owe Spurgeon (i.e., Spurgeon's GOD) a debt of gratitude too heavy to pay. From my freshman year of college till now, I have read his sermons, his autobiography, and numerous other of his writings. I feel that I know the man. I've appreciated his humor, his candor and his boldness in the face of opposition. I even own an actual sheet of one of his sermons that he corrected before it went to the publisher! So, I send this forth with no small amount of thanksgiving. Please, if you haven't yet, find and read Spurgeon. Perhaps the best place to start is with his Morning and Evening Devotions. That will hopefully whet your appetite for more. God bless us as we hear CHS and fall more in love with his Christ.

On June 7, 1891, Charles Spurgeon stood before the congregation gathered at London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle and began his Sunday message with these words: “Those who associate themselves with a leader must share his fortunes . . .”

Spurgeon’s brilliant message equated the spoils shared by David’s men with the spoils we share through our affiliation with Christ. But to those associated with the Metropolitan Tabernacle, this message would go on to hold special significance. Unbeknownst to anyone one at the time, this would be Spurgeon’s last sermon.

Spurgeon preached his first sermon in December 1853 to London’s largest Baptist congregation at New Park Street. It wasn’t too long before his powerful messages caused the church to outgrow its 1,200-seat auditorium. The church moved a couple times before the 1861 dedication of the current Metropolitan Tabernacle at the intersection of Elephant & Castle. Spurgeon  spoke to 6,000 attendees every Sunday for 30 years, preaching to more than 10,000,000 in his lifetime.

It’s hard for modern readers to grasp how popular and controversial Spurgeon’s preaching was for nineteenth-century listeners, many of whom wrote Spurgeon off as overly dramatic and sacrilegious. Spurgeon never feared causing contention when he felt the topic deserved it. In a sermon titled “Baptismal Regeneration” (June 5, 1861), he challenged the validity of child baptism. This sermon sold more than 350,000 copies and created such a public uproar that Spurgeon withdrew from the ecumenical Evangelical Alliance.

The “Prince of Preachers” struggled with illness for most of 1891. Some time after preaching his last sermon, he went to the French Riviera to rest and recover, but he died the following January. More than 60,000 people attended his funeral on February 9, 1892.

Spurgeon’s last sermon, delivered 121 years ago today, ended with these words:
“Those who have no master are slaves to themselves. Depend upon it, you will either serve Satan or Christ, either self or the Saviour. You will find sin, self, Satan, and the world to be hard masters; but if you wear the livery of Christ, you will find him so meek and lowly of heart that you will find rest unto your souls. He is the most magnanimous of captains.

“There never was his like among the choicest of princes. He is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold he always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden, he carries it also. If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in him. These 40 years and more have I served him, blessed be his name! and I have had nothing but love from him. I would be glad to continue yet another 40 years in the same dear service here below if so it pleased him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh, that you would enter on it at once! God help you to enlist under the banner of Jesus even this day! Amen.”

Wednesday, June 6

Star Trek's "Data" on Glorifying God . . .

Lt. Commander Data

I have always enjoyed Star Trek, especially Star Trek-The Next Generation made popular in the late 80's and early 90's.  One of the notable characters on this series is Lt Commander Data, an Android, an artificial mechanical, robot-like individual who is constantly studying the "human equation" hoping--Wizard of Oz like--to become more human himself. In one episode, Data encounters Dr. Graves, reputed to be the most intelligent scientist known. The two form a close relationship especially since one of Dr. Graves' specialties is cybernetics of which Data is a fine example. Graves was trying to explain to Data the term "delight." Data proceeded (per the norm) to give a dictionary definition. It was accurate . . . as definitions go. But Graves pointed out that giving a definition, knowing what it means is not the same as experiencing it. I thought, "Oh, how close you are in this dialogue to describing one of the greatest besetting problems that has ever faced mankind and which has not escaped the Church.

Too many within the boundaries of the Church who call themselves believers will have to admit to about as much understanding of God's glory as Data did of the term "delight." They may be able to give a paper definition, but they fail to testify to its experience. This is very sad indeed. I feel at times the pang of such a weakness in my own heart as well. I know that as a Pastor, it is easy for me to teach & preach regarding this issue, even with passion, and still not feel it myself. Let me cite a verse:

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

There is a great difference between desire and desire defined. There is also a world of difference between the dictionary meaning of "delight" and the act of delighting. Thanks to Star Trek Next Generation this lesson was reinforced to me. For a number of years both Jonathan Edwards and later John Piper have pressed this upon our consciences. Basically, they have taught that it is one thing to talk of glorifying God, quite another to DO it. Further, it is one thing to glorify God, but it is still much better if we delight in glorifying God!

To draw this home, perhaps our greatest need in the church is to get our idea of God right. In short, our God is too small, too weak. A. W. Tozer throughout his ministry gave much energy to this topic. Hear him write regarding the Christian's belief in a weakened God: 
The God of the modern evangelical rarely astonishes anybody. He manages to stay pretty much within the constitution. Never breaks over our bylaws. He’s a very well-behaved God and very denominational and very much one of us, and we ask Him to help us when we’re in trouble and look to Him to watch over us when we’re asleep. (Tozer on Christian leadership: A 366-day devotional).
Now, that's the weakness. Hear from Tozer again on developing a right relationship with God:
When we come into this sweet relationship, we are beginning to learn astonished reverence, breathless adoration, awesome fascination, lofty admiration of the attributes of God and something of the breathless silence that we know when God is near. 
You may never have realized it before, but all of those elements in our perception and consciousness of the divine Presence add up to what the Bible calls “the fear of God.”… 
There are very few unqualified things in our lives, but I believe that the reverential fear of God mixed with love and fascination and astonishment and admiration and devotion is the most enjoyable state and the most purifying emotion the human soul can know. (Christian Leadership)
Breathless adoration! Awesome fascination! Now we're getting somewhere. Star Trek was clearly a God-denying show, but Graves got this much right about Data, and by extension, about us as well. It's one thing to be told to delight in God, quite another to experience it. May God grant us a revival of interest in our intimate union with the God of glory and thus having this, we must, yes, we will delight in Him!