Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Monday, January 30, 2012

What is true sanctification?

I am so blessed whenever I read my grace gem, it is like a treat to me. J. C. Ryle and his teachings are dear to me, this short piece is very tasteful indeed. My prayer is that it will bless you as well...

It is not the man who hides himself in a cave

(J.C. Ryle, "The Fight!")

True sanctification does not consist in retirement from our place in life, and the renunciation of our social duties. In every age it has been a snare with many, to take up this line in the pursuit of holiness. Hundreds of hermits have buried themselves in some wilderness, and thousands of men and women have shut themselves up within the walls of monasteries and convents--under the vain idea that by so doing, they would escape sin and become eminently holy.

They have forgotten that no bolts and bars can keep out the devil; and that, wherever we go, we carry that root of all evil our own hearts!

True holiness does not make a Christian evade difficulties--but face and overcome them. Christ would have His people show that His grace is not a mere hot-house plant, which can only thrive under shelter--but a strong, hardy thing which can flourish in every relation of life. It is doing our duty, in that state to which God has called us--like salt in the midst of corruption, and light in the midst of darkness--which is a primary element in sanctification.

It is not the man who hides himself in a cave--but the man who glorifies God in the family and in the street, in business and in trade--who is the Scriptural type of a sanctified man.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Cheap Easy Christianity

"Any of you who does not give up everything he has, cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:33

What does it cost to be a Christian?

I grant freely that it costs little to be a mere outward Christian. A man has only got to attend a place of worship twice on Sunday, and to be tolerably moral during the week--and he has gone as far as thousands around him ever go in religion. All this is cheap and easy work--it entails no self-denial or self-sacrifice. If this is saving Christianity and will take us to Heaven when we die--we must alter the description of the way of life, and write, "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to Heaven!"

But it does cost something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are . . .
enemies to be overcome,
battles to be fought,
sacrifices to be made,
an Egypt to be forsaken,
a wilderness to be passed through,
a cross to be carried,
a race to be run.
Conversion is not putting a man in a soft armchair, and taking him pleasantly to Heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory. Hence arises the unspeakable importance of "counting the cost."

True Christianity will cost a man . . .
his self-righteousness,
his sins,
his love of ease, and
the favor of the world.

A religion which costs nothing--is worth nothing!

A cheap, easy Christianity, without a cross--will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown!

If any reader of this message really feels that he has counted the cost and taken up the cross — I bid him persevere and press on. I dare say you often feel your heart faint and are sorely tempted to give up in despair. Your enemies seem so many, your besetting sins so strong, your friends so few, the way so steep and narrow — that you hardly know what to do! But still I say, persevere and press on.

The time is very short!
A few more years of watching and praying,
a few more tossings on the sea of this world,
a few more deaths and changes,
a few more winters and summers —
and all will be over. We shall have fought our last battle, and shall need to fight no more.

The presence and company of Christ, will make amends for all we suffer here below. When we see as we have been seen, and look back on the journey of life — we shall wonder at our own faintness of heart. We shall marvel that we made so much of our cross — and thought so little of our crown. We shall marvel that in "counting the cost" we could ever doubt on which side the balance of profit lay. Let us take courage. We are not far from home! It may cost much to be a true Christian and a consistent holy man — but it pays!

from J. C. Ryle presented by Grace Gems

I highly recommend reading the entire article by J. C. Ryle found here...

Calvinism vs. Arminianism

I have heard many false accusations against Calvinism {I myself rejected such teaching early on in my salvation, but glory be to God, He is continually teaching me His truth}, and as I read 'The Doctrines of Grace' by Dr. Boice, I realize Calvinism is the only correct biblical view; it all depends on how you view God's glory and His grace. Let's look at what Dr. Boice has to say...

'Having a high view of God means something more than giving glory to God, however; it means giving glory to God alone. This is the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism. While the former declares that God alone saves sinners, the latter gives the impression that God enables sinners to have some part in saving themselves. Calvinism presents salvation as the work of the triune God - election by the Father, redemption in the Son, calling by the Spirit. Furthermore, each of these saving acts is directed toward the elect, thereby infallibly securing their salvation.
By contrast, Arminianism views salvation as something that God makes possible but that man makes actual. This is because the saving acts of God are directed toward different persons; the Son's redemption is for humanity in general, the Spirit's calling is only for those who hear the Gospel, narrower still, the Father's election is only for those who believe the Gospel. Yet, in none of these cases [redemption, calling, or election] does God actually secure the salvation of one single sinner. The inevitable result is that rather than depending exclusively on divine grace, salvation depends partly on human response. So although arminianism is willing to give God the glory, when it comes to salvation, it is unwilling to give Him all the glory. It divides the glory between heaven and earth, for if what ultimately makes the difference between being saved and being lost is man's ability to choose God, then to just that extent God is robbed of His glory. Yet God Himself has said, "I will not yield my glory to another" {Isa. 48:11}. {p. 34-35, 'The doctrines of grace', Crossway publishing}
For Arminianism, human decision making holds a central place in salvation. This results in a theology that is not exclusively God-centered but is distorted in the direction of the self. And of course, this is what the spirit of the age demands. In these post-modern and increasingly post-Christian times, people are clamoring for attention. They are looking for spiritual experiences that are secularized, humanized, and relativized. Arminianism supplies exactly what today's evangelicalism demands: a gospel that preserves a determinative role for personal choice'. {p. 29 'The doctrines of Grace', Crossway publishing}

So what happens when a man-centered gospel is preached? This gospel is rendered powerless because God is not at the center, He must have a little help from man. God is not sovereign in a gospel that leaves it up to man to choose or reject Christ. Look around you, this world is filled with superficial Christians who say they belong to Christ because they chose Him, made a decision for Him, etc. Yet, sin is rampant among professing Christians, worldliness, materialism, living for this life; bigger houses, better income, more stuff. Do you see why we need to recover the doctrines of grace? Those who profess to be elders/pastors need prayer, may they understand the seriousness of preaching the word, the whole counsel, regardless of the popularity of such a message.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Degrees of Sin

By Thomas Watson, from his sermon 'The Ten Commandments'...

He that delivered me unto thee, has the greater sin.' John 19:11. The Stoic philosophers held that all sins were equal; but this Scripture clearly holds forth that there is a gradual difference in sin; some are greater than others; some are mighty sins,' and crying sins.' Amos 5:12; Genesis 18:21. Every sin has a voice to speak, but some sins cry. As some diseases are worse than others, and some poisons more venomous, so some sins are more heinous. Ye have done worse than your fathers, your sins have exceeded theirs.' Jeremiah 16:12; Ezekiel 16:47. Some sins have a blacker aspect than others; to clip the king's coin is treason; but to strike his person is a higher degree of treason. A vain thought is a sin, but a blasphemous word is a greater sin. That some sins are greater than others appears, (1) Because there was difference in the offerings under the law; the sin offering was greater than the trespass offering. (2) Because some sins are not capable of pardon as others are, therefore they must needs be more heinous, as the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost Matthew 12:31. (3) Because some sins have a greater degree of punishment than others. Ye shall receive the greater damnation.' Matthew 23:14. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?' God would not punish one more than another if his sin was not greater. It is true, all sins are equally heinous in respect of the object,' or the infinite God, against whom sin is committed, but, in another sense, all sins are not alike heinous; some sins have more bloody circumstances in them, which are like the dye to the wool, to give it a deeper colour.

read on here...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Free Will Defined

I found this definition and description of man's free will in Dr. Boice's 'Whatever happened to the Gospel of Grace?' page 115 [from Crossway publishing]...

Our culture has taught us that for mankind 'all things are possible'. So the thought that we need the grace of God in order to get right with God seems wrong to us. We assume that it will always be possible for us to mend our relationship with the Almighty. If it is necessary, we will take care of it ourselves in due time.

Those who think like this fail to appreciate another biblical doctrine: man's spiritual inability or, as it is sometimes stated, the bondage of man's will. This is the truth behind Paul's statement that there is 'no one who seeks God' [Romans 3:11]. The reason no one seeks God is that apart from the prior work of God in an individual's heart, no one can seek God, because no one wants to. This matter has been discussed at great length in church history. However, the deepest and most significant thinking ever done on the subject of the will and its impotence was by Jonathan Edwards in a treatise called 'A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the Prevailing Notions of the Freedom of the Will'.

The first thing Edwards did was to define the will. We think of the will as that thing in us that makes choices. Edwards saw that this was not accurate and instead defined the will as 'that by which the mind chooses anything'. That may not seem to be much of a difference, but it is a major one. For it means that what we choose is not determined by the will itself [as if it were an entity to itself] but by the mind, which means that our choices are determined by what we think to be the most desirable course of action.

Edward's second major contribution was his discussion of what he called 'motives'. He pointed out that the mind is not neutral; it thinks some things are better than other things, and because it thinks some things are better than other things, it always chooses the better things. If a person thought one course of action was better than another and yet chose the less desirable alternative, the person would be irrational. This means, to speak properly, that the will is always free. It is free to choose [and always will choose] what the mind thinks best. But what does the mind think best? Here we get to the heart of the matter. When confronted with God, the mind of a sinner never thinks that following or obeying God is a good choice. His will is free to choose God, nothing is stopping him, but his mind does not regard submission to God as desirable. Therefore, he turns from God, even when the Gospel is most winsomely presented. People do not want God to be sovereign over them, they do not want their sinful natures to be exposed. Their minds are wrong in these judgments, of course. The way they choose is actually the way of alienation and misery, the end of which is death. But human beings think sin is best, which is why they choose it. Therefore, unless God changes the way we think, which He does in some by the miracle of the new birth, our minds always tell us to turn from God, which is exactly what we do.

People who reject this might argue, 'but surely the bible says that anyone who will come to Christ may come to Him. Didn't Jesus invite us to come? Didn't Jesus say, 'whoever comes to me I will never drive away?' Yes, that is what Jesus said, but it is beside the point. Certainly, anyone who wants to come to Christ may come to Him. That is why Edwards insisted that the will is not bound. But, who is it that wills to come? The answer is: no one, except those in whom the Holy Spirit has already performed the entirely irresistible work of the new birth so that, as a result of this miracle, the spiritually blind eyes of the natural man are opened to see God's truth, and the totally depraved mind of the sinner, which in itself has no spiritual understanding, is renewed to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. This is teaching that very few professing Christians in our day, including the vast majority of evangelicals, believe or understand, which is another reason, perhaps the main reason, why they find grace boring.'- Dr. James Boice

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Are women who pastor churches sinning against God?

This is a subject that isn't very popular within the realm of Christianity, it is hotly debated with more and more women taking what they believe is their rightful place in the pulpit. I believe it goes back to one of the five solas, sola scriptura. Do we really believe God's word is the sole authority and are we submissive to it? If you believe women have a right to preach, you do not adhere to sola scriptura.

We start with the Holy Spirit inspired teaching from the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2, 'I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.' Here Paul clearly states women are not to be in a position of authority, {which is what teaching is}, over men. Then he states two reasons why, 1. it goes out of the order of creation and 2. the woman was the one who fell into sin. A third reason is found in the phrase 'Exercise authority over', this phrase means 'to domineer, govern, acting as an autocrat – literally, self-appointed (acting without submission)'. Women who insist on teaching are in defiance of the God given command to be submissive, which is what verse 11 states, 'a woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness'. This applies to women of all ages, periods of time, from when Paul spoke this truth until Christ returns. If the time has come and women are now allowed to preach, where is the verse[s] to say so? Where is an example from God's word of a woman being permitted to preach/expound the word of God to a gathered body of believers?

I have discussed this topic with a gentleman who I believe may be from a Charismatic background, his response was Paul was not making a universal statement, he was speaking to women of his day. I find that hard to believe in light of the fact of the reasons behind why women are not allowed to teach, these reasons have not changed over time have they? I think not, even so, this pastor was not convinced, so I proceeded to 1 Timothy chapter 3 where the qualifications for the office of bishop/elder/pastor/preacher are laid out in verses 1-7, 'The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.'
These verses leave no doubt about the qualifications for elders, they must be men, as 'husband of one wife' indicates. This was not enough to convince this gentleman, his response was an opinion and not the word of the Lord.

I am amazed at the growing number of ordained ministers who are female and NO ONE approaches them and points them to their sin? Yes, I said sin, the sin of rebellion, isn't that what it's called when you blatantly disobey a command from God? Or do we pick which verses we'll adhere to and which ones we'll toss to the wind?

So what is the sin of rebellion? 1 Samuel 15:23 says this, "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king."According to the word of God, rebellion equals the sin of divination, meaning what? From Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,.... Or divination (e), in whatsoever way it was exercised; for there were various sorts of it among the Heathens, and all condemned by the law of God, Deuteronomy 18:10. Now rebellion against God, or disobeying his commands, though in things otherwise, were they not forbidden by him, lawful to be done, is as heinous a sin as to be guilty of witchcraft, or any kind of divination forbidden by the law of God, and deserves as sore a punishment". - {from biblecc}

So what happened when Saul rejected the word of the Lord? God rejected him; is it any different today? Does God somehow overlook women who disobey the clear teachings of the Apostle Paul and insist on being in the pulpit based on silly excuses like 'we are all equal in God's eyes'?

It could not be more clear, women who insist on pastoring churches are in outright blatant sin, and we know that nothing sinful will enter into God's kingdom. God forgives all sin, but only if it is confessed and forsaken, that is what repentance is all about.
These women must have huge holes in their Bibles from ripping out pages pertaining to their sin of rebellion; this is no light matter. After all, it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

This post is not my opinion, here is what men of God, such as John MacArthur, say...

From R. L. Dabney, "“This common movement for women’s rights,’ and women’s preaching, must be regarded, then, as simply in­fidel. It cannot be candidly upheld without attacking the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures.” read the entire transcript here...

Biblical womanhood is taught here...

Women preachers is also addressed here...Link
As well as here...

And finally, commentary from Matthew Henry on 1 Timothy 2:12-14, " According to Paul, women must be learners, and are not allowed to be public teachers in the church; for teaching is an office of authority, and the woman must not usurp authority over the man, but is to be in silence. But, notwithstanding this prohibition, good women may and ought to teach their children at home the principles of religion. Timothy from a child had known the holy scriptures; and who should teach him but his mother and grandmother? Aquila and his wife Priscilla expounded unto Apollos the way of God more perfectly; but then they did it privately, for they took him unto them, Here are two very good reasons given for the man’s authority over the woman, and her subjection to the man, v. 13, 14. Adam was first formed, then Eve; she was created for the man, and not the man for the woman; then she was deceived, and brought the man into the transgression."

Historical Christianity agrees with the Apostle Paul, it is only in our modern day culture the Apostle's words are twisted and his authority questioned.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Turning the world upside down

Today's evangelical churches are weak, ineffective, worldlly and compromising...why? I have found the answer in a book written by Dr. James Boice entitled "Whatever happened to the Gospel of Grace: Rediscovering the Doctrines that shook the World".

We have strayed from biblical beliefs birthed out of the Reformation, the five solas are no longer relevant. As Dr. Boice states on page 32 of his book, “Without these five confessional statements —scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, and glory to God alone—we do not have a true church, and certainly not one that will survive for very long”. How many rest entirely on the word of God as authoritative, powerful, infallible?
Evangelical churches have adopted the world's theology, which includes believing that everybody is essentially good, no one is really lost, and believing in Jesus is not necessary for anyone's salvation. We follow a worldly agenda, focusing on world hunger, saving the earth, battling racism, taking back this nation by electing 'Christians' into public office, etc. As Dr. Boice states on page 27 of his book, "Was America ever really a Christian nation? Was any nation ever really Christian? Does law produce morality? What about Augustine's doctrine of the two cities, the city of man and the city of God, which meant so much to the Reformers? Will any country ever be anything other than man's city? And what about America's soul? Is there really an American soul to be redeemed or fought over?"
This should not be the focus of the church of Jesus Christ because the greatest need of man is not earthly temporal needs, it is the salvation of the soul. The only remedy for that is the preaching of the true Gospel, the question is, how many know what the Gospel is? We must NOT add to the word of God or use manipulative methods to coerce dead sinners to life; if we do, we will only produce dead goats. The theology of many who profess Christ is an inch deep because the Bible simply isn't studied anymore. The gospel presented in most Evangelical churches today is powerless and changes no one, God will not bless an accursed gospel. The sad reality is that many are dying and entering into a Christless eternity because they believed in an accursed gospel, a painful example of this just took place in my area. Three young men were in a fatal car accident, two were killed instantly. The one young man was so intoxicated before the accident he had to be carried to the car. A tribute left to this man stated they knew he was in heaven because he knew Christ as his savior. This same young man had many pictures posted on facebook where he posed repeatedly with a can of beer in his hand, he had a reputation for partying; the bible calls it drunkenness. Yet, shallow biblical knowledge and an accursed gospel may very well have been the downfall of this man. Then there's the widely popular 'you don't know my heart' theology. What comes out of the heart? Matthew 15:19 answers that question. The heart in biblical terms is not a blood pumping organ, it is the center of our being; our thoughts, feelings, emotions, understanding, our minds. The mind that has been regenerated by God's supernatural power understands sin and flees from it. The evidence is in the way one lives, acts, thinks; a holy life is a changed life.

The gospel presented today does not turn the world upside down, it is empty, powerless and fruitless because it is not of God. In 'Whatever happened to the Gospel of Grace' Dr. Boice states "Evangelical Churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith. For all, it will mean a new reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit to work through the preaching and teaching of God's word, rather than a frantic search for some tantalizing new methodology to persuade unbelievers to attend and join our churches. Can we that power again in our day? We can, but only if we hold to the full-orbed Reformation gospel and do not compromise with the culture around us, as we have been doing. If we hold to these doctrines, our churches and those we influence will grow stronger, while other churches go the way of the liberals before us, not vanishing entirely but becoming increasingly insignificant as an effective religious force."

There is work to be done, and it starts with getting back to the five solas...scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, and glory to God alone, let us 'Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ' It is time to once again turn the world upside down...