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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Do we really even know the God of the Bible?

A dear brother in Christ brought the wonderful work of the attributes of God by A. W. Pink to my attention and I am thankful. This is something the majority of churches never teach, they will tell you God is love and this is true. But, do you really know the God of the Bible; who can know Him? Pink does an excellent job {at least what I have read to this point} laying out the Almighty One and His attributes; this is a great blessing. Thank you so much Darrel! Here is a portion of the first chapter concerning God's solitariness, this attribute never even crossed my mind until I read Pink's work...

"In the beginning, God" (Gen. 1:1). There was a time, if "time" is could be called, when God, in the unity of His nature (though subsisting equally in three Divine Persons), dwelt all alone. "In the beginning, God." There was no heaven, where His glory is now particularly manifested. There was no earth to engage His attention. There were no angels to hymn His praises; no universe to be upheld by the word of His power. There was nothing, no one, but God; and that, not for a day, a year, or an age, but "from everlasting." During a past eternity, God was alone: self-contained, self-sufficient, self-satisfied; in need of nothing. Had a universe, had angels, had human beings been necessary to Him in any way, they also had been called into existence from all eternity. The creating of them when He did, added nothing to God essentially. He changes not (Mal. 3:6), therefore His essential glory can be neither augmented nor diminished.
God was under no constraint, no obligation, no necessity to create. That He chose to do so was purely a sovereign act on His part, caused by nothing outside Himself, determined by nothing but His own mere good pleasure; for He "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11). That He did create was simply for His manifestative glory. Do some of our readers imagine that we have gone beyond what Scripture warrants? Then our appeal shall be to the Law and the Testimony: "Stand up and bless the Lord your God forever and ever: and blessed be Thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise" (Neh. 9:5). God is no gainer even from our worship. He was in no need of that external glory of His grace which arises from His redeemed, for He is glorious enough in Himself without that. What was it moved Him to predestinate His elect to the praise of the glory of His grace? It was, as Ephesians 1:5 tells us, according to the good pleasure of His will.

We are well aware that the high ground we are here treading is new and strange to almost all of our readers; for that reason it is well to move slowly. Let our appeal again be to the Scriptures. At the end of Romans 11, where the apostle brings to a close his long argument on salvation by pure and sovereign grace, he asks, "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to him again?" (vv. 34,35). The force of this is, it is impossible to bring the Almighty under obligations to the creature; God gains nothing from us. If thou be righteous, what givest thou Him? Or what receiveth He of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man (Job 35:7,8), but it certainly cannot affect God, who is all-blessed in Himself. When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10)—our obedience has profited God nothing.

It is perfectly true that God is both honored and dishonored by men; not in His essential being, but in His official character. It is equally true that God has been "glorified" by creation, by providence, and by redemption. This we do not and dare not dispute for a moment. But all of this has to do with His manifestative glory and the recognition of it by us. Yet had God so pleased He might have continued alone for all eternity, without making known His glory unto creatures. Whether He should do so or not was determined solely by His own will. He was perfectly blessed in Himself before the first creature was called into being. And what are all the creatures of His hands unto Him even now? Let Scripture again make answer: "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?" (Isa. 40:15-18). That is the God of Scripture; alas, He is still "the unknown God" (Acts 17:23) to the heedless multitudes. "It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: that bringeth the princes to nothing; He maketh the judges of the earth as vanity" (Isa. 40:22,23). How vastly different is the God of Scripture from the god of the average pulpit!

Nor is the testimony of the New Testament any different from that of the Old: how could it be, seeing that both have one and the same Author! There too we read, "Which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords: Who only bath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man bath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting, Amen" (1 Tim. 6:16). Such an One is to be revered, worshipped, adored. He is solitary in His majesty, unique in His excellency, peerless in His perfections. He sustains all, but is Himself independent of all. He gives to all, but is enriched by none.

Analogy has been drawn between a savage finding a watch upon the sands, and from a close examination of it he infers a watch-maker. So far so good. But attempt to go further: suppose that savage sits down on the sand and endeavors to form to himself a conception of this watch-maker, his personal affections and manners; his disposition, acquirements, and moral character—all that goes to make up a personality; could he ever think or reason out a real man—the man who made the watch, so that he could say, "I am acquainted with him?" It seems trifling to ask such questions, but is the eternal and infinite God so much more within the grasp of human reason? No, indeed! The God of Scripture can only be known by those to whom He makes Himself known.

Nor is God known by the intellect. "God is Spirit" (John 4:24), and therefore can only be known spiritually. But fallen man is not spiritual, he is carnal. He is dead to all that is spiritual. Unless he is born again supernaturally brought from death unto life, miraculously translated out of darkness into light, he cannot even see the things of God (John 3:3), still less apprehend them (1 Cor. 2:14). The Holy Spirit has to shine in our hearts (not intellects) in order to give us "the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). And even that spiritual knowledge is but fragmentary. The regenerated soul has to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus (2 Pet. 3.18).

You can read the entire book here...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pas ho pisteuwn

Dr. James White  corrects the 'whosoever will' misinterpretation with a proper teaching on the Greek  from John 3:16...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Being a living sacrifice

I am currently reading Dr. James Boice's  'Renewing your mind in a mindless World', based on Romans 12:1-2. This is a blessed read and I must share with you some particular points of interest from the book that specifically deal with our bodies and being a living sacrifice.  Exactly what does the Apostle Paul mean when he tells us 'to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice'? Dr. Boice breaks it down in four parts...

"Sin can control us through our bodies, but this need not happen. So, rather than offering our bodies as instruments of sin, we are to offer God our bodies as instruments for doing His will. To be practical we need to think about this as involving specific parts of our bodies.
1. Our minds - Have you ever considered that what you do with your mind will determine a great deal of what you will become as a Christian? If you fill your mind only with the products of our secular culture, you will remain secular and sinful. If you fill your head with trashy pop novels, you will begin to live like the trashy characters you read about. If you do little else but watch television, you will begin to act like the scoundrels on the screen. On the other hand, if you feed your mind on the Bible and Christian books, train it by Godly conversation,  and discipline it to critique what you see and hear by applying biblical truths to the world's ideas, you will grow in godliness and become increasingly useful to God.
2. Our eyes and ears - The mind isn't the only part of our body by which we receive and filter impressions and which must therefore be offered to God as an instrument of righteousness. We also receive impressions through our eyes and ears, and these too must be surrendered to God.  Our modern means of communication put the acquisition of 'things' before godliness. In fact, they never mention godliness at all. How are you going to grow in godliness if you are constantly watching television or reading printed ads or listening to secular radio?  A simple goal might be for you to spend as many hours studying your Bible , praying, and going to church as watching television.
3. Our tongues - The tongue is also part of our body, and what we do with it is important either for good or evil. James, the Lord's brother, wrote 'the tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell' {James 3:6}. If your tongue is not given to God as an instrument of righteousness in His hands, this will be true of you. You do not need to be a Hitler and plunge the world into armed conflict to do evil with your tongue; a little bit of gossip or slander will suffice.
What you need to do is use your tongue to praise and serve God. For one thing, you should learn how to recite Scripture with it.  Above all, you should use your tongue to witness to others about the person and work of Jesus Christ.
4. Our hands and feet - There are several important biblical passages about our hands and feet. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, Paul tells us to work with our hands so that we will be self-supporting and not have to rely on others. In Ephesians 4:28, he tells us also to work so that we will have something to give to others who are in need.  As far as feet are concerned, Paul wrote in Romans 10 of the need that others have for the gospel. What do you do with your hands? Where do your feet take you?  As you go into the world, let it be to serve the world and witness to it in Christ's name. Use your feet and hands for Him.

The third word Paul uses to indicate the nature of the sacrifices we are to offer God is 'holy'. Any sacrifice we make must be holy, that is, it must be without spot or blemish and be consecrated entirely to God. Anything less is an insult to the great and holy God all people are to serve. This is the very heart of what we are talking about when we speak of living sacrifices, of course. Handley C. G. Moule expressed this well. "As we actually approach the rules of holiness now before us, let us once more recollect what we have seen all along in the epistle, that holiness is the aim and issue of the entire Gospel. It is indeed an 'evidence of life', infinitely weighty in the enquiry whether a man knows God indeed and is on the way to His heaven. But it is much more; it is the expression of life, it is the form and action in which life is intended to come out. We who believe are 'chosen' and 'ordained' to 'bring forth fruit', fruit much and lasting."
Is there any subject that is more generally neglected among evangelicals in America in our day than holiness? In our time, holiness is largely forgotten as an important quality for Christians. So we do not try to be holy, we hardly know what it means, and we do not look for holiness in others. The great parish minister Robert Murray McCheyne once said, 'my people's greatest need is my personal holiness'. But what pulpit committees look for holiness in a new pastor today? They look for a winsome personality, good communication skills, administrative ability, and other secular things.

The final words that Paul uses to describe the nature of our living sacrifices is 'pleasing to God'. But this is also a conclusion for what I have been saying so far in this study, since the point is that if we do what Paul has urged us to do, namely to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy to God, we will also find that what we have done is pleasing to Him, or acceptable. It is amazing to me that God could find anything we might be able to do to be pleasing. The bible tells me that at my best I am to think of myself as an unworthy servant {Luke 17:10}. But, it also says that if I live for Jesus, offering back to Him what He has first given to me, then one day I will hear Him say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!...Come and share your Master's happiness!' {Matt. 25:21, 23}  ---Dr. James Boice

What would motivate us to be a living sacrifice and strive for holiness? One word sums it all up...mercy. Dr. Boice quotes a couple of well known guys in his book on this matter and I will share them with you here. First up is John Calvin, he says "Paul's entreaty teaches us that men will never worship God with a sincere heart, or be roused to fear and obey Him will sufficient zeal until they properly understand how much they are indebted to His mercy."

Next up is John Newton, a slave trader who stated the reason for his going to Africa to participate in the slave trade was to 'sin his fill'. The Lord got a hold of this man and drastically changed him from a repulsive slave trading sinner to a great preacher. What motivated John Newton? It was 'his profound awareness of the grace and mercy of God toward him, a wretched sinner' {quote from Dr. Boice from his book 'renewing your mind in a mindless world'}. 
Newton penned 'Amazing Grace'; again, the motivation for him writing the lyrics to this song was God's astounding grace. As Newton aged, his mind started to fail him. When friends would come to visit, Newton would say 'I am an old man, my mind is almost gone. But I can remember two things: I am a great sinner, and Jesus is a great Savior'. {from Dr. Boice's book 'renewing your mind in a mindless world'}
Shouldn't we be motivated by such amazing grace just like our brethren before us? Isn't God just as gracious and merciful in our day as He was in Newton's? Unfortunately, little is made of sin in our day; we are a society of selfish, self-centered sinners with insatiable appetites for sin. We also have the mindset that God 'owes' sinners salvation because, after all, He is good and loving. And because He is loving, He should never send anybody to hell. This mindset is sad, but true. There is no understanding of who God even is, no mention of our own vileness, and no stressing holy living.  In our arrogance we think little of what God has truly done because so little is taught concerning the attributes of God and the depravity of man. May our great God continue to be merciful, may He take His own deeper into the truths of His word, may we come to a deeper understanding of this grace that is so amazing, it caused John Newton to be in awe 'til  his merciful God called him home. May we too be in awe...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Our Shameful Spiritual Decay

This wasn't pleasant to read, but it served the purpose for which God intended. Please read, and share with other professing Christians...

The power of true religion!
The power of true religion is so little felt by the bulk of professing Christians.
There are four evils which mark the decaying state of Christians in general:
  their love of the world;
  their love of ease;
  their fear of man;
  their distrust of God's providence.
The New Testament believers were just the reverse of all this:
they despised the world, and its flattering allurements;
they took up the cross, and denied themselves;
they boldly confessed Christ, and suffered for His sake;
they trusted God for all things, and so took joyfully the the confiscation of your property.
And what was the blessed fruit?
They abounded in consolation;
they grew in grace;
they shone as lights in the world;
they felt joy and peace in believing.
But now we see professing Christians, even many of whom we charitably hope well . . .
  languid in their graces,
  timid in their confession,
  afraid of consequences,
  and fearful of trusting God.
Sad symptoms these, of spiritual decay!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The World's Standard of Christianity and Counting the Cost

Grace gems has another gem for us, this one is from J. C. Ryle and is just as relevant today as it was in his day. 

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." Matthew 16:24

(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots" 1879)

'Let me warn everyone who wants to be saved--not to be content with the world's standard of Christianity. Surely no man with his eyes open, can fail to see that the Christianity of the New Testament is something far higher and deeper than the Christianity of most professing Christians. That formal, easy-going, do-little thing, which most people call 'religion'--is evidently not the religion of the Lord Jesus. The things which He praises--are not praised by the world. The things which He blames--are not things in which the world sees any harm. Oh, if you would follow Christ--do not be content with the world's Christianity! Tremble, tremble and repent!'

Ryle also lays out what it will cost you...

'Let there be no mistake about my meaning. I am not examining what it costs to save a Christian's soul. I know well that it costs nothing less than the blood of the Son of God to provide an atonement, and to redeem man from Hell. The price paid for our redemption was nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. We "are bought with a price." "Christ gave Himself a ransom for all" (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Timothy 2:6). But all this is wide of the question.
The point I want to consider is another one altogether. It is what a man must be ready to give up, if he wishes to be saved. It is the amount of sacrifice a man must submit to, if he intends to serve Christ. It is in this sense, that I raise the question: "What does it cost?" And I believe firmly that it is a most important one.
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."'

1. True Christianity will cost one his SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. He must cast away all pride and high thoughts and conceit of his own goodness. He must be content to go to Heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace, and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another. He must really feel that he has "erred and gone astray like a lost sheep," that he has "left undone the things he ought to have done, and that there is no strength in him." He must be willing to give up all trust in his own morality, respectability, praying, Bible reading, church-going, and sacrament receiving — and to trust in nothing but Jesus Christ.

2. True Christianity will cost a man his SINS. He must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God's sight. He must set his face against it, quarrel with it, break off from it, fight with it, crucify it and labor to keep it under control, whatever the world around him may say or think. He must do this honestly and fairly. There must be no secret truce with any special sin which he loves. He must count all sins as his deadly enemies, and hate every false way. Whether little or great, whether open or secret — all his sins must be thoroughly renounced. They may struggle hard with him every day, and sometimes almost get the mastery over him. But he must never give way to them. He must keep up a perpetual war with his sins. It is written, "Cast away from you all your transgressions." "Break off your sins . . . and iniquities." "Cease to do evil" (Ezekiel 18:31; Dan. 4:27; Isaiah 1:16).
This sounds hard. I do not wonder. Our sins are often as dear to us as our children! We love them, hug them, cleave to them and delight in them! To part with them, is as hard as cutting off a right hand or plucking out a right eye! But it must be done. The parting must come. "Though wickedness is sweet in the sinner's mouth, though he hides it under his tongue; though he spares it, and forsakes it not," yet it must be given up, if he wishes to be saved (Job 20:12, 13). He and sin must quarrel — if he and God are to be friends. Christ is willing to receive any sinners. But He will not receive them if they will stick to their sins.

3. Also, Christianity will cost a man his love of EASE. He must take pains and trouble, if he means to run a successful race toward Heaven. He must daily watch and stand on his guard, like a soldier on enemy's ground. He must take heed to his behavior every hour of the day, in every company and in every place, in public as well as in private, among strangers as well as at home. He must be careful over his time, his tongue, his temper, his thoughts, his imagination, his motives, his conduct in every relation of life. He must be diligent about his prayers, his Bible reading, and his use of Sundays, with all their means of grace. In attending to these things, he may come far short of perfection; but there is none of them who he can safely neglect. "The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat" (Proverbs 13:4).
This also sounds hard. There is nothing we naturally dislike so much as "trouble" about our religion. We hate trouble. We secretly wish we could have a vicarious Christianity, and could be good by proxy, and have everything done for us. Anything that requires exertion and labor is entirely against the grain of our hearts. But the soul can have "no gains without pains."

4. Lastly, true Christianity will cost a man the favor of the WORLD. He must be content to be thought poorly of by man — if he pleases God. He must count it no strange thing to be mocked, ridiculed, slandered, persecuted and even hated. He must not be surprised to find that his opinions and practices are despised and held up to scorn. He must submit to be thought by many a fool, an enthusiast and a fanatic — to have his words perverted and his actions misrepresented. In fact, he must not marvel if some call him mad. The Master says, "Remember the word that I said unto you, 'The servant is not greater than his Master.' If they have persecuted Me — they will also persecute you" (John 15:20).
I dare say this also sounds hard. We naturally dislike unjust dealing and false charges, and think it very hard to be accused without cause. We would not be flesh and blood — if we did not wish to have the good opinion of our neighbors. It is always unpleasant to be spoken against and forsaken and lied about — and to stand alone. But there is no help for it. The cup which our Master drank, must be drunk by His disciples. They must be "despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3). Let us set down that item last in our account. To be a Christian, it will cost a man the favor of the world.
Considering the weight of this great cost, bold indeed must that man be, who would dare to say that we may keep our self-righteousness, our sins, our laziness and our love of the world — and yet be saved!
Moreover, I grant it costs much to be a true Christian. But what sane man or woman can doubt that it is worth any cost to have the soul saved? When the ship is in danger of sinking, the crew think nothing of casting overboard the precious cargo. When a limb is mortified, a man will submit to any severe operation, and even to amputation — to save life. Surely a Christian should be willing to give up anything which stands between him and Heaven. 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!


You can read more of this from Ryle here...