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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The importance of knowing who God is

We all know someone who professes to be Christian and yet, they live just like the world.  I have had discussions with a few neighbors who say they believe in God; one claimed he didn't need to go to church, he prayed everyday and that was enough. Another boasted in her claim to have read the entire bible at one point in her life, she did not cease from talking long enough to hear much of what I had to say in response to her claims.
This is an age-old problem, creating 'graven images' in our minds and thinking all is right with our souls as we do so. The human mind cannot know or understand the God of the Bible apart from Him granting us this knowledge, as A. W. Pink so rightly declares "he can be known, only as He is revealed to the heart by the Holy Spirit through the word". We all should take care this is not the case with us, to speak flippantly about the God of the Bible without understanding or knowing who He is; this problem is addressed in chapter two of Martyn Lloyd-Jones' book 'Seeking the face of God'. In this chapter Lloyd-Jones says "I am almost persuaded that the chief problem today is not the problem of people who say there is no God and who are in the world. It is the problem of people who go to the house of God in a purely mechanical manner. They go there, but why? Because it is the thing to do. They attend a church as a matter of duty. It is like only putting on a certain suit in order to go to a place of worship on Sunday morning, and it is done with a pure formality; it is entirely external."

Doesn't this sound familiar? This has been an ongoing problem and will continue to be until Christ returns. These superficial sinners love to proclaim a God they don't even know; how do we know their claim is false? Lloyd-Jones explains, "It [their religion] has no influence at all upon their daily life. Having talked so much about God, they live as if He did not exist. They pay lip service to Him, but He does not control their lives; He is not the Master of their existence. They hate instruction, and their lives are not lived in conformity with His commandments-they cast His words behind them."

Some will accuse this of being a 'salvation by works' mentality, it is anything but. Those who walk in obedience to Christ's commands prove they have been regenerated, not so as to be saved, but as evidence they are saved. Here is how Lloyd-Jones describes the lip service 'types', "The trouble with such people is that they are entirely in control of their religion. They are at the center, and God is just being considered and put into His place. What they think about God is the truth they accept about Him, and they will worship God in their way, when and how they want to; they are absolutely in control. They determine everything." In essence, what he's saying is that these types of people create a God based on human wisdom, not biblical truth. They form an idol in their minds that pleases them and leaves them comfortable in their sins. They even go so far as to say things like 'God will not send anyone to hell', or 'the bible was written by a bunch of old men'. I work with a lady who made that very statement and yet, claims to believe in God; she just doesn't believe in the God of the Bible. I shared with her a passage from Romans chapter five, Christ died for the ungodly. I asked her if she saw herself as ungodly, she said 'no'. Here lies one of the two problems sinners have, a wrong view of their own wickedness as well as a wrong view of God's holiness and His righteousness.
What should they know about God? Here is what Martyn Lloyd-Jones says we all need to know, "Listen to the first statement in this Psalm: 'The mighty God...the Lord' {Psalm 50:1}. The Psalmist starts with three names of God: El, Elohim, and Jehovah. These names together mean this; the Almighty One hath spoken, the only One who is the proper object of worship has spoken. The almighty God-Elohim; the Lord-Jehovah, the self-existent, eternal One-that is the one about whom we are speaking. Now, may the Holy Spirit of God enable me to open your eyes and your understanding so that we may all grasp this. Oh, the way we speak about God! We have all done it; I have done it myself. I have been one of a company discussing religion and God and theology, and there we all sat in armchairs, discussing God. The amazing thing is that God tolerates us at all and that He does not wipe us out of existence! You remember what happened to Moses at the burning bush. He said, 'what's this? This is an interesting phenomenon, I'm going to investigate it', and he was on the point of approaching when the Voice came out of the bush and addressed him saying "Draw not nigh hither, put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" {Exodus 3:5}. 
If you and I realized the nature and being of God, we would stop speaking. We would stop mouthing these things and making our declarations. With Job of old, when he really came into God's presence, we would put our hands upon our mouths. We would be ashamed of ourselves for having spoken 'unadvisedly with our lips' {Ps. 106:33} and we would be silent before Him. That is the only right and true and appropriate attitude. 
If you want to know anything about God and to be blessed by Him, then you do not start by speaking about Him, nor by thinking what you want to think about what God ought to be like or about what God ought to do. You just stop in silence, and you wait, and you listen, and you adore, and you look up. "The mighty God, even the Lord {Jehovah} hath spoken". 

Lloyd-Jones brought up Psalm 50:21, ' you thought that I was one like yourself'. God is nothing like us: He is holy, separate from His creation, ascended high above the heavens; He is mighty. His name is sacred, His character is righteous, undefiled, pure; He cannot lie, He cannot look upon sin, He cannot let sin go unpunished because He is holy. He is everlasting, eternal, loving, merciful and just. His power is displayed in His creation, speaking this world into existence 'ex-nihilo'-out of nothing. He gathers the wind in His fists {Proverbs 30:4}, 'He makes the clouds his chariot; He rides on the wings of the wind' {Psalm 104:3}. He fills every inch of space, time and matter and yet, resides in every regenerated heart. He knows all, sees all and hears all, before any of it comes into being. He is self-sufficient and needs nothing, His wisdom is unfathomable. Once more, I quote Pink, 'how far exalted above the wisest man is the Lord! None of us knows what a day may bring forth, but all futurity is open to His omniscient gaze.'
 'The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.' {Proverbs 15:3}. Does it frighten you to think God is always watching, always seeing your every move, your every thought as well as the motive behind those thoughts and movements? Pink encourages us with these words 'the whole of my life stood open to His view from the beginning. He foresaw my every fall, my every sin, my every backsliding and yet, nevertheless, fixed His heart upon me. Oh, how the realization of this should bow me in wonder and worship before Him!' 

It isn't enough to just believe in God, you must know Him. You should desire Him, He should be your life. God does not want our verbal professions, He doesn't need that. He wants every bit of us; our hearts, minds, souls; time, talent, treasure should all be viewed in a way as to how we can serve and honor Him. He should come before spouses, children, grandchildren, careers, hobbies, and whatever else demands our attention.
Our complete dependence and reliance should continually be upon Him...a total surrender is what He wants. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks some stinging questions at the end of chapter two, see how well you do - 'what is your attitude in the presence of God? What do you believe about God? Is your whole life centered in Him? If you believe in God, that will be the case. There is nothing more awful and reprehensible than to talk about Him and forget all about Him, and to live as if He were not there at all. Are you calling upon God for salvation? Have you seen your desperate need of Him? Do you know you will have to face Him in the judgment? Perhaps there will be, as it were, a tape recording played back to you of all you have said about God, how you have spoken about Him and His laws and declared His statutes. And then it will be read out to you-the things that you have done, the life you have lived; your self-centeredness, your selfishness, the fact that your whole life was not surrendered to God and lived to His glory and to His praise. It is a tremendous thing to say you believe in God, but look at the implications. He is the almighty God, Jehovah, the Judge before whom every one of us will have to stand. Are you humble before God? "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God" - and if you do so, I promise you -"He will exalt you" {1 Peter 5:6}

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I lift my eyes

I am amazed at how people are looking to a mortal man to solve this nation's problems. Even professing Christians are jumping on the bandwagon and backing a certain man and his political party, thinking if they vote him in office, our nation will be better off. But will we really be? Who should we look to for help? Is this world going to get better if we get the right 'guy' to lead us? Not if you believe the Bible...

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. 
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. - Psalm 121

In times of trouble, we should look to the One who can help; we are definitely living in times of trouble. Our moral decay, greed, idolatry, selfishness- and every other sin imaginable- cannot be mended by a political party. As believers, we must 'lift our eyes to the hills'. What does Psalm 121 teach us? From Matthew Henry, 'This psalm teaches us to stay ourselves upon God as a God of power and a God all-sufficient for us. David did so and found the benefit of it.  We must not rely upon creatures, upon men and means, instruments and second causes, nor make flesh our arm.' 

David looked to the hills; John Gill explains 'Not to the hills and mountains in Judea, looking about to see if the inhabitants of them, or any bodies of men, appeared upon them to his help in distress; rather to the hills of Moriah and Zion, where the ark of God, the symbol of his presence, was, and to whom he looked for assistance and deliverance: or to heaven, the holy hill of the Lord, and to him that dwelleth there'. 
Where does our help come from? Again, we turn to John Gill, 'not from hills and mountains; not from men, for vain is the help of man; not from kings and princes, the great men of the earth, nor from the most powerful nations; but from the Lord.' I think we can all agree, our nation is in dire need of help, and mortal men cannot fix what's wrong.
Just like David, our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God is sovereign, He reigns; even when the hour seems its darkest, He is on His throne. 
When man shuns God, turns his back on Him, then we get what we presently see in America...a nation gone 'bad'. Do not put your trust in man; understand that things will not get better. Put your trust and hope in the living God. 

The Lord is my keeper - from John Gill - ' Christ, the Word and Wisdom of God; who is the keeper of his people by the designation of his Father, who has put them into his hands to be kept by him; and by their full will and consent, who commit the keeping of their souls to him; for which he is abundantly qualified, being able as the mighty God; faithful to him that has appointed him; tender and compassionate to those under his care, whom he keeps as the apple of his eye; and diligent and constant, for he keeps them night and day, lest any hurt them: he keeps them as they are his flock, made his care and charge; as they are the vineyard of the Lord of hosts; as they are a city, which, unless the Lord keeps, the watchmen watch in vain; as they are his body and members of it, and as they are his jewels and peculiar treasure: these he keeps in the love of God; in his own hands; in the covenant of grace; in an estate of grace; and in his own ways, safe to his kingdom and glory'.
Those who are of His flock are kept from the downgrade we presently see, we are kept from evil, from being tainted by this world and drug off by it. 
The Lord keeps us from evil, He keeps our life. Matthew Henry elaborates, 'All souls are his; and the soul is the man, and therefore he will with a peculiar care preserve them, that they be not defiled by sin and disturbed by affliction. He will keep them by keeping us in the possession of them; and he will preserve them from perishing eternally.'
That should bring assurance and peace to your soul if you are in Christ. The Almighty will keep our going out and our coming in from this time forth and forevermore. To keep means 'to guard, keep watch, protect, have charge of'. There are no better 'hands' to be in than that of the living God. He protects, He preserves, He watches man can do that. Once more, I turn to commentary from Matthew Henry, 'Thou shalt be under his protection in all thy journeys and voyages, outward-bound or homeward-bound, as he kept Israel in the wilderness, in their removes and rests. He will prosper thee in all thy affairs at home and abroad, in the beginning and in the conclusion of them. He will keep thee in life and death, thy going out and going on while thou livest and thy coming in when thou diest, going out to thy labour in the morning of thy days and coming home to thy rest when the evening of old age calls thee in,” Psa_104:23. 11. He will continue his care over us from this time forth and even for evermore. It is a protection for life, never out of date. “He will be thy guide even unto death, and will then hide thee in the grave, hide thee in heaven. He will preserve thee in his heavenly kingdom.” God will protect his church and his saints always, even to the end of the world. The Spirit, who is their preserver and comforter, shall abide with them for ever.' How excellent is that?! Do not worry about who will be elected President, do not worry about the future of this nation and think it necessary to place its fate in the hands of any political party. I am not saying you shouldn't vote, that is a personal matter. I am saying you should not assume one man is better than the other and can lift this nation up out of its mire. We are a nation in dire need of intercessory prayer, a nation in desperate need of mercy. There is much more at stake than hoping for an improved economy and a rosier forecast in the job market. We are a nation filled with lost souls who dangle over the mouth of hell, a nation where truth is suppressed and unrighteousness is celebrated...a nation headed for judgment.

Keep your focus this election season, and every day thereafter. Lift up your eyes, look to the One who helps His own and keeps them...forevermore.

"The salvation of America does not depend on the white house, it depends on God's house!" - Leonard Ravenhill

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Not what my hands have done

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace;
Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase.
No other work but Yours, no other blood will do;
No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, And set my spirit free.

I praise the Christ of God; I rest on love divine;
And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine.
My Lord has saved my life and freely pardon gives;
I love because He first loved me, I live because He lives.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ever Mindful?

As I stated in a prior post, I am currently reading Jerry Bridges' book entitled 'Respectable Sins'; chapter 7 deals with ungodliness. Not being ever mindful of God is considered to be ungodly, it is ignoring Him and focusing our attention away from Him and on the busyness of this life. There are many things I like about this chapter, mainly because this chapter brought me to a realization about ungodliness in my own life. One of the things I realize about my own self is that I do not pant and thirst after the living God as I should, nor am I ever mindful of Him; from the book...

"In Psalm 63:1, David speaks of thirsting for God and earnestly seeking Him. In Psalm 27:4, he wants to dwell in the presence of the Lord so as to gaze upon His beauty. These are the desires of godly men of old. Yet, few of us claim those desires as our own today. A person may be moral and upright, or even busy in Christian service, yet have little or no desire to develop an intimate relationship with God. This is a mark of ungodliness. 
Total godliness and utter ungodliness are the opposite ends of a continuum. All of us are somewhere between these two extremes. The only person who ever lived a totally godly life was Jesus, and probably no true believer lives a totally ungodly life. But where are we on the spectrum? As you think about your own life, remember that we are not talking about righteous vs wicked behavior. We are talking about living all of life as if God is relevant or irrelevant. Survey after survey continues to inform us that there is little difference between the values and behavior patterns of Christians and non-Christians. Why is this true? Surely it reflects the fact that we live so much of our ordinary lives with little or no thought of God, or of how we might please and glorify Him. It's not that we consciously or deliberately put God out of our minds. We just ignore Him, He is seldom in our thoughts. 
Think how it would curb our pride, for example, if we consciously lived every day in the awareness that all we are, all we have, all we accomplish is by the grace of God. 
Sins of the tongue, such as gossip, sarcasm, and other unkind words to or about another person, cannot thrive in an awareness that God hears every word we speak. We don't think of living every moment of our lives in the presence of an all-seeing, all-hearing God. 
I cannot help but contrast our anemic desire for godliness with the attitude of young men in our city who recently camped out all night in snow and cold at the entrance to a local electronics store. They wanted to be sure they would be able to buy one of a limited supply of a new video game system. One young man arrived at 9:30 Saturday morning to wait for the doors to open at 8 a.m. Sunday. Would any of us have that kind of zeal for godliness? 
Pray that God will make you more conscious of the fact that you live every moment of every day under His all-seeing eye. While you may not be mindful of Him, He is certainly aware of you and sees every deed you do, hears every word you say, and knows every thought you think {see Psalm 139:1-4}. Beyond that, He even searches out your motives. Let us then seek to be as mindful of Him as He is of us." - J. Bridges, 'Respectable Sins' pages 58-61

Friday, October 19, 2012

Our Hope

 This sermon was preached by J. C. Ryle , you can read the full sermon here...

 Let us beware of a hope that is not felt, and a Christianity that is destitute of any inward experience. They are idols of the present day, and idols before which thousands are bowing down. Thousands are trying to persuade themselves that people may be born again, and have the Spirit, and yet not be sensible of it—or that people may be members of Christ, and receive benefit from Him, who have neither faith nor love towards His name. These are the favorite doctrines of modern days! These be the gods which have taken the place of Diana and Mercury, and "the image which fell down from Jupiter!" These be the last new deities invented by poor, weak, idolatrous man! From all such idols let us keep ourselves with jealous care. Golden as their heads may be—their feet are no better than clay! They cannot stand—they must, sooner or later, break down. Miserable indeed are the prospects of those who worship them! Their hope is not the hope of the Bible—it is the hope of a dead corpse. Where Christ and the Spirit are their presence will be felt!
Can anyone in his senses suppose that the apostle Paul would have been content with Christians who knew nothing of inward feelings? Can we imagine that mighty man of God sanctioning a religion which a person might have, and yet experience nothing within? Can we picture to ourselves a member of one of the Churches he founded, who was utterly unacquainted with peace, or joy, or confidence towards God, and was yet approved by the great apostle as a true believer! Away with the idea! It will not bear reflection for a moment. The testimony of Scripture is plain and explicit. Talk as people will about enthusiasm and excitement, there are such things as feelings in religion. The Christian who knows nothing of them is not yet converted, and has everything to learn. The cold marble of a Grecian statue may well be unimpassioned. The dried mummy from Egypt may well look stiff and still. The stuffed beast in a museum may well be motionless and cold. They are all lifeless things. But where there is life there will always be some feeling. The "good hope" is a hope that can be felt.
 In the last place, a good hope is a hope that is manifested outwardly in the life. Once more, what says the Scripture? "Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure." (1 John 3:3.) The man who has a good hope will show it in all his ways. It will influence his life, his character, and his daily conduct; it will make him strive to be a holy, godly, conscientious, spiritual man. He will feel under a constant obligation to serve and please Him from whom his hope comes. He will say to himself, "What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me?" He will feel, "I am bought with a price—let me glorify God with body and spirit, which are His." "Let me show forth the praises of Him who has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light." Let me prove that I am Christ's friend, "by keeping His commandments." (Psalm 116:12; 1 Cor 6:20; 1 Peter 2:9; John 15:14.)
This is a point which has been of infinite importance in every age of the Church. It is a truth which is always assailed by Satan, and needs guarding with jealous care. Let us grasp it firmly, and make it a settled principle in our religion. If there is light in a house it will shine through the windows—if there is any real hope in a man's soul it will be seen in his ways. Show me your hope in your life and daily behavior. Where is it? Wherein does it appear? If you cannot show it, you may be sure it is nothing better than a delusion and a snare.

There are some in the present day who flatter themselves they have a good hope because they possess religious knowledge.They are acquainted with the letter of their Bibles; they can argue and dispute about points of doctrine—they can quote texts by the score, in defense of their own theological opinions. They are perfect Benjamites in controversy—they can "sling stones at an hair-breadth, and not miss." (Judges 20:16.) And yet they have no fruits of the Spirit, no love, no meekness, no gentleness, no humility, nothing of the mind that was in Christ. And have these people a true hope? Let those believe it who will, I dare not say so. I hold with Paul, "If I speak the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." Yes—hope without love is no hope at all.

There are some again who presume to think they have a good hope because of God's everlasting election. They boldly persuade themselves that they were once called and chosen of God to salvation. They take it for granted that there was once a real work of the Spirit on their hearts, and that all therefore must be well. They look down upon others, who are afraid of professing as much as they do. They seem to think, "We are the people of God, we are the temple of the Lord, we are the favored servants of the Most High—we are those who shall reign in heaven, and none beside." And yet these very people can lie, and cheat, and swindle, and be dishonorable! Some of them can even get drunk in private, and secretly commit sins of which it is a shame to speak! And have they a good hope? God forbid that I should say so! The election which is not "unto sanctification" is not of God—but of the devil. The hope that does not make a man holy is no hope at all.

There are some in this day who fancy they have a good hope because they like hearing the Gospel. They are fond of hearing good sermons. They will go miles to listen to some favorite preacher, and will even weep and be much affected by his words. To see them in church one would think, "Surely these are the disciples of Christ, surely these are excellent Christians!" And yet these very people can plunge into every folly and gaiety of the world. Night after night they can go with their whole heart to the opera, the theater, or the ball. They are to be seen on the race-course. They are advanced in every worldly revel. Their voice on Sunday is the voice of Jacob—but their hands on week days are the hands of Esau. And have these people a good hope? I dare not say so. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God;" the hope that does not prevent conformity to the world, is no hope at all. "Whoever is born of God overcomes the world." (James 4:4; 1 John 5:4.)

Let us beware of any hope that does not exercise a sanctifying influence over our hearts, lives, tastes, conduct, and conversation. It is a hope that never came down from above. It is mere base metal, and counterfeit coin. It lacks the mint-stamp of the Holy Spirit, and will never pass current in heaven. The man that has a real hope, no doubt, may be overtaken in a fault; He may stumble occasionally in his practice, and be drawn aside from the right path for a while. But the person who can allow himself in any willful and habitual breach of God's law, is rotten at the heart. He may talk of his hope as much as he pleases—but he has none in reality. His religion is a joy to the devil, a stumbling block to the world, a sorrow to true Christians, and an offence to God. Oh, that people would consider these things! Oh, that many would use some such prayer as this, "From antinomianism and hypocrisy, good Lord, deliver me!"

My first word of application shall be a QUESTION. I offer it to all who read this paper, and I entreat each reader to give it an answer. That question is, "What is your own hope about your soul?"
I do not ask this out of idle curiosity. I ask it as an ambassador for Christ, and a friend to your best interests. I ask it in order to stir up self-inquiry, and promote your spiritual welfare. I ask, "What is your hope about your soul?"
I do not want to know whether you go to church or chapel—there will be no account of these differences in heaven. I do not want to know whether you approve of the Gospel, and think it very right and proper that people should have their religion, and say their prayers; all this is beside the mark—it is not the point. The point I want you to look at is this, "What is your hope about your soul?"
It matters nothing what your relations think. It matters nothing what other people in the parish or town approve. The account of God will not be taken by towns, or by parishes, or by families—each must stand forth separately and answer for himself. "Everyone of us shall give account of himself to God." (Rom. 14:12.) And what is the defense you mean to set up? What is to be your plea? "What is your hope about your soul?"
Time is short, and is passing quickly away—in a few years, we shall be all dead and gone! The trees perhaps are cut down out of which our coffins will be made—the shrouds perhaps are woven which will surround our bodies—the spades perhaps are made which will dig our graves. Eternity draws near! There ought to be no trifling. "What, what is your hope about your soul?"
Another world will soon begin. Trade, politics, money, lands, cottages, palaces, eating, drinking, dressing, reading, playing, working, dancing, feasting—will soon be at an end forever. There will remain nothing but a heaven for some, and a hell for others! "What, what is your hope about your soul?"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What's become of sin?

I am reading a book by Jerry Bridges, 'Respectable Sins'; he addresses so much in this book that I'd like to share, but I am going to limit it to the diminishing of sin in society and the overlooking of sin in the church...

In chapter two if his book, Bridges speaks of a book by Karl Menninger, 'whatever became of sin?' Dr. Menninger notes that the last time the word 'sin' was mentioned in the presidential proclamation for the annual national day of prayer was during Eisenhower's proclamation in 1953- those words being borrowed from a call to national prayer by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. As Dr. Menninger observed, 'as a nation, we officially ceased 'sinning' some twenty {now over fifty} years ago'. The idea of sin has vanished from society.

Bridges is quick to point out a popular trend in society, re-defining sin. He says, 'people no longer commit adultery, instead they have an affair. Corporate executives do not steal, they commit fraud'. You would expect that from a godless culture, to re-define is to take away guilt and accountability. Hearts that are dead in sin certainly will not admit wrongdoing. But what about the church? Believers do not reach a state of sinless perfection, although some may think so! Bridges makes a valid point in stating 'we appear to be more concerned about the sins of society than we are the sins of the saints'. He speaks of the sins that believers indulge in as 'respectable' sins; for example, 'our gossip or unkind words about a brother or sister in Christ roll easily off our tongues without any awareness of wrongdoing. We look down our religious noses at 'sinners' in society without any sense of a humble 'there but for the grace of God go I' spirit. We were incensed, and rightly so, when a major denomination ordained a practicing homosexual as a bishop. Why do we not also mourn over our selfishness, our critical spirit, our impatience and our anger?'

The more I read this book, the more I think he wrote it just for me! He readily admits the inspiration for this book came from his own battle with these sins. It really hit home when he said 'If I gossip, I both tear down another person and corrupt the mind of my listener. If I complain about the difficult circumstances of my life {this one hit me pretty hard}, I impugn the sovereignty and goodness of God and tempt my listener to do the same. In this way, my sin 'metastasizes' into the heart of another person. Now, here is the unvarnished truth that we need to lay to heart. Even though our hearts have been renewed, even though we have been freed from the absolute dominion of sin, even though God's Holy Spirit dwells within our bodies, this principle of sin still lurks within us and wages war against our souls. It is the failure to recognize the awful reality of this truth that provides the fertile soil in which our 'respectable' or 'acceptable' sins grow and flourish'. 
Ralph Venning, the author of 'the sinfulness of sin', uses especially colorful, in the negative sense, words to describe sin: vile, ugly, odious, malignant, pestilent, pernicious, hideous, spiteful, poisonous, virulent, villainous, abominable, and deadly. Take a few moments to ponder those words so as to get the full impact of them. Those words describe not just the scandalous sins of society but also the respectable sins we tolerate in our own lives. Whether sin is large or small in our eyes, it is heinous in the sight of God.'

Bridges goes on to remind believers our sins have been atoned for and gives us this wonderful reminder as we battle, the 'remedy for sin', 'I am not alone in this battle with sin. God is not watching me from His heavenly throne saying "when are you going to get your act together? When are you going to deal with that sin?" Rather, He is, as it were, coming alongside me saying, "we are going to work on that sin, but meanwhile, I want you to know that I no longer count it against you". God is no longer my Judge; He's now my Heavenly Father who loves me with a self-generated, infinite love, even in the face of my sin. That assurance greatly encourages me and motivates me to deal with the sin. Further, the assurance that God no longer counts my sin against me, and that in my struggle with sin, He is for me, produces within me a strong sense of gratitude for what He has done and is presently doing for me through Christ.' 

This book is of great encouragement: as we battle sin daily, we do not have to feel like a defeated whipped pup. I recommend Bridge's book for everyone who is a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ...

Why is the recognition of our sin essential? Because it drives us to Christ for salvation & insures our appreciation for His person & work - Paul Washer

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Not all will be saved...

 All will not be saved. It is a fearful delusion among you – I do not say you avow it, but you practically say, you believe – that there will be no hell. It was God’s plan that there should be vessels of wrath as well as vessels of mercy. Brethren, it is better it should be so. O do not dream! All will not be saved. There are vessels of wrath as well as vessels of mercy. Some of you, I think, are going to hell, and some, I trust, are going to heaven; and doubtless it is best it should be so, though I cannot explain the reason of it. The net has good and bad fishes: some will be taken into the vessel, and some will be cast away.
2nd. Every one of you will be to the glory of GodYou will be made to glorify him in one way or another. You will either do it willingly or unwillingly. You must form a step to his throne. Ah, brethren! I believe each of you will yet be a beacon or a monument – either a beacon of wrath or a monument of mercy, “He hath made all things for himself; even the wicked for the day of evil.” Yes, wicked man, you would rob God of his glory if you could, but you cannot. If you come to Christ, you will show forth his glory in saving you; but if you do not, God will show forth his power in destroying a vessel of his wrath.
3rd. There is a third lesson we may learn. It is, the chief end of God in the world to manifest his glory. Many think, especially infidel men, that God’s chief end is the happiness of his creatures; but, from deep study of the Word of God for years, I see that it is not so. If that were his chief end, all would be happy. His chief end is diverse – it is self-manifestation. Had it not been for this, God would have remained alone in awful solitude. I would desire to speak with deep reverence on such a subject. This seems to be the reason why there are vessels of wrath as well as of mercy – that they might be mirrors to reflect his attributes. And I believe, brethren, when creation is done, and when redemption is done, that there will then be a complete manifestation of the glory of God.
4th. Another lesson we may learn is, God is longsuffering to the vessels of wrath. I remember a person who once argued with me that she must needs be a child of God on account of his goodness to her. She enumerated many blessings she had received – how God had protected her in a foreign country, how many trials she had been delivered out of, and how many domestic comforts she had enjoyed. My only answer to her was, “The goodness of god leadeth thee to repentance.” It is no proof that you are a child of God that God has borne long with you. There would be many children of God here, if this were the case. Ah, brethren! Strange though it may seem, he does not want any to perish – he does bear long with you.
Last of all, the destruction of the vessels of wrath will be no grief to the vessels of mercy. I once spoke to you of this before; but I would again remind you of it. The redeemed will have no tears to shed; and here is the reason – the very destruction of the wicked makes known the riches of divine grace. O my believing brethren, it will be an awful day when we shall not weep to see them perish. The day is hastening on – the day when no more rivers of waters will run down our eyes because they keep not God’s law. But, O brethren, till that day come let us weep on; for, although God will be glorified in the destruction of the vessels of his wrath, he will be more glorified in making them vessels of mercy. The Lord bless his own Word. Amen.

Robert Murray McCheyne, from 'vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction'

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Review, 'the cost of discipleship'

I was in the process of reading Bonhoeffer's book, 'the cost of discipleship', then I read this review by Dr. Gary Gilley. I had been troubled by a couple of things I'd read in the book, and now have decided not to finish it.

Here is Pastor Gary Gilley's review...

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer, who died because of his principles in a Germany concentration camp in 1945, is one of the most frequently quoted individuals by evangelical leaders. This has always surprised me given the fact that Bonhoeffer was a Christian humanist with neo-orthodox leanings. Nevertheless, I decided to read for myself this, his most well known book.
Bonhoeffer's greatest contribution to the Christian community is his teachings on what he calls "cheap grace." "Cheap grace," he writes, "means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner" (p.46). In a statement that would strike a great blow against easy-believism of our day he says, "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate" (p.47). To these thoughts, and the theology behind them, we say a hardy "amen."
On the other hand, in addition to his humanistic and neo-orthodox tendencies mentioned above, The Cost of Discipleship clearly revealed other major problems. Most disturbing of which is his belief concerning sacramental regeneration. Bonhoeffer takes the traditional Lutheran view that grace is dispensed through the sacraments of baptism (most often infant baptism) (pp. 254-262) and the Lord's supper (pp. 263-276). In other words, it is through these means that one is born again. Additionally he believes that a true Christian can lose his salvation (p. 329). These are grave errors that must be factored into any understanding of Bonhoeffer's teachings.
While Bonhoeffer supplies some thoughts worth considering, his false teachings are too many and too real to ignore.

I also recommend reading this post for further proof that Bonhoeffer was a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Because God is Holy...

Because God is holy, acceptance with Him on the ground of creature doings is utterly impossible. A fallen creature could sooner create a world than produce that which would meet the approval of infinite Purity. Can darkness dwell with Light? Can the Immaculate One take pleasure in "filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6)? The best that sinful man brings forth is defiled. A corrupt tree cannot bear good fruit. God would deny Himself, vilify His perfections, were He to account as righteous and holy that which is not so in itself; and nothing is so which has the least stain upon it contrary to the nature of God. But blessed be His name, that which His holiness demanded His grace has provided in Christ Jesus our Lord. Every poor sinner who has fled to Him for refuge stands "accepted in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:6). Hallelujah!
Because God is holy the utmost reverence becomes our approaches unto Him. "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all about Him" (Ps. 89:7). Then "Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool; He is holy" (Ps. 99:5). Yes, "at His footstool," in the lowest posture of humility, prostrate before Him. When Moses would approach unto the burning bush, God said, "put off thy shoes from off thy feet" (Ex. 3:5). He is to be served "with fear" (Ps. 2:11). Of Israel His demand was, "I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me, and before all the people I will be glorified" (Lev. 10:3). The more our hearts are awed by His ineffable holiness, the more acceptable will be our approaches unto Him.
Because God is holy we should desire to be conformed to Him. His command is, "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:16). We are not bidden to be omnipotent or omniscient as God is, but we are to be holy, and that "in all manner of deportment" (1 Pet. 1:15).
This is the prime way of honoring God. We do not so glorify God by elevated admiration, or eloquent expressions, or pompous services of Him, as when we aspire to a conversing with Him with unstained spirits, end live to Him in living like Him (S. Charnock).
Then as God alone is the Source and Fount of holiness, let us earnestly seek holiness from Him; let our daily prayer be that He may "sanctify us wholly; and our whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:23).

A.W. Pink, 'the holiness of God'

Our Magnificent Creator

Who, that looks upward to the midnight sky; and, with an eye of reason, beholds its rolling wonders; who can forbear inquiring, Of what were their mighty orbs formed? Amazing to relate, they were produced without materials. They sprung from emptiness itself. The stately fabric of universal nature emerged out of nothing. What instruments were used by the Supreme Architect to fashion the parts with such exquisite niceness, and give so beautiful a polish to the whole? How was it all connected into one finely-proportioned and nobly finished structure? A bare fiat accomplished all. Let them be, said God. He added no more; and at once the marvelous edifice arose, adorned with every beauty, displaying innumerable perfections, and declaring amidst enraptured seraphs its great Creator’s praise. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth," Psa. 150:1 (James Hervey, 1789).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Watch over thyself

Sin is ever-present, lurking and stalking the souls of men, desiring to lunge at its victim and overtake them. God warns us from the beginning, 'sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.' - Genesis 4:7 The battle against sin rages on until we depart from this life. In our day, sin is mentioned little; there is no warning from the pulpit to be on your guard. This may be why we find sin running rampant, like a spoiled child who has much and yet desires more. 
Puritan Thomas Manton warns in his farewell sermon these words before being ejected from his church---

“Watch over thyself with a holy self-suspicion, because thou hast sin within thee that doth easily beset thee; therefore consider thy ways, Ps. 119:59; guard thy senses, Job 33:1; but, above all, keep thy heart, Prov. 4:23. Conscience must stand porter at the door, and examine what comes in and what goes out. Watch over the stratagems of Satan, and seducing motions of thy own heart."

Let us be on guard and be watchful, our greatest enemy can be our own hearts. Feed upon the word, seek the Lord and ask Him, " Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!  - Psalm 139:23-24

You can read Thomas Manton's farewell sermon here...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Kept for the Master's Use

Frances Ridley Havergal

Frances Ridley Havergal

Keep my life that it may be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee
Keep my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise

Keep my hands that they may move
at the impulse of Thy love
Keep my feet that they may be
swift and beautiful for Thee

Keep my voice that I may sing
Always, only for my King
Keep my lips that they may be
Filled with messages from Thee

Keep my silver and my gold
not a might would I withhold
Keep my intellect and use
every power as Thou shalt choose

Keep my will, oh keep it Thine!
For it is no longer mine!
Keep my heart, it is Thine own
It is now Thy royal throne

Keep my love, my Lord I pour
at Thy feet its treasure-store
Keep myself that I may be
Ever, only, ALL for Thee

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Submission to God

This is from A. W. Pink...

"The Lord gave—and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21
When some painful loss or severe calamity befalls them, there are many who bemoan the fact that they do not have the resignation which was the patriarch's—even under more extreme circumstances—but it is to be feared that few make any serious attempt to ascertain why they are so lacking, or that the right explanation would be arrived at if they did. Probably the majority of the professing Christians would say: "It is because the Lord has not been pleased to give me the necessary grace." Pious as that may sound, in many cases, it would be the language of insincerity—if not of something worse. If that were said by way of excuse or self-extenuation for a spirit of murmuring, it is a wicked slander upon the Divine character! Let it be clearly recognized that the real reason—and the only reason, so far as we are concerned—why God not grant us more grace, is because we have failed to use that which He has already bestowed upon us! Luke 8:18.
Acquiescence in the Divine providence, when God takes from us that which is near and dear, is not some high spiritual attainment which is reached on special occasions. Just as one who is not accustomed to the regular use of certain muscles is incapable of any strenuous exercise of them when put to a real test, so it is with the employment of our graces. The average man who constantly drives around in his car, or the one who sits most for the day in his office and rides on the bus or train to and from his work—would be weary if he walked five miles on a stretch, quite exhausted if it were ten, and utterly unable to hold out for twenty. But a shepherd or farmer who spent most of his life on his feet crossing the moors or walking in his fields, would find it no undue strain to cover a single journey of twenty miles. One who has allowed his mind to wander here and there while engaged in ordinary reading, cannot suddenly concentrate on a good book when he wishes to do so. The same principle obtains in the spiritual realm: There is no such thing as putting forth an extraordinary effort of any grace—if it is not in regular exercise.

Continue reading Pink's article here...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Labeled and Defined...We're all 'Victims'!

 'If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.' - 1 John 1:8

In our world, sin is no longer understood or rightly defined. We see drunkenness defined as a disease and labeled as alcoholism. Sexual sin is grossly misunderstood; men and women are living together outside the covenant of marriage where there is no commitment. How convenient is it to walk away from someone you are not bound by a covenant with? Children are being born due to rampant sexual immorality and have no stable environment for proper upbringing; society is churning out mindless thoughtless little 'robots' that have no direction, no discipline, no guidance, and most love. They are being left to raise themselves; how can a child do such a thing? They cannot.

Homosexuality is labeled as gay and defined as orientation {see my post on orientation}, it is treated with kid gloves and viewed as a 'special issue' in society . We do not want to provoke shame or seem unloving by calling it what God calls it...sin! This sin seems to be outside the realm of sexual immorality and poked and prodded into as though it were 'special'. The homosexual is a 'victim', their 'attraction'{do read this well written article concerning same sex attraction here} to the same sex is seen as something they cannot help. Society tries to analyze this sin and pry into the sinner's past looking for a reason as to why they have this 'attraction'. It really is not that complicated, 'Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me' {Psalm 51:5}. We are born sinners, radically depraved; God-hating and sin-loving. We will always gravitate towards sin, it's what our hearts desire and lust for; it is our nature to do so. Why do some gravitate towards the sin of homosexuality and others do not? Choice. As born again believers, we need to stop using worldly terminology such as 'orientation' and phrases like 'struggles with same sex attraction' which are NOT found in the Bible and use words that are, like 'abomination' and phrases like 'flee from sexual immorality'.

Addictions are rampant, everything from gambling, to sex, to drugs and alcohol are labeled as an addiction and defined as some mental disorder, genetic defect or disease. Rehabs and organizations like AA are leading those in bondage to sin down a false road of hope, claiming to have the ability to cure the addict and help them overcome their addictions. Due to a failure to understand sin and its bondage, that we are all enslaved to sin, love it, and cannot free ourselves from it; sinners, out of desperation, flock to man-made programs in hopes of overcoming something that controls them and more often than not...destroys. 

I just saw a news headline stating internet addiction is going to be defined as 'mental illness', you can read about that here if you like. Briefly, from the article, "Psychologists believe that Internet addiction should be categorized like other addiction disorders as it has similar symptoms, including emotional shutdown, lack of concentration and withdrawal. Parents have noted their children becoming angry and violent when their electronic gadgets are taken away from them, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. In other instances, kids preferred to play a videogame over eating or social interaction."

This describes the results of sinful choices, as well as lack of proper parental guidance and discipline- NOT some type of mental breakdown due to something outside of 'self'. Thus, mankind moves a step closer to eliminating accountability and portraying itself as 'victims'. 

All this labeling and defining according to man's wisdom has led to what John spoke of in 1 John 1:8, 'if we say we have no sin'. This is where we presently are in society; many professing Christians are terrified to present biblical truth concerning sin because they do not want to seem unloving. I believe this is all part of what one dear brother describes in this way,  'Attacks on the truth are getting more polished, more convincing in their manipulative techniques. '
This is Satan's most effective tool, deception - "Did God really say?"...It is working all too well. To redefine sin keeps sinners from doing what God commands, confess and repent. How can you do that if you believe your actions are something outside of yourself, if you are merely a victim then you surely can't be held accountable before a Holy God right? The mind is so easily manipulated, which is why it is essential to guard your mind, fill it with truth. The only source of truth we have is the Holy Bible. Let us not fail to call sin what it is, using the word of God as our source. As Charles Spurgeon so rightly stated,  "God never clothes men until He has first stripped them,nor does He quicken them by the gospel till first they are slain by the law."
 To suppress the truth concerning sin is to leave one in sin, under wrath and headed for hell. It takes more love to speak biblical truth than it does to worry about hurting someone's feelings or being too offensive. The Gospel is offensive! It is a command to forsake your sins, but you have to understand that you are a sinner, you are responsible for what you do, what you choose. God's word is our weapon of defense to man's method of modern psychology.  The Bible is where you find sin defined by the One who created all and has laid down the laws as to what sin is. To state, for instance, having homosexual tendencies and desires is due to an 'orientation' is just like what took place in the garden...Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent. It's passing the buck, a 'I cannot help myself' mentality. This cannot be how we approach sin, it must be spoken of just as it is written. God calls this sin an abomination, and all who continue on it it will perish. However, there is hope in Christ for the broken and contrite heart. Sin must be defined biblically before hope in Jesus becomes a reality.

 Here is another quote I got from Christina's blog from C. H. Spurgeon, "While I regarded God as a tyrant, I thought sin a trifle; but when I knew him to be my father, then I mourned that I could ever have kicked against him. When I thought that God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against one who loved me so, and sought my good.

"It is the preacher's task to speak about the one subject that men would most rather forget - sin and its consequences."- Paul Washer