Thoughts on the Way Home

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Hidden Life of Prayer

Along the lines of Garrett's post, Grudem also mentioned the book he rereads the most is The Hidden Life of Prayer by David M'Intyre. This is arguably one of the best books in the devotional trajectory that has ever been written. You may find the book online here. The problem with this format is the location of the footnotes. The footnotes are actually just as good (if not better) than the whole book! In the original printed versions, the footnotes were located on the page of their citation (some of the subsequent reprints also have them in the back). A person reading the book would miss out on a great deal of the glory of this little book if they don't read these footnotes.

Wayne Grudem's Morning Routine

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C. J. Mahaney has posted a four-part interview with Wayne Grudem:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

I was especially blessed by Grudem's description of his morning routine (an area in which I could use all the help I can get!):

I usually wake up about 6:00 a.m., but sometimes as late as 7:00 or 7:30 (if I’ve been up late the night before—I need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep or I don’t think as clearly). I get a cup of tea and one of Margaret’s excellent high-protein muffins and open my Bible.

I simply read sequentially through the Bible and then start over at the beginning (I’m currently in 1 Corinthians and Psalms, reading two portions each morning). I will read the Bible for 15 or 20 minutes, underlining some verse, or making some very brief notes. Many times I will wonder about something in the Greek or Hebrew text and check it briefly, but I don’t get involved in extensive exegesis because that is not my purpose at that time. I’m looking for God to teach me directly from his Word, with application to my life.

Usually I just “camp” on a phrase or verse, sometimes writing it out and pondering application to my own life. I also keep a blank notepad beside me because God often brings to my mind things that I need to do and I make a quick note.

Then I will usually pause for five or ten minutes just waiting in the Lord’s presence and thinking about the verse or talking to him about it. After that, I pick up a notebook with different pages for people and things that I am praying for—some pages about various things in my own life, then my wife Margaret, then our children and their families, then my parents and other members of my extended family, and then other friends and people in different organizations such as our church or Phoenix Seminary where I teach.

There’s also a section having to do with our government and concerns of our nation and world. That will take 15 or 20 minutes, and sometimes longer, so the total time may be between 30 and 60 minutes.

At the end of the time I will usually bring before the Lord my “to do” list, and pray about various items on the list, asking the Lord to help me know what to make a top priority today, and asking his blessing on the things that I plan to do. Often at the end I also have another time of maybe two or three minutes or maybe five or ten minutes just resting in the Lord’s presence and waiting on him.

I find in those times of quietness, when I’m not praying about anything in particular but simply resting in the Lord’s presence, that he will bring to mind solutions for problems, or people I need to contact, or things I need to write, or things I should not spend time doing, or any of a number of other things. I also find that over the course of the entire Bible reading and prayer time a deeper sense of peace and rest in the Lord’s presence comes on my heart.

Be sure to read the rest of the interview at the links above.

HT: JT

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Infinite and Everlasting Grace - Horatius Bonar

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“We often feel as if grace had done its utmost when it has carried us safely through the desert, and set us down at the gate of the kingdom. We feel as if, when grace has landed us there, it has done all for us that we are to expect.

But God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. He does exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think. It is just when we reach the threshold of the prepared heavenly city, that grace meets us in new and more abundant measures, presenting us with the recompense of the reward.

The love that shall meet us then to bid us welcome to the many mansions, shall be love beyond what we were here able to comprehend; for then shall we fully realize, as if for the first time, the meaning of these words, ‘The love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord;’ and then shall we have that prayer of Christ fulfilled in us, ‘That the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.’

It was grace which on earth said to us, ‘Come unto Me, and I will give you rest;’ and it will be grace, in all its exceeding riches, that will hereafter say to us, ‘Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”

—Horatius Bonar, “The God of Grace”

HT: Of First Importance

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In Search Of An Honest Atheist - Sam Storms

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In Search of an Honest Atheist

Do honest atheists exist? By honest, I don't mean atheists who pay their taxes and keep their promises and choose not to steal or lie. What I mean in asking the question is whether or not there exists an atheist who honestly believes there is no God.

There are, undoubtedly, many who claim to be atheists. They insist, often loudly and angrily, that there is no God and that religion is the cause of virtually all human pain and suffering. The only ultimate reality, so they say, is matter. Physical substance, whether helium or hormones, whether water or fire, is all there is. Everything can be explained or accounted for in terms of the existence and interaction of material substance of one sort or another. In other words, there is no spiritual realm. There are no angels. There is no immaterial soul in man, and above all, there is no "god" or deity or divinity or supernatural being of any sort.

So I'll ask again: do honest atheists exist? You may think that to be a silly question given the notoriety of late among such prominent professing atheists as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, just to name a few. But the operative word here is professing. Yes, many profess to be atheists and make a pretty good living writing books about it or appearing on talk shows or teaching in our universities and colleges. But my question is again whether or not these people, in the depth and quiet of their own hearts, honestly believe there is no God.

I contend they do not. I contend that they are living and speaking in denial of what they know to be true. I contend that they are laboring to persuade themselves of what is indelibly and inescapably inscribed on their hearts: that there is a God and that they are morally accountable to him.

No one has made the case for the non-existence of honest atheists, with greater clarity and force, than John Calvin. "There is within the human mind," said Calvin, "and indeed by natural instinct, an awareness of divinity. . . . To prevent anyone from taking refuge in the pretense of ignorance, God himself has implanted in all men a certain understanding of his divine majesty."

Before we turn to Calvin's biblical defense of this truth, let's hear him make the point again. This sense or awareness of divinity which can never be effaced "is engraved upon men's minds" and "is naturally born in all" and "is fixed deep within, as it were in the very marrow." No matter how vocal their denials or sarcastic their laughter or loud their derision, "the worm of conscience, sharper than any cauterizing iron, gnaws away within." Although many "strive with every nerve" to suppress this truth, "it is not a doctrine that must first be learned in school" but one of which "each of us is master from his mother's womb and which nature itself permits no one to forget."

But how do we know that all men know there is a God? On what grounds do we refuse to honor their claim to being atheists? Calvin points us in two directions. Not only has God "sowed in men's minds that seed of religion," what we often refer to as conscience (see Romans 2:12-16), but he has also "revealed himself and daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe. As a consequence, men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see him." Upon all his works in the natural order of creation "he has engraved unmistakable marks of his glory, so clear and so prominent that even unlettered and stupid folk cannot plead the excuse of ignorance."

I can't emphasize strongly enough that although such knowledge is inescapable, it is inadequate to impart eternal life or the forgiveness of sins. Although countless burning lamps shine for us in the workmanship of the universe, "although they bathe us wholly in their radiance, yet they can of themselves in no way lead us into the right path." God's existence and eternal power and divine nature are made "plain" to all men, rendering them "without excuse" (Romans 1:20). But we do not have "eyes" to behold his saving splendor "unless they be illumined by the inner revelation of God through faith."

The fault is not with what God has revealed. There is no shortcoming or defect in his handiwork. The failure is in us. The dullness and stupidity and delusion are wholly ours. The problem isn't that mankind lacks sufficient evidence for the existence of God. The problem isn't that the evidence suffers from lack of clarity or beauty or falls short in its persuasive power.

The problem is that mankind, apart from Christ and his regenerating grace, despises what he sees. The problem is that we hate what we know. The problem isn't that men look upon creation or contemplate the conviction of their own conscience and turn away saying, "It's not enough; proof is lacking; it doesn't add up; God doesn't exist." The problem is that they willfully and selfishly and knowingly loathe the God whom they see and know to exist and would rather indulge their own fleshly lusts and worship their own souls than to honor and give thanks to the God of glory (cf. Romans 1:21-25).

Calvin has read Paul rightly. His conclusions are therefore on the mark. There is no such thing as an honest atheist. There are those aplenty who with their mouths scoff at the notion of God and formulate their arguments to "prove" he does not exist. Perhaps there are even some who from years of willful rebellion and self-induced hardening of heart have anesthetized their souls to God's powerful presence. Perhaps there are some (many?) whom God has simply "given over" (Romans 1:24,26,28) to the deeper cultivation of their self-delusion, some (many?) who have degenerated to such a degree that they've rendered themselves impervious to the clearest and most persuasive of evidence. But in any and every case, they are still "without excuse" (Romans 1:20). The plea of ignorance will not suffice at the final bar of judgment.

Do not go in search of an honest atheist. You won't find one. Turn, instead, to the heavens above which "declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1a). Turn, instead, to the sky that "proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1b). "Lift up your eyes on high and see" the trillions and trillions of stars and worship the One who "brings out their host by number" and calls "them all by name," whose power alone sustains them so that "not one is missing" (Isaiah 40:26). And then worship!

And then share these glorious truths with a "professing" atheist and direct him to the revelation of Christ in Scripture and pray that the God who said "Let light shine out of darkness" might shine in his heart "to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

-- Sam Storms

HT: Mack T

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Make Only Christ's Righteousness Triumphant - Thomas Wilcox

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“Whatever comes in, when you go to God for acceptance, besides Christ, call it Antichrist; bid it be gone; make only Christ’s righteousness triumphant.”

- Thomas Wilcox, “Honey Out of the Rock

HT: Of First Importance

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The Bottom Line: Psalm 1 - Mark LaCour

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THE BOTTOM LINE

Mark LaCour



"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night." (Psa. 1:1-2).


People who say, "I'm a Christian; I believe that Jesus is my savior, and that He is the only way for me; but I just can’t say He is the way for others" is going to have a hard time singing from the Jewish Psalter. This psalm is first, not simply because its basic content is found in every psalm, but because it stands in stark contrast with those who want to worship God from a "tolerant" religious position. God will have none of it -- and neither will His people. To sing to Him means to sing to no other.

Being blessed never occurs in a vacuum. It's knowing what to avoid and what to pursue. It's knowing how to identify wicked counsel, sinful directions, and cynical pundits -- and choosing instead to saturate the mind with what pleases God, not public opinion. These blessed people are found where the righteous gather, leaving a legacy of wise and enduring counsel (vs. 5). Their durability is likened to a tree planted by a river -- not a shrub which has no stature, nor growing in a desert which has no nutrients. Their strength produces fruit which feeds other -- never missing a season and never lacking a leaf. The Lord knows their way not simply because He knows all things, but because He is the one who plants them (vs. 3, 6).

The wicked, on the other hand, are compared to chaff -- close to the righteous as a husk is to seed, but lacking the character weight needed to remain when the winds of trial come. They're not found in the granary of the assembled righteous, nor is their counsel sought or given during decision-making.

Two kinds of people possessing two kinds of behavior heading to two kinds of destinations -- not only a truth to treasure and a warning to heed, but a song every Christian must sing.

-Mark LaCour

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Replacing Lies With Truth - Mack T

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Replacing Lies with Truth



For all the negative things we hear or believe, which are often deception and lies coming against our minds, God has an answer of truth for it.

You say, "It's impossible."
God says: "All thing are possible". (Luke 18:27)

You say, "I'm too tired."
God says: "I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28-20)

You say, "Nobody really loves me."
God says: "I love you." (John 3:16 - John 13:34)

You say, "I can't go on."
God says: "My grace is sufficient." (II Cor. 12:9 - Psalm 91:15)

You say, "I can't figure things out."
God says: "I will direct your steps." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say, "I can't do it."
God says: "You can do all things through Christ." (Phil 4:13)

You say, "It's not worth it."
God says: "It will be worth it." (Romans 8:28)

You say, "I can't forgive myself."
God says: "I forgive you." (I John 1:9 - Romans 8:1)

You say, "I can't manage."
God says: "I will supply all your needs." (Phil 4:19)

You say, "I'm afraid."
God says: "I have not given you a spirit of fear." (II Tim. 1:7)

You say, "I'm always worried and frustrated."
God says: "Cast all your cares on me." (I Peter 5:7)

You say, "I don't have enough faith."
God says: "I've given everyone a measure of faith." (Romans 12:3)

You say, "I'm not smart enough."
God says: "I give you wisdom." (I Cor. 1:30)

You say, "I feel all alone.."
God says: "I will never leave you or forsake you." (Heb. 13:5)

It is always a choice of either believing the feelings, emotions, and lies that come against our minds
or believing the truth of what God has said.

-Mack T

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Losing Our Expectancy - Martyn Lloyd-Jones

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Possibly one of the most devastating things that can happen to us as Christians is that we cease to expect anything to happen. I am not sure but that this is not one of our greatest troubles today. We come to our services and they are orderly, they are nice ‒ we come, we go ‒ and sometimes they are timed almost to the minute, and there it is. But that is not Christianity, my friend. Where is the Lord of glory? Where is the one sitting by the well? Are we expecting him? Do we anticipate this? Are we open to it? Are we aware that we are ever facing this glorious possibility of having the greatest surprise of our life?

Or let me put it like this. You may feel and say ‒ as many do ‒ ‘I was converted and became a Christian. I’ve grown ‒ yes, I’ve grown in knowledge, I’ve been reading books, I’ve been listening to sermons, but I’ve arrived now at a sort of peak and all I do is maintain that. For the rest of my life I will just go on like this.’

Now, my friend, you must get rid of that attitude; you must get rid of it once and for ever. That is ‘religion’, it is not Christianity. This is Christianity: the Lord appears! Suddenly, in the midst of the drudgery and the routine and the sameness and the dullness and the drabness, unexpectedly, surprisingly, he meets with you and he says something to you that changes the whole of your life and your outlook and lifts you to a level that you had never conceived could be possible for you. Oh, if we get nothing else from this story, I hope we will get this. Do not let the devil persuade you that you have got all you are going to get, still less that you received all you were ever going to receive when you were converted. That has been a popular teaching, even among evangelicals. You get everything at your conversion, it is said, including baptism with the Spirit, and nothing further, ever. Oh, do not believe it; it is not true. It is not true to the teaching of the Scriptures, it is not true in the experience of the saints running down the centuries. There is always this glorious possibility of meeting with him in a new and a dynamic way.

-ML-J, Living Water: Studies in John 4

HT: JT

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Following Christ as a Helpless Child - Jonathan Edwards

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“In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of Christ’s hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds on his hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin and hides your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robe of his righteousness.”

—Jonathan Edwards, letter to Deborah Hatheway (June 3, 1741)

HT: Of First Importance

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The Danger of Drifting Away - Kirk Wellum

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A good exhortation from Kirk Wellum:

"With all that is taking place around us in the world, it is possible to lose sight of what matters; things like where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. We can become entangled in the concerns of the moment, wrapped up in the news headlines and forget that the real story is most often not what is reported on television or in newspaper, nor is it the latest scuttlebutt of the financial and business community, the technology sector, or even the blog world. What really matters is our relationship with the exalted Lord of creation and redemption. Do we know the one who has sat down at the Father's right hand? Have we been redeemed by him? Are we living in what is called in Hebrews (and elsewhere) the "last days" as those who understand that this is more of a theological than a chronological designation. The "last days" are here, because no matter how long they go on, God has spoken definitively in his Son. If we know these truths they will keep us from "drifting away" and as we apply them to our lives they will insure that we live so as to make every moment count for eternity."

Read the rest HERE.

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Knowledge of Hebrew & Greek? - A. W. Pink

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Knowledge of the original Hebrew and Greek

(Arthur Pink, "Bible Study")

"Desire the sincere milk of the Word--that you may grow thereby." 1 Peter 2:2

The Bible consists of a series of letters from the Heavenly Father, to His dear children. Then let us cherish them as such, and act accordingly. A few verses that are thoughtfully and prayerfully pondered, will advantage us far more than two or three whole chapters, merely skimmed through.

That against which we are protesting--is the God-dishonoring idea that His Word is merely a piece of literature, which may be "mastered" by a course of "study." We would warn against an undue occupation with the technical aspects of the Bible. God's blessed Word is not for dissection by the knife of cold intellectuality. It is not given for us to display our cleverness and "brilliance" upon--but to be bowed before in true humility. It is not designed for mental entertainment--but for the regulation of our daily lives!

Our motive when approaching the Word, should be to seek that which will subdue pride and bring us as supplicants to the footstool of Mercy--not to acquire that which will puff us up in our own conceit. Of what value is a knowledge of the original Hebrew and Greek--or a thorough acquaintance with the history, geography, and chronology of the Bible--if the heart is left cold and hard toward its Author!

I seriously doubt if God has called or requires us, merely to 'study' His Word. What we need to do, is FEED thereon. How much nourishment would your body derive from a study of the chemical properties of foods--or from seeking to ascertain the various sorts of soil in which they are grown--or the meaning of their Latin names? None whatever! And I am persuaded that much of the modern 'study of the Bible' is equally profitless spiritually!

By all means, "search the Scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11); slowly ponder each word in every verse. Pray constantly for the guidance and illumination of the Spirit, that He may open to you its Divine mysteries. Above all, beg God to write His Word more legibly and fully upon the tablets of your heart--that you may put the precepts into practice.

"Nourished up in the Words of Faith" (1 Timothy 4:6). God's Word is the only nutritive food for the soul! This is why the Holy Scriptures are given to us--that we may grow in love and reverence for them, and be more and more regulated by them. It is only by feeding on this Heavenly Manna, that strength is obtained for our pilgrim walk, for our warfare with sin and Satan, and for our service unto God and our fellows.

HT: Grace Gems

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Living God - Martyn Lloyd-Jones

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I posted this before about a year ago, but since we have a few more readers now I thought it would be worth mentioning again. This is one article (originally a sermon) that definitely falls into the "must-read" category. The points ML-J brings out here have had a profound impact upon the whole of my Christian life. May the Lord bless it to you as well.

The Living God by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

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The Incarnation & New Creation - John Piper

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“The ultimate reason there is a new heavens and a new earth is because the risen Christ will never lay down his human body but keep it as an everlasting emblem of Calvary where the glory of God’s grace was most fully displayed. The whole material universe was created in the first place, and then given its new form, so that the Son of God could be incarnate as a man, suffer in the flesh, be crucified, rise from the dead, and reign as the God-man and be surrounded by a countless host of redeemed people who in our spiritual bodies sing and speak and work and play and love in ways that visibly reflect his glory most fully precisely because we have bodies in a world spiritually and physically radiant with the glory of God.”

- John Piper, “The Triumph of the Gospel in the New Heavens and the New Earth”

HT: Of First Importance

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sharing In The Life Of The Resurrected Christ - Richard Gaffin

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“The relationship between the exalted Christ and the Spirit is the cornerstone of Paul’s teaching on the Christian life and the work of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Spirit is the presence of Christ (Rom. 8:9-10; Eph. 3:16-17). Life in the Spirit has its specific eschatological quality because it is the shared life of the resurrected Christ, in union with him. The radical edge of Paul’s outlook stresses that at the core of their being (”the inner man” or the “heart”), Christians will never be more resurrected than they already are! Christian existence across its full range is a manifestation and outworking of the resurrection life and power of Christ, the life-giving Spirit (Rom. 6:2ff.; Eph. 2:5-6; Col. 2:12-13; 3:1-4).”

- Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. “Resurrection and Redemption: How Eschatology and the Gospel Relate

HT: Of First Importance

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Being Asked a Painful Question

Hudson Taylor's conversation with a new convert name Nyi:

It was he who, talking with Mr. Taylor, unexpectedly raised a question the pain of which was not easily forgotten.

"How long have you had the glad tidings in England?" he asked unsuspectingly.

The young missionary was ashamed to tell him, and vaguely replied that it was several hundreds of years.

"What," exclaimed Nyi in astonishment, "several hundreds of years! Is it possible that you have known about Jesus so long, and only now have come to tell us? My father sought the truth for more than twenty years," he continued sadly, "and died without finding it. Oh, why did you not come sooner?"
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The truth is, that while the missionaries are often roughly treated and persecuted - if no one goes... well, let's follow the reverse logic of Romans 10:13-15.

If no one goes (or is sent), no one will preach. If no one preaches, no one will hear. If no one hears, no one will believe. If no one believes, no one will call on the Lord Jesus. If no one calls on the Lord, no one will be saved.

As Curt Daniel has said, "Those who never hear can never be saved. What an incentive for us to go to them with the Gospel! They who never hear will all go to Hell."

ESV Study Bible on Matthew 5:17-20

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Matt. 5:17 abolish the Law or the Prophets. The “Law” or “Torah” refers to the first five books of the OT, while the “Prophets” includes the rest of the OT, all of which was held to have been written by prophets (cf. Matt. 13:35, which cites Ps. 78:2; on “Law [and the] Prophets,” cf. Matt. 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Rom. 3:21). but to fulfill them. Jesus “fulfills” all of the OT in that it all points to him, not only in its specific predictions of a Messiah but also in its sacrificial system, which looked forward to his great sacrifice of himself, in many events in the history of Israel which foreshadowed his life as God's true Son, in the laws which only he perfectly obeyed, and in the Wisdom Literature, which sets forth a behavioral pattern that his life exemplified (cf. Matt. 2:15; 11:13; 12:3–6, 39–41, 42; also Luke 24:27). Jesus' gospel of the kingdom does not replace the OT but rather fulfills it as Jesus' life and ministry, coupled with his interpretation, complete and clarify God's intent and meaning in the entire OT.

Matt. 5:18 until heaven and earth pass away. Jesus confirms the full authority of the OT as Scripture for all time (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15–16), even down to the smallest components of the written text: the iota is the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet (or the yod of the Hb. alphabet) and the dot likely refers to a tiny stroke or a part of a letter used to differentiate between Hebrew letters. pass from the Law. The OT remains an authoritative compendium of divine testimony and teaching, within which some elements (such as sacrifices and other ceremonial laws) predicted or foreshadowed events that would be accomplished in Jesus' ministry (see notes on Gal. 4:10; 5:1) and so are not now models for Christian behavior. Until all is accomplished points to Jesus' fulfillment of specific OT hopes, partly through his earthly life, death, and resurrection, and then more fully after his second coming.

Matt. 5:19 These commandments refers to all the commands in the OT (although many will be applied differently once their purpose has been “fulfilled” in Christ; v. 17). The rabbis recognized a distinction between “light” commandments (such as tithing garden produce) and “weighty” commandments (such as those concerning idolatry, murder, etc.). relaxes one of the least. Jesus demands a commitment to both the least and the greatest commandments yet condemns those who confuse the two (cf. 23:23–24). The entire OT is the expression of God's will but is now to be taught according to Jesus' interpretation of its intent and meaning.

Matt. 5:20 Jesus calls his disciples to a different kind and quality of righteousness than that of the scribes and Pharisees. They took pride in outward conformity to many extrabiblical regulations but still had impure hearts (see 23:5, 23, 27–28). But kingdom righteousness works from the inside out because it first produces changed hearts and new motivations (Rom. 6:17; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 5:22–23; Phil. 2:12; Heb. 8:10), so that the actual conduct of Jesus' followers does in fact “[exceed] the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.”

Read more HERE.

Purchase an ESV Study Bible HERE.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Transformed By Beholding - J. R. Miller

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"For those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son!" Romans 8:29. "We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2. No sooner do we begin to behold the lovely face of Christ, which which looks out at us from the gospel chapters, than a great hope springs up in our hearts. We can become like Jesus! Indeed, if we are God's children, we shall become like him. We are foreordained to be conformed to his image. It matters not how faintly the divine beauty glimmers now in our soiled and imperfect lives--some day we shall be like him! As we struggle here with imperfections and infirmities, with scarcely one trace of Christlikeness yet apparent in our life, we still may say, when we catch glimpses of the glorious loveliness of Christ, "Some day I shall be like that!"

But how may we now grow into the Christlikeness of Christ? Not merely by our own strugglings and strivings. We know what we want to be; but when we try to lift our own lives up to the beauty we see and admire--we find ourselves weighted down! We cannot make ourselves Christlike by any efforts of our own. Nothing less than a divine power is sufficient to produce this transformation in our human nature.

The Scripture describes the process. Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the image of the glory—that is, we are to find the likeness of Christ, and are to look upon it and ponder it, gazing intently and lovingly upon it, and as we gaze we are transformed and grow like Christ; something of the glory of his face passes into our dull faces and stays there, shining out in us."

Read the whole thing HERE.

HT: Grace Gems

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Great Sin of Unbelief - C. H. Spurgeon

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“Beloved friends, let us never look upon our own unbelief as an excusable infirmity, but let us always regard it as a sin, and as a great sin, too. Whatever excuse you may at any time make for others—and I pray you to make excuses for them whenever you can rightly do so—never make any for yourself. In that case, be swift to condemn.

It is a very easy thing for us to get into a desponding state of heart, and to mistrust the promises and faithfulness of God, and yet, all the while, to look upon ourselves as the subjects of a disease which we cannot help, and even to claim pity at the hands of our fellow-men, and to think that they should condole with us, and try to cheer us.

It will be far wiser for each one of us to feel, ‘This unbelief of mine is a great wrong in the sight of God. He has never given me any occasion for it, and I am doing him a cruel injustice by thus doubting him. I must not idly sit down, and say, This has come upon me like a fever, or a paralysis, which I cannot help; but I must rather say, This is a great sin, in which I must no longer indulge; but I must confess my unbelief, with shame and self-abasement, to think that there should be in me this evil heart of unbelief.’”

—Charles Spurgeon, “Unbelievers Upbraided” (a sermon on Mark 16:14)

HT: Of First Importance

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Which Is First: Repentance or Faith? - Mack T

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Which Comes First-- Repentance or Faith?

This question was posed to me this week by a dear brother:

"In Mark 1:15 it says "repent and believe the gospel." My question is, after the heart is converted by the grace of God, does a man repent and then believe, believe which leads to repentance, repent and believe simultaneously, or it doesn't matter? I know both aspects of repentance and believing are irreducible minimums in true salvation, but can we conclude from scripture if one comes before the other?"

My reply:

It is a great question really to make us think more deeply about such an important matter.

It seems that the New Testament would say that, while the call of the gospel sets the order as repentance and then faith ('repent and believe'), it seems that the two are not necessarily always seen in that order in the New Testament, the reason being that they are joined graces which happen in a sinner's heart as Christ is drawing and saving them.

Someone said (I forget who) that repentance and faith are like Siamese twins- they are joined together, but are distinct and different graces; I think it was Calvin who said that repentance is believing repentance and faith is repentant faith.

Any time a sinner is being drawn by the Holy Spirit to the Saviour, when he or she comes to Christ, they are obviously turning away from sin at the exact time that they are trusting the Lord; so repentance and faith in conversion really happen at the same time; a person is having a repentant heart and attitude as he is coming to trust Christ.

The Holy Spirit regenerates, then and only then, will repentance and faith result; no repentance happens that does not contained saving faith and no saving faith is occurring unless there is repentance is involved.

These two aspects of salvation (repentance and faith) are primarily viewed by the term 'conversion'; they are both saving graces given by God to the sinner simultaneously. But either one can evidence itself outwardly in the sinner's response first-- what I mean is that one person evidences deep repentance and yet faith may not outwardly seem to be present very much; then another person may be greatly rejoicing in and embracing Christ in a way that is strong, yet repentance is not the main reality being outwardly shown; but its there none the less.

I think the question of their order (which comes first?) has more to do with the call of the gospel (the preached message); the apostles and Jesus put repentance first; Jesus did, John Baptist did, Paul did and Peter did. New Testament preaching consistently said, "Repent and believe." Paul said to the jailer in Acts 16, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." But he was seeing in the jailer a man who was already evidencing repentance, thus his primary directive was faith, pointing him to Christ.

The essence of what I am saying is that a sinner cannot truly repent without at the same time experiencing saving faith, and likewise, any true faith in Christ has within it a repentant attitude and heart. That is a simple answer but I hope it helps.

John Murray's book, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, is excellent on this subject, as is Sinclair Ferguson's The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction; both books are well worth the read.

-Mack T

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Missionary Heart for Thieves

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Taken from "Hudson Taylor: In Early Years, The Growth of a Soul" - Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor

We read of young Hudson Taylor, then 24, on an expedition on an expedition in China to move his few belongings to a new port city for further ministry. Abandoned by the Chinese helpers paid to move his things, he is outside at night with nowhere to sleep.

I was opposite a temple, but it was closed, so I lay down on the stone steps in front of it, and putting my money under my head for a pillow should have been asleep in spite of the cold had I not perceived a person coming stealthily towards me. As he approached, I saw he was one of the beggars so common in China and had no doubt his intention was to rob me of my money. I did not stir, but watched his movements, and looked to my Father not to leave me in this hour of trial. The man came up, looked at me for some time to assure himself that i was asleep (it was dark so that he could not see my eyes fixed on him), and then began to feel about me gently. I said to him in the quietest tone, but so as to convince him that I was not nor had been sleeping,

"What do you want?"

He made no answer, but went away.

I was thankful to see him go, and when he was out of sight put as much of my cash as would go into my pocket safely up my sleeve, and made my pillow of a stone projection of the wall. It was not long before I began to doze, but I was aroused by the all but noiseless footsteps of two people approaching, for my nervous system was rendered so sensitive by exhaustion that the slightest sound startled me. Again I sought protection from Him who alone was my stay, and lay still as before, till one of them came up and began to feel under my head for the cash. I spoke again, and they sat down at my feet. I asked them what they were doing. They replied that, like me, they were going to pass the night outside the temple. I then requested them to take the opposite side as there was plenty of room, and leave this side to me. But they would not move from my feet. So I raised myself up and set my back against the wall.

"You had better lie down and sleep," said on of them, "otherwise you will be unable to work tomorrow. Do not be afraid, we shall not leave you, and will see that no one does you harm."

"Listen to me," I replied. "I do not want your protection. I do not need it. I am not a Chinese, and I do not worship your vain idols. I worship God. He is my Father, and I trust in Him. I know well what you are and what are your intentions, and shall keep my eye on you and not sleep."

Upon this one of them went away, only to return with a third companion. I felt very uneasy but looked to God for help. Once or twice one of them came over to see if I was asleep.

"Do not be mistaken," I said, "I am not sleeping."

Occasionally my head dropped and this was a signal for one of them to rise. But I at once roused myself and made some remark. As the night slowly wore on, I felt very weary, and to keep myself awake as well as to cheer my mind I sang several hymns, repeated aloud some portions of Scripture, and engaged in prayer... to the annoyance of my companions, who seemed as if they would have given me anything to get me to desist. After that they troubled me no more, and when shortly before dawn of day they left me I got a little sleep."

This all sounds great, how he trusted in God and was kept through the night. But the story wasn't over. He writes of his reflection later the next day:

"On the way I was led to reflect on the goodness of God and recollected that I had not made it a matter of prayer that I might be provided with lodgings last night. I felt condemned, too, that I should have been so anxious for my few things, while the many precious souls around me had caused so little concern. I came as a sinner and pleaded the blood of Jesus..."

Later when they discovered the Chinese worker, Yoh-hsi, that had ran off with his belongings and abandoned him, he declined advice to prosecute the man (which he could have done quite easily). He had been earnestly striving for this man's salvation prior to the incident, and wrote:

So I have sent him a plain, faithful letter to the effect that we know his guilt, and what its consequences might be to himself, that at first I had considered handing over the matter to the yamen, but remembering Christ's command to return good for evil, I had not done so, and did not wish to injure a hair of his head.

I told him that he was the real loser, not I; that I freely forgave him, and besought him more earnestly than ever to flee from the wrath to come. I also added that though it was not likely he would give up such of my possessions as were serviceabe to a Chinese, there were among them foreign books and papers that could be of no use to him but were valuable to me, and that those at least he ought to send back.

If only his conscience might be moved and his soul saved, how infinitely more important that would be than the recovery of all I have lost. Do pray for him.

The point is, he was burdened for their souls, a true missionary heart.

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*** eventually we are told George Muller somehow learned of this account and sent him the money sufficient to repay his lost items (40 pounds) and from that day forward shared in prayer and financial support for the young missionary Hudson Taylor...

Clarifying Election

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Diagram on the doctrine of Election

*mainly from Romans chapters 8-11



(click on the diagram for full-size)

After a discussion with some brothers the other day I thought it would be helpful to make a diagram of the workings of God in election and what follows. There is often much misunderstanding. The diagram shows both the elect and non-elect at each logically sequential stage in the plan of God.

Hopefully the diagram and the following few key points will be helpful to you if you’re trying to keep this straight in your mind.

Key points:

- Election is a positive term in the NT. It refers to God’s foreknowing a person, that is making his choice about them and setting his love on them (Rom.8:29; 1 Pet. 1:2, 1:20; Deut. 7:6-8; 1 Thess. 1:4).

- The non-elect are not condemned at the point of election, they are simply passed over by God’s special love of election. Their condemnation is only marked out at the point of predestination with their sins being now in view (Rom. 9:15).

- “Double Predestination” is an unhelpful term. God is equally sovereign in both the destinies of the elect and the non-elect, but they are on different grounds. Predestination for the elect is on the ground and basis of grace and mercy. Predestination for the rest is on the ground and basis of sin and justice (Rom. 9:22-23).

- Election vs. Predestination: Election has to do with people. Predestination has to do with their destinies. As one has said, “Election marks out a man for a destiny. Predestination marks out a destiny for a man.”

Sermon Series on Faith - Charles Leiter

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This past Sunday, Charles wrapped up a three-
part sermon series on the subject of faith. Even as Christians, we are in constant need of having our minds renewed in this area. We are around so much unbelief everyday that we can begin to appropriate aspects of unbelief into our lives without even realizing it. Worst of all, we can begin to excuse our unbelief as being "normal" and "reasonable". May the Lord use these messages to expose lies and bring about change in this area.

Part One - Lord, Increase Our Faith (Intro)

Part Two - The Sinfulness of Unbelief

Part Three - Lord, Increase Our Faith

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American Christendom a Business

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American Christendom a Business

A Bible teacher gave a summary of Christian history's movement in a class to beginning students:

"Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it then came to America and became an enterprise; an enterprise--that's a business."

After a few moments a young lady, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand, asking a simple question, "A business? But isn't it supposed to be a body?"

When the teacher said, "Yes," the girl continued, "But when a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute?"

The answer is yes; American professing Christendom is a prostitute, and any professing Christian, church, or organization that uses the message or the body for financial gain is guilty and will prove to be false.

But not the true church of Jesus Christ, who is continually becoming a holy bride, preparing for her Bridegroom. Don't confuse the two- the true body of Jesus Christ is not Christendom.

HT: Mack T


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Divine Forgetfulness - Thomas Brooks

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"I will not remember your sins." Isaiah 43:25

Caesar was painted with his finger upon his
scar, his wart. God puts His fingers upon all
His people's scars and warts
--upon all their
weaknesses and infirmities, that nothing can
be seen but what is fair and lovely. "You are
so beautiful, My beloved; there is no flaw in
you!" Song of Solomon 4:7

"I will never again remember their sins and
lawless deeds." Hebrews 10:17

The meaning is, "I will fully forgive their sins;
I will never more mention them; I will never
more take notice of them; they shall never
more hear of them from Me!"

"I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember
their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:34

Though God has an iron memory to remember
the sins of the wicked--yet He has no memory
to remember the sins of the godly!

"I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and
their sins and their iniquities will I remember no
more." Hebrews 8:12

-Thomas Brooks

HT: Grace Gems

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Don't Let Me Lose the Wonder - Tim Challies

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A good reminder from Tim Challies:

"And then there’s my faith. I know the kind of man I am. I know the lusts and the pride in my heart, the anger, the sarcasm the ungodliness. I know who I am and I know what I deserve. But. But God. But God in his goodness set me apart and gave me a gift—a wondrous gift greater than any other. He gave me what he had; he gave me what I needed; he gave me his Son; he gave me Himself. And yet sometimes it’s just like rocketing through the air with my nose buried in a book. It’s mundane; it’s expected; it’s old; it’s just the way it has been for so long that I scarcely remember (or perhaps scarcely care to remember) what it was like before.

But oh, how I long for those moments when God gives me that glimpse of just where he has taken me and what he has given me. How I long to know and to believe, to experience afresh, to rejoice in my heart, to marvel, to appreciate, to love, to feel."

Read the whole thing HERE.

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Spurgeon on Entertainment

“The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them...providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church...the need is for Biblical doctrine, so understood and felt that it sets men aflame.” ~C.H. Spurgeon

Rutherford Goes Wild



You don't have to read far into Rutherford's letters before you start to notice that he can't hardly mention the name of Jesus without flying into a frenzy. A case in point:

"They are happy forevermore who are over head and ears in the love of Christ, and know no sickness but love-sickness for Christ, and feel no pain but the pain of an absent and hidden Well-beloved. We run our souls out of breath and tire them, in chasing and galloping after our night-dreams (such are the rovings of our miscarrying hearts), to get some created good thing in this life, and on this side of death. We would rather stay and spin out a heaven to ourselves, on this side of the water; but sorrow, poverty, changes, crosses, and sin, are both woof and warp in that ill-spun web. Oh, how sweet and dear are those thoughts that are still upon the things which are above! And how happy are they who are longing to have little sand in their hour-glass, and to have time's thread cut, and can cry to Christ, "Lord Jesus, have over; come and fetch the sorrowful passenger!" I wish that our thoughts were more frequently than they are upon our country. Oh, but heaven gives a sweet smell afar off to those who have spiritual smelling! God has made many fair flowers; but the fairest of them all is heaven, and the Flower of all flowers is Christ. Oh! why do we not fly up to that lovely One? Alas that there is such a scarcity of love, and of lovers, to Christ amongst us all! Fie, fie, upon us, who love fair things, as fair gold, fair houses, fair lands, fair pleasures, fair honours, and fair persons, and do not pine and melt away with love to Christ! Oh! would to God I had more love for His sake! O for as much as would lie betwixt me and heaven, for His sake! O for as much as would go round about the earth, and over the heaven, yea, the heaven of heavens, and ten thousand worlds, that I might let all out upon fair, fair, only fair Christ! But, alas! I have nothing for Him, yet He has much for me. It is no gain to Christ that He gets my little, inconstant span-length and hand-breadth of love.

If men would have something to do with their hearts and their thoughts, that are always rolling up and down (like men with oars in a boat), after sinful vanities, they might find great and sweet employment to their thoughts upon Christ. If those frothy, fluctuating, and restless hearts of ours would come all about Christ, and look into His love, to bottomless love, to the depth of mercy, to the unsearchable riches of His grace, to inquire after and search into the beauty of God in Christ, they would be swallowed up in the depth and height, length and breadth of His goodness. Oh, if men would draw back the curtains, and look into the inner side of the ark, and behold how the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily! Oh! who would not say, "Let me die, let me die ten times, to see a sight of Him?" Ten thousand deaths were no great price to give for Him. I am sure that sick, fainting love would heighten the market, and raise the price to the double for Him. But, alas! if men and angels were auctioned off, and sold at the dearest price, they would not all buy a night's love, or a four-and-twenty-hours' sight of Christ! Oh, how happy are they who get Christ for nothing! God send me no more for my part of paradise, but Christ: and surely I will be rich enough, and have as much heaven as the best of them, if Christ will be my heaven."

I love this guy! Read the whole letter HERE.

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The Grace of God Argument - Tim Keller

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“The gospel creates the only kind of grief over sin which is clean and which does not crush. It says: ‘Look at Jesus dying for you! He won’t leave you or abandon you–how then can you respond as you are? He suffered so you wouldn’t do this thing! You are not living as though you are loved! As his child! It is not because he will abandon you that you should be holy, but because this is the one who at inestimable cost to himself has said he won’t ever abandon you! How can you live in the very sin that he was ripped to pieces to deliver you from?’ See the GRACE of God argument? It is the only argument which cannot be answered.”

- Timothy Keller, Church Planter Manual

HT: Of First Importance

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Melting the Heart Away From Sin - Tim Keller

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“Repentance out of mere fear is really sorrow for the consequences of sin, sorrow over the danger of sin — it bends the will away from sin, but the heart still clings. But repentance out of conviction over mercy is really sorrow over sin, sorrow over the grievousness of sin — it melts the heart away from sin. It makes the sin itself disgusting to us, so it loses its attractive power over us. We say, ‘this disgusting thing is an affront to the one who died for me. I’m continuing to stab him with it!’”

- Timothy Keller, Church Planter Manual

HT: Of First Importance

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Seek the LORD

Many times the bible talks about "seeking God" as the responsibility of the lost man. But there is also a seeking that Christians do all throughout their lives:

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Psalm 27:4
One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Psalm 105:4
Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

Isaiah 26:9
At night my soul longs for You,Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

Daniel 9:3
So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.

Malachi 3:1
" Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts.

Romans 2:7
to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

Colossians 3:1
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Hebrews 13:14
For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

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Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

How Often Should A Church Take the Lord's Supper?

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Jim Hamilton writes:

"Let’s cut straight to the chase: I think the New Testament indicates that the early church took the Lord’s supper every Lord’s day, that is, every Sunday. My key piece of evidence for this is in Acts 20:7, “On the first day of the week, when we gathered to break bread . . .” Earlier in Acts we read of the earliest church, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers . . . day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes” (2:42, 46). "

What about the oft heard objection that having the Lord's Supper every week will demean it's significance? Hamilton responds:

"
Some object that taking the Lord’s supper every week will demean its significance. I think boring preaching and bad music demeans the significance of preaching and singing, but most Baptists churches take the risk and have preaching and singing every week. So I don’t think this argument that taking the Lord’s supper every week will make it dull is either convincing or significant. We should take the same steps to keep the Lord’s supper from becoming rote that we (should) take to keep the preaching from being boring or the music from being bad. "

Read the whole thing HERE.

HT: Challies

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Dark and Dishonorable Thoughts of God - John Newton


". . . Your exercises have been by no means singular, though they may appear so to yourself; because, in your retired situation, you have not (as you observe) had much opportunity of knowing the experience of other Christians; nor has the guilt with which your mind has been so greatly burdened, been properly your own. It was a temptation forced upon you by the enemy—and he shall answer for it.

Undoubtedly it is a mournful proof of the depravity of our nature, that there is that within us, which renders us so easily susceptive of Satan's suggestions; a proof of our extreme weakness, that, after the clearest and most satisfying evidences of the truth, we are not able to hold fast our confidence, if the Lord permits Satan to sift and shake us. But I can assure you, that these changes are not uncommon. I have known people, who, after walking with God comfortably for forty years, have been at their wit's end from such assaults as you mention, and been brought to doubt, not only of the reality of their own hopes—but of the very ground and foundation upon which their hopes were built! . . .

. . . The dark and dishonorable thoughts of God, which I hinted at as belonging to a natural state, are very different from the thoughts of your heart concerning him. You do not conceive of him as a hard master, or think you could be more happy in the breach—than in the observance of his precepts. You do not prefer the world to his favor, or think you can please him, and make amends for your sins by an obedience of your own. These, and such as these, are the thoughts of the natural heart—the very reverse of yours.

One thought, however, I confess you have indulged, which is no less dishonorable to the Lord than uncomfortable to yourself. You say, "I dare not believe that God will not impute to me as sin, the admission of thoughts which my soul ever abhorred, and to which my will never consented." Nay, you fear lest they should not only be imputed—but unpardonable. But how can this be possible? Indeed I will not call it your thought; it is your temptation. You tell me you have children. Then you will easily understand a plain illustration, which just now occurs to me.

Let me suppose a case which has sometimes happened: a child, three or four years of age we will say, while playing incautiously at a little distance from home, should be suddenly seized and carried away by a gypsy. Poor thing! how terrified, how distressed must it be! Methinks I hear its cries. The sight and violence of the stranger, the recollection of its dear parents, the loss of its pleasing home, the dread and uncertainty of what is yet to befall it—is it not a wonder that it does not die in agony? But see, help is at hand—the gypsy is pursued, and the child recovered. Now, my dear madam, permit me to ask you, if this were your child, how would you receive it? Perhaps, when the first transports of your joy for its safety would permit you, you might gently chide it for leaving your door; but would you disinherit it? Would you disown it? Would you deliver it up again to the gypsy with your own hands, because it had suffered a violence which it could not withstand, which it abhorred, and to which its will never consented? And yet what is the tenderness of a mother, of ten thousand mothers, compared to that which our compassionate Savior bears to every poor soul that has been enabled to flee to him for salvation! Let us be far from charging that to him, of which we think we are utterly incapable ourselves!

Take courage, madam! Resist the devil—and he will flee from you. If he were to tempt you to anything criminal, you would start at the thought, and renounce it with abhorrence. Do the same when he tempts you to question the Lord's compassion and goodness. But there he imposes upon us with a show of humility, and persuades us that we do well to oppose our unworthiness as a sufficient exception to the many express promises of the Word. It is said, the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin; that all manner of sin shall be forgiven for his sake; that whoever comes he will in no wise cast out; and that he is able to save to the uttermost. Believe his Word—and Satan shall be found a liar!

If the child had deliberately gone away with the gypsy, had preferred that wretched way of life, had refused to return, though frequently and tenderly invited home; perhaps a parent's love might, in time, be too weak to plead for the pardon of such continued obstinacy. But, indeed, in this manner we have all dealt with the Lord—and yet, whenever we are willing to return—he is willing to receive us with open arms, and without an upbraiding word! Luke 15:20-22. Though our sins have been deep-dyed, like scarlet and crimson, enormous as mountains, and countless as the sands, the sum total is, Sin has abounded; but where sin has abounded, grace has much more abounded!

After all, I know the Lord keeps the key of comfort in his own hands—yet he has commanded us to attempt comforting one another. I should rejoice to be his instrument of administering comfort to you. I shall hope to hear from you soon; and that you will then be able to inform me he has restored to you the joys of his salvation. But if not yet, wait for him, and you shall not wait in vain."

-John Newton, The Letters of John Newton

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Jesus Loses None - C. H. Spurgeon


“There shall be more wonder at the going to heaven of the weak believers than at the stronger ones. Mr. Greatheart, when he comes there, will owe his victories to his Master and lay his laurels at his feet; but fainting Feeblemind and limping Ready-to-Halt with his crutches, and trembling Little-Faith—when they enter into rest, will make heaven ring with notes of even greater admiration that such poor creeping worms of the earth should win the day by mighty grace.

Suppose that one of them should be missing at the last? Stop the harps! Silence the songs! No beginning to be merry while one child is shut out! I am quite certain if, as a family, we were going to sing our evening hymn of joy and thankfulness, if mother said, ‘Where is the little mite? Where is the last one of the family?’ there would be a pause. If we had to say, ‘She is lost,’ there would be no singing and no resting till she was found.

It is the glory of Jesus that as a shepherd he has lost none of His flock, as the Captain of salvation, he has brought many sons to glory and has lost none.”

—Charles Spurgeon, “Jesus Admired in Them That Believe”

HT: Of First Importance

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Scriptural Views of Sin and Looking To Jesus - John Newton



". . . I would not wish you to be less affected with a sense of in-dwelling sin. It becomes us to be humbled into the dust: yet our grief, though it cannot be too great, may be under a wrong direction; and if it leads us to impatience or distrust it certainly is so.

Sin is the sickness of the soul, in itself mortal and incurable, as to any power in heaven or earth but that of the Lord Jesus only. But he is the great, the infallible Physician. Have we the privilege to know his name? Have we been enabled to put ourselves into his hand? We have then no more to do but to attend his prescriptions, to be satisfied with his methods, and to wait his time. It is lawful to wish we were well; it is natural to groan, being burdened: but still he must and will take his own course with us; and, however dissatisfied with ourselves, we ought still to be thankful that he has begun his work in us, and to believe that he will also make an end. Therefore while we mourn, we should likewise rejoice; we should encourage ourselves to expect all that he has promised; and we should limit our expectations by his promises.

We are sure, that when the Lord delivers us from the guilt and dominion of sin, he could with equal ease free us entirely from sin, if he pleased. The doctrine of sinless perfection is not to be rejected, as though it were a thing simply impossible in itself, for nothing is too hard for the Lord, but because it is contrary to that method which he has chosen to proceed by. He has appointed that sanctification should be effected, and sin mortified, not at once completely, but by little and little; and doubtless he has wise reasons for it. Therefore, though we are to desire a growth in grace, we should, at the same time, acquiesce in his appointment, and not be discouraged or despond, because we feel that conflict which his word informs us will only terminate with our lives.

Again, some of the first prayers which the Spirit of God teaches us to put up, are for a clearer sense of the sinfulness of sin, and our vileness on account of it. Now, if the Lord is pleased to answer your prayers in this respect, though it will afford you cause enough for humiliation, yet it should be received likewise with thankfulness, as a token for good. Your heart is not worse than it was formerly, only your spiritual knowledge is increased: and this is no small part of the growth in grace, which you are thirsting after, to be truly humbled, and emptied, and made little in your own eyes. . . .

It is likewise common to overcharge ourselves. Indeed we cannot think ourselves worse than we really are; yet some things which abate the comfort and alacrity of our Christian profession are rather impediments than properly sinful, and will not be imputed to us by Him who knows our frame, and remembers that we are but dust. Thus, to have an infirm memory, to be subject to disordered, irregular, or low spirits, are faults of the constitution, in which the will has no share, though they are all burdensome and oppressive, and sometimes needlessly so, by our charging ourselves with guilt on their account. The same may be observed of the unspeakable and fierce suggestions of Satan, with which some persons are pestered, but which shall be laid to him from whom they proceed, and not to them who are troubled and terrified because they are forced to feel them. . . .

Let us then, dear madam, be thankful and cheerful; and while we take shame to ourselves, let us glorify God, by giving Jesus the honour due to his name. Though we are poor, he is rich: though we are weak, he is strong; though we have nothing, he possesses all things. He suffered for us: he calls us to be conformed to him in sufferings. He conquered in his own person, and he will make each of his members more than conquerors in due season.

It is good to have one eye upon ourselves; but the other should ever be fixed on him who stands in the relation of Saviour, Husband, Head, and Shepherd. In him we have righteousness. peace, and power. He can control all that we fear; so that if our path should be through the fire or through the water, neither the flood shall drown us, nor the flame kindle upon us, and ere long he will cut short our conflicts, and say, Come up hither. "Then shall our grateful songs abound, and every fear be wiped away." Having such promises and assurances, let us lift up our banner in his name, and press on through every discouragement. . . ."

-John Newton, The Letters of John Newton, 69-72

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Sky In Motion - Till Credner

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Another nice find from the APOD website:


túrána hott kurdís by hasta la otra méxico! from Till Credner on Vimeo.

See HERE for a high definition version.

Ps. 19:1-6

1The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
3There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
4Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
5Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
6Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

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