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Showing posts from January, 2009

Do you preach in "word only"?

They referred to him as "Logic on Fire". Learned Pastors; do you know this fire? Do you pray for this fire? -- or-- are you so afraid of "charismatic chaos" that instead you quench the Spirit of God?

To preach in “word only” and remain satisfied was impossible for Lloyd-Jones. This should be the case for any preacher. The one thing needed above all else is the accompanying power of the Spirit. This is what Charles Spurgeon dubbed “the sacred annointing.” It is the afflatus of the Spirit resting on the speaker. It is power from on high. It is the preacher gliding on eagles’ wings, soaring high, swooping low, carrying and being carried along by a dynamic other than his own. His consciousness of what is happening is not obliterated. He is not in a trance. He is being worked on but is aware that he is still working. He is being spoken through but he knows he is still speaking. The words are his but the facility with which they come compels him to realise …

Once Upon a Time...

When Mr. MacKenzie ascended the pulpit, a giggle went through the congregation when they beheld a man wearing a rough homespun suit, with long shaggy hair (so unlike the usual clergy of that time). But the moment he gave out his opening Psalm, a solemn stillness seemed to pervade the audience, and his opening prayer solemnized the people. The "reading" was the third chapter of Revelation, and he chose as his text the 20th verse, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me."

Standing erect in the pulpit, Mr. MacKenzie commenced his sermon thus:

ONCE UPON A TIME, there lived in our Highlands, a great Duke. He had a large estate, was very rich, and had everything in this world to make a man happy, if that were possible, so far as worldly matters was concerned. He was a widower, had an only child, a beautiful girl, who had a very sweet disposition, was very kind to the po…

On Looking Forward...

... the things that are unseen ...
-- 2 Corinthians 4:18

In our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part, to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown, and onward is the goal. Whether it be for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love, the future must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith.

Looking into the future we see sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect and fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. Looking further yet, the believer's enlightened eye can see death's river passed, the gloomy stream forded, and the hills of light attained on which stands the celestial city. He sees himself enter within the pearly gates, hailed as more than conqueror, crowned by the hand of Christ, embraced in the arms of Jesus, glorified with Him, and made to sit together with Him on His throne, even as He has overcome and has sat down with the Father on His throne.

The thought of this future…

Mental Illness: Biological and/or Spiritual? Are you equipped to discern the differences?

This is a highly controversial issue and one that cannot be adequately addressed in a blog post. However, it is a great error; and, if I do say so, both dangerous and ignorant, to dogmatically attribute all "mental and emotional dysfunctions" to be a result (solely and exclusively) of spiritual problems.

lArchibald Alexander was pre-eminently marked by deep spiritual wisdom. His work abounds in the kind of spiritual insight that is possessed only by those who have excelled in the theological trivium of Scriptural understanding, a thorough grasp of the whole body of divinity, and knowledge of the human heart. Having been introduced to this, readers may well want to obtain a copy of Alexander's book Thoughts on Religious Experience (Banner of Truth)

This man was a man of the Word and a man of prayer. He is held in the highest regard by the most learned reformed biblical scholars of the past and present. He wrote this in 1844, to ministers. It is advice on how to understand a…

We are all probably somewhat guilty of this...

"There is a sense in which it is true to say that you can prove anything you like from the Bible. That is how heresies have arisen. The heretics were never dishonest men; they were mistaken men. They should not be thought as men who were deliberately setting out to go wrong and to teach something that is wrong; they have been some of the most sincere men that the Church has ever known. What was the matter with them?

Their trouble was this; they evolved a theory and they were rather pleased with it; then they went back with this theory to the Bible and they seemed to find it everywhere".

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones - "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" - Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (1987) - (p11)

Pondering the Cross of Christ

Up past my bedtime, but this was heavy on my heart tonight:

One of my greatest burdens is that the Cross of Christ is rarely understood or explained. It is not enough to say, "He died"--for all men die. It is not enough to say that "He died a noble death"--for martyrs do the same. We must understand that we have not fully proclaimed the death of Christ with saving power until we have cleared away the confusion that surrounds it and expounded its true meaning to our hearers (even those who profess Him as Savior).

The scriptures are clear that He died bearing the transgression of His people and suffering the divine penalty for their sins: He was forsaken of God and crushed under the wrath of God in their place.

It is a great travesty that the true meaning of the Christ's cry from the cross has often been lost in a romantic cliche. It is not uncommon to hear a preacher declare that the Father turned away from His Son because He could no longer bear to witness the suf…

Encouragement for Pastors; Encouragement for all!

Every so often I need to be reminded that the Bible did not fall gently like manna from heaven. Its many narratives, prophecies, and letters were forged in the grit of real life struggles and the multitude of human relational dynamics not unlike what we encounter today.

Nowhere is this better seen than in 2 Corinthians. In fact, the lengthy paragraph before us (2 Cor. 7:5-16) is unintelligible apart from an understanding of the movements of Paul and Titus and the personal interactions between them and the Corinthian church. So let me briefly set the context for this incredibly instructive and encouraging passage.

As best we can tell, Paul made an urgent and confrontational visit to Corinth in the spring of 55 a.d., which he described as "painful" in 2 Corinthians 2:1. He immediately returned to Ephesus and changed the plans he had earlier made to visit Corinth twice more: once on his way to Macedonia and then on his return trip (cf. 2 Cor. 1:15-16). Fearful that his …

"The Christian Lover"

In his new book The Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Love and Marriage in the Letters of Believers, Michael Haykin says that "reading expressions of love from the past can be a helpful way of responding to the frangibility (brokenness, fragile quality) of Christian marriage in our day." In this book, the author offers a collection, a small anthology, of letters from husbands to wives and wives to husbands--letters that share the beauty of the gift that is marriage. The following are just a few sweet excerpts:

A brief portion of quite a lengthy letter from John Broadus to his wife Lottie:

Lottie, won't you love me too--don't you? Won't you pour all the wealth of your woman's love, undoubting, without any reserve, into my bosom, and let it flood my soul with sweetness? Won't you unlock every recess of your heart, and let all its affections rush forth in one rich, full tide of love? Won't you forgive [me] if I have sometimes been exacting, apparentl…

A Question...

A question was posed today on one of my favorite blogs. The question was: "Is it possible to have life in Christ without love for Christ?"

Ultimately, I would have to say "NO, it is not possible". But, I would want to articulate that fully as to not be misunderstood and that cannot be accomplished in one post..

My brief comment to that post was as follows:

"What is “love? Now that would be an interesting question to ask your readers. First: I think one must clarify what is meant by the word “love”, in this context, before the question can even be understood; let alone answered. We all have different understandings of what “love” means and what love is. Second: It is also interesting that the question is rather “man-centered”, i.e. focused on our standing in Christ as opposed to whether or not our lives can bring Him glory if we do not love Him. A different slant on the question:

“Is it possible for our lives to bring glory to God if we do not have love for Ch…

The Power of Persuasion

I was going to subtitle this, "From where is your understanding derived?"

I have found that most peoples' understanding of God and the things of God are formed primarily from the pulpit of the particular denomination they happen to be raised in; or by the teaching of a particular seminary that they happen to attend. And, of course, many choose a seminary that adheres to the teachings of the denomination that they were raised in.

Some sources state that there are over 34,000 Christian denominations. I recall hearing a sermon by John MacArthur where he indicated that there may be as many as 89,000 different denominations.

And then there are the millions of lay people--those who have been attending church services for most of there lives; or, who are saved later in life and then discipled under a particular denominations teachings, who are not even aware that other Christians hold differing views on a myriad of things like "eschatology" for example. Their understandi…

This is so sweet, that I can hardly contain myself!

"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…

The Cross

Two days ago, I asked that you turn off the TV and ponder with me....

The following is a result of my pondering. How I pray that the Lord will use this is bless your souls:

Did you see "The Passion of the Christ" by Mel Gibson? Have you watched other films that focus (primarily) on the physical suffering that our Lord endured? Have those movies moved you? Is that your understanding of what Christ suffered on your behalf? Oh, how Satan can blind us. What Christ suffered on our behalf goes so far beyond His physical suffering. As Stephen Charnock puts it: There must be something more dreadful than to bare outward pain or bodily punishment; Christ was not wanting in courage to support that, as well as the most valiant martyr; He bore the beginnings of it till he saw a black cloud between his Father and himself. This made him cry out, my God, my God..... The agonies of Christ were more than the sufferings of all the martyrs, and all men in the world, since God laid up…

To Comfort a Friend...

"Today as I sit in my lonely room, this passage of God's Word flies in like a white dove through the window, "And now men see not the sun which is in the clouds; but the wind passes and clears them." Job 37:21. To my weak vision, dimmed with tears, the cloud is exceeding dark, but through it stream some rays from the infinite love which fills the Throne with an exceeding and eternal brightness of glory. By-and-by we may get above and behind that cloud—into the overwhelming light. We shall not need comfort then; but we do need it now. And for our present consolation, God lets through the clouds some clear, strong, distinct rays of love and gladness.

One truth which beams in through the vapors is this—God not only reigns, but He governs His world by a most beautiful law of compensations. He sets one thing over against another. Faith loves to study the illustrations of this law, notes them in her diary, and rears her pillars of praise for every fresh discovery. I have…

Turn off the TV and ponder with me....

Let us start thinking upon the Cross and what actually transpired there. Oh, reader--It was so much more than physical suffering that Christ endured. I will be posting my thoughts in the near future; but was hoping to encourage you to start pondering this:

"Do you know what really happened on the Cross?"

Are you afraid of the Spirit of God?

In a previous post, I mentioned that (based on my experience worshipping at churches who hold a "cessationist position" and are reformed and Calvinistic in doctrine) it has been my observation that they are actually afraid of the supernatural power and reality of the Spirit of God and many are guilty of squelching His Spirit. I remember thinking that it seems as though, in many of these churches "Grace has replaced the Holy Spirit, as the third person of the Trinity". Oh, let us guard against "hyper-cessationism" as that is as dangerous to the church as "charismatic chaos".

Listen to the warnings of J.C. Ryle:

The work of the Holy Spirit, though mysterious, will always be known by the fruits He produces in the character and conduct of those in whom He dwells.

The presence of the Spirit is like . . . light which can be seen, fire which can be felt, and wind which causes noticeable results. Where there are no fruits of the Spirit--there is no presenc…

Engaging in Controversy

As with everything we do, we must be sure of the motivation in our hearts when we take a stand to defend the truths of God's Word and engage in controversy. Most importantly, we must constantly ask the Lord to reveal the truth of our motives to us. Many of us can convince ourselves that our motivation is pure and good and than easily find ourselves caring more about "winning" than we do about God's Glory and/or another persons soul.

In today's Christian culture controversy abounds and with the ease of technology much harm can be done without enough time for proper heart preparation and prayer. I found a letter John Newton had written to a friend regarding this very issue. Here are a few excerpts. We can learn much from these men of old.

"Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace.

Yea,…

"I can see two pilgrims treading this highway of life together, hand in hand—heart linked to heart."

"Sometimes, my thoughts would recall those glorious drives up the mountains, which we had so lately enjoyed together; when every turn in the road revealed some new beauty of prospect, and a perfect climax of delight was reached when, after long, steady climbing, the horses drew the carriage triumphantly into the "place" of the quaint mountain village or town where we were bound.

Here, some eight or nine hundred feet above the level of the sea, the houses were crowded together among the rocks like swallows' nests, and the view before us was enchanting beyond description; and my beloved would, with childlike eagerness, turn to me, and say, "There, wifey, isn't that worth coming all the way to see?"

Yes, truly; and if there had been nothing else to see than his exultant happiness at my long-desired presence with him, this would have well repaid any effort of love on my part.

But, good and precious as all that was—and, oh! how sweet is the memory now!—my hear…

High Expectations?

I was pondering the misery and disappointments that many of my loved ones have experienced during their lifetime. I was pondering their reactions to these miseries and disappointments. For whatever reason (while I was pondering these things) I recalled the lyrics of a country western song that I had heard as a young child. These few lines had a huge impact on me back then and I believe that God used that silly secular country western song to speak truth into my heart in preparation for my own walk with Him later in life which began at the age of 35. Take a listen:

I beg your pardon
I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine
There's gotta be a little rain sometime
When you take you gotta give
So live and let live and let go oh oh oh oh

I could promise you things
Like big diamond rings
But you don't find roses growin' on stalks of clover
So you better think it over

Well, if sweet talking you could make it come true
I would give you the world right now on a silver platter

If this is Christianity; I may not be a Christian!

The full quote is, "If this is Christianity, then I have never really known what Christianity is. In fact; If this is Christianity, I may not be a Christian". This was a quote from a pastor of a church, after he was introduced to the "Christianity" expressed and experienced by men who lived over 400 years ago. He was filled with sorrow and with joy (all at the same time) for the very first time in His walk with the Lord.

I have found this to be my same experience and I have found that many genuinely "born-again" believers are moved in the very same way when they discover the depth of the hearts of these men for Christ. This is truly one of God's precious gifts to His people.

Why is this important? It is important because we are living in "shallow", "superficial", "man-centered times" and yet true believers hunger and thirst for Joy--for REALITY; for purpose.

Read this excerpt from Thomas Watson's treatise on "Men…

Is it really this simple?

There is a difference between sinful thoughts and sinful actions. The most important difference is that your sinful thoughts (if never verbalized or acted out) only hurt you and your relationship with Christ. Sinful actions do that as well; but, they also hurt others, and even more importantly, they bring dishonor and shame to Christ's name.

If you love Christ then realizing this should keep you from outwardly sinning. If it does not, then, although you think you love Christ, you do not.

Our motivation behind not outwardly sinning should not be about proving to ourselves that we are in Christ. It should be about Honoring Christ! This is about Christ!--caring about his Honor and His Name as we go about living in this fallen world.

I read this Spurgeon quote this morning and thought "if every genuine born-again believer applied this simple truth to their heart and mind and actually brought it to mind in every situation that might tempt us to sin outwardly in action and behavi…
On the Law and the Gospel
(A letter by J. C. Philpot)

My Dear Sir,

In one of your letters you express the wish that I should give my views upon this point– "Why, in my judgment, the law is not the believer's rule of life." In doing so I shall take the occasion to offer my thoughts on these three distinct points–

1. Why the law is not the believer's rule of life.
2. What is the rule.
3. Disprove the objection cast upon us that our views lead to doctrinal or practical antinomianism.

By a believer, I understand one who by faith in Christ is delivered from the curse and bondage of the law, and who knows something experimentally of the life, light, liberty and love of the glorious gospel of the grace of God. By the law I understand chiefly, though not exclusively, the law of Moses. And by the rule of life I understand an outward and inward guide, by following which a believer directs his walk and conversion before God, the Church and the world.
It is very necessary to bear strict…