April 25, 2009

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." (John 5:39, 40)

"The Scriptures should be read with the aim of finding Christ in them. Whoever turns aside from this object, even though he wears himself out all his life in learning, he will never reach the knowledge of the truth." - John Calvin

Dear Lord, I pray...


Give me freedom to open the sorrows of thy people,
and to set before them comforting considerations. Attend with power the truth preached, and awaken the attention of my slothful audience.

May thy people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted, and help me use the strongest arguments drawn from Christ's incarnation and sufferings,
that men might be made holy.

I myself need thy support, comfort, strength, holiness, that I might be a pure channel of thy grace, and be able to do something for thee;

Give me then refreshment among thy people, and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way, or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a Redeemer,
or be harsh in treating of Christ's death, its design and end, from lack of warmth and fervency.

And keep me in tune with thee as I do this work.

[Bennett, Arthur G. The Valley of Vision A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.
Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 2003, 348-349.]

April 24, 2009

"...flowered skirts. sipping tea, and never speaking up."

One verse that is often quoted to women is in the closing commendation of Proverbs 31: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised" (Pr. 31:30). As it most often gets quoted in the context of messages on beauty or modesty, I think most of us can mentally emphasize the first part of the verse and neglect to ponder the second part — "yeah, yeah, outer beauty fades, Christian women are supposed to have inner beauty, blah, blah, blah." But how often are we aware of the snare of the fear of man that trips us up in cultivating the fear of the Lord?

It's not accidental that Scripture pits the lure of physical beauty and all the praise it can elicit against the fear of the Lord. Physical attraction gets a lot of attention and praise — from other human beings. But that's not what our Creator praises us for. He will not praise us for the superficial, but for the eternal — our qualities and virtues that, by His grace, reflect our growth through His redemptive efforts.

To be praiseworthy women, I think we have to be able to clearly identify the manifestations of the fear of man. Here's what that snare can look like for women:

Do you change your normal behavior when you are around men you are attracted to?

Do you cancel plans because you feel you don't look very good that day?


Do you agonize over what to wear to an event?


Are you defensive when criticized, no matter how little or great the criticism?


Are you easily embarrassed? Do you find it hard to laugh at yourself?


Are you jealous of other people, their possessions, or their relationships?


Do you have trouble saying no to people when your resources (time, finances, health) are already maxed out?


Do you avoid some people?


Do you consistently second-guess your decisions?


Are you afraid of airing your true opinion about a decision?


Do you embellish certain stories or exaggerate the truth to make you look a little better than reality? Conversely, do you issue lots of little white lies?


Will you compromise standards of modesty or purity because you want to seem relevant or stylish?


Do you decline dates because you think others will not like or be impressed with the man who has asked you out?


These behaviors are guaranteed to make us dizzy and nauseated. We are looking into the eyes of everyone around us for approval, rather than steadfastly seeking the eyes of our Lord in the twists, turns, and spins of our lives.


But we don't have to be slaves to the opinions of other, fallen creatures. We can be set free by seeking the approval and praise of God. This is what defines a godly woman: "Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing — but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious" (1 Peter 3:3-4).

That gentle, quiet spirit is not limited to a certain personality type. It's not like the God who made an enormous variety of people suddenly wants us to act like clones of each other — every woman wearing flowered skirts, sipping tea, and never speaking up.

This passage echoes the wisdom of that Proverbs 29:25 verse: "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe." Some translations say whomever trusts in the LORD will be protected or exalted. The literal translation is "raised high" — either to a protective place or to an exalted place.

The point is, a gentle and quiet spirit is one who trusts in the Lord. That trust can be expressed through a wide range of temperaments, from quiet to boisterous. Like a dancer, it is not so much how the moves are made but where we are looking that expresses true fear of the Lord. The benefit is that we are released from being slaves to the opinions of others so that we can love them without strings attached. As Ed Welch writes:

The most radical treatment for the fear of man is the fear of the Lord. God must be bigger to you than people are.... Regarding other people, our problem is that we need them (for ourselves) more than we love them (for the glory of God). The task God sets for us is to need them less and love them more.

A woman who loves for the glory of a very big God is truly worthy of praise.

Author Unknown

April 21, 2009

With Every Single Breath

Enraptured by His Precious love
I feel my love so small.
And yet He bids me grace and peace,
His Patience doth enthrall.

Oh, for a heart to give to Him
With every single breath,
The glory due His Precious Name,
The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

I dare not trust one single thought
Of all that I might give,
For nothing LORD compares to You,
In love with You, we live.

What great affections You doth stir,
In this poor faltering mind,
Through blessed servants of Your grace,
In love with You we find;

All hail the Pow'r of Jesus Name,
We at Your feet doth fall,
And humbled by Your matchless love
With strength from You we call--

Oh, give to us more love For Thee,
In every word and deed,
To walk in every grace You give,
To meet our every need.

With joy we press more upward still,
In light and love we stand;
Provoke to all Your Immanence,
To dwell in Canaan's land.

(Jer.23:23,24 ; Col. 1:17)

Michael E. Wood

April 17, 2009

A "Blog" Vacation

For anyone who may check in from time to time--I will be spending more of my free time in the Word and in Prayer over the next 3 months and will probably not post very often.

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
D.L. Kane

April 16, 2009

Two precious jewels glittering side by side in a setting of gold!


"Delight yourself in the Lord." Psalm 37:4

The teaching of these words must seem very surprising to those who are strangers to vital godliness. But to the sincere believer, it is only the inculcation of a recognized truth. The life of the believer is here described as a delight in God--and we are thus certified of the great fact--that true religion overflows with happiness and joy.

Ungodly people and mere professors never look upon piety as a joyful thing; to them it is dreary service, duty, or necessity--but never a pleasure or delight. The thought of delight in Christ is so strange to most people, that no two words in their language stand further apart than "holiness" and "delight."

But believers who know Christ, understand that delight and holiness are so blessedly united, that the gates of hell cannot prevail to separate them. Those who love Christ with all their hearts, find that all His ways are ways of pleasantness; and all His paths are peace.Christians discover such joys, such brimful delights, such overflowing blessednesses, that so far from serving Him from custom, they would follow Him--though all the world casts out His name as evil.

We do not love God because of any compulsion:
Our faith is no fetter,
Our profession is no bondage,
We are not dragged to holiness, nor driven to duty.
Our piety is our pleasure,
Our hope is our happiness,
Our duty is our delight!

Holiness and delight are as allied--as root and flower. They are, in fact, two precious jewels glittering side by side in a setting of gold!

Spurgeon

"What would Spurgeon say?"

It is a wonderful thing, they way in which the Spirit of God brings such clarity at times to unit the minds of men (and women). I had concerns about a statement made by a well-known, highly respected, and hugely followed, pastor/teacher and shared my concerns on this blog. Just this morning, I read this (not looking for it) which echos the very concerns that I expressed

The statement made that concerned me was "Those who don’t know what the Bible teaches about salvation cannot be saved. " Listen to this warning by C.H. Spurgeon:

"Again, am I asked what it is to preach the gospel? I answer to preach the gospel is to exalt Jesus Christ. Perhaps this is the best answer that I could give. I am very sorry to see very often how little the gospel is understood even by some of the best Christians. Some time ago there was a young woman under great distress of soul; she came to a very pious Christian man, who said "My dear girl, you must go home and pray."

Well I thought within myself, that is not the Bible way at all. It never says, "Go home and pray." The poor girl went home; she did pray, and she still continued in distress. Said he, "You must wait, you must read the Scriptures and study them." That is not the Bible way; that is not exalting Christ; find a great many preachers are preaching that kind of doctrine. They tell a poor convinced sinner, "You must go home and pray, and read the Scriptures; you must attend the ministry;" and so on.

Works, works, works—instead of "By grace are ye saved through faith," If a penitent should come and ask me, "What must I do to be saved?" I would say, "Christ must save you—believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." I would neither direct to prayer, nor reading of the Scriptures nor attending God's house; but simply direct to faith, naked faith on God's gospel.

Not that I despise prayer—that must come after faith. Not that I speak a word against the searching of the Scriptures—that is an infallible mark of God's children. Not that I find fault with attendance on God's word—God forbid! I love to see people there. But none of those things are the way of salvation. It is nowhere written—"He that attendeth chapel shall be saved," or, "He that readeth the Bible shall be saved." Nor do I read—"He that prayeth and is baptised shall be saved;" but, "He that believeth,"—he that has a naked faith on the "Man Christ Jesus,"—on his Godhead, on his manhood, is delivered from sin. To preach that faith alone saves, is to preach God's truth.

C.H. Spurgeon

April 15, 2009

"The Rape of Solomon's Song"

This is so unbelievable to me that I can hardly take it in. There is a current discussion going on at the "Pulpit Magazine" regarding an article John MacArthur has written, entitled "The Rape of Solomon's Song" criticizing Mark Driscoll's teaching on the "Song of Solomon". Comments are ablaze. The sad part in all this, is that both MacArthur and Driscoll interpret this book in exactly the same way; the only difference being how "crude" or "refined" it should be taught.

Every single person commenting has missed the real problem. Here was what the Lord laid on my heart tonight:

Does it matter to anyone that MacArthur's interpretation (and obviously Driscoll's, as well) of this book differs from many great men of God, down through the centuries--i.e., many of the Puritans, Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, Lloyd-Jones and many, many more and that MacArthur states (in his Daily Bible) that their interpretations are misleading ideas?

Why doesn't this concern any of you? These men knew God and knew the Word of God, as well, if not better then MacArthur does. Perhaps, if more would actually see the real beauty in this book, they would spend more time in learning about the "Mystery" Paul talks about when he is describing the relationship between a man and a woman in marriage and Christ and His church.

Frankly, I feel great sorrow for all who have turned this into a "self-help" book on Marriage-- which is what these two men have done. If you can learn the real beauty being taught in this book; your marriage would improve greatly because you would be less focused on self and more focused on Christ.

"The Song of Solomon is undoubtedly a picture and a prophecy of the relationship between Christ and his church. Written in a poetic, dramatic form, it is a perfect representation of the church as the bride of Christ. This is a New Testament term but the Song of Solomon sees it long before it came to pass. This is how Solomon describes God's overflowing love: 'He brought me to the banqueting house. . .' and that is where He always brings us. It is not to some kind of 'soup kitchen', or to some temporary place where we can be given just a little food to keep us from starvation. No, no! It is a 'banqueting house'! . . . and His banner over me was love. Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick with love' (Song of Solomon 2.4-5). There is so much love that it is almost overwhelming me." LLoyd-Jones.

Perhaps, if we actually understood this book; the way God intended, we would be having a different discussion.

"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church."

I don't mean to be disrespectful--but it has been my observation that Dr. MacArthur does not care much for "mysteries".

April 14, 2009

Careless Words...

“Those who don’t know what the Bible teaches about salvation cannot be saved.”

That statement was made by a very well-known, highly respected, hugely followed, pastor/teacher. Laypersons and unlearned baby Christians, who respect this man, will misunderstand and mimic that statement. The implication of such a statement and the propensity for misunderstanding, is huge; and, in my opinion, dangerous.

Imagine this played out in real life:

Someone comes to you and tells you, "The most wonderful thing has happened. A man shared the gospel with me at Starbucks and for the first time in my life, I believe! I finally understand that I am a sinner and that Christ died for my sins and was raised so that all who believe on Him will have their sins forgiven and they will be reconciled to God through Christ. I was broken by that message and have bowed down to Christ as my Lord and Savior and my only desire, from this point forward, is to love Him and follow Him for the rest of my life!"

So you say to them, “Oh really? Do you know what the bible teaches about salvation?”

There answer could very well be, “NO. I have never stepped into a church and I have never read the Bible.”

And you then say to them, “Well then you cannot be saved”.

It is not the Bible that saves; and, it is not knowledge that saves—it is God who saves and when He does, he opens up our eyes and hearts and gives us understanding, regardless of whether we have heard a simple true Gospel message or have sat in a pew under a great teacher for 55 years.

Careless words by a man who should recognize them as such.

April 12, 2009

On such a Glorious day...

My hopes were high, as I awoke
On such a Glorious day--
Your Victory to celebrate
The Truth, The Life, The Way!

I looked around with hope to find
A light, a spark, a glimmer
But all I saw were lifeless forms
O’ could it get much dimmer?

Apathy has filled Your house;
But, I will worship You
Blank, bored faces and empty stares—
In almost every pew.

I often wonder, “Why do they come?”
“Why do they sit for an hour?
Is it because they like the form of God
But have never felt Your power?

Why do you come? Why not stay home?
Is this a wasted hour?
What should be sweet, to your soul
Just seems to leave you sour.

Protect me from the awful plague
Don’t let my heart succumb
The world, the flesh, the dull routine
Is that what makes them numb?

Forgive me Lord, if I am wrong
Dead bones is all I see.
O’ breath Your life into those bones
And set the captives free.

Apathy has filled Your house;
O’ shake it with Your might
So when we gather in Your Name
There is Joy, and Love and Light.


D.L. Kane (Easter Sunday 2009)

Then Bursting forth in Glorious Day.....

Now this is a day to celebrate! What beauty! What power! What joy fills my soul!

"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! Who took on flesh,
fulness of God in helpless babe!
This Gift of love and righteousness,
scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
the wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid;
here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day,
up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine,
bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life no fear in death,
this is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home,
here in the power of Christ I'll stand!

by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty

April 11, 2009

Love

"Blessed Jesus! Your love, like Your agonies, is an unknown and unfathomable depth! It passes knowledge. Let it rise and expand before me, until it fills the entire scope of my soul's vision; occupies every niche of my heart; and bears me onward by its all commanding, all constraining influence, in the path of a holy loving obedience and surrender."

Oh! wonderful thought, everlasting love! Who can comprehend the import of these words– everlasting love? Christ loves us, and His love is everlasting. Yes, dear believer, Christ loved you before the world was created; before you had an existence. From all eternity He thought upon your lost condition by nature; and oh! how willingly, how gladly, He left the throne of glory to bring salvation to you.

His love never had a beginning. "This river of love began to flow before the world was; from everlasting, from the beginning, before ever the earth was. Christ's love to us is as old as the Father's love to the Son. This river of light began to stream from Jesus towards us, before the beams poured from the sun; before the rivers flowed to the ocean; before angel loved angel, or man loved man: before creatures were, Christ loved us. This is a great mystery; who can fathom it? This love passes knowledge." (McCheyne)



Such is the deep, the vast, the boundless ocean of Christ's love! The soul muses in silent awe as it gazes upon this fathomless, limitless sea!

Nothing short of a divine love could or would have borne our sins, and the punishment of our sins. The weight of the one, and the terribleness of the other, would have crushed and annihilated a mere 'created' affection. There existed no love but the love of Jesus equal to the work of salvation.

Who was willing, who was able, to bear that heavy load, to endure that overwhelming curse, but Jesus?

Oh, think, beloved reader, what the love of Christ has done and suffered for you....
the burden it bore,
the sorrow it felt,
the humiliation it underwent,
the insults,
the ignominy,
the privation through which it traveled;
its groans,
its sighs,
its tears,
its darkness,
how inconceivably it agonized,
how freely it bled,
how voluntarily it died,
the sins it has pardoned,
the guilt it has cleansed,
the declensions it has restored,
the backslidings it has healed,
the sorrows it has soothed,
the patience it has exercised,
the gentleness it has exhibited,

Such is the love of Christ!

Behold the Man

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr’s, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

April 10, 2009

What has God done?

For some people, the notion of substitutionary death is morally wrong. To explain many misconceptions, in his book The Cross, Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes:

To them, the idea that one man should be punished for other people’s sin is immoral. The whole notion is quite unthinkable. A man bears his own punishment. This idea that somebody else comes along who is absolutely innocent, and that you put your guilt on him and that he then bears the punishment - the thing is quite immoral. They say they cannot believe in a God who does a thing like that, a God who can punish his own Son, cause his death, in order to forgive others. It is not justice.

They say that it violates their sense of justice and of morality. Have you not heard that? Perhaps you have thought it? If you have, the cross is an offence, because the essence of this doctrine is subsitution.

It teaches that Chrst is the Lamb of God ‘that taketh away the sins of the world’; that our sins are transferred to him, are imputed to him, and put upon him; and that it is ‘by his stripes we are healed’.

It teaches that God has smitten him. God has ‘laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Is 53:6). And to the modern man, the natural human thinker, this is an offence, immoral, unjust, and unrighteous. So he hates it and he rejects it
([Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1986], 48).

It is here and now that we can echo the following prayer of a Puritan:

O MY SAVIOR,

I thank thee from the depths of my being, for thy wondrous grace and love, in bearing my sin in thine own body on the tree.

May thy cross be to me as the tree that sweetens my bitter Marahs, as the rod that blossoms with life and beauty, as the brazen serpent that calls forth the look of faith.

By thy cross crucify my every sin;
Use it to increase my intimacy with thyself;


Make it the ground of all my comfort, the liveliness of all my duties, the sum of all thy gospel promises, the comfort of all my afflictions, the vigour of my love, thankfulness, graces, the very essence of my religion;

And by it give me that rest without rest, the rest of ceaseless praise.

(From “The Grace of the Cross” in The Valley of Vision [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 1994], 171).

April 7, 2009

More Meditations from Michael

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. Psalm 27:8

Do you know what happens when we abide in Him and in His Word? Do you know what happens when we seek His face? This is what happens!

At 7:37 am this morning, this is what the Lord gave to Michael as he was meditating on the Word of God. This is being "filled with the Spirit"" What precious gifts He gives those who seek His face.

How oft we feel the weight of all
The frailties of our flesh;
The need for God to come and take
The burden from our breast.

We feel the smallness of our own
Puny, paltry, quest;
Those things that once did satisfy—
No longer tops our list.

We're drawn to things that are above;
The quiet, peace, and rest.
We struggle through our own hearts lust
By grace, we're given this.

Secured by sovereign mercy still;
With bands of love He calls;
Our Father's everlasting love,
Recalls us to the Cross.

Humbled by the death He died—
Our strength for flight renewed;
Encouraged by our Saviors blood,
His face we seek anew.

Remove from us all selfish thought,
Your Glory only seek;
Your vision, through your Word, we ask—
Your Holy Spirit keep,

Our gaze upon the Risen One—
Who intercedes for all;
Redeemed from all the nations still
The ransom from the Fall.

Return we plead, “Oh, Righteous ONE
Oh make us one with You—
That we may praise your Holy Name,
As You make all things new.”


Michael E. Wood

Whatever you do....

One of the massive differences between life with God in the Old Testament and life with God in the New Testament is that in the New Testament all our conscious glorifying of God should be "through Jesus Christ."

". . . to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude 1:25)

". . . that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." (1Peter 4:11)

". . . to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen." (Romans 16:27)

". . . filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." (Philippians 1:11)

With every thought about God and every affection for God, we should be mindful of Jesus Christ. God-consciousness should be Christ-consciousness.

"I thank my God through Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:8).

"We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

"We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:11).

"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Corinthians 15:57).

"He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:5).

"God has . . . destined us . . . to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Thessalonians 5:9).

"He poured out [the Holy Spirit] on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:5-6).

"[He works] in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ" (Hebrews 13:21).

"Offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1Peter 2:5).

Therefore:

Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

John Piper

April 6, 2009

The Romance of Christ

We most often think of Christ as our Lord, Savior, King, Priest and Prophet; but He is also our bridegroom. How a woman will prepare for her wedding. Are you preparing for yours? There is a wedding day coming, where all of those that were given to Him by the Father, will be joined to Christ and the eternal marriage will be consummated. What a glorious day that will be!

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready"

Rise up My love, My beautiful one--and come away!

"My Beloved spoke and said to me--Rise up My love, My beautiful one--and come away!" Song of Solomon 2:10

Lo, I hear the voice of my Beloved! He speaks to me! He bids me "Rise up!" and well He may, for I have long enough been lying among the pots of worldliness. Why should I cleave unto the dust? From lower loves, desires, pursuits, and aspirations--I would rise towards Him.

He calls me by the sweet title of "My love" and regards me as beautiful! This is a good encouragement for my rising. If He has thus exalted me, and thinks me thus lovely--how can I linger in the dark tents of Kedar and find congenial associates among the world?

He bids me "Come away!" Come away further and further from everything selfish, groveling, worldly, and sinful! He calls me from the outwardly religious world which knows Him not, and has no sympathy with the mystery of the pious life."Come away" has no harsh sound in it to my ear--for what is there to hold me in this wilderness of vanity and sin? O my Lord, would that I could come away--but I am stuck among the thorns--and cannot escape from them as I would! I would, if it were possible, have neither eyes, nor ears, nor heart for sin!You call me to Yourself by saying "Come away!" and this is a melodious call indeed.

To come to You is to come home from exile; to come to land out of the raging storm; to come to rest after long labor; to come to the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes! But Lord, how can a stone rise, how can a lump of clay come away from the horrible pit? O raise me, draw me--and I will run after You! Your grace alone can do it. Send forth Your Holy Spirit to kindle sacred flames of love in my heart--and I will continue to rise until I leave life and time behind me, and indeed come away!

Charles Spurgeon

April 5, 2009

Did he really mean what he said?

I regularly read the Shepherd's Fellowship blog and have found many of the articles edifying. In addition, I have read almost every book ever written by John MacArthur and often refer to his commentaries when studying the scriptures. Over the past 10 years, I can safely say that I have listened to well over 1,000 of his sermons on CD or MP3. However, over the past few years, I have observed a change that concerns me. That concern was re-ignited this morning, while reading the April 1st post on the Shepherd's Fellowship Blog entitled, "What Does It Mean "to Me"?

Let me preface the following by saying that I am pretty confident that this was a case of being careless with words and that he did not mean what he said, when he said what he said. I would very much like to know, however, exactly what he did mean.

Here is the paragraph that appeared towards the end of the article. Perhaps on face value, you will not see the problem.

"Those who don’t know what the Bible teaches about salvation cannot be saved. Those who don’t know what the Bible teaches about holiness are incapable of dealing with sin. Thus they are unable to live fully to their own blessedness and God’s glory."

Wow, that first sentence is unbelievable to me! It can be so easily misunderstood. Here was my initial gut reaction: The" Gospel according to John MacArthur"? How much knowledge of what the bible teaches about salvation is required in order to be saved, John? Must I be able to articulate the doctrines of the atonement, penal substitution, etc. before I can be saved? Must I then be able to clearly articulate them back to someone (making sure that they completely understand them) in order for them to saved? Does "knowledge" save anyone? Does reading the bible and understanding what it says about salvation save anyone?


There are so many wholes in that first statement that need to be filled. I think what he is meaning by what he said is, unless someone hears the true Gospel of Christ (as revealed in the bible) one cannot be saved. But that is not what he said.

Why am I so concerned? I am concerned because so many sit under this man's ministry and (basically follow whatever he teaches) . This is a very dogmatic statement that can and will be misunderstood by many and "parroted" by his followers--potentially causing a great deal of misunderstanding of the Gospel of Grace. Am I over-reacting? I think not.



Click Here is the link to the entire post.



See this previous post.

April 4, 2009

God's Will?

What a topic! Have you known people who say that are praying for God's will as to whether or not to take a particular job; or, whether or not to get a degree in a particular subject versus a different subject? Just what do they actually think He will reveal to them?

First of all, they need to ask God to reveal their motivation behind taking a particular job or getting a degree in a particular subject. Does their desire stem from greed, covetousness, pride, worldly success? If so, it's not God's will, it is their own and they are looking for justification to act on their own will. Secondly, God has revealed His "will" for us in His word. It is God's will for all of us to be:

Saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9)
Spirit-filled (Ephesians 5:17-18)
Sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7)
Submissive (1 Peter 2:13-15)
Suffering ( Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 3:12)

If all those things are true in your life (Are they?), you may do whatever you desire. God's Word tells us so. That is what being "Free" means. He doesn't care if we "stay or move" (A reference to the lyrics from Third Days song--"Revelation"). He can use us where we are, or where we might want to go. Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart." That means that if you are conforming to God's will in all the five ways listed above, He will place in your heart desires that reflect His will. So do what you want to do!

Do you pray for His will as to whether or not you go to work tomorrow or whether or not you brush your teeth? " If you don't, why don't you? Because, that would be ridiculous, right? Well, it's just as ridiculous to ask Him to reveal to you something that you are at complete liberty to do.

Third Day sings, "Tell me should I stay here, or do I need to move?" Stay or move. Don't you see? It's NOT ABOUT YOU! That's the problem. If you are content in Christ, whether you stay or move isn't that huge of an issue; because you are already content even if you are poor and unsuccessful.

Is it really that simple? Yes, my friend it is. The problem is, we just keep thinking we deserve to be happy and do not find our satisfaction in Him. Temporal...we are all so temporal.

I would recommend, that if you want to pray for God's will in your life, you begin by praying that you are genuinely saved; Spirit-filled; being sanctified and conformed into the image of Christ;
have a submissive heart to the things of God and to the needs of others; and, that you be willing to suffer for Christ's sake. If those things are out of place, than you are already out of God's will right where you are and you will therefore be out of God's will in that new job or in that new town.

April 3, 2009

Profundity, Passion, Persistence

Sometimes, someone writes something that so echoes the burden of my heart, that it brings tears to my eyes and yet it fills me with joy at the same time. The following brings sorrow because of the reality of the consequences of the truth it contains; and, yet brings me joy, in that it clearly indicates that there are some of His out there (it was written by a 30 something young man) who have the same burden as He has placed on my heart and they are proclaiming it for His glory; for the sake of His name; and for the salvation of others. Here are the thoughts that echo my heart.

"There are things that can be mistaken that have little to no consequence, but conversion is not one of them. You can be mistaken by the color of your socks while getting ready in the morning. You can be mistaken by how well your digestive system can process “authentic” Chinese and Mexican food. You be mistaken by the person you saw across the department store that looks exactly like an old friend but turns out to be a total stranger. We make mistakes all the time, don’t we?

Yet, the greatest mistake carrying the greatest consequence comes down to our (1) understanding of the gospel and (2) knowing how sinners are to respond to the gospel call. The most haunting words in all of the Bible come from the mouth of Jesus near the conclusion of the greatest sermon ever preached. He said this:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Does that bother you that many will be surprised in the end who have become familiar with Jesus’ name but were total stranger’s to Jesus’ face? They are people quite versed in Christian lingo, well-absorbed into the Christian sub-culture, exclusively acquainted with outwardly conforming religious influences.

In Jesus’ name (Lord, Lord)

We have seen contemporary evangelicalism produce everything under the sun in Jesus’ name, and yet we are living in a post-Christian culture. I am convinced that what our society has experienced has not been true Christianity, although there are exceptions. Indeed, I believe it can be argued that our post-Christian culture is really a post-false conversion culture. When conversion is reduced to praying a prayer, walking down an aisle, squeezing my hand, or getting little children to assent to “accept Jesus into their hearts,” you will engender generational nominalism fostered by a truncated gospel that is followed through with unbiblical responses.

We are consistently hearing of new discipleship methods that are attempting to promote growth only to wear out in a short period of time. Churches are actively engaging in the culture war against postmodernism and the growing divide between the American way and the Christian way as evangelicals seem to play a smaller and smaller role in shaping the world around us.

Two areas most commonly addressed are the lack of Christian ethics and the decline of evangelism. Several years ago, Ron Sider took a note from the playbook of Mark Noll when he wrote
The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? In his book, Sider points out that the statistics on domestic abuse, divorce/infidelity, materialism/consumerism, and so on are virtually the same among “Christians” than the rest of the world. The big assumption, however, is that all these people are indeed Christian in the truest sense of the word. They have thus become indistinguishable from the rest of the world. Instead of being “in the world” but “not of the world,” professing Christians have become “of the world” and for the most part “in the world.”

What’s going on? Are our strategies and methods just not effective? Do we need to just do more “revivals” and get people excited about Jesus? The answer to the ethical question is not found in the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Richard Land.
The answer is found in the gospel and Jesus Christ. The answer to the evangelism decline is not revivalism and Billy Graham. The answer is found in the gospel and Jesus Christ.

Simply put, the situation we are in today is fundamentally due to our loss of the gospel and failure to understand what constitutes genuine conversion. The problem is not discipleship, evangelism, or morality; the problem is what we have made of conversion.
You cannot expect a sinner to pursue holiness if they do not have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. You cannot expect a sinner to be evangelistic if they have not first rightly responded to the evangel. You cannot expect there to be growth where there is no life. And when we point the finger at unconverted people in our pews complaining of a lack of obedience, we are no different than admonishing a dead man for not having picked himself up from his bootstraps.

We can miss biblical conversion in any number of ways

If a person is converted only in the mind, he will substitute repentance and faith with mental assent and assume that the mere acquisition of more knowledge (intellectualism) will guarantee salvation. They will profess, “Lord, Lord” with great profundity for sure.

If a person is converted only in the heart, he will substitute repentance and faith with emotional experience (experientialism) and assume that more mountaintop experiences (or rededications) will guarantee salvation (by “nailing it down”). They will profess, “Lord, Lord” with great passion no doubt,

If a person is converted only in the will, he will substitute repentance and faith with determination and resolve to do better (legalism) and assume that self-improvement (self-righteousness) brings him acceptance before God. They will profess, “Lord, Lord” with great persistence as you could expect.

Contrary to all this, a truly converted sinner will be transformed by the Spirit of God with a change evidenced by turning from sin (repentance) and turning to God (faith) which encompasses their entire being–mind, heart, and will.

In recent years, we have all but taken God out of the equation so that conversion is not the miraculous working of God but a mere decision by man. Now, certainly one has to “decide” and respond in faith and repentance, but if there is not a true understanding of the gospel and a true gracious working of regeneration in the heart of a sinner, then no trick, technique, or trend will be able to accomplish what God has determined Himself to do.

Conversion is not merely “our part” or something we contribute in salvation apart from God’s sovereign work of effectually drawing and applying the new covenant promise of transforming our lives from within. Everyone to whom God begins the “good work” will bring it completion (Phil. 1:6), and there should be distinguishing marks of the saving, sanctifying, and persevering grace of God in the converted sinner being daily conformed into the image of Christ.

We are living in a post-Christian culture that has looked at a version of Christian to a large degree comprised of falsely converted people and said, “If that’s what Christianity is about, then what’s the difference? Why would I want that?”

They have seen the intellectual Christians (mind only), the mystical Christian (heart only), and the moral Christians (will only), but many not seen the Spirit-ual Christians–those marked, indwelt, and changed by the Spirit of God.

Trinitarianly speaking, if you do not have the Spirit you do not have life (John 6:63); if you do not have the Son of God, you do not have the life (1 John 5:11-12); if you do not know the only true God, you do not have eternal life (John 17:3). The converting work of a sinner from death to life is a miracle wrought by our Triune God, graciously opening our eyes to see and our ears to hear and giving us a heart to follow and obey.

If we are to be innovative and engaging in a post-Christian world, our first step is to revisit what it means to be–and more specifically how one becomes–a Christian. We do not need another evangelism strategy or to be trendy and talk about sex for 60 straight days. What we need is for the day of programming false conversions and perpetuating false assurances to come to an end. Those words of Jesus need to haunt us until we are awakened to the reality that missing it here means missing it for an eternity. Let us create a culture where we are regularly examining ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5), working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12-13), diligent to make our calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10). I am persuaded that what we do “in Jesus’ name” will then flow out of who we truly are as a result of Jesus’ transforming grace in lives that marked by repentance and faith."

Excerpts from an article by Timmy Brister

April 2, 2009

On Evangelism...

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing."

April 1, 2009

Revelation?

I realize that (at times) I can be too analytical. And everyone who knows me just said, "At times?" I also happen to love music. There is a contemporary Christian song by Third Day called Revelation, and whenever I happen to have the radio on in the car and that song comes on, I crank it up because I love the music. But, the lyrics bother me. That is the overly analytical side of me coming out. The singer is asking for Revelation "Give me Revelation" and I just cringe because 1) He has given us His revelation (The Word of God) and it is the best and most complete revelation that we need if we would simply spend time reading it; and 2) There is a dangerous false teaching in the church that makes people think that God can reveal things to them personally that are even contrary to His Word; i.e. "new revelation".

So, I decided to write different lyrics for the song so that when it comes on I can enjoy it 100%--both the music and the words. I have copied my new and revised lyrics below for anyone else who may understand how I feel in this regard. I was tempted to provide a commentary on each line of the original lyrics; but will spare my readers--this time (smiling). Here is are three lines of the original text followed by the new lyrics in paragraphs:

"I don’t know where I can turn"
(Now I know where TO turn)

"Tell me when will I learn"
(Now I know I WILL learn)

"Won’t You show me where I need to go"
(Won’t You grow me where I need to grow)

Anyway have fun. Try singing these words along with the song.

My life…..had led me down a road of only hurt’n
And I was all alone with sin unspoken
But, You showed me the way,
and now I have a faith that’s strong

‘Bout time, I know that you are holding all the answers
No longer without hope, no backward glances
Down roads that never seemed,
To be the ones to bring me home.

Your Word is Revelation
It tells me what is true
Cause through it I can find the Way
The Way that leads to You
The Truth is only found there
My heart and soul it moves
Your Word is Revelation
O’ nothin else will do
I’m nothing without You

Your Word…….. now leads me down a path that’s straight, not winding
Through every verse and page I’m always finding
You’ve saved me from all sin
You tell me that Your love will never end

Your Word is Revelation
It tells me what is true
Cause through it I can find the Way
The Way that leads to You
The Truth is only found there
My heart and soul it moves
Your Word is Revelation
O’ nothin else will do
I’m nothing without You

Now I know where TO turn
Now I know I WILL learn
Won’t You grow me where I need to grow
Oh oh
I will follow Your lead
I know that it’s the only way that I will never roam.

Your Word is Revelation
It tells me what is true
Cause through it I can find the Way
The Way that leads to You
The Truth is only found there
My heart and soul it moves
Your Word is Revelation
O’ nothin else will do
I’m nothing without You