May 30, 2009

(230 years ago)

August 28, 1779

My Dear Friend,

The days speed away apace! Each one bears away its own burden with it--to return no more. Both pleasures and pains which are past--are gone forever! What is yet future will likewise, soon be past. Our final end will shortly arrive! O to realize the thought, and to judge of things now in some measure suitable to the opinion which we shall form of them, when we are about to leave them all!

Many things which now either elate or depress us--will then appear to be trifles as light as air!

Only one thing is needful--

To have our hearts united to Jesus in humble faith;

To set Him always before us;

To rejoice in Him as our Shepherd and our portion;

To submit to all His appointments, not of necessity, because He is stronger than us--but with a cheerful acquiescence, because He is wise and good, and loves us better than we do ourselves;

To feed upon His truth;

To have our understandings, wills, affections, imaginations, memory--all filled and impressed with the great mysteries of His redeeming love;

To do all for Jesus;

To receive all from Jesus;

To find all in Jesus!

I have mentioned many things, but they are all comprised in one--a life of faith in Jesus! We are empty vessels in ourselves--but we cannot remain empty. Unless Jesus dwells in our hearts, and fills them with His power and presence--they will be filled with folly, vanity, and vexation!

John Newton

May 29, 2009

Recommended Reading



"Now I ask every reader of this paper a plain question Do you know what you mean by these words, so often repeated—the Holy Spirit? What place has God the Holy Spirit in your religion? What do you know of His office, His work, His indwelling, His fellowship, and His power? This is the subject to which I ask your attention this day. I want you to consider seriously what you know about the work of God the Holy Spirit.

I believe that the times in which we live demand frequent and distinct testimonies upon this great subject. I believe that few truths of the Christian religion are so often obscured and spoiled by false doctrine as the truth about the Holy Spirit.

I believe that there is no subject which an ignorant world is so ready to revile as "cant, fanaticism, and enthusiasm," as the subject of the work of the Holy Spirit.

My heart's desire and prayer to God is, that about this subject I may write nothing but the "truth as it is in Jesus," and that I may write that truth in love. For convenience sake I shall divide my subject into four heads. I shall examine in order—

I. Firstly—the importance attached to the work of the Holy Spirit in Scripture.
II. Secondly—the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit to man's salvation.
III. Thirdly—the manner in which the Holy Spirit works in man's heart.
IV. Lastly—the marks and evidences by which the presence of the Holy Spirit in a man's heart may be known. "


To continue reading, click here.

May 28, 2009

I think I need to do a little more skipping and leaping for joy!

Thinking of those sweet stories we have heard and most have personally experienced at some point in their lives--you know the ones that cause a young man to go skipping down the street, feeling as those his feet are barely touching the ground, after hearing (for the first time) "I love you" from the lips of the girl he also loves. He is filled with joy and can hardly contain himself. He wants to tell the world, "She loves me! She loves me!"

God made us emotional creatures. To think that those "feelings" and highly emotional experiences should be limited to human relationships is ridiculous. When a soul knows the overwhelming love of God and feels nothing, there is something very wrong. Did not David dance in the streets?

While pondering these things, I received this little excerpt in my morning devotional emails and smiled as I read it:

Was Sarah Edwards an over-emotional person? Was she a kind of ‘balance’ for her supposedly unemotional, strict husband Jonathan Edwards? Or was she an intelligent and articulate woman, highly respected in the community, who had the privilege of personal encounters with God?

Jonathan encouraged her to record her various experiences (covering two and a half weeks in 1742) for the edification of others. Iain Murray calls her words ‘an amazing testimony to how much of heaven can be enjoyed upon earth.’ (Murray, Jonathan Edwards, Banner of Truth, p.193)

These are a few excerpts of her story…

Back at the house…trying not to leap for joy ‘While I was uttering the words [of one of Isaac Watts’ hymns], my mind was so deeply impressed with the love of Christ, and a sense of his immediate presence, that I could with difficulty refrain from rising from my seat, and leaping for joy.’

The Presence of God ‘Under a delightful sense of the immediate presence and love of God, these words seemed to come over and over in my mind, ‘My God, my all; my God, my all.’ The presence of God was so near, and so real, that I seemed scarcely conscious of any things else. God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, seemed as distinct persons, both manifesting their inconceivable loveliness, and mildness, and gentleness, and their great and immutable love to me. I seemed to be taken under the care and charge of my God and Saviour, in an inexpressibly endearing manner; and Christ appeared to me as a mighty Saviour.’

The Dignity of a Royal Priesthood ‘The next day, which was the Sabbath, I enjoyed a sweet, and lively and assured sense of God’s infinite grace, and favour and love to me, in taking me out of the depths of hell, and exalting me to the heavenly glory, and the dignity of a royal priesthood.’

Intense admiration of God’s Grace ‘To my mind there was the clearest evidence, that God was present in the congregation, on the work of redeeming love; and in the clear view of this, I was all at once filled with such intense admiration of the wonderful condescension and grace of God, in returning again to Northampton, as overwhelmed my soul, and immediately took away my bodily strength.’

(From ‘The Narrative of Sarah Pierpont Edwards’, Jonathan Edwards [1743], Family Writings and Related Documents (WJE Online Vol. 41)

May 27, 2009

Please CONFUSE me some more!

"I emphatically agree with those who say the Song of Solomon is not mere allegory. It is best understood when we take it at face value, like any other text of Scripture. Many interpreters whom I otherwise hold in high esteem (including Spurgeon and most of the Puritans) have unfortunately done more to confuse than clarify the Song's message by treating it in a purely allegorical fashion that eliminates its primary meaning." John MacArthur

Here is an example of the "unfortunate" confusion that one of these men (referenced above) is guilty of. (Note: If you don't feel much like reading John Flavels exposition of this text, you can skip to the bottom for the literal interruption):

CHRIST ALTOGETHER LOVELY
by John Flavel

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend." Song of Songs 5:16

I. Christ is to be loved

At the ninth verse of this chapter, you have a question put forth by the daughters of Jerusalem, "What is your beloved more than another beloved?" The spouse answers, "He is the chief among ten thousand." She then recounts many of the things she finds so excellent in her beloved and then concludes with these words: "Yes, he is altogether lovely." The words set forth the transcendent loveliness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and naturally resolve themselves into three parts:

First, Who he is: the Lord Jesus Christ, after whom she had been seeking, for whom she was overcome by love; concerning whom these daughters of Jerusalem had enquired: whom she had struggled to describe in his particular excellencies. He is the great and excellent subject of whom she here speaks.

Secondly, What he is, or what she claims of him: That he is a lovely one. The Hebrew word, which is often translated "desires," means "to earnestly desire, covet, or long after that which is most pleasant, graceful, delectable and admirable." The original word is both in the abstract, and plural in number, which says that Christ is the very essence of all delights and pleasures, the very soul and substance of them. As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the meeting-place of all the waters in the world, so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet.

Thirdly, What he is like: He is altogether lovely, the every part to be desired. He is lovely when taken together, and in every part; as if she had said, "Look on him in what respect or particular you wish; cast your eye upon this lovely object, and view him any way, turn him in your serious thoughts which way you wish; consider his person, his offices, his works, or any other thing belonging to him; you will find him altogether lovely, there is nothing disagreeable in him, there is nothing lovely without him." Hence note,

DOCTRINE: That Jesus Christ is the loveliest person souls can set their eyes upon: "You are the most excellent of men." Psalm 45:2

II. What is meant by Christ being 'altogether lovely'

He is "Altogether Lovely!" Here it is said of Jesus Christ, which cannot be said of any mere creature, that he is "altogether lovely." Let us consider this excellent expression, and particularly reflect on what is contained in it, and you shall find this expression "altogether lovely."

1. It excludes all unloveliness and disagreeableness from Jesus Christ. As a theologian long ago said, "There is nothing in him which is not loveable." The excellencies of Jesus Christ are perfectly exclusive of all their opposites; there is nothing of a contrary property or quality found in him to contaminate or devaluate his excellency. And in this respect Christ infinitely transcends the most excellent and loveliest of created things. Whatever loveliness is found in them, it is not without a bad aftertaste. The fairest pictures must have their shadows. The rarest and most brilliant gems must have dark backgrounds to set off their beauty; the best creature is but a bitter sweet at best. If there is something pleasing, there is also something sour. if a person has every ability, both innate and acquired, to delight us, yet there is also some natural corruption intermixed with it to put us off. But it is not so in our altogether lovely Christ, his excellencies are pure and unmixed. He is a sea of sweetness without one drop of gall.

2. There is nothing unlovely found in him, so all that is in him is wholly lovely. As every ray of God is precious, so everything that is in Christ is precious. Who can weigh Christ in a pair of balances, and tell you what his worth is? "His price is above rubies, and all that you can desire is not to be compared with him," Proverbs 8:11.

3. Christ embraces all things that are lovely. He seals up the sum of all loveliness. Things that shine as single stars with a particular glory, all meet in Christ as a glorious constellation. Col. 1:19, "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Cast your eyes among all created beings, survey the universe: you will observe strength in one, beauty in a second, faithfulness in a third, wisdom in a fourth; but you shall find none excelling in them all as Christ does. Bread has one quality, water another, clothing another, medicine another; but none has them all in itself as Christ does. He is bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, a garment to the naked, healing to the wounded; and whatever a soul can desire is found in him.

4. Nothing is lovely in opposition to him, or in separation from him. If he truly is altogether lovely, then whatever is opposite to him, or separate from him can have no loveliness in it. Take away Christ, and where is the loveliness of any enjoyment? The best creature-comfort apart from Christ is but a broken cistern. It cannot hold one drop of true comfort, Psalm 73:26. It is with the creature– the sweetest and loveliest creature– as with a beautiful image in the mirror: turn away the face and where is the image? Riches, honors, and comfortable relations are sweet when the face of Christ smiles upon us through them; but without him, what empty trifles are they all?

5. Christ transcends all created excellencies in beauty and loveliness. If you compare Christ and other things, no matter how lovely, no matter how excellent and desirable, Christ carries away all loveliness from them. "He is before all things," Col. 1:17. Not only before all things in time, nature, and order; but before all things in dignity, glory, and true excellence. In all things he must have the pre-eminence.

Let us but compare Christ's excellence with the creature's in a few particulars, and how manifest will the transcendent loveliness of Jesus Christ appear! For,

1. All other loveliness is derived and secondary; but the loveliness of Christ is original and primary. Angels and men, the world and all the desirable things in it, receive what excellence they have from him. They are streams from the fountain. The farther anything departs from its fountain and original, the less excellency there is in it.

2. The loveliness and excellency of all other things, is only relative, consisting in its reference to Christ, and subservience to his glory. But Christ is lovely, considered absolutely in himself. He is desirable for himself; other things are desirable because of him.

3. The beauty and loveliness of all other things are fading and perishing; but the loveliness of Christ is fresh for all eternity. The sweetness of the best created thing is a fading flower; if not before, yet certainly at death it must fade away. Job 4:21. "Does not their excellency, which is in them, go away?" Yes, yes, whether they are the natural excellencies of the body, acquired endowments of the mind, lovely features, graceful qualities, or anything else we find attractive; all these like pleasant flowers are withered, faded, and destroyed by death. "But Christ is still the same, yesterday, today, and forever," Heb. 13:8.

4. The beauty and holiness of creatures are ensnaring and dangerous. A man may make an idol out of them, and indulge himself beyond the bounds of moderation with them, but there is no danger of excess in the love of Christ. The soul is then in the healthiest frame and temper when it is most overwhelmed by love to Christ, Song of Songs 5:8.

5. The loveliness of every creature is of a confining and obstructing nature. Our esteem of it diminishes the closer we approach to it, or the longer we enjoy it. Creatures, like pictures, are fairest at a certain distance, but it is not so with Christ; the nearer the soul approaches him, and the longer it lives in the enjoyment of him, still the sweeter and more desirable he becomes.

6. All other loveliness cannot satisfy the soul of man. There is not scope enough in any one created thing, or in all the natural universe of created things for the soul of man to reach out and expand; but the soul still feels itself confined and narrowed within those limits. This comes to pass from the inadequacy and unsuitableness of the creature to the nobler and more excellent soul of man. The soul is like a ship in a narrow river which does not have room to turn. It is always running aground and foundering in the shallows. But Jesus Christ is in every way sufficient to the vast desires of the soul; in him it has sea-room enough. In him the soul may spread all its sails with no fear of touching bottom. And thus you see what is the importance of this phrase, "Altogether lovely."

III. How is Christ altogether lovely?

Next I promised to show you in what respects Jesus Christ is altogether lovely.

First, Christ is altogether lovely in his PERSON. He is Deity dwelling in flesh, John 1:14. The wonderful, perfect union of the divine and human nature in Christ renders him an object of admiration and adoration to both angels and men, 1 Tim. 3:16. God never presented to the world such a vision of glory before. Consider how the human nature of our Lord Jesus Christ is overflowing with all the graces of the Spirit, in such a way as never any of the saints was filled. O what a lovely picture does this paint of him! John 3:34, "God gives the Spirit to him without limit." This makes him "the most excellent of men, and his lips have been anointed with grace," Psalm 45:2. If a small measure of grace in the saints makes them sweet and desirable companions, what must the riches of the Spirit of grace filling Jesus Christ without measure make him in the eyes of believers? O what a glory must it fix upon him!

Secondly, Christ is altogether lovely in his OFFICES. Let us consider for a moment the suitability, fullness, and comforting nature of his offices of Prophet, Priest and King.

First, The SUITABILITY of the offices of Christ to the miseries of men. We cannot but adore the infinite wisdom of his receiving them. We are, by nature, blind and ignorant, at best but groping in the dim light of nature after God, Acts 17:27. Jesus Christ is a light to enlighten the Gentiles, Isa. 49:6. When this great prophet came into the world, then did the day-spring from on high visit us, Luke 1:78. By nature we are alienated from, and at enmity against God; Christ comes into the world to be an atoning sacrifice, making peace by the blood of his cross, Col. 1:20. All the world, by nature, is in bondage and captivity to Satan, a miserable slavery. Christ comes with kingly power, to rescue sinners, as a prey from the mouth of the terrible one.

Secondly, Let the FULLNESS of his offices be also considered, which make him able "to save to the uttermost, all that come to God by him," Heb. 7:25. The three offices, comprising in them all that our souls do need, become a universal relief to all our distresses; and therefore,

Thirdly, Unspeakably COMFORTING must the offices of Christ be to the souls of sinners. If light be pleasant to our eyes, how pleasant is that light of life springing from the Sun of righteousness! Mal. 4:2. If a pardon is sweet to a condemned criminal, how sweet must the sprinkling the blood of Jesus be to the trembling conscience of a law-condemned sinner? If a rescue from a cruel tyrant is sweet to a poor captive, how sweet must it be to the ears of enslaved sinners, to hear the voice of liberty and deliverance proclaimed by Jesus Christ? Out of the several offices of Christ, as out of so many fountains, all the promises of the new covenant flow, as so many soul-refreshing streams of peace and joy. All the promises of illumination, counsel and direction flow out of Christ's prophetic office. All the promises of reconciliation, peace, pardon, and acceptance flow out of his priestly office, with the sweet streams of joy and spiritual comforts which accompany it. All the promises of converting, increasing, defending, directing, and supplying grace, flow out of the kingly office of Christ; indeed, all promises may be reduced to these three offices, so that Jesus Christ must be altogether lovely in his offices.

Thirdly, Christ is Lovely in His RELATIONS.

First, He is a lovely REDEEMER, Isa. 61:1. He came to open the prison-doors to those who are bound. This Redeemer must be a lovely one; if we consider the depth of misery from which he redeemed us, even "from the wrath to come," 1 Thess. 1:10. Consider the numbers redeemed, and the means of their redemption. Rev. 5:9, "And they sang a new song, saying, 'You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood, out of every kindred and tongue, and people and nation.'" He redeemed us not with silver and gold, but with his own precious blood, by way of price, 1 Pet. 1:18,19. with his out-stretched and glorious arm, by way of power, Col. 1:13. he redeemed us freely, Eph. 1:7, fully Rom. 8:1, at the right time, Gal. 4:4, and out of special and particular love, John 17:9. In a word, he has redeemed us forever, never more to come into bondage, 1 Pet. 1:5. John 10:28. O how lovely is Jesus Christ in the relation of a Redeemer to God's elect!

Secondly, He is a lovely BRIDEGROOM to all that he betroths to himself. How does the church glory in him, in the words following my text; "this is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, O you daughters of Jerusalem!" Heaven and earth cannot show anyone like him, which needs no fuller proof than the following particulars:

1. That he betroths to himself, in mercy and in loving kindness, such deformed, defiled, and altogether unworthy souls as we are. We have no beauty, no goodness to make us desirable in his eyes; all the origins of his love to us are in his own breast, Deut. 7:7. He chooses us, not because we were lovely, but in order that he might make us lovely Eph. 5:27. He came to us when we lay in our blood, and said unto us, "Live"; and that was the time of love, Ezek. 16:5.

2. He expects no restitution from us, and yet gives himself, and all that he has, to us. Our poverty cannot enrich him, but he made himself poor to enrich us, 2 Cor. 8:9. 1 Cor. 3:22.

3. No husband loves the wife of his bosom, as much as Christ loved his people, Eph. 5:25. He loved the church and gave himself for it.

4. No one bears with weaknesses and provocations as Christ does; the church is called "the Lamb's wife," Rev. 19:9.

5. No husband is so undying and everlasting a husband as Christ is; death separates all other relations, but the soul's union with Christ is not dissolved in the grave. Indeed, the day of a believer's death is his marriage day, the day of his fullest enjoyment of Christ. No husband can say to his wife, what Christ says to the believer, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you," Heb. 8:5.

6. No bridegroom enriches his bride with such honors by marriage, as Christ does; he makes them related to God as their father, and from that day the mighty and glorious angels think it no dishonor to be their servants, Heb. 1:14. The angels will admire the beauty and glory of the spouse of Christ, Rev. 21:9.

7. No marriage was ever consummated with such triumphal proceedings as the marriage of Christ and believers shall be in heaven, "In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king, accompanied by her bridesmaids. What a joyful, enthusiastic procession as they enter the king's palace!" Among the Jews, the marriage-house was called the house of praise; there was joy upon all hands, but nothing like the joy that will be in heaven when believers, the spouse of Christ, shall be brought there. God the Father will rejoice to behold the blessed accomplishment and confirmation of those glorious plans of his love. Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom will rejoice to see the travail of his soul, the blessed birth and product of all his bitter pains and agonies, Isa. 53:11. The Holy Spirit will rejoice to see the completion and perfection of that sanctifying design which was committed to his hand, 2 Cor. 5:5, to see those souls whom he once found as rough stones, now to shine as the bright, polished stones of the spiritual temple! Angels will rejoice: great was the joy when the foundation of this design was laid, in the incarnation of Christ, Luke 2:13. Great therefore must their joy be, when the top-stone is set up with shouting, crying, "Grace, grace." The saints themselves shall rejoice unspeakably, when they shall enter into the King's palace, and be forever with the Lord, 1 Thes. 4:17. Indeed there will be joy on all hands, except among the devils and damned, who shall gnash their teeth with envy at the everlasting advancement and glory of believers. Thus Christ is altogether lovely, in the relation of a Bridegroom.
Thirdly, Christ is altogether lovely, in the relation of an ADVOCATE. 1 John 2:1-2, "If any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins." It is he that pleads the cause of believers in heaven. He appears for them in the presence of God, to prevent any new alienation, and to continue the state of friendship and peace between God and us.

In this relation Christ is altogether lovely. For,

1. He makes our cause his own, and acts for us in heaven, as if for himself, Heb. 4:15. He is touched with a most tender understanding of our troubles and dangers, and is not only one with us by way of representation, but also one with us in respect of sympathy and affection.

2. In heaven, Christ our Advocate tracks our cause and business, as his great and primary design and business. For this reason in Hebrews 7:25. he is said to "live forever to make intercession for us." It is as if our concerns were so attended to by him there, that all the glory and honor which is paid him in heaven would not divert him one moment from our business.

3. He pleads the cause of believers by his blood. Unlike other advocates, it is not enough for him to lay out only words, which is a cheaper way of pleading; but he pleads for us by the voice of his own blood, as in Heb. 12:24, where we are said to be come "to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel." Every wound he received for us on earth is a mouth opened to plead with God on our behalf in heaven. And hence it is, that in Rev. 5:6 he is represented standing before God, as a lamb that had been slain; as it were exhibiting and revealing in heaven those deadly wounds received on earth from the justice of God, on our account. Other advocates spend their breath, Christ spends his blood.

4. He pleads the cause of believers freely. Other advocates plead for reward, and empty the purses, while they plead the causes of their clients.

5. In a word, he obtains for us all the mercies for which he pleads. No cause miscarries in his hand, which he undertakes, Rom. 8:33, 34. O what a lovely Advocate is Christ for believers!
Fourthly, Christ is altogether lovely in the relation of a FRIEND, for in this relation he is pleased to acknowledge his people, Luke 12:4, 5. There are certain things in which one friend manifests his affection and friendship to another, but there is not one like Christ. For,

1. No friend is so open-hearted to his friend as Christ is to his people: he reveals the very counsels and secrets of his heart to them. John 15:15. "Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knows not what his Lord does; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you."

2. No friend in the world is so generous and bountiful to his friend, as Jesus Christ is to believers; he parts with his very blood for them; "Greater love (he says) has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," John 15:13. He has exhausted the precious treasures of his invaluable blood to pay our debts. O what a lovely friend is Jesus Christ to believers!

3. No friend sympathizes so tenderly with his friend in affliction, as Jesus Christ does with his friends: "In all our afflictions he is afflicted," Heb. 4:15. He feels all our sorrows, needs and burdens as his own. This is why it is said that the sufferings of believers are called the sufferings of Christ, Col. 1:24.

4. No friend in the world takes that contentment in his friends, as Jesus Christ does in believers. Song of Songs 4:9. "You have ravished my heart, (he says to the spouse) you have ravished my heart with one of your eyes, with one chain of your neck." The Hebrew, here rendered "ravished," signifies to puff up, or to make one proud: how the Lord Jesus is pleased to glory in his people! How he is taken and delighted with those gracious ornaments which he himself bestows upon them! There is no friend so lovely as Christ.

5. No friend in the world loves his friend with as impassioned and strong affection as Jesus Christ loves believers. Jacob loved Rachel, and endured for her sake the parching heat of summer and cold of winter; but Christ endured the storms of the wrath of God, the heat of his indignation, for our sakes. David manifested his love to Absalom, in wishing, "O that I had died for you!" Christ manifested his love to us, not in wishes that he had died, but in death itself, in our stead, and for our sakes.

6. No friend in the world is so constant and unchangeable in friendship as Christ is. John 13:1, "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end." He bears with millions of provocations and wrongs, and yet will not break friendship with his people. Peter denied him, yet he will not disown him; but after his resurrection he says, "Go, tell the disciples, and tell Peter." Let him not think he has forfeited by that sin of his, his interest in me. Though he denied me, I will not disown him, Mark 16:7. O how lovely is Christ in the relation of a friend!
I might further show you the loveliness of Christ in his ordinances and in his providences, in his communion with us and communications to us; but there is no end of the account of Christ's loveliness! I will rather choose to press believers to their duties towards this altogether lovely Christ, which I shall briefly conclude in a few words.

IV. Application

1. Is Jesus Christ altogether lovely? Then I beseech you to set your souls upon this lovely Jesus. I am sure such an object as has been here represented, would compel love from the coldest breast and hardest heart. Away with those empty nothings, away with this vain deceitful world, which deserves not the thousandth part of the love you give it. Let all stand aside and give way to Christ. O if only you knew his worth and excellency, what he is in himself, what he has done for you, and deserved from you, you would need no arguments of mine to persuade you to love him!

2. Esteem nothing lovely except as it is enjoyed in Christ, or used for the sake of Christ. Love nothing for itself, love nothing separate from Jesus Christ. In two things we all sin in love of created things. We sin in the excess of our affections, loving them above the proper value of mere created things. We also sin in the inordinacy of our affections, that is to say we give our love for created things a priority it should never have.

3. Let us all be humbled for the corruption of our hearts that are so eager in their affections for vanities and trifles and so hard to be persuaded to the love of Christ, who is altogether lovely. O how many pour out streams of love and delight upon the vain and empty created thing; while no arguments can draw forth one drop of love from their stubborn and unbelieving hearts to Jesus Christ! I have read of one Joannes Mollius, who was observed to go often alone, and weep bitterly; and being pressed by a friend to know the cause of his troubles, said "O! it grieves me that I cannot bring this heart of mine to love Jesus Christ more fervently."

4. Represent Christ to the world as he is, by your behavior towards him. Is he altogether lovely? Let all the world see and know that he is so, by your delights in him and communion with him; zeal for him, and readiness to part with any other lovely thing upon his account. Proclaim his excellencies to the world, as the spouse did in these verses. Persuade them how much your beloved is better than any other beloved. Show his glorious excellencies as you speak of him; hold him forth to others, as he is in himself; altogether lovely. See that you "walk worthy of him unto all well pleasing," Col. 1:10. "Show forth the praises of Christ," 1 Pet. 2:19. Let not that "worthy name be blasphemed through you," James 2:7. He is glorious in himself, and he is sure to put glory upon you; take heed that you do not put shame and dishonors upon him; he has committed his honor to you, do not betray that trust.

5. Never be ashamed to be counted as a Christian. He is altogether lovely; he can never be a shame to you; it will be your great sin to be ashamed of him. Some men glory in their shame; do not let yourself be ashamed of your glory. If you will be ashamed of Christ now, he will be ashamed of you when he shall appear in his own glory, and the glory of all his holy angels. Be ashamed of nothing but sin; and among other sins, be ashamed especially for this sin, that you have no more love for him who is altogether lovely.

6. Be willing to leave every thing that is lovely upon earth, in order that you may be with the altogether lovely Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. Lift up your voices with the bride, Rev. 20:20 "Come Lord Jesus, come quickly." It is true, you must pass through the pangs of death into his intimacy and enjoyment; but surely it is worth suffering much more than that, to be with this lovely Jesus. "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and the patient waiting for Jesus Christ," 2 Thes. 3:5.

7. Let the loveliness of Christ draw all men to him. Is loveliness in the creature so attractive? And can the transcendent loveliness of Christ draw none? O the blindness of man! If you see no beauty in Christ that causes you to desire him, it is because the god of this world has blinded your minds.

8. Strive to be Christ-like, if ever you would be lovely in the eyes of God and man. Certainly, my brethren, it is only the Spirit of Christ within you, and the beauty of Christ upon you, which can make you lovely people. The more you resemble him in holiness, the more will you show of true excellence and loveliness; and the more frequent and spiritual your communication and communion with Christ is, the more of the beauty and loveliness of Christ will be stamped upon your spirits, changing you into the same image, from glory to glory. Amen.

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend." Song of Songs 5:16

OOPS! I am so very sorry to have confused the real meaning of this text. It simply means that I think my husband is really handsome (inside and out) and I am so thrilled that he is also my friend. Application: That is how wife's should feel if they want to have a happy marriage. Husbands, be your wife's friend as well as her lover.

Please excuse the sarcasism. But, this is so unbelieveable to me. Here is just one more example of what results when a learned, godly and gifted teacher interrupts this book literally. This was said from the pulpit and is a word-for-word transcript of this part of the sermon:

"This is very interesting. Song of Solomon. Chapter 5, and I know you're all racing there. Song of Solomon, chapter 5 verse 4. Now this is very interesting. Just to give you an idea of how the Hebrew expressed his feelings. Now you've got to have the picture. The bride is waiting for the bridegroom. It is time to consummate the marriage. This is a great hour. Now listen, The Hebrew says in verse 4: "My beloved put his hand to the latch of the door and my bowels are moved for him." Now you say, wait a minute, (Laughter). That's in the Bible? That's in the Bible. You say, what does that mean, John? That means that the bowels include that whole area including the arousal of sexual desire in the human body. All of that area, even feeling in the genital area, was expressed by the Hebrews in that terminology. You see, they didn't say, "And I began to sense great overwhelming passion." That's an abstraction. The Hebrew defined it in its lowest level of experiential feeling. Now we'll hurry to Lamentations 2, because we do not want to linger at that particular point (laughter).

Source: Click here

I'm not laughing. Are you?

May 26, 2009

A Pastor's Prayer

When the American evangelist D. L. Moody spoke in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in October 1892, he recalled an earlier visit twenty-five years previously. He had come four thousand miles, he said, to hear C. H. Spurgeon, but what impressed him most was not the sermon, nor the singing of the great congregation, but Spurgeon’s prayer. Such was his access to God that he seemed to be able to bring down power from heaven. This was the great secret, Moody believed, of Spurgeon’s influence and success.

Spurgeon came into the presence of God with deep reverence, yet with unquestioning child-like confidence, to plead God's promises in Scripture and to revel in the nearness to God into which Christ has brought all who believe.

Following is just one of Spurgeon's prayers (from the book referenced at the close of this post). I would highly recommend the book to everyone; but, especially to Pastors.

“Oh, to love the Saviour with a passion that can never cool; Oh, to believe in God with a confidence that can never stagger! Oh, to hope with an expectation that can never be dim! Oh, to delight in God with a holy over-flowing rejoicing that can never be stopped, so that we might live to glorify God at the highest bent of our powers, living with enthusiasm, burning, blazing, being consumed with the indwelling God who worketh all things in us according to His will!

Thus, Lord, would we praise and pray at the same time, confess and acknowledge our responsibilities, but also bless the free, the sovereign grace that makes us what we are. Oh God of the eternal choice, O God of the ransom purchased on the tree, O God of the effectual call, Father, Son and Spirit, our adoration rises to heaven like the smoke from the altar of incense. Glory and honour and majesty and power and dominion and might be unto the one only God, for ever and ever, and all the redeemed by the blood will say, Amen.”


Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Personal Touch” in The Pastor in Prayer: A Collection of the Sunday Morning Prayers of C.H. Spurgeon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2004), 4

Rebuke impresses a man of discernment.

Are there men who have risen to a certain level within the Church that one dare not point out a concern about something that they have said; something that they teach; or, a potential error in their theology? Are there some men who we should show more respect to than others? And is respect shown by being silent when one has a genuine concern that they feel should be expressed? Or, does it actually show more love and respect to speak up when one has a genuine concern?

I love what Piper says when preaching from Hebrews 6:9-12

“The writer to the Hebrews is calling us by his example to grow up and to take the risks of love. He is also calling us to be less easily offended. And less easily hurt. We have a massive foundation for our salvation in the death of the Son of God and we have an advocate in heaven more powerful and more compelling than any accuser on earth. We should be the freest of all people to listen to criticism and take it into account and not be wounded or self-pitying or resentful.”

Just listen to these lines from the Book of Proverbs: Better is open rebuke from a friend than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear. Rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge. A rebuke impresses a man of discernment. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. Rebuke a wise man and he will love you.

May 25, 2009

WHY?

I have come to the conclusion that:

Most professing Christians do not ask themselves “Why?” enough.

When a child is learning and growing, they can drive you nuts, right? “Why is the sky blue?” Why does the sun set at night? Why does a rainbow have the colors it has? Why are leaves on trees green?” And on and on it goes.

I believe much of the confusion about the salvation of man; about justification and sanctification; about works righteousness vs. grace; about Lordship salvation vs. mere believism, all stems from the fact that most have never really asked themselves the following “Why?” question:

Why did God send Christ to reconcile man to Himself?

Do not be tempted to give an easy answer by quoting John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That does not answer the question, in fact that should raise additional questions:

Why does God so love the world? What is Love? What constitutes genuine saving belief? Which, in and of themselves, are all good question. But, they are also the questions that have caused such controversy among those who call themselves Christians because many have never really answered the foundational question.


In fact, many have spent a lifetime attempting to answer “What does it mean to belief in a saving way and how is that manifested in the life of a professing Christian.”

However, the big “Why” question is, “Why did God send Christ to reconcile man to Himself?
Ultimately, what was God's motivation, purpose, desire, intent in reconciling man to Himself? There are many “fringe” effects of this action on God’s part--but there is one answer that I believe will silence much of the controversy and prevent a great deal of confusion among individual believers.

Think about this question. Think in terms of God’s “ultimate” purpose. Think eternally, not temporally. Think about who God is ,as He has revealed Himself in His Word.

To assist with further pondering, ask yourself these questions:

What are the three most important things to God (according to His revealed Word)?

When temporal things (as we know them) end, what continues for eternity and why?

What do the dead in Christ do now and what do the angels do now? What will they do for eternity?

Why did God destroy all life, accept that which was on the ark?

Why did God instantly take the temporal life of the man who touched the Ark of the Covenant to prevent it from falling?

Will Heaven bore you if your main purpose for even being there is to "worship the Lamb" for all eternity?

May 23, 2009

Missions

"No, it isn't for lack of money that there are 1,568 peoples with no missionaries. It is because we have so much. The comforts of the West have made us soft and cautious and fearful and indulgent and self-protecting, instead of tough and risk-taking and bold and self-controlled and self-sacrificing. . . Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. The glory of God is the ultimate goal of the church—because it's the ultimate goal of God.

The final goal of all things is that God might be worshiped with white-hot affection by a redeemed company of countless persons from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9; 7:9). Missions exists because worship doesn't. When the kingdom finally comes in glory, missions will cease. Missions is penultimate; worship is ultimate.

If we forget this and reverse their roles, the passion and the power for both diminish."
--John Piper

May 21, 2009

Healing the Soul

The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God. We were made for this. “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth. . . whom I created for my glory,” says the Lord (Isaiah 43:6-7). … We were made to know and treasure the glory of God above all things; and when we trade that treasure for images, everything is disordered.

The sun of God’s glory was made to shine at the center of the solar system of our soul. And when it does, all the planets of our life are held in their proper orbit. But when the sun is displaced, everything flies apart. The healing of the soul begins by restoring the glory of God to its flaming, all-attracting place at the center."

John Piper, Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God

May 20, 2009

“Preach on, great preacher, without me.”

The task of true biblical preaching is not essentially intellectual or psychological or rhetorical; it is essentially spiritual. I have followed the preaching ministry of more men than I can count and have discovered that many fall into a great trap. I was truly blessed to discover that my concerns are shared with many others and have been so wonderfully articulated in this excerpt from "What is Biblical Preaching" by Eric J. Alexander, P&R, 2008:

"Left to ourselves, we may do many things with a congregation. We may move them emotionally. We may attract them to ourselves personally, producing great loyalty. We may persuade them intellectually. We may educate them in a broad spectrum of Christian truth. But the one thing we can never do, left to ourselves, is to regenerate them spiritually and change them into the image of Jesus Christ, to bear his moral glory in their character. While that is the great calling of the church of Christ, it is essentially God’s work and not ours.

So it is possible to be homiletically brilliant, verbally fluent, theologically profound, biblically accurate and orthodox, and spiritually useless. That frightens me. I hope it frightens you, too. I think it is of this that Paul is speaking when he says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (I Cor. 3:6-7). It is very possible for us to be deeply concerned about homiletical ability and fluency and theological profundity and biblical orthodoxy, but to know nothing of the life – giving power of God with the burning anointing of the Holy Spirit upon our ministry. Campbell Morgan (Lloyd-Jones’s predecessor at the Westminster Chapel) divulged that at one crucial stage in his ministry he was in precisely this position, and sensed that God was saying to him, “Preach on, great preacher, without me.” Alan Redpath used to say that the most penetrating question you could ask about any church situation was, “What is happening in this place that cannot be explained in merely human terms?”

So there is a world of difference between true biblical preaching and an academic lecture or a rhetorical performance. We are utterly dependent on the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. Thank God, he uses the weak things of this world to confound the mighty, and the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are (1 Cor. 1 :2,8). This is why it is absolutely essential to marry prayer to the ministry of the Word. In our ministries prayer is not supplemental; it is fundamental. Of course we subscribe to the principal that “this work is God’s work, not ours.” We subscribe to that because we are biblical Evangelicals, but the logical corollary of that statement is that prayer is a fundamental issue in the ministry of the Word, as in every part of our labor, and not, as we tend to make it, a supplemental matter."

May 19, 2009

Born-Again!

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

In the new birth, God exerts a quickening influence or power upon His own elect. Regeneration is very, very much more than simply shedding a few tears because of some temporary remorse over sin. It is far more than changing our course of life, the leaving off of bad habits and the substituting of good ones. It is something different from the mere cherishing and practicing of noble ideals. It goes infinitely deeper than coming forward to take some popular evangelist by the hand, signing a pledge-card, or "joining the church." The new birth is no mere turning over a new leaf--but is the inception and reception of a new life! It is no mere reformation, but a radical transformation.

In short, the new birth is a miracle--the result of the supernatural operation of God. It is radical, revolutionary, lasting!

In the new birth:

God lays hold of one who is spiritually dead--and quickens him into newness of life!

God takes up one who was shaped in iniquity and conceived in sin--and conforms him to the image of His Son!

God seizes a drudge of the Devil--and makes him a member of His holy family!

God picks up a destitute beggar--and makes him joint-heir with Christ! God comes to one who is full of enmity against Him--and gives him a new heart that is full of love for Him!

God stoops to one who by nature is a rebel--and works in him both to will and to do of His good pleasure!

By His irresistible power, God transforms . . . a sinner--into a saint; an enemy--into His friend, a drudge of the Devil--into His beloved child!

A.W. Pink

May 15, 2009

Understanding the Cross

"Man, in his natural spirit of self-justifying legalism, has tried to get away from the cross of Christ and its perfection, or to erect another cross instead, or to setup a screen of ornaments between himself and it, or to alter its true meaning into something more congenial to his tastes, or to transfer the virtue of it to some act or performance or feeling of its own. Thus the simplicity of the cross is nullified, and its saving power is denied. For the cross saves completely, or not at all.

Our faith does not divide the work of salvation between itself and the cross. It is the acknowledgment that the cross alone saves, and that it saves alone. Faith adds nothing to the cross, nor to its healing virtue. It owns the fullness, and sufficiency, and suitableness of the work done there, and bids the toiling spirit cease from its labours and enter into rest.

Faith does not come to Calvary to do anything. It comes to see the glorious spectacle of all things done, and to accept this completion without a misgiving as to its efficacy. It listens to the “It is finished!” of the Sin-bearer, and says, “Amen.”

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) Excerpt taken from "The Everlasting Righteousness" by Horatius Bonar first published 1874, Banner of Truth 1993

May 13, 2009

What Wonderous Affection

No longer intrigued by this dark passing world,
His banner of love, over me, He unfurled.
Protecting my soul by His sovereign divide
Through the blood of His cross, spilled forth from His side.

Crucified in my Jesus; all glory to Him
Who ransomed my soul from destruction and sin.
The world cannot have me—I belong to my King,
Therefore I will praise Him; therefore I will sing.

No glory I find in one thing I can do;
With wondrous affection, His mercies are new.
And look to the day that my faith will be sight—
My perfection is sure, to my Father's delight.

He sees me in Jesus, in glory so bright;
And hidden in Him, I’m concealed in His light.
Chosen to be with my lover and friend;
And give Him the glory—to this be my end.

Michael E. Wood
05/12/2009

May 12, 2009

Be silent, that you may hear....

Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment. Isaiah 41:1

This is a noisy age, and the Church of Christ herself is too noisy. We have little silent worship, I fear. I do not so much regret the absence of silence from the public assembly as from our private devotions, where it has a sacred hallowing influence, unspeakably valuable.

Be silent, that you may hear the voice of Jesus, for when He speaks you will renew your strength. The eternal Spirit is with His people; but we often miss His power because we give more ear to other voices than to His, and quite as often our own voice is an injury to us, for it is heard when we have received no message from the Lord, and therefore gives an uncertain sound.

If we wait upon the blessed Spirit, His mysterious influence will sway us most divinely, and we shall be filled with all the fullness of God. Even as we have seen the frost yield suddenly to the influence of the warm south wind, so shall out lethargy melt before His sovereign energy.

How often have I felt in a moment my ice-locked spirit yield to the breath of the Holy Spirit. You have seen a cloud on high flying, as you thought, against the wind, driven on by some upper current of air which you did not feel below; even thus have we been carried on by the upper currents which flesh and blood cannot understand. We sang as Dr. Watts does—

“Look how we grovel here below,
Fond of these trifling toys;
Our souls can neither fly nor go
To reach eternal joys.”

But when the Holy Spirit came the lightening itself could not overtake us; we rode upon a cherub and did fly, yea, we did ride upon the wings of the wind, for God the everlasting One had caught us up and filled us with His power.

Be silent, then, that the Spirit may thus work upon you. Let other spirits be gone—let the spirit of the world, and the spirit of the flesh, and the spirit of self be banished, and let the Spirit of the Ever Blessed be heard speaking in your soul. Thus shall you renew your strength.


C.H. Spurgeon - Solemn Pleadings fro Revival - 1875

"That's what I mean by preaching"

Preaching Is Expository

Expository means that preaching aims to exposit, or explain and apply, the meaning of the Bible. The reason for this is that the Bible is God's word, inspired, infallible, profitable—all 66 books of it.

The preacher's job is to minimize his own opinions and deliver the truth of God. Every sermon should explain the Bible and then apply it to people's lives.

The preacher should do that in a way that enables you to see that the points he is making actually come from the Bible. If you can't see that they come from the Bible, your faith will end up resting on a man and not on God's word.

The aim of this exposition is to help you eat and digest biblical truth that will:

Make your spiritual bones more like steel,

Double the capacity of your spiritual lungs,

Make the eyes of your heart dazzled with the brightness of the glory of God, and

Awaken the capacity of your soul for kinds of spiritual enjoyment you didn't even know existed.

Preaching Is Exultation

Preaching is also exultation. This means that the preacher does not just explain what's in the Bible, and the people do not simply try understand what he explains. Rather, the preacher and the people exult over what is in the Bible as it is being explained and applied.

Preaching does not come after worship in the order of the service. Preaching is worship. The preacher worships—exults—over the word, trying his best to draw you into a worshipful response by the power of the Holy Spirit.

My job is not simply to see truth and show it to you. (The devil could do that for his own devious reasons.) My job is to see the glory of the truth and to savor it and exult over it as I explain it to you and apply it for you. That's one of the differences between a sermon and a lecture.

Preaching Isn't Church, but It Serves the Church

Preaching is not the totality of the church. And if all you have is preaching, you don't have the church. A church is a body of people who minister to each other.

One of the purposes of preaching is to equip us for that and inspire us to love each other better. But God has created the church so that she flourishes through preaching. That's why Paul gave young pastor Timothy one of the most serious, exalted charges in all the Bible in 2 Timothy 4:1-2: "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word."

If you're used to a twenty-minute, immediately practical, relaxed talk, you won't find that from what I've just described. I preach twice that long; I do not aim to be immediately practical but eternally helpful; and I am not relaxed. I standing vigilantly on the precipice of eternity speaking to people who this week could go over the edge whether they are ready to or not. I will be called to account for what I said there.

That's what I mean by preaching.

John Piper

May 11, 2009

Do you have a vain religion?

"Rend your heart--and not your garments." Joel 2:13

Garment-rending and other external signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested, and are frequently hypocritical. True repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Unsaved men will attend to the most multiplied and minute religious ceremonies and regulations--for such things are pleasing to their flesh.

But true godliness is too humbling, too heart-searching, too spiritual for the tastes of carnal men! They prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. External religious rituals are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up. But they are ultimately delusive, for at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than religious ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness--all religion is utterly vain!

When offered without a sincere heart, every form of religious worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of God!Heart-rending is divinely wrought--and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form--but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer.

It is not a matter to be merely talked of--but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating and sin-purging! But also, it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled souls are unable to receive! This heart-rending distinctly belongs to the elect of God--and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts--but they are naturally as hard as marble! How then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary! A dying Savior's voice rent the rocks once--and it is just as powerful now.

O blessed Spirit, let us effectually hear the death-cries of Jesus--and our hearts shall be rent!

"A solemn sham and an impudent mockery!" (Charles Spurgeon)

May 10, 2009

Do You Care?

Should we not care to concern ourselves with what concerns God? He is very concerned about His name not being profaned and polluted. If you call yourself by His name, do you take care that your actions and your words not bring Him dishonor? If you have a "fish" on your car, do you care to drive in such a way that people will not mock Him? Being a Christian is so much more than being "saved" from the wrath to come. We are called to be His ambassadors; we are called to bring Him glory. Wearing His name is not something that we should ever take lightly--it is about Him and He cares deeply about it. Do you?

Listen to what God has revealed to us and care:

Isaiah 42:8I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.Isaiah 42:7-9 (in Context) Isaiah 42 (Whole Chapter)

Isaiah 43:7Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.Isaiah 43:6-8 (in Context) Isaiah 43 (Whole Chapter)

Isaiah 48:11For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.Isaiah 48:10-12 (in Context) Isaiah 48 (Whole Chapter)

Leviticus 20:3And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.Leviticus 20:2-4 (in Context) Leviticus 20 (Whole Chapter)

Leviticus 22:2Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD.Leviticus 22:1-3 (in Context) Leviticus 22 (Whole Chapter)
Leviticus 22:32Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you,Leviticus 22:31-33 (in Context) Leviticus 22 (Whole Chapter)

Ezekiel 20:39As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me: but pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols.Ezekiel 20:38-40 (in Context) Ezekiel 20 (Whole Chapter)

Ezekiel 36:20And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.Ezekiel 36:19-21 (in Context) Ezekiel 36 (Whole Chapter)

Ezekiel 39:7So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.Ezekiel 39:6-8 (in Context) Ezekiel 39 (Whole Chapter)

Ezekiel 39:25Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name;Ezekiel 39:24-26 (in Context) Ezekiel 39 (Whole Chapter)

Ezekiel 43:7And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.Ezekiel 43:6-8 (in Context) Ezekiel 43 (Whole Chapter)

Ezekiel 43:8In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger.Ezekiel 43:7-9 (in Context) Ezekiel 43 (Whole Chapter)

Amos 2:7That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name:Amos 2:6-8 (in Context) Amos 2 (Whole Chapter)

May 9, 2009

"Openness"

I have been following a few different people's blogs for quite some time and have witnessed the truth of this passage in God's Word play itself out in the lives of those individuals and so many others. I have made several attempts to "speak the truth in love" to them to no avail. I pray that the Spirit of God will open their eyes to His truth.

"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ..." Eph 4:13-15

This has burdened the hearts of others, as well:

"The tragic reality is that we are living in an age that is marked by so much spiritual and theological confusion that the God of the Bible has largely disappeared from view -- replaced by less imposing deities that are more amenable to the modern mind.

In one sense, we are witnessing the result of secularization and the evaporation of biblical theism from our public life. To this we must add the privatization of truth and the fact that millions of Americans claim a divine right to their own spiritual cocoon and belief system. As the song suggests, Americans now lay claim to “their own personal Jesus.” This personal vision of Jesus Christ may well bear little or no resemblance to Jesus as he is revealed in the Bible.

Indeed, the abdication of biblical faith is one of the hallmarks of our age – whether you prefer to call it postmodern, hypermodern, or post-postmodern. Yet, once the faith is severed from biblical authority, Christianity becomes essentially plastic; a malleable and changeable belief system that just begs for transformation into some other shape and substance.

The situation is complicated further by the embrace of an “openness” that is not open to authentic biblical Christianity. “Tolerance” becomes a code-word for avoiding truth and “openness” means never having to make a judgment about truth at all.

A rescue from this predicament would appear more hopeful but for the fact that the church has, in large part, apparently joined the revolution. Theological fads and fashions dot the American religious landscape, and far too many Christian churches flirt with doctrinal disaster.

As always, truth is the essential issue. Where a clear notion of truth is absent, Christianity becomes more of an attitude than a belief system. But belief has always stood at the center of Christianity, and belief presupposes a truth that can and must be known.

The issues addressed within this book are matters of continuing concern within the Christian church. Intelligent and faithful Christians should know of these issues, and this book is intended to help believers to understand what is at stake.

In the end, the hope for the church is the hope of our lives – Jesus Christ. As our Lord promised, the gates of Hell shall not prevail over his church. This is a promise we can trust, even (and especially) in the face of current controversies and concerns.

God has certainly not disappeared, but the belief that he has, sets our present challenge squarely before us. We will soon find out whether this generation of Christians is up to the challenge." Albert Mohler - Preface from his new book, The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness

May 5, 2009

Is it any wonder?

Is it any wonder that the lost world views "Christianity" as a joke?

Case in point: The Christian community at large is heralding Miss California as a hero of the faith and I have even heard Christian reporters go as far as to claim she is being persecuted.

Let us look at this: A professing Christian enters a Miss America beauty pageant; signs a contract stating that she has never had nude or semi-nude photo's taken of herself; has breast augmentation surgery paid for by the pageant; then answers a question about her views regarding same-sex marriage with this response:

"I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage,” Prejean answered. “And you know what? I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”

First, I might point out that the same statement could be made by a Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Muslim, White Supremest, or anyone who holds traditional moral values.

To make matters worse, we have now discovered that she has posed semi-nude and her response to that expose was, "they are bringing out those photo's to belittle my Christianity".

Young lady--might I suggest that it is YOU who have "belittled" Christianity.

Please don't get me wrong. If a young woman is stupid enough to lower herself to be paraded around like cattle at an auction and to undergo an elective surgery to make her breasts larger at the rip old age of 21; that is entirely her business to do so. To drag the precious name of Christ into this arena should be unimaginable for anyone who cares one bit about His Glory and His honor.


Her stand on same-sex marriage does not make her an honorable ambassador of Christ and for the Christian community to herald this woman as a hero of the faith for taking a stand on same-sex marriage is simply feeding into the world's misconception of what Christianity truly is.

Next time you are tempted to make someone out to be a poster child for Christianity try to first imagine them saying, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."
1 Corinthians 11

So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.


May 4, 2009

The Heart of an Evangelist

But, O Lord, how insufficient I am for this work. Alas, with what shall I pierce the scales of Leviathan, or make the heart feel that is hard as the nether millstone? Shall I go and speak to the grave, and expect the dead will obey me and come forth? Shall I make an oration to the rocks, or declaim to the mountains, and think to move them with arguments? Shall I make the blind to see? From the beginning of the world was it not heard that a man opened the eyes of the blind (Jn 9 32). But, O Lord, Thou canst pierce the heart of the sinner. I can only draw the bow at a venture, but do Thou direct the arrow between the joints of the harness. Slay the sin, and save the soul of the sinner that casts his eyes on these pages.

Excerpt from Joseph Alliene's "Alarm to the Unconverted"

May 2, 2009

We are all beggars!

From Frederick Leahy's epilogue in The Cross He Bore: Meditations on the Sufferings of the Redeemer:

The proud, self-sufficient, modern humanist despises the whole idea of forgiveness. Like the blustering W.E. Henley, he sees himself as master of his fate and captain of his soul. 'Forgiveness', said George Bernard Shaw, 'is a beggar's refuge. We must pay our debts.'

About the time of Luther's death, a piece of paper was found in his pocket on which he had written in Latin and German, 'Hoc est verum. Wir sind alle Bettler.' ('This is true. We are all beggars.') There is the contrast between the stony heart of unbelief and the heart of flesh that weeps for sin and looks in faith to the crucified and risen Saviour for mercy.

The forgiven, restored sinner willingly takes up his cross and follows the Lord Jesus Christ. That cross is whatever the Christian suffers for the sake of Christ and his truth. In bearing that cross there is peace and blessedness as the Christian experiences the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. Not that we can share in the redemptive suffering of Christ, but rather that we seek by God's grace to deny self, accept the anguish of the struggle against sin and bear meekly the scorn of a world that rejects Christ. 'There are some,' said Samuel Rutherford, 'who would have Christ cheap. They would have Him without the cross. But the price will not come down.'

The hand that reaches out for salvation must be empty. Everything of self must be disowned. We are debtors to mercy alone. We are all beggars.

Mystical Union

This is a test. Can you guess who made this statement? Do you agree with this statement? Read it over a few times and really think about what is being said.

"Knowing Christ,” in the Pauline sense is not the sort of mystical relationship many people imagine. Paul wasn’t longing for some secret knowledge of Christ beyond what is revealed in Scripture. In fact, the knowledge of Christ Paul sought was anything but mystical. What he longed to know was the power of Christ’s resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, and conformity to His death.

We err greatly if we think of intimacy with Christ as some lofty level of mysterious, feelings-based communion with the Divine—as if it involved some knowledge of God that goes beyond what Scripture has revealed. That idea is the very heart of the gnostic heresy. It has nothing in common with true Christianity."

Now read the follow statement:

At the very heart of true Christianity is the saints’ mystical union with Christ. We are in Christ! He is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemption. From this union to Christ we experience all the blessings and delights of communion with God and find spiritual vitality for obedience, prayer, ministry and sacrificial love. This powerful union is mystical because we cannot see it with our eyes. It is a spiritually-revealed truth.

“If you have got hold of this idea [mystical union with Christ] you will have discovered the most glorious truth you will ever know in your life.” It is glorious because it reminds us that in all things, at all times, Christ is central to our lives. All of our spiritual vitality and life comes through Christ. Christ is the “Head” from whom the whole Body is nourished, knit together and grows (Col. 2:19). Paul’s phrase for Christ is simply “who is your life” (3:4) and says our lives are hidden in Christ (3:3). This glorious truth of being united to Christ is at the core of the Christian life."

Now, you tell me--Which one of the above rings of truth to you?

The Self-Centeredness of Man

I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one.
-- John 17:15

Even our desire to be with the Lord is usually not out of a desire for Him; but out of a selfish desire to escape the sorrow, pain, hardship, disappointment, misery of life on this earth. Have you ever thought about that? We are such a self-centered lot. Perhaps we need to really think about this. Paul said, "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith..." That is a selfless desire. Note: He says "more needful for YOU". He is not considering what would benefit him; but, what would benefit others for Christ's sake. Oh, let us have that spirit within us through God's grace and for His glory.

"In God's own time every believer will experience the sweet and blessed occasion of going home to be with Jesus. In a few more years the Lord's soldiers, who are presently fighting "the good fight of the faith,"1 will have finished the battle and will have entered into the joy of their Lord. But although Christ prays that His people may eventually be with Him where He is, He does not ask that they may be taken at once away from this world to heaven. He wishes them to stay here. Yet how often is the weary pilgrim heard to pray, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest."

But Christ does not pray like that; He leaves us in His Father's hands until, like shocks of fully ripe corn, we shall each be gathered into our Master's garner. Jesus does not plead for our instant removal by death, because our earthly journey is needful for others even when daunting for us. He asks that we may be kept from evil, but He never asks for us to be admitted to the inheritance in glory until it is time. Christians often want to die when they have any trouble. Ask them why, and they tell you, "Because we would rather be with the Lord."

I wonder whether it is not so much that they long to be with the Lord as it is because they want to be free of their troubles; otherwise they would feel the same desire to die at other times when not under the pressure of trial. They want to go home not so much for the Savior's company as to be at rest. Now it is quite right to desire to depart if we can do it in the same spirit that Paul did--because to be with Christ is far better; but the wish to escape from trouble is a selfish one. Rather let your longing be to glorify God by your life down here as long as He pleases, even though you live in the midst of toil and conflict and suffering. Leave Him to say when it is enough."


C.H. Spurgeon