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Showing posts from March, 2010

Some things cannot be improved upon!

I am aware it is sometimes said that times have altered since the apostles' days, that the state of the world is different from what it then was. But is not human nature in all its essential elements the same? Is it not the same in its moral aspect, impotency, and necessities? Does it not as much need, and as much depend upon, the gospel scheme now, as it did then? Is not the gospel as exquisitely and fully adapted to its miserable condition now as it was then? Can sin be pardoned in any other way than through the atonement of Christ; or the sinner be justified by any other means than faith in the Lord our Righteousness; or the depraved heart be renewed and sanctified by any other agency than that of the Holy Spirit

The moral epidemic of our nature is always and everywhere the same, in whatever various degrees of virulence it may exist, and the remedial system of salvation by grace, through faith, is God's own and unalterable specific for the disease, in every age of time, in e…

An Old-Fashioned Christianity

The Heidelberg is largely a commentary on the Apostle's Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer and the book deals with man's guilt, God's grace, and believers' gratitude. The result is a clear-headed, warm-hearted exploration of the faith, simple enough for young believers and deep enough for mature believers. As DeYoung writes, "The gospel summarized in the Heidelberg Catechism is glorious, it's Christ gracious, it's comfort rich, it's Spirit strong, it's God Sovereign, and it's truth timeless."

In The Good News We Almost Forgot Kevin DeYoung explores the Heidelberg Catechism and writes 52 brief chapters on what it has shown him."

Regardless of your denominational background, I encourage every believer to read this book. Your soul will be warmed by the elegantly and logically laid out doctrine that matters most: We are great sinners and Christ is a greater Savior!

Seduced by the Lust for Mastery

I would encourage everyone; but, especially all pastors and teachers, to read the chapter by D.A. Carson from The Trials of Theology. It is available online as a "pdf" file. The following are a few excerpts. You will find a link to the pdf at the end of this post.

"...within biblical studies there are few who study the Bible; rather, one writes a learned tome on one facet of pentateuchal criticism, on the theology of Haggai, on cognate Seminitc idioms; one facet of the synoptic problem, on the use of the Old testament in Hebrews, on the significance of pistis Christous, "the faith of Christ', in current debates on the new perspective on Paul. As the old adage puts it, we learn more and more about less. and less."

"Scanning this brief list of domains that generate trails for those engaged in biblical studies--whether 'trials' in the sense of difficulties, or 'trials' in the sense of temptations--I am struck by how interrelated they a…

Do You Thirst?

"After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst."—John 19:28.

It was most fitting that every word of our Lord upon the cross should be gathered up and preserved. As not a bone of him shall be broken, so not a word shall be lost. The Holy Spirit took special care that each of the sacred utterances should be fittingly recorded. There were, as you know, seven of those last words, and seven is the number of perfection and fulness; the number which blends the three of the infinite God with the four of complete creation. Our Lord in his death-cries, as in all else, was perfection itself. There is a fulness of meaning in each utterance which no man shall be able fully to bring forth, and when combined they make up a vast deep of thought, which no human line can fathom. Here, as everywhere else, we are constrained to say of our Lord, "Never man spake like this man."

Amid all the anguish of his spirit hi…

Small, worldly, culturally contaminated, self-centered, Christ-ignoring, God-neglecting, romance-intoxicated, unbiblical views of marriage.

It is not about us! So many are miserable in marriage; primarily because they have created their own misery. Their disappointments are a result of a warped view and unbiblical expectations about marriage.

"The world cannot know what marriage is without learning it from God. The natural man does not have the capacities to see or receive or feel the wonder of what God has designed for marriage to be."

I pray that God will strengthen and protect us from the world's silly notions about marriage and that we might be used by God to help set many free from "small, worldly, culturally contaminated, self-centered, Christ-ignoring, God-neglecting, romance-intoxicated, unbiblical views of marriage."

Text in quotes taken from a sermon preached by John Piper

Can You See Yourself Somewhere in this List?

We often think ourselves just fine and hold our heads up high because we are not fornicating, cussing, watching "R" rated movies, or getting drunk on Friday nights. I say to you that if we are guilty of any of the "ism's" outlined below; we have either 1) never rightly understood the "transformed" life and are living a counterfeit Christianity; or, 2) We have rightly understood the gospel; but have replaced it with one of our own making. In either case, we are guilty of misrepresenting the Lord--a far greater sin then we allow ourselves to imagine.

"...there are outside-the-church idols and there are inside-the-church idols. It’s the idols inside the church that ought to concern Christians most. It’s easier for Christians to identify worldly idols such as money, power, selfish ambition, sex, and so on. It’s the idols inside the church that we have a harder time identifying.

In his book "How People Change", Paull Trip identifies seve…

The Truth is Timeless

One plague of our age is the widespread dislike to what men are pleased to call dogmatic theology. In the place of it, the idol of the day is a kind of jellyfish Christianity – a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or sinew, – without any distinct teaching about the atonement or the work of the Spirit, or justification, or the way of peace with God – a vague, foggy, misty Christianity, of which the only watchwords seem to be, ‘You must be…liberal and kind. You must condemn no man’s doctrinal views. You must consider everybody is right and nobody is wrong’. And this creedless kind of religion, we are told, is to give us peace of conscience! And not to be satisfied with it in a sorrowful, dying world, is a proof that you are very narrow-minded! Satisfied, indeed!

Such a religion might possibly do for unfallen angels! But to tell sinful, dying men and women, with the blood of our father Adam in our veins, to be satisfied with it, is an insult to common sense and a mockery of our distres…

A Puritan, A Pastoral Intern, A Homeless Man, and Our Great God

A True Story--One that clearly illustrates how God's providence works in our lives. You will be encouraged:

Earlier this week I arrived in Crystal City to meet friends for dinner. I turned up early so that I might snatch a few minutes to finish the last three pages of a book I was reading and benefiting from immensely - John Flavel’s The Mystery of Providence. I sat down at an empty table outside on the terrace and began to open the book. No sooner had I begun to turn the pages than a man riding a bike stopped right in front of me. Interrupting my reading he asked rather forcefully, ‘What is that book?’ I grasped my belongings thinking that this was some kind of ruse to distract me so that he might steal my stuff. I could tell that he had been drinking, but my suspicions quickly dissipated when he proceeded to sit down next to me and again ask in his somewhat brazen manner, ‘What is that book about?’ I began to explain. The book was written by a nonconformist preacher of the seven…

Ever Wonder?

Do you ever wonder what "church" was like before the Bible was canonized? Do you ever wonder how Christian's lived? What was "preached" on the Lord's Day? Were you aware that the early Church fathers read the letters from Paul and many other letters to the flock under their care? It is a wonderful study to find and read the letters written to the church before the bible was "published". It is these letters that the church sorted through in determining which would be part of the "canon" of scripture. Christians prior to that time in history, heard all of these letters. Here is a sampling of just one. But first a little history:

Ignatius was the second bishop of Antioch, the place where the followers of Jesus were called Christians for the first time (Acts 11:26; Eusebius Eccl. Hist. 3.22.36 and Origen, Hom. 6 In Luc). The Letter which he wrote to Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, plus six other letters which he wrote shortly befor…

And so we preach on!

Oh, that our hearts would understand that the progress of true religion depends not on human might or power—but on the Lord's Spirit! Oh, that many of them would learn to lean less on ministers, and to pray more for the Holy Spirit! Oh, that all would learn to expect less from schools, and tracts, and ecclesiastical machinery; and, while using all means diligently, would seek more earnestly for the outpouring of the Spirit!

There is hope in the Gospel for any man, so long as he lives. There is infinite willingness in Christ to pardon sin. There is infinite power in the Holy Spirit to change hearts. There are many diseases of the body which are incurable. The cleverest doctors cannot heal them. But, thank God! there are no incurable diseases of soul. All manner and quantity of sins can be washed away by Christ! The hardest and most wicked of hearts can be changed.

Reader, I say again, while there is life—there is hope. The oldest, the vilest, the worst of sinners may be saved. Only l…

Nothing is ever good enough!

We are currently reading through Exodus and are reminded, at every turn, how no matter what God does for His people; they continue to whine and complain. Many will think to themselves, "O' I am nothing like those Israelites. If I had been there, I would not be among the whiners." Perhaps there are a few where this may be true of them. However, for the majority of mankind, nothing is ever good enough. In fact, most seem to think that they deserve to be happy; they deserve to live without hardship, toil and suffering. Why is this?

Are we conditioned to believe this by our parents, friends, culture, media, and the like? That is certainly a part of it. For example; when someone gets promoted; when someone announces an upcoming wedding; when someone shares how they came into a financial gain; the too common expression, even out of the mouths of professing Christians, is, "I am so happy for you--you deserve it".

The truth is--we "deserve" nothing. A…

We are all too much like David

"Count yourself richer—that day you discover a new fault in yourself; not richer because it is there—but richer because it is no longer a hidden fault! And if you have not found all your faults, pray to have them revealed to you, even if the revelation must come in a way that hurts your pride!" Ruskin

"The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Jeremiah 17:9

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." Psalm 139:23, 24

It takes courage to pray this prayer, "Search me, O God, and know my heart!" Not all men can do it. Many people fear to look into their own heart. If by some divine revealing, we were made to see ourselves as we are—all the evil that is in us, our face would blanch into deathly paleness. It takes courage to ask God to search one's inner life—and show one one's sins.

It tak…

A Divine and Supernatural Light

"This knowledge will wean from the world, and raise the inclination to heavenly things. It will turn the heart to God as the fountain of good, and to choose him for the only portion. This light, and this only, will bring the soul to a saving close with Christ. It conforms the heart to the gospel, mortifies its enmity and opposition against the scheme of salvation therein revealed: it causes the heart to embrace the joyful tidings, and entirely to adhere to, and acquiesce in the revelation of Christ as our Saviour: it causes the whole soul to accord and symphonize with it, admitting it with entire credit and respect cleaving to it with full inclination and affection; and it effectually disposes the soul to give up itself entirely to Christ."

Edwards both biblically and rationally lays out the case that the spiritual knowledge and illumination needed to understand the gospel and to internalize the excellencies of divine truth, is imparted directly by God alone. This knowledge i…

Why should mere man choreograph your emotions?

Dear people, life is short and life is precious. Don’t waste it on superficial things. Grow deep. Get ready to die well. Give yourself unreservedly to what matters. Fling away sham. Be real with God and real with man. Cherish the eternal in everything. Take hold of life which is life indeed. Turn off the television. Turn off the radio. Why should mere man choreograph your emotions?

O, for more deep individuals and fewer herd people! Go deep with God. Be alone. Come forth like humble steel. There is no other way to die well. Nothing is more lonely than dying. If your life is not deep in Christ alone, death will be a terrible thing. Get ready. And in getting ready you will be the deep aroma of God in a tragically superficial world.

John Piper

To be a Christian

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for our life; so that by him fury is made gen…

The Saints at "Soaring Oaks" will be Blessed!

This is exciting News! Sacramento is hosting this year's Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. In fact, this is the last year it will be held in Sacramento. Two of the speakers at the conference are D.A. Carson and Philip Ryken.

Well, that's great news; but that's not the exciting news. The exciting news is that they will both be preaching at Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church on Sunday, March 7th and there is no registration fee. No that's really exciting news.

Soaring Oaks is a small church and to have these two men preaching there is truly a blessing from God. We are looking forward to this with great anticipation and much prayer.

"...the grandest and most important theme of all"


Recently, in a local church newsletter, a pastor asks, and answers, the most important question concerning the church, "What is the Gospel?" This should be the heart cry of every Pastor. He begins the article with several provocative questions, i.e., "Have too many churches assumed that their congregations understand the Gospel, and therefore have failed to clearly and regularly proclaim the Gospel to their people? Have too many churches become sidetracked with lesser themes, while ignoring the grandest and most important theme of all? " His message echos that of so many great men of God who have gone before. As the late J.C. Ryle stated:

“You may spoil the gospel by substitution. You have only to withdraw from the eyes of the sinner the grand object which the Bible proposes to faith--Jesus Christ--and to substitute another object in His place… and the mischief is done.

“You may spoil the gospel by addition. You have only to add to Ch…