Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A morning Psalm...

Psalm 31:1-24 NAS For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
1 In Thee, O LORD, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed; In Thy righteousness deliver me.
2 Incline Thine ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be Thou to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me.
3 For Thou art my rock and my fortress; For Thy name's sake Thou wilt lead me and guide me. 4 Thou wilt pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me; For Thou art my strength.
5 Into Thy hand I commit my spirit; Thou hast ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.
6 I hate those who regard vain idols; But I trust in the LORD.
7 I will rejoice and be glad in Thy lovingkindness, Because Thou hast seen my affliction; Thou hast known the troubles of my soul,
8 And Thou hast not given me over into the hand of the enemy; Thou hast set my feet in a large place.
9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow, And my years with sighing; My strength has failed because of my iniquity, And my body has wasted away.
11 Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach, Especially to my neighbors, And an object of dread to my acquaintances; Those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind, I am like a broken vessel.
13 For I have heard the slander of many, Terror is on every side; While they took counsel together against me, They schemed to take away my life.
14 But as for me, I trust in Thee, O LORD, I say, "Thou art my God."
15 My times are in Thy hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.
16 Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant; Save me in Thy lovingkindness.
17 Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I call upon Thee; Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be dumb, Which speak arrogantly against the righteous With pride and contempt.
19 How great is Thy goodness, Which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee, Which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, Before the sons of men!
20 Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man; Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the LORD, For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.
22 As for me, I said in my alarm, "I am cut off from before Thine eyes"; Nevertheless Thou didst hear the voice of my supplications When I cried to Thee.
23 O love the LORD, all you His godly ones! The LORD preserves the faithful, And fully recompenses the proud doer.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD.

I hope this is as much of an encouragement to your soul as it was to my soul this morning.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Any Takers? :=)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Something I have observed in recent years of being in churches, classes, conversations, conferences and other venues is that the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is emphasized, and RIGHTLY SO. However, I wonder if while we are emphasizing this right (and absolutely necessary) doctrine of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, that we have neglected the important and just as necessary doctrine of the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For example, this morning in my quite time, I read Mark 1. A few verses from this chapter read:

Mark 1:12-13 12 And immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.

A few things to note quickly here:
1. The wilderness is not a fun place to be - especially for 40 days without food, drink or company. It is barren, it is hot, flies are everywhere - this is not a nice, warm, fuzzy 40 days of easy-going-life for Jesus.
2. Furthermore, he is being tempted by Satan. He is tempted by the Tempter himself. Jesus is we know from Matt 4 - being tempted by Satan. Satan brings all of the goods out of his bag to try and deceive Jesus (even with Scripture!), yet without success.

Here's the point:

Hebrews 4:15 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

This text is so significant. Auctor (the beloved title for the writer of Hebrews who is NOT Paul, by the way) writes and says that Jesus Christ was tempted in all things as we are. Notice this: for a person to constantly, and fervently resist temptation without sinning is harder to resist temptation and then to give in. In other words, the longer Jesus was tempted and yet did NOT give in to temptation, the harder and more severe the temptations were confronting him.

Jesus Christ is NO more, and NO less a human being than you and I are. He was simply put, HUMAN - a man. All of the limitations that you and I face every day, - I believe - that Jesus Christ had the same limitations. Though still being very God of gods and very Lord of lords, he chose to empty himself of his divine attributes when he took on the form of human flesh (read Phil 2:5-11).

So a question I have to my readers: Are we prone to down-play the significance of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ as a human being when we all too often get caught up in the Deity of Christ?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Last night my most beautiful fiance and I went to our favorite restaurant for a dress-up "date night." We had a blast.

Then we drove in the rain to the Cheesecake factory. We had a great time eating a fabulous pasta dish and then we got our favorite cheesecake, white chocolate peanut butter truffle. It was awesome! She's beautiful eh?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

We're all sinful. We all have a wicked past before we came to Christ. Everyone who has ever lived is a wretched sinner deserving the wrath of an angry God for all of eternity. Yet there are some whom God has graciously chosen to call to Himself. Yet the lives that we lived before we came to that saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ was one filled with sin, anger, rebellion, hatred to God and hostility to God.

Edwards gives this piece of advice to new converts and it is needed to be heard by many today:

"Do not dwell on the past, think of Christ"

Edwards is saying here. Don't dwell on your past. Whatever that may have entailed. Whether you were just a loving peasant boy or the worst of prostitutes; whether you were a bellboy at a nearby hotel or whether you were a drug addict and a drunk; whether you had a nice, homely well-to-do marriage or whether you were physically beating your family up and cheating on your wife with the neighbor next door, Edwards says - do NOT dwell on this past.

In fact, there is much Scriptural proof to support this:

Psalm 103:1-4 Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; 3 Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

Jeremiah 31:34 34 "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 16 Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

This is no way justifies the old, sinful and hideous life that we all once lived before we were irresistibly called by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, but what it does do is enable us to recognize that all of our past sin is totally and forever forgiven through the blood of Christ.

This is what the phrase means when Jesus uttered on the cross:

John 19:30 30 When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.

It was a commercial term used in the Greco/Roman marketplaces meaning that the debt has been completely paid IN FULL. There is nothing left that still has to be forgiven. No, it is all paid for In Full!

Thus, don't dwell on your past. Rather, Edwards would say, dwell on the future. Think on cross. Let the beauty, glory, majesty and sovereignty of our Lord Jesus Christ enthrall your hearts this day and every day as long as he gives you breath.

Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

What could be better to dwell on than the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and our being raised with Him in glory one day in the near future?

Friday, January 26, 2007

We return, once again, to the wonderful advice from our beloved mentor and hero of the past, Jonathan Edwards. He gave advice to new converts. Another piece of advice from him to these new believers in Jesus Christ is:

"Come to the things of religion in great humility"

Edwards is profound in this statement, yet very basic. Let me take just one passage of Scripture, break it down and show you what I mean:

1 Peter 5:1-4 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

In this text, Peter gives fellow elders and shepherds in Asia Minor four pieces of advice for shepherding the flock of God:

1. The context for shepherding the flock of God (v.1)
2. The command for shepherding the flock of God (v.2a)
3. The contrasts for shepherding the flock of God (v.2b-3)
4. The crown for shepherding the flock of God (v.4)

But then Peter continues by giving a fifth point - and this is what Edwards is saying:

5. The clothes necessary for shepherding the flock of God (v.5)

1 Peter 5:5 5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Edwards is simply saying that we (all New Testament believers) must come to the things of religion with all humility.

What are "the things of religion?" These simply are the truths of Christianity. Orthodox doctrine. An accurate understanding of the clear biblical message.

There is only one thing required: HUMILITY - do you have it? There is no room for pride in the Christian life. If there is pride, there is no humility. If there is pride, then one is not living like the model Himself, Jesus Christ - who was humble.

Notice again what Peter says:

1 Peter 5:5 5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

He gives three groups here: 1) young men; 2) elders; and 3) "all of you" (everyone). There is no one excluded from this imperative. Everyone is to be clothed with HUMILITY. Come to the things of religion with humility. Christianity is NOT a prideful religion. There is nothing to be prideful about. If one is prideful, then he surely has not understood the sacrifice of the Savior and the cost at which that sacrifice came to redeem sinful men. Are you prideful in your knowledge? In your learnings? In your degrees? In your studies? In your 'reading-of-many-books'?

May God give us grace to be humble and come to the things of religion with absolute and utter humility.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

and I've got her :=)

Elizabeth, I am wild about you. I am so excited to marry you and spend our lives together serving the Lord, honoring him, doing ministry together and growing together in Christlikeness.

I love you babe! May 12 is just too far away. You are the best complement for me. The Lord is good!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


The Gospels, Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation provide many examples and exhortations to preach the truth in fulfillment of God’s will. As a reminder of the apostolic legacy and reaffirmation of the scriptural authority for Bible-based preaching, five significant mandates are representative of the larger number of passages.

Matt. 28:19-20--”Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

1 Tim. 4:13--”Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.”

2 Tim. 2:2--”And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”

2 Tim. 4:2--”Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”

Titus 2:1--”But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”

May God help us raise up men to preach the Word of God like this. I pray that I may be a man who fulfills the calling to "Preach the word!" (2 Tim 4:2). God help me.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Again, in Ryken's book, Worldly Saints, he says this profound statement:

"One of the best tests of whether a person is generously educated is what he or she does with leisure time" (p.170).

I read this and had to set the book down and ponder. What do I do with my spare time? Do I really have spare time? Though it may see oftentimes that I don't have spare time because I am so busy, I really do have a lot of spare time.

Everyone in the world has the same amount of time in a day - 24 hours. No one has one minute more, or one minute less - but only 24 hours; that's it. What do you do with it?

If you sleep 8 hours a night, that leaves you with 16 hours in a day.
If you eat for a total of two hours a day, that takes you to 14 hours in a day.
If you then exercise for one hour every morning, that takes you to 13 hours in a day.
If you read your Bible and pray for one hour a day that then leaves 12 hours in a day.

So what do you do with the rest?

What do you do in your spare time? Read the Bible? Pray? Read books? Sit and contemplate? Memorize? Play video games? Surf the web?

The puritans are on to an important lesson here: if you want to judge yourself and your education, it's not really a matter of finishing a certain number of credit hours and completing a certain number of core classes. It really boils down to this: what do you do in your spare time?

I was reading in an excellent book yesterday by Leland Ryken, Worldly Saints. He made this quote regarding the Puritans and their view of Education,
"The way to foil Satan, according to the Puritans, was to educate people to read and study their Bible."
I think it would benefit us greatly to take this piece of advice to heart. Think about it. If there is one thing that our culture - even the contemporary "evangelical" culture - is ignorant and apathetic to, it is the Word of God.
The idea of "hiding the word of God in our hearts so that we may not sin against God" (Ps 119:11) is a lost and foreign concept to us today.
Think about it: The way to foil Satan - that is, the way to resist the devil, to stand firm against his lies, his schemes, his deceits, his temptations - was to not just have people read the Bible, but to educate people so as to both read and study their Bible.
If we really understood the content in the pages of Scripture, I think we would be much more aware of this adversary that wants to devour us just as a roaring lion seeks to completely devour his prey (1 Pet 5:8). Take heed and act!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Today in my historical theology class, we learned about Quenstedt. He was a man who held firmly to the doctrine of inerrancy. Here's a brief sketch of this man and his belief:

J. A. Quenstedt (1617 – May 22,1688)
(See Bromiley, Historical Theology, 318 ff.)

o Wrote Theologia Didactico-Polemica sive Systema Theologicium

o Along with other Lutheran scholastics, he systematized the doctrine of Scripture:

o Inspiration extends to everything recorded in Scripture, even the historical and what seems trivial

o Inspiration is verbal: “The Holy Spirit not only inspired the content and sense, or the meaning of the words . . . but the Holy Spirit actually supplied, inspired, and dictated [**by dictation, Quenstedt is not referring to the modern theory - which is wrong - that the writers were merely and only the writers of Scripture. In other words, that they were simply "mechanical devices."] the very words and each and every term individually (I, 72).

o The meaning is not inspired without the words.

o Inspiration extends to the autograph as well as to copies, if “they were faithfully transcribed from them [autographs] so that not only the sense but also the words were exactly the same “(1,206).

o The plenary and verbal inspiration of scripture leads naturally to its inerrancy.

§ If the biblical authors were moved by the Holy Spirit of truth, “it follows that they could under no condition make mistakes in their writing, and no falsification, no error, no danger of error, no untruth existed or could exist in their preaching or writing” (1,77).

o Inerrancy extends to words as well as content.“there is no error, even the slightest, either in content or words” (1,77).

§ “Every single word . . . is most true, whether it relates to doctrine, ethics, history, chronology, typography, or onomastics” (1,77).

“Whatever fault or untruth, whatever error or lapse of memory, is attributed to the prophets or apostles is not imputed to them without blaspheming the Holy Spirit who spoke and wrote through them” and who “cannot be ignorant of anything, forget anything, . . . cannot deceive anyone, neither can he lead anyone into offence or error” (1.80).

o Scripture is self-authenticating (1 Thess. 2:13) and does not need the Roman church to guarantee its authority. It is the operation of the Holy Spirit by which “we clearly perceive in our hearts the majesty and holiness and truth of the word” (1.88.92-93).

1. Don't let worry kill you - let the church help.
2. Thursday night - Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.
3. For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
4. A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
5. The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth Into Joy."
6. The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7p.m. The Congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
7. Evening massage - 6 p.m.
***8. During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit. :=)
9. Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa will be speaking tonight at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.
10. Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
11. Miss Charlene Mason sang "I Will Not Pass This Way Again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

The point: Be sure to proofread your bulletins! :=)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Edwards's next piece of advice to new converts is:

"Struggle over the remainders of sin in your life"

Edwards here is saying to these new believers in Jesus Christ that they will struggle with sin for the rest of their lives, but to keep fighting. Sin is an ever present sin that will never fully be conquered in our mortal bodies.

The Apostle Paul notes his own struggle in his Christian walk:

Romans 7:14-21 14 For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.

The Paul concludes this discourse on his struggle with sin by saying:

Romans 7:24-25 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

May we as believers first of all recognize that we will struggle with the outer man as long as we are in the flesh. Yet we also know that inwardly our body is growing in sanctification day by day.

So by saying this, Edwards is encouraging the new converts to struggle with this fight against sin. It is a fight. May this never be forgotten. Keep fighting. God hates sin. And so should we.

David also understood the fight with sin. He confessed his sin and recognized the holy life that he must now live in obedience to Yahweh:

Psalm 51:1-9 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. 4 Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, And done what is evil in Thy sight, So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, And blameless when Thou dost judge. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. 6 Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom. 7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice. 9 Hide Thy face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Read this article from the Jerusalem Post about an Orthodox Jewish man and his son who were caught in traffic and had to pull over their car because they could not drive on the Sabbath - according to Jewish law.

But then keep reading until a "born-again Christian" couple picked them up and took them homoe. Read about the impact this couple brought to this Jewish family.

May we have more born-again believers with as much gentleness, care and love as this couple in NYC.

Read the article HERE.
I don't know if you've seen this, but it is actually pretty funny. It is called "The Evangelism Linebacker". It's only 3 1/2 minutes long. Click HERE to watch it.

There is a sequal that came out. It is called "The Christmas Linebacker." Not too shabby.
Click HERE to watch this one.

As we have engaged in this series of Jonathan Edwards's advice to new converts, the next piece of advice that Edwards gives is thus:

"Pine over you sin"

What does this mean? Let's break it down and hopefully get a grasp as to how we can change and grow in our Christian walks.

The word "pine" (as a verb) means to yearn deeply; suffer with longing; long painfully. It also means to suffer grief or regret over. A synonym is "to languish."

Edwards gives advice to new believers in telling them to suffer with agonizing pain over your sin. Why would anyone need to pine over sin?

1) Yahweh God is "The Holy One" (Is 45:11) and to be holy is to be absolutely free from sin. He is righteous (Ex 9:27). Thus, God is absolutely perfect. Unable to be tainted with any form of sin. He cannot associate with sin in any way.

2) We as humans are sinners (Ps 143:2; Rom 3:23; 1 Kings 8:46; Ecc 7:20) and are unable to enter into the holy presence of the Triune God.

3) When we as sinners violate the righteous standard of this Holy God, it separates us from God as well as grieves God. Yet for the believer in Jesus Christ, there is full salvation. There is a pardon. But it is only through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our sin is why God killed his Son on the cross. There didn't have to be a sacrifice, but out of God's infinite mercy and grace, he chose to sacrifice His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in order that we - by believing in Him - may have life.

Thus when we sin, we are grieving our Lord who died for that sin.

May we as believers pine over our sin. Remember Peter, the disciple, who denied his Lord. Afterwards:

Matthew 26:75 75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, "Before a cock crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.

The word here for "weeping bitterly" (Gk. eklausen pikros) and the verb "to weep" is common, but "bitterly" only occurs 2x in the NT and they are both in the contexts of Peter weeping after denying his Lord.

May we learn from Peter here and pine over our sin because we have violated the holy and righteous standard and will of a loving God.

Monday, January 15, 2007

For some, this title "Saved from Hell" may be a bit much, but did you know that in the life of Christ, he spoke more on hell than He did on heaven. This is Jonathan Edwards' advice to new converts. He says:

"Do not forget the pit out of which you were drawn"

What does Edwards mean? He is simply saying that believers must recall the glory of salvation. Not only the beautiful reality that we will be with the Lord Jesus Christ and see Him face to face for all of eternity (1 John 3:3), but on the other hand, believers were saved from the terrifying wrath of God for all of eternity.

Listen to a few Scriptures that speak of hell:

Matthew 5:22 22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

Matthew 10:28 28 "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Mark 9:47 47 "And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell,

James 3:6 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

2 Peter 2:4 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

Edwards is saying to new converts here with this advice, remember the glory of salvation. Remember what you were saved from. However, it goes deeper than this.

Christians are not merely saved from hell. Believers are saved from God. In other words, in hell people perish because of their sinful deeds. That is why hell is eternal. Eternal punishment could never pay the ransom for sinning against a perfectly Holy and Righteous Judge. Furthermore, in hell, the wrath of God is poured out. People suffer justly for their sins.

Listen to how Jonathan Edwards says it in one of his most famous sermons:

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

He goes on by saying:

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.

I beseech you, Christian, consider what you were saved FROM. Consider WHO you were saved from. Glory in the cross. Marvel at the grace and mercy of this Holy and Righteous God upon your soul.

I beseech you, the one who has not given his/her life to the Lord Jesus Christ ALONE for salvation, to consider the destiny that awaits you the moment you die. God is angry with the sinner (John 3:36). Without the blood of Christ covering your sins, you have a hopeless eternity apart from God, suffering the eternal agony of the wrath of God because of your sins. Run to Christ. Today, run to Him. Do not linger. The eternity separated from God awaits every single person who rejects the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So I beseech you, O Christian, "Do not forget the pit out of which you were drawn."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

So, we often hear the line, "It is the preacher who is to exposit, give theology, teach and apply the text to my life." Though this is true (and every aspect just given is so), it is not fully true.

Sure it is the preacher's responsibility to apply the text so as to drive the point home in the lives of his hearers. Furthermore, we are taught in homiletics (preaching) class not to leave our study until we have finished the message. The message is never finished until there is clear application to be heralded.

But, is that the end of it? Is it simply the hearer's responsibility to show up on Sunday morning, hear a sermon and go home? Does it require more?

My answer is "Yes." Edwards would agree. His third advice to new converts is this:

"Make personal applications when you hear sermons".

So, may I ask you, when you hear a message preached, what do you do with it? Do you listen, think to yourself, "that was nice," or "that was very profound" and then go home as if it never happened. If that is the case, then that sermon did NOT fulfill its purpose in your life that Sunday morning.

The purpose of preaching is to glorify God by teaching His Word so as to exhort believers to a changed life. This is done through personal application. The preacher can do only so much to apply his sermon to YOUR life. But there is only one problem. He doesn't know YOU like you know YOU. He doesn't know every circumstance in your life, he doesn't know every situation you find yourself in, he doesn't know everyone you come in contact with, he doesn't know the specifics of your home-family situation, he doesn't know what you do when no one else is looking, he doesn't know how you treat your wife/husband and/or your kids.

So, I ask entreat you, take what you hear from the pulpit and THINK. This requires time. This requires thought. This requires reflection. Our post-modern culture is very bad at this. We don't like to do these things. We like everything done FOR us. We don't want to do any work.

Remember the story in Acts 8 of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch:

Acts 8:30-37 30 And when Philip had run up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 And he said, "Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: "He was led as a sheep to slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He does not open His mouth. 33 "In humiliation His judgment was taken away; Who shall relate His generation? For His life is removed from the earth." 34 And the eunuch answered Philip and said, "Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself, or of someone else?" 35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" 37 And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."

Then after this "mini-teaching episode," listen to the Ethiopian's response, which in the context gives the idea that there was hardly any time that elapsed:

Acts 8:38-39 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing.

You see? This man heard the Word. He heard the truth. He wasted NO time, but he obeyed. Immediately. No questions asked. The text is clear.

May we learn to do the same. This Sunday, I CHALLENGE YOU: Take what you hear from your Pastor this Sunday morning and make a determinative effort to apply simply ONE point from his sermon to YOUR life.

A HELPFUL HINT: Don't be vague in your personal application. For example, don't say, "I want to love others more." Rather, be specific. For example, you could say, "I want to make a deliberate effort to reach out to John (whom I really don't care for) at work and love him and make it my goal to serve him this week by taking him out to lunch and saying 'Good morning' to him every day and asking him how he is doing throughout the day."

May the Lord be with you in this. Let me know how it goes.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Yesterday we began a series in which we will observe Jonathan Edwards' advice to new converts.

We saw yesterday his first piece of advice was: to be diligent in the things of religion.

Today we'll see his second piece of advice to new converts: Attend to Prayer.

Think of this, if there is advice that Edwards could think of to encourage new believers in the Messiah as well as to help equip them to grow in Christlikeness and mature in their Christian walk, the second on his list is to pray, diligently.

Let's discuss this and prove it Scripturally.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 17 pray without ceasing;

Ephesians 6:18-19 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,

Psalm 5:2-3 2 Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, For to Thee do I pray. 3 In the morning, O LORD, Thou wilt hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch.

It is Edwards's advice that believers should not only pray, but attend to prayer. What does he mean by this?

Edwards simply means that by attending to prayer, we faithfully, passionately, diligently, constantly, lovingly, humbly, honestly, openly, thankfully and worshipfully pray to the Living God. This is what is entailed in attending to prayer.

Remember, prayer is NOT simply what I want for myself or for others. Though it may include this, at times. Have you ever noticed in biblical prayers that very rarely in the Scriptures to you find petition for others' illnesses and hurtings? Sure they pray for strength, ask for boldness when sharing the gospel. But the main content of the prayers in the Bible is that they all focus solely on the person and character of God. They spend the first half and the last half of prayer praising and thanking God for who He is. Then in the middle they will confess sins and recognize how short they have fallen from God's glory.

Do you pray like this? Or are your prayers always prefaced with, "I ask that you give me...," or "Lord, would you grant...," or "Father please do this...or do that...". This is not what biblical prayers are. Though it is not wrong to pray for such things, IT IS WRONG IF WE FORGET THAT WE MUST ASK FOR THESE ONLY IF THEY BRING GOD THE GREATEST GLORY.

If my prayers do not fit into God's perfect and glorious will, then I must be satisfied to hear a "no" answer.

So with all that to say, trust God, and let him know it. Pray to God, passionately. Thank God for who He is, constantly.

May this be the driving force of our life and the sustaining grace that gets us through it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I hope over the next few posts to lay before you these insights one by one with biblical references to encourage and challenge your own heart, as they have mine. Edwards offers these insights on the spiritual life. Specifically, he gives this advice to new converts, but I think they are applicable to all and worthy of reflection in all of our hearts:

The first piece of advice is:

Be diligent in the things of religion.

1 Timothy 4:13-16 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

Though we recognize that this Scripture is given to young Timothy, we must also remember that we are called to persevere in Spiritual things. Take pains to persevere in religion. In Jonathan Edwards's vernacular, Religion, means: True Biblical Christianity evidenced by authentic affections. It is not the broad, general "religion" that we think of today when we hear "religion."

How are you doing in your own personal walk of being diligent in the things of religion? Are you diligent to persevere in your faith? Are you walking in holiness? In Love? In faith in the right object? In purity?

Are you faithful to be saturated with God's Word? Has God's Word made its way in and through you today? Have you meditated upon it?

Notice that Edwards also notes that we must be diligent in the things of religion. How often do we consume ourselves with issues and worldly matters that have no eternal or spiritual worth. How we must be consumed with spiritual things.

Consider Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

May I encourage you to be faithful in the things of God. Persevere. Though this is excellent advice for "new converts," this is something that ALL believers need to urgently hear and attend to today.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Today in my class at seminary, Dr. Hannah said, what does it mean to glorify God? His answer:

To glorify God means that God sees something of himself in his fallen creature. Furthermore,

True spirituality is not about lineal productivity, it is all about reflecting the Glory of God.
That means, manifesting the character of God that he has put in you by His spirit.

So, once again, I ask you, are you living a life glorifying God? Does God see something of His Divine Self in YOU?

May that be the driving ambition of our soul/spirit every day. God help us.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

I recognize I am opening a theological issue that brilliant scholars, theologians, pastors and lay persons have grappled with over many centuries, but it is my goal over the next few posts to just tap the ice as to what biblically is required for a person to be saved.

Really, the question is a wrong one. Anything that is required, or could ever be required, has been fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ on the Calvary's Cross. For He Himself said:

John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished! (Gk. tetelestai)" And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.

It must be remembered that anything that is ever required in purchasing one for salvation is not in need to be performed. Rather, it has been completely fulfilled. That fulfillment has come through only One - namely, the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He finished the work of redemption and salvation. He is the author and perfector of our faith (Heb 12:2).

But, as far as us as physical, sinful, mortal and fallen human beings. The question is begged, what is required in order to be saved?

Or it could be asked, "what must 'I' do to be saved?"

Let me allow the Heidelberg Catechism to answer that for us:

The question is, in essence, the same when it reads: How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?

Answer: Three; the first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.

In essence, what this catechism which was first published in 1563 by the Synod of Heidelberg is saying is that to be saved, one must (1) Know how wretched we are sinful and fallen human beings. This is the fundamental knowledge of all anthropology and soteriology. If one first does NOT grasp this truth, then the whole Gospel is nullified and void. Every single person MUST understand that there is:

Romans 3:11-18 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one." 13 "Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving," "The poison of asps is under their lips"; 14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness"; 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 Destruction and misery are in their paths, 17 And the path of peace have they not known." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

(2) We all must understand how we can be delivered from this state of misery. That solution comes through One and One alone, namely the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only way of salvation:

Acts 4:12 12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."

If any person tries to attain the solution to his fallen nature my any other means than running and clinging to the redemption that Christ purchased on the cross for sinners, that effort is in vain and is the worst of all sins. For that person who says to himself, "I can find salvation by some other means than Jesus Christ," really is placing their fallible and finite knowledge above the infallible and infinite mind and redemptive plan of God Almighty.

(3) If one wants to be saved, he must recognize his sinful condition, he must understand the only solution to that problem and finally he must understand how to please God and show gratitude to God for the free gift of salvation:

Ephesians 2:8-10 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

That is it. There is nothing else. Understand Sin. Understand you stand condemned by sin and burdened by the excessive weight of sin which permeates every single area of your life. Furthermore, you must understand that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. Finally, as a result of that salvation, you MUST show gratitude to God for the free gift of salvation that He granted you. This is done through good works (Eph 2:10). I am a firm and solid believer in what many call "Lordship salvation." I can prove to you from the Scriptures that this is so. To believe anything else is not only un-biblical, it is anti-biblical. There is no easy-believism. True faith that does not change a life is NO FAITH AT ALL. Period.

Salvation comes by faith alone yet that faith is really never alone. True biblical saving faith is always inaugurated apart from works yet it is always evidenced by works.

We are saved by grace alone, in Christ alone, through faith alone. AMEN. But it does not STOP here. It must produce good works.

Matthew 7:16-21 "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 "So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.

Any thoughts? Anyone Agree? Disagree? I want some feedback on this one :-)

Monday, January 8, 2007

In recent CNN coverage, an Ivy league professor is now charged and convicted of the murder of his wife.

CNN says: A University of Pennsylvania professor was charged Monday with beating his wife to death in their suburban kitchen after she told friends she planned to divorce him.

And furthermore, Robb was charged with first- and third-degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime, tampering with evidence and lying to authorities.

And here is more devastating news: The couple have a 12-year-old daughter.

Could you imagine this 12-year-old daughter with a father who just beat her mommy to death. The CNN news said,

Ellen Robb's injuries were so extensive they initially thought she was killed with a shotgun blast to the face.

Could you imagine this girl with no mother anymore. Her father is now in prison. She is left with the permanent mark and reputation that she is from the "family whose husband killed his wife."

What kind of example are we setting for our children these days? What will this 12-year-old expect one day out of marriage? Will she ever have a desire to get married? Will she be afraid of men now? Will she be able to trust anyone?

Much less, what kind of mark does this professor leave on his children at the university.

Not only did he destroy his job at the school and lose all respect from his 12-year-old daughter, but he showed his college students that life is worthless. If something goes wrong, then fix it with murder. It's OK.

If there is anything our culture needs to hear, it is the exact opposite. Listen to what the Apostle Paul says:

Ephesians 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

May we take the example that we are setting by the way that we are living life seriously. Very seriously.
Have you thought about the return of our Lord and Savior today?

I was in class and I was convicted in the opening prayer. We hadn't even gotten in to the lecture material yet for the course, and I was already convicted. In his prayer, Dr. Mayhue prayed at least twice about the quick and imminent coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Are you living NOW in light of eternity?

I am reminded of Jonathan Edwards's 19th Resolution:

Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

So I ask you again as I have asked myself throughout this day: Are YOU ready for the imminent return of the Lord Jesus?
Maranatha (1 Cor 16:22)
Click here to hear an excellent sermon by one of the most brilliant scholars I know, Doug Bookman.

Once you are here, do 2 things:

Under Search For: Type in TMC Chapel
Under the second Search For: Type in Bookman

Then scroll down till you see his sermon on "The Glory of God." It is a worthwhile listen. He not only defines the Glory of God biblically, but also gives practical application as to how to glorify God in living life.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Yesterday I posted my verse for last year and today I want to take the opportunity to post my verse for the upcoming 2007 year.

Ezra 7:10 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

There is probably no greater example of a great preacher in the Old Testament than the man Ezra. The text here gives three requirements to being an effective preacher:

I. The Effective Preacher Must Study the Law
II. The Effective Preacher Must Practice the Law
III. The Effective Preacher Must Teach the Law

Though these three points are crucial and important, the order is just as important. Ezra had it right. Any other order will not suffice.

First, it is absolutely imperative that preachers (and for the sake of application, everyone) study the Law. This requires reading your Bible. Everyone has one. Old Testament and New Testament. Both inspired. Both authoritative. Both inerrant in all history, science, geography and theology. Read it. Immerse yourself in it. Be consumed with what the Word says. Think on it. Meditate on it. Memorize it.

You get the point?

It is so crucial to study the Law. Notice also the word for study. It doesn't give the idea that this is light-easy-reading. Studying is hard work. To really sit down, focus, research, cross-reference, write down notes, apply to your own life and pray over a text is hard work. Yet this is what is required here in Studying the Law of the Lord.

Second, it is imperative that all preachers (and everyone) must practice the Law of the Lord. This is the only follow-up that is required to studying. After you study, you read, you research, you cross-reference, you pray over the text, you take notes, then the only result MUST be a changed life. Put what you read into practice.

The Scriptures are replete with examples that prove that a genuine believer will evidence this by good works. Or to use biblical phraseology, a born-again believer must "bear fruit."

Are you Studying the Law of God? Furthermore, are you APPLYING the Law of God and practicing it in your daily life? Are you growing in sanctification, that is, growing more and more in Christlikeness day by day? Make this the ambition of your life this 2007 year.

Third and finally, the effective preacher must Teach the Law. Again, the order is crucial. No teacher is prepared to teach unless he has done thorough studying of the Law and preached his message to Himself and practiced it in his life before he can preach to others. Every preacher must preach every sermon to Himself before he preaches his message to others. The preacher must evidence the change that he expects to see in his congregation. They must first see the text impacting YOUR life. Take heed to the Scriptures - Study, Practice and then Teach.

Everyone is equipped to teach. This excludes NO ONE. Though there are different environments that everyone can exercise this command. For example, your gift may not be preaching and exhortation from a pulpit on Sunday morning, but perhaps your teaching gift may be discipling a younger child in the faith. If you are older in life, with much life experience, and a thorough knowledge of the Word, then take a younger youth group kid aside and meet with him week by week and teach him the Scriptures. Or perhaps you are a woman that does not know where/how you can implement this gift. Take a younger woman and disciple her. Train her. Love her. Show her how the Scriptures flesh itself out by YOUR own life. Get a small women's group together and teach them the Scriptures.

In sum, notice here Ezra's 3 points to effective preaching:

I. Study the Law
II. Practice the Law
III. Teach the Law

God help us.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Psalm 19:14 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

Over the course of this past year I remembered this verse that I had chosen to be my "verse for the year." It was a reminder to me not only to watch what comes out of my mouth, but also my heart's affections as well, that they may be fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

I wanted to remind myself that meditations of the heart will inevitably produce action. So, it was my goal for the year to have as my constant meditation the things of the Lord so that my action in life would reflect Christlikeness.

Furthermore, this verse reminded me that Yahweh is my Rock in hard times as well as my Redeemer. Yahweh has provided salvation and is my "goel," my Redeemer. It is only through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross that I can have eternal security.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Ephesians 1:22-23 22 And He [God, the Father] put all things in subjection under His [God, the Son's] feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

This text is amazing. Notice what the text does NOT say: "He made Him head of the church which is over all things."

Now notice again what the text DOES say: God made Jesus Christ the Son, as Head (kephale) over all things, and God gave Him as Head over all these things, to the church.

Kephale here has the idea of superiority, source or authority. Jesus Christ is the absolute authority over all things. This authority is given to Jesus Christ and Him alone. This authority over all things is NOT given to the church, of which Jesus Christ is a part of. No, rather, this authority is placed to Him with which it is due, the Sovereign and Ruling Lord Jesus Christ.

He has authority to do that which He wills, with whomever He wills, whenever He wills all the time. May this never be forgotten that Jesus Christ is given as Head over All to the church. What greater Head is there? What greater foundation is there? What human, fickle, sinful priest can fulfill this role as Head over All things? None.

Jesus Christ is Head and He alone.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Genesis 5:22 22 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.

Genesis 5:24 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Genesis 6:9 9 These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

We see from these Old Testament texts that these two men, Enoch and Noah, were men that were characterized as ones who walked with God.

Could it be said of you today that you are one who is characterized as walking with God. Do you live life day to day in sweet fellowship with God? Do you lift up your soul/spirit to the heavenly arena in prayer to God? Do you commune with God?

May it be said of us that we, as New Testament believers through the power of the Holy Spirit and the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, are those who walk with God.
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