Thursday, February 28, 2008
OUR justification is the direct result of our believing the gospel; our knowledge of our own justification comes from believing God’s promise of justification to every one who believes these glad tidings. For there is not only the divine testimony, but there is the promise annexed to it, assuring eternal life to everyone who receives that testimony. There is first, then, a believed gospel, and then there is a believed promise. The latter is the “appropriation,” as it is called, which, after all, is nothing but the acceptance of the promise which is everywhere coupled with the gospel message. The believed gospel saves; but it is the believed promise that assures us of this salvation.
Read the whole pamphlet>>>
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
"Salvation is of the Lord."- Jonah 2:9.
Salvation is the work of God. It is He alone who quickens the soul "dead in trespasses and sins," and it is He also who maintains the soul in its spiritual life. He is both "Alpha and Omega." "Salvation is of the Lord." If I am prayerful, God makes me prayerful; if I have graces, they are God's gifts to me; if I hold on in a consistent life, it is because He upholds me with His hand. I do nothing whatever towards my own preservation, except what God Himself first does in me. Whatever I have, all my goodness is of the Lord alone. Wherein I sin, that is my own; but wherein I act rightly, that is of God, wholly and completely. If I have repulsed a spiritual enemy, the Lord's strength nerved my arm. Do I live before men a consecrated life? It is not I, but Christ who liveth in me. Am I sanctified? I did not cleanse myself: God's Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I weaned from the world? I am weaned by God's chastisements sanctified to my good. Do I grow in knowledge? The great Instructor teaches me. All my jewels were fashioned by heavenly art. I find in God all that I want; but I find in myself nothing but sin and misery. "He only is my rock and my salvation." Do I feed on the Word? That Word would be no food for me unless the Lord made it food for my soul, and helped me to feed upon it. Do I live on the manna which comes down from heaven? What is that manna but Jesus Christ himself incarnate, whose body and whose blood I eat and drink? Am I continually receiving fresh increase of strength? Where do I gather my might? My help cometh from heaven's hills: without Jesus I can do nothing. As a branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can I, except I abide in Him. What Jonah learned in the great deep, let me learn this morning in my closet: "Salvation is of the- From "Morning and Evening: Morning Devotional" by C. H. Spurgeon
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Excerpt (from chapter "Without Faith, No Salvation")
MILLIONS OF MEN are in the outlying regions, far off from God and peace; for these we pray, and to these we give warning. But just now we have to do with a smaller company, who are not far from the kingdom, but have come right up to the wicket gate which stands at the head of the way of life. One would think that they would hasten to enter, for a free and open invitation is placed over the entrance, the porter waits to welcome them, and there is but this one way to eternal life. He that is most loaded seems the most likely to pass in and begin the heavenward journey; but what ails the other men?
This is what I want to find out. Poor fellows! they have come a long way already to get where they are; and the King's highway, which they seek, is right before them: why do they not take to the Pilgrim Road at once? Alas! they have a great many reasons; and foolish as those reasons are, it needs a very wise man to answer them all. I cannot pretend to do so. Only the Lord himself can remove the folly which is bound up in their hearts, and lead them to take the great, decisive step. Yet the Lord works by means; and I have prepared this little book in the earnest hope that he may work by it to the blessed end of leading seekers to an immediate, simple trust in the Lord Jesus.
He who does not take the step of faith, and so enter upon the road to heaven, will perish. It will be an awful thing to die just outside the gate of life. Almost saved, but altogether lost! This is the most terrible of positions. A man just outside Noah's ark would have been drowned; a manslayer close to the wall of the city of refuge, but yet outside of it, would be slain; and the man who is within a yard of Christ, and yet has not trusted him, will be lost. Therefore am I in terrible earnest to get my hesitating friends over the threshold. Come in! Come in! is my pressing entreaty. "Wherefore standest thou without?" is my solemn inquiry. May the Holy Spirit, render my pleadings effectual with many who shall glance at these pages! May he cause his own Almighty power to create faith in the soul at once!
My reader, if God blesses this book to you, do the writer this favor—either lend your own copy to one who is lingering at the gate, or buy another and give it away; for his great desire is that this little volume should be of service to many thousands of souls.To God this book is commended; for without his grace nothing will come of all that is written.
Faith in the Person of the Lord Jesus
Faith Very Simple
Fearing to Believe
Difficulty in the Way of Believing
A Helpful Survey
A Real Hindrance
On Raising Questions
Without Faith No Salvation
To Those Who Have Believed
SOME THINK IT HARD that there should be nothing for them but ruin if they will not believe in Jesus Christ; but if you will think for a minute you will see that it is just and reasonable. I suppose there is no way for a man to keep his strength up except by eating. If you were to say, "I will not eat again, I despise such animalism," you might go to Madeira, or travel in all lands (supposing you lived long enough!), but you would most certainly find that no climate and no exercise would avail to keep you alive if you refused food. Would you then complain, "It is a hard thing that I should die because I do not believe in eating"? It is not an unjust thing that if you are so foolish as not to eat, you must die. It is precisely so with believing.
"Believe, and thou art saved." If thou wilt not believe, it is no hard thing that thou shouldst be lost.
It would, be strange indeed if it were not to be the case. A man who is thirsty stands before a fountain. "No," he says, "I will never touch a drop of moisture as long as I live. Cannot I get my thirst quenched in my own way?" We tell him, no; he must drink or die. He says, "I will never drink; but it is a hard thing that I must therefore die. It is a bigoted, cruel thing to tell me so." He is wrong. His thirst is the inevitable result of neglecting a law of nature. You, too, must believe or die; why refuse to obey the command? Drink, man, drink! Take Christ and live.
There is the way of salvation, and to enter you must trust Christ; but there is nothing hard in the fact that you must perish if you will not trust the Savior.
Here is a man out at sea; he has a chart, and that chart, if well studied, will, with the help of the compass, guide him to his journey's end. The pole-star gleams out amidst the cloud-rifts, and that, too, will help him. "No," says he, "I will have nothing to do with your stars; I do not believe in the North Pole. I shall not attend to that little thing inside the box; one needle is as good as another needle. I have no faith in your chart, and I will have nothing to do with it. The art of navigation is only a lot of nonsense, got up by people on purpose to make money, and I will not be gulled by it." The man never reaches port, and he says it is a "very hard thing—a very hard thing. I do not think so.
Some of you say, "I am not going to read the Scriptures; I am not going to listen to your talk about Jesus Christ: I do not believe in such things." Then Jesus says, "He that believeth not shall be damned." "That's very hard," say you. But it is not so. It is not more hard than the fact that if you reject the compass and the pole-star you will not reach your port. There is no help for it; it must be so.
Friday, February 22, 2008
I appreciated reading Divine Guidance by A.W. Pink after the perplexing assertion here earlier this week. IMHO some people might be confusing waiting on the Lord with spiritual bondage. As Pink says, the sheep need guidance (not an easy button.)
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the thorough and fulfilling article by AW Pink. Here is his summary as a sample morsel:
"The LORD shall direct thy paths." First, by His Word: not in some magical
way so as to encourage laziness, nor like consulting a cookery-book full of
recipes for all occasions, but by warning us of the by-ways of sin and folly and
by making known the paths of righteousness and blessing. Second, by His Spirit:
giving us strength to obey the precepts of God, causing us to wait patiently on
the Lord for directions, enabling us to apply the rules of Holy Writ to the
varied duties of our lives, bringing to our remembrance a word in due season.
Third, by His providences: causing friends to fail us so that we are delivered
from leaning upon the arm of flesh, thwarting our carnal plans so that we are
preserved from shipwreck, shutting doors which it would not be good for us to
enter, and opening doors before us which none can shut.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrew 12:1-2
Sunday, February 17, 2008
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Take a good look at the family size & diet of each country, along with the availability & cost of what is eaten in one week.
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11
Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09
Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27
Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The topic also reminds me of this month's article in the Atlantic Magazine (not available online yet). A similar story/blog post/summary is available here.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
1. Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the RevolutionDavid A. Clary (Paperback - Jan 29, 2008)
2. The Pilgrim's Progress (Dover Thrift Editions)John Bunyan (Paperback - Feb 10, 2003)
3. The Pilgrim's Progress: Study GuideMaureen L. Bradley (Paperback - May 1994)
4. Wendell Berry: Life and Work (Culture of the Land: a Series in the New Agrarianism)(Hardcover - Jun 15, 2007)
5. God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life (Focal Point Series) (Focal Point Series)(Paperback - Mar 22, 2002)
6. A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger Than YouPaul David Tripp (Paperback - Oct 31, 2007)
7. Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian SpiritualityDonald Miller (Paperback - Jul 17, 2003)
8. Evangelism In The Early Church Michael Green (Paperback - Jun 15, 2004)
9. Overcoming Sin and TemptationJohn Owen (Paperback - Sep 25, 2006)
10. Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit: An Illustrated EncyclopediaMatthew Biggs, Jekka McVicar, Bob Flowerdew (Hardcover - Mar 16, 2007)
So what does this story have to do with my blog? It's about Christian freedom and legality.
Paul writes that as a Christian (1 Cor. 6:12a)"everything is permissable for me, but not all things are beneficial" and "to the pure, all things are pure"(Titus 1:15). Some would take this to the absolute extreme on Mardi Gras, so that the next day they can begin a fast of some sort leading up to Easter when we celebrate Christ's resurrection. It's a sort of reward for enduring the harshness of giving up things that our hearts really long for secretly, but we are willing to white-knuckle it for a while, waiting for the day that we can pursue our various and sundry idols without the heavy guilt inflicted by our consciences. As if God closes His eyes for a day just so we can "Get it all out of our system." Then the following day, we get back on the treadmill of performance, doing all the "things" that we think will earn His approval and make us acceptable to be in His presence. Of course this kind of legalism is wrong, and it doesn't only happen at Mardi Gras and Lent. Right?
Moreover, the licensiousness of Mardi Gras is also not Biblical. In 1 Cor. 6:12b, Paul continues, "'Everything is permissible for me'—but I will not be mastered by anything." What this says to me is that if we create days or situations for ourselves whereby we indulge our flesh as a reward for legalistic performance or as an outlet for dealing with emotional stress, this is a form of idolatry. The behavior, thought, thing, food, drink, whatever, in which we long for the opportunity to indulge has mastered us from the inside. The bible says our hearts are idolatrous this way, always looking to dethrone our Creator, replacing Him with the things He has created for us. John Calvin said that our hearts are essentially idol factories that can manufacture things to put in God's place. To use a more modern illustration of how we think of this, I submit to you: "Whack a Mole"
Just as soon as we put a stop on one idol, a new one pops up in its place. The more idols we whack or beat down, the better we feel about ourselves on the outside. Meanwhile, on the inside, Christians can't help but sense the compiling of sin and idolatry that is going on. This is the nature of our depravity since the fall.
Recognizing our idolatry is not a condemnation, however. It is moment to fall at the foot of the cross and look on Jesus Christ, who is sufficient to forgive us. To surrender our wiles and wims to him and to find our complete rest and trust in Him. To have our hearts abide in His work on the cross and His unending love for us as children of the most High God. If we find our rest in Him, we will find that His Holy Spirit will keep us off the Mardi Gras/Lent treadmill and basking in the light of His Word.
Amen and God bless.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson • Christian Service • 65 min. Luke 15:1,2 • Mt. Olive Tape Library, Inc. Play! MP3 (SermonAudio.com)
Parable of the Prodigal Son Part 2 - The Distant Son SinClair Ferguson (mp3) - Luke 15:11-24
Parable of the Prodigal Son Part 3 - The Distant Son SinClair Ferguson (mp3) - Luke 15:25-32
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008
I’m forgiven because You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again
Amazing love, how can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love, I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, To honor You
You are my King
You are my King
Jesus, You are my King
You are my King
What? My jaw dropped as I demanded that they explain what then would happen to all of the people out there who had faith based in other religions. The Buddhists? The Hindus? The Jewish people? Muslims? Why didn't the Bible say that there was no condemnation for all the other people of faith who basically believed in God? All of the EE Trained people in the room had fun opening up the scriptures to me and pointing me to the Truth of Jesus Christ. Soon, it became obvious to me that the "unnamed god" who had brought me out of the pit into AA and who had brought me to Bible study was in fact Jesus Himself. I prayed to accept Christ at the end of 1995 and continued to go to Bible Study.
Over time, my mind was being renewed and the Truth of scripture started falling into place in innumerable ways. The people in this Bible Study and what we learned in God’s Word had the most significant impact on my early years walking with Christ. In particular, I remember one evenning a couple of months after I had started attending Bible study, when we were studying John Chapter 3. Just as I was feeling rather confident with my faith and verses 16 - 18, God dropped the bombshell:
John 3:19: "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
This was a huge turning point for me, as I was instantly convicted of a life sin that I still harbored secretly. At that moment, I thought that every single Christian on the planet was glaring at me, as God Himself had somehow told them what was in my heart and then shined a halogen spotlight on me. The Holy Spirit has never been so convicting AND convincing!. Before that, I managed to justify myself quite well, but at that moment, I had nothing. Just a deep sorrow and a spirit of repentence before God and His people. So, I confessed, repented, and believed God's Word. Today, I still go back to this every day that I walk with God - Confess, Repent, and Believe God's Word.
Next to my conversion - placing my trust in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation- the most impactful scripture for me has been Romans 12:1-2 (that's where the subtitle on my blog comes from.)
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
In addtion to spending several years attending this Bible Study, the next most significant experience in terms of my faith was learning about reformed theology on the internet. Finding that it seemed to be the closest to what I believed the scriptures teach, I visited a friend’s church that was in the PCA. Before that I had attended a non-denominational, lightly charismatic church and an Arminanian church, where I was well fed and well loved. The thing that brought me to change churches and join the PCA was when the nice Arminian church I attended started teaching EE (Evangelism Explosion). The course content was in direct conflict with the Pastor's view of the order of salvation and the concepts of total depravity and irresistable grace. This was a really big concern for me, given my background and how I came to Christ. Learning about the reformed faith, mostly over the internet, has had a tremendous impact on my decision to belong to the PCA. I am a very firm believer that controvery aside, our denomination's combination of strengths in theology and praxis provide a superb potential for continuing to fulfill the great commission.
Cont'd (stay tuned for Part 3)
Friday, February 1, 2008
My life has been an incredible blend of experiences ranging from an outcast to one of the most privileged people I know. For the first several months after I was born, I lived in an orphanage. It didn’t take long for my loving and gracious father and mother to adopt me as their first child. Neither of them were Christians, but they were committed to providing the best life for me that they were able to on my father’s meager factory salary. I’m very grateful for both of them, as they instilled in me most of the same basic American moral values that they had received growing up in the 1940’s and 50’s. Academically, I was a very motivated and serious student who loved learning. My family still jokes about my nerdishness, about how excited I was to get up for school every single day, and about how I got perfect attendance almost every year. I was baptized when I was four months old in my grandmother’s Lutheran Church. She was a devout Christian who really exemplified the faith in so many ways. She had a tremendous impact on me as a young child. When I visited her, we always went to church and prayed together, but I was really the only one of my siblings or parents who was ever interested in church. Overall, I am so grateful for the childhood my parents sought to give to this undeserving orphan; this was certainly one of the greatest privileges I’ve ever received.
However, life is messy and so are relationships. When I was 12 years old, my parents divorced and my world was rent to pieces. I loved my father more that anyone else in the world, and he was gone. Visitations two or three times per month simply weren’t enough. As the oldest child, much was expected of me by my mother throughout my teenage years. This coupled with the fact that my mother and I did not have a close or even friendly relationship made things rather difficult. Meanwhile, I was the youngest kid in my middle school classes and was often teased for being small, thin and tomboyish. Although I was in the honor classes, the other students would tease me by calling me "premee" and making fun of my nerdiness. When I was in 8th grade, Kevin, the hot, blond quarterback on our middle school football team, won a bet of $50 for "going with" me for a week and taking me to the dance. I heard it was pretty funny gig. Unfortunately, I grew resentful about my parents splitting and rebellious to my mom and step-dad, so when I was 18, my mother cut the cord completely, disowned me, and sent me out on my own. As one might expect, things went really downhill from there. I joined the military, became an alcoholic binge drinker, and ended up giving myself completely over to an idolatrous life -to people and things (created things, not the Creator).
By the time I was 29, I had really hit rock bottom spiritually and morally. I can remember countless nights and early mornings rolled up on my knees on the floor shouting, “Why, God?” and “What do You want?” or mumbling “Thank you, thank you for getting me home alive." "I promise I’ll never do that again.” Through God’s Providence, I ended up in AA ready to surrender all. Except, well, “the lifestyle.” I spent a couple of years in AA reading and memorizing all the materials, conducting my moral inventory, confessing, praying, and making amends. My relationships with my parents and siblings were being renewed and I was committed to loving them. Relationships with my co-workers started to improve. God’s Common Grace was at work, but I still felt the deficit of not really knowing Him as truly and deeply as I was being drawn to. At just the right time, when I was going to AA meetings and yelling at people who mentioned Jesus’ name, my co-workers invited me to a Bible study. Having two years experience in AA and being sober by His Grace for that time, I was spiritually confident that I would fit into Bible study easily. With some Bible studies maybe; but not with this group of evangelistic believers.
cont'd... (Stay tuned for Part 2)