Friday, December 26, 2008

His People are Saved from Sin

"You shall call His name Jesus--for He shall save His people from their sins" Matthew 1:21

Our salvation from the pleasure of sin is effected by Christ's taking up His abode in our hearts, "Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). Our salvation from the penalty of sin was secured by Christ's sufferings on the Cross where He endured the punishment due our iniquities. Our salvation from the power of sin is obtained by the gracious operations of the Spirit, whom Christ sends to His people. Our salvation from the presence of sin will be accomplished at Christ's second advent, "We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior. He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like His own!" (Phil. 3:20, 21). And again we are told, "We know that when He shall appear--we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). It is all of Christ, from beginning to end!

Salvation from the pleasure or love of sin takes place at our regeneration; salvation from the penalty or punishment of sin occurs at our justification; salvation from the power or dominion of sin is accomplished during our practical sanctification; salvation from the presence or indwelling of sin is consummated at our glorification.

"You shall call His name Jesus--for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). First, He shall save them from the pleasure or love of sin by bestowing a nature which hates it--this is the great miracle of grace. Second, He shall save them from the penalty or punishment of sin, by remitting all its guilt--this is the grand marvel of grace. Third, He shall save them from the power or dominion of sin, by the workings of His Spirit--this reveals the wondrous might of grace. Fourth, He shall save them from the presence or indwelling of sin--this will demonstrate the glorious magnitude of grace!

- A. W. Pink

Men Want a Religion of Their Own

Where God works, he always does so consistently with his own Word. What I mean is this: when he raises up, equips, and sends forth one of his servants, that servant will necessarily preach the Word, and denounce all that is opposed to the Word: hence, his message is bound to be unpopular, in fact, hated by all who are not regenerated. Was it not thus with the Old Testament prophets? Would even the Israelites of their day endure sound doctrine? Would they do so when the Lord Jesus preached it? Would they when the Apostles taught it? Would they in the time of Luther and Calvin?

And poor, fallen human nature is the same now! Mark it well, my dear friend, that the people to whom the Old Testament prophets, Christ, and the apostles preached were not irreligious! No, indeed, far from it! They were very religious: but they were determined to have a religion of their own, which suited them, and they would not tolerate anything which condemned them. So it is now.

- A.W. Pink

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Faith & Salvation

Faith is not a soft option offered to people who need a crutch to get through the rest of their lives. Faith is the supernatural activity of God whereby He opens blind eyes, unstops deaf ears, and then a person says, 'I see it now; I get it now; I am going to trust in God; I am going to trust in Jesus'.

- Alistair Begg

Salvation is from our side a choice, but from the divine side it is a seizing upon, an apprehending, a conquest by the Most High God. Our 'accepting' and 'being willing' are reactions rather than actions. The right of determination must always remain with God.

- A.W. Tozer

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

True Meekness

Meekness is often confused with lowliness or humility, but they are by no means identical. Humility is the opposite of pride and self-sufficiency, whereas meekness is the opposite of stubbornness and self will. Meekness is pliability and is the fruit of a broken heart. Meekness is the opposite of being determined to have my own way; it is an attitude of yieldedness---desiring God to work his will in and through me.Where there is true meekness (which the world, in its blindness, regards as weakness), its possessor approaches the Word with the desire to be moulded by its holy teachings, so that our characters may be formed thereby, and all our affairs, both temperal and eternal, be directed by its precepts.

- A.W. Pink

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our Thoughts about God

The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him.

- A.W. Tozer

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Evangelism & the Love of Christ

In vain do we seek to awaken our churches to zeal in evangelism as a separate thing. To be genuine, it must flow from love to Christ. It is when a sense of personal communion with the Son of God is highest that we shall be most fit for missionary work, either ourselves or to stir up others.

- Archibald Alexander

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fleshly Neo-Evangelical Religion OR the Power of God

All the emergent church movement, much of the church growth movement, and all the cultural sensitivity that throws biblical sensitivity out the window, is just a bunch of little boys wanting to play church without the power of God on their life-- I'll stand on that statement. It's even a lesser thing than David trying to fit himself in Saul's armor. To the wind with it! The more you trust in the arm of the flesh, the less you're going to see of the power of God.

-Paul Washer

Christ Exclusively

There is no offense whatsoever in going to India, into the heart of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam and declaring that we are there to talk about social justice and public policy and the concerns of poverty. There is no shame in that.

All of the shame lies in going there to declare that Jesus is Sovereign Lord, He is the Savior, and He is the only way. And it is that message which is foolishness in India and foolish in America which is the message that we have been called to proclaim and to live, and the implications of which put the foot down in the realm of justice and in the concerns of poverty and so on.

But I have a sneaking suspicion and an increasingly deep-seated concern that there is here in North America a loss of confidence in the Bible itself as the unerring word of God and an increasing willingness to play fast and loose with the uniqueness of the claims of Jesus of Nazareth, and to the extent that that is true, the cutting edge of world evangelization is radically affected.

-Alistair Begg

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Five Points of Christ

Luke 9:37-38

1. The harvest is always ripe (plentiful). (37)

2. The laborers are always few. (37)

3. Christ's followers are always to be praying concerning these unchanging facts. (37)

4. We are always to pray to the One who has called Himself 'the Lord of the harvest' for more laborers. (38)

5. There is always a harvest to be reaped. (38)

So, are we laborers or only observers and armchair quarterbacks?

- Mack T.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Preaching on Texts You Aren't Sure About

Should a pastor skip teaching some passages because he lacks confidence in his own interpretation?

Here we're going to be talking about gradations of confidence and gradations of importance in passages.

As the passage increases in importance, you have less option of avoiding it. And as your uncertainty increases, you have less obligation to preach.

So these are like axes. I guess if I knew how to draw these kinds of diagrams, I would say that if the passage has gone down in importance and your uncertainty has gone up in importance, tell the people you're skipping it, and tell them why. As the passage comes up in importance, you need to work harder to get your confidence up in importance.

But real life—which is why this question is so relevant—is that all of us pastors have questions about texts that we have to preach on.

If you're preaching through a book, you're going to hit passages you do not know what they mean. And I think we should be honest and not try to cover it. We should say to our people, "I'm not sure what this means. Here are the three options: Here's what Don Carson thinks, here's what Doug Moo thinks, etc., and I'm not sure yet."

And then you need to give them a grid for what to do with that: How do you live with that? Why does that not undermine my confidence in the Bible? Why does it not undermine the larger interpretation of this passage and the point that is being made here and here and here?

I wrote a paper in seminary on the Book of Revelation. I took an independent study just because I wanted to spend a semester studying the Book of Revelation, which to me is full of questions. And the paper I wrote was called, "The Doctrine of Least Meanings." And what I meant was that even when you don't know the full meaning of a text, you can know something of its meaning. And the least meanings in Revelation are stunning.

So I'm saying to the pastor: Draw out of the text that you are perplexed about what you can get out, and then be honest about the rest.

- John Piper

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Epitome of Foolishness

"The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt and have committed abominable injustice; there is no one who does good." (Ps. 53:1)
"Gay-tivity" scenes in the Netherlands with two Josephs and two Marys, a baby-less manger nativity scene by Planned Parenthood, a human-less nativity scene by PETA, even an anti-nativity scene subsidized by the governor of Washington. 'Tis the season to be -- well, stupid. Atheism comes in many shapes and sizes, but in the end is an equal opportunist. A God-vacant heart always gives rise to God-hating actions. Three reasons why it's the epitome of foolishness:

First, it's logically self-defeating. The very word "atheism" means, no god. And for someone to say that there isn't a god anywhere and at any time would have to be omniscient to make such a claim. Universal negative propositions of reality are an impossibility to prove by their very nature. At best an atheist might be able to say that he doesn't know if a god exists, which makes him an agnostic, not an atheist.

Second, it's practically self-deprecating. Our text reveals what atheists really are -- corrupt, criminal, ignorant. There is no foundation for morality if there is no ultimate accountability to someone higher, God. It's just rhetoric for the atheist to say it's wrong to murder and argue for it on the basis of what's best for society, which begs the next question, which society -- Nazi Germany? This doesn't mean that every atheist is uncivil or unloving, it just means that If an idol worshiper ultimately becomes what he worships (Psa. 115:8), then an atheist ultimately becomes what he worships -- nothing, vanity. Now there's a role model for you.

Lastly, it's eternally self-destroying. If those who forget God are turned into hell (Ps. 9:17), how much more those who actively hate Him -- a hatred, by the way, for someone that doesn't exist to them. No wonder gnashing teeth and hell are meant for each other (Ps. 112:10).

It's one thing to be a fool because of ignorance; it's another to be one by choice. If Mr. T was right about "pitying fools," then there's more pity needed today than all of history combined. And to think something as simple as a nativity scene has a way of bringing that out.

- Mark Lacour

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kissing Retirement Goodbye

I kissed retirement goodbye—at least the kind traditionally planned for in America. My mother has finally persuaded me that there are better things to do when I reach her age.

In August, I wrote about caring for family with end-of-life challenges. My mother, at 78, started to go blind while on a mission trip to Mongolia. Her sight was saved through high-dose steroids, which tripped other health concerns which were compounded by the discovery of breast cancer.

The subsequent surgery left her fragile. She fell and added injury to sickness and disease. We gathered with he r in August to discuss how to care for her as she enters what I call “the frowning years.”

Ecclesiastes calls them plainly “the evil days” when
the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low—they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets. (12:1-5)
The point of this description is to “remember your Creator in the days of your youth” (12:1). I20take this to mean: Taste and see the goodness of God while all your senses are in full function, and your strength is still intact.

Savor him while you can—before your teeth fall out (the grinders cease) and your eyes fail (the windows are dimmed) and your bones ache with every move (the grasshopper drags itself along); before the fears of dying assail you and sap your strength and try your faith one last time before they are swallowed up in victory.

Evidently, at 78, my mother is still in the days of her youth. Since August, she has prayed and fought for her health.

Last week she left for Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. She joined a team of trainers for a Leadership Development Conference in which 90 teachers from around the country took their school vacation week to learn to study and teach the Bible through an inductive-study method. Seven more teachers planned on being there.

But my mother writes, “They did not get here because their charter bus was ambushed by robbers and the driver was killed.” In spite of such things, she writes of the thrill of watching teachers learn to read out of the Bible its unsearchable riches rather than read into it preconceived notions.

She concludes, “I have been so blessed to be here that at times I think I will burst!” Evidently, she intends to die with her mission boots on as she faces down those “frowning years.”

- John Ensor

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A New and Popular Theology

The more one reads, the more he or she learns that differing theological perspectives are classified into entirely different theological systems. This is called systematic theology.

For instance, Charles Finney would, at best, be considered holding to Arminian theology, or even Pelagianism; John Wesley would be considered holding to a high, God-centered Arminian theology, while. on the other hand, John Calvin, as well as Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, John Newton, John MacArthur, John Piper, and others would hold to Reformed or Calvinistic theology.

Then there is liberal theology, black-liberation theology, neo-orthodox theology, and atheistic theology (yes, atheists do have a theology). There are other theologies, of course, beyond that, such as the theology that drives the Islamic world view.

In recent months, I decided that a new category is needed in our day, that being Stupid Theology, for some views are nothing short of simply being stupid.

The following views fall into such a theology, which was sent to me by a good friend.

Here is a quote by a man that was referring to comments that Barak Obama was sent by God to unite the world and create economic security:

"You cannot put him on a pedestal and wrap him in cellophane so that people will fall down and worship him. It is not fair to expect someone to swoop down and save you," said Lawrence Carter Sr., dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta. "I don't think Jesus so much came to save us as much as he came to free us so that we could save ourselves."

Yes, indeed, "save ourselves"-- File it away under stupid theology and be ready to recognize and discern such views, as they are everywhere, every day. The day that the average American had a biblical-based world view or morality, much less an evangelical mind set, is long gone; the above statement by Mr. Carter is what our nation generally now believes- not just wrong theology, not just heretical theology, but stupid theology.

Please note that I did not call Mr. Carter stupid, but rather his theology; very intelligent people can believe imbesilic things, like highly educated people who believe sincerely that life on earth first began by aliens coming here from another galaxy to begin the first forms of life on this planet.

It was the fictional movie character Forrest Gump who said, "Stupid is as stupid does"; but the truth is, stupid does as stupid believes, for "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."

So keep your stupid theology file close by, either on your desk or in your mind; you will continue to need it regularly.

- Mack T.