Author Archive for

12
Jan
10

Which Gate will you Enter?

Matthew 7:13-23 (ESV)
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.
18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

John 14:6 (ESV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Now I saw in my dream that these two men went in at the gate: and lo, as they entered, they were transfigured, and they had raiment put on that shone like gold. There was also that met them with harps and crowns, and gave them to them — the harps to praise withal, and the crowns in token of honour. Then I heard in my dream that all the bells in the city rang again for joy, and that it was said unto them, Enter ye into the joy of your Lord. I also heard the men themselves, that they sang with a loud voice, saying, Blessing and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth Upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.

Now, just as the gates were opened to let in the men, I looked in after them, and, behold, the City shone like the sun; the streets also were paved with gold, and in them walked many men, with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps to sing praises withal.

There were also of them that had wings, and they answered one another without intermission, saying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord. And after that they shut up the gates; which, when I had seen, I wished myself among them.

Now while I was gazing upon all these things, I turned my head to look back, and saw Ignorance come up to the river side; but he soon got over, and that without half that difficulty which the other two men met with. For it happened that there was then in that place, one Vain-hope, a ferryman, that with his boat helped him over; so he, as the other I saw, did ascend the hill, to come up to the gate, only he came alone; neither did any man meet him with the least encouragement. When he was come up to the gate, he looked up to the writing that was above, and then began to knock, supposing that entrance should have been quickly administered to him; but he was asked by the men that looked over the top of the gate, Whence came you, and what would you have? He answered, I have eat and drank in the presence of the King, and he has taught in our streets. Then they asked him for his certificate, that they might go in and shew it to the King; so he fumbled in his bosom for one, and found none. Then said they, Have you none? But the man answered never a word. So they told the King, but he would not come down to see him, but commanded the two Shining Ones that conducted Christian and Hopeful to the City, to go out and take Ignorance, and bind him hand and foot, and have him away. Then they took him up, and carried him through the air to the door that I saw in the side of the hill, and put him in there. Then I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gates of heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction. So I awoke, and behold it was a dream.

The Pilgrim’s Progress.

18
Jun
09

Grace at Work

Luke 23:33-43
33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine,
37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”
38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!”
40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
41 “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”
43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

“There was one man at Calvary who realized who Jesus was; on that awful day he was able to rejoice with joy unspeakable. The penitent thief was an amazing miracle of grace. Even the sky darkened and God forsook his Son, at that very moment the angels of heaven were rejoicing over one sinner who repented.

In the story of the two thieves, we can see God’s sovereign grace in saving sinners. Both were physically near to Christ, both saw and heard everything, both were criminals who deserved judgment, both were dying men, both were sinners who needed forgiveness – yet one died in his sin and the other was saved.

A fact like that ought to teach us humility. As Christians, we are no better than anyone else. The difference between the saved and the lost is the grace of God.

It should also teach us a sense of urgency. It has been said of the two thieves that one was saved at the last moment of his life as that no one might despair, but only one so that no one might presume. Sinners need to be saved, and they need to be saved now.

The work of grace in the redeemed thief follows the same path as it does in all the people of God. The steps of repentance vary little no matter what the sinner’s background or circumstances. There are four:

1. Fear of God (look back up at Luke 23:40). Proverbs says that the fear of God is “the beginning of wisdom” and we might add, it’s also the beginning of salvation. It’s a realization that we are answerable to a holy God who will not tolerate sin; One who has said that no one who sins will enter his presence. It’s the awareness that God means what He says and that He is not to be trifled with. Jesus said “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). The fear of God is the beginning of an awareness of the reality and presence of God, and of a true respect for Him. There’s no salvation without this.

2. Confession of sin (Luke 23:41). Fear leads to confession. When we see God, we also see ourselves for what we are. We stop trying to justify ourselves and realize that our sin deserves hell. This conviction of sin will, in the grace of God, cause us to look for a Savior.

3. Recognition of Jesus (Luke 23:41b). “This man has done nothing wrong”, said the thief. In other words, Jesus is not like us. We are sinners; He is sinless. We are humans; He is the Lord, the Son of God. He is our only hope and the only One who can save us. There are no “ifs” of doubt here, just a quiet confidence in the ability of Jesus to deal with sin.

4. Prayer for mercy (Luke 23:42). This man was a criminal and therefore crucified by the Roman authorities. He was a sinner and therefore condemned by God. His situation was hopeless and he deserved nothing good. But he rested on divine grace and asked simply that Jesus would remember him. It’s beautifully simple — to some it may seem too simple — but to be remembered by Jesus is enough. Christ’s answer to this man epitomizes both His power and willingness to save sinners. The man was saved at the hour of the Savior’s greatest weakness as He hung on the cross, forsaken by His Father. Surely, this is power!

The thief was saved as a guilty sinner at the point of death with nothing in his past life to recommend him, and nothing in his present position except a prayer of repentance. In the morning he was a condemned criminal; in the afternoon he was a redeemed sinner, and by the evening he was a glorified saint!”

The Cross – The reality of the cross for today by Peter Jefferey

25
May
09

The Perspicuity of Scripture…Isn’t that Clear

Perspicuity –  The Clarity of Scripture.

“All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.” (WCF)

“The doctrine of the perspicuity (clarity) of Holy Scripture has frequently been misunderstood and misrepresented, both by Protestant and Catholics. (Negatively) Perspicuity – does not mean that the matters and subjects with which Scripture deals are not mysteries that far exceed the reach of the human intellect. Nor does it assert that Scripture is clear in all its parts, so that no scientific exegesis is needed, or that, also in its doctrine of salvation, Scripture is plain and clear to every person without distinction. (Positively) It means only that the truth, the knowledge of which is necessary to everyone for salvation, though not spelled out with equal clarity on every page of Scripture, is nevertheless presented throughout all of Scripture in such a simple and intelligible for that a person concerned about the salvation of his or her soul can easily, by personal reading and study, learn to know that truth from Scripture without the assistance and guidance of the church and the priest. The way of salvation, not as it concerns the matter itself but as it concerns the mode of transmission, has been clearly set down there for the reader desirous of salvation.” Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics – Prolegomena

The Roman Catholic system taught and teaches that Scripture must be interpreted by the one that is infallible and always present in the church, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit possesses his own infallible organ of interpretation, the church; better still the pope the head of the church. The church is in possession of the truth so she is akin to the truth itself that she alone understands its meaning and is called to uphold it according to 2Tim. 3:15

The early church Fathers held no such view. Chrystostom – held just the opposite, here he is comparing the teaching of the prophets and apostles with the special knowledge of the “philosophers” of his day. “The prophets and apostles did the complete opposite; for they established for all the things that are sure and clear, inasmuch as they are the common teachers of the whole world so that each person by himself or herself might be able to understand what was said from the reading alone.”

Gregory I compares Scripture… “to a smooth and deep river in which a lamb could walk and an elephant could swim.”

 The Reformers taught and we still teach that the Holy Spirit alone is the true interpreter of the Word. Matt. 7:15; 16:17; John 6:44; 10:3; Heb. 5:14; 1 John 4:1

The Reformers taught that the Holy Spirit indwells the heart of every believer, and illuminates every child of God with the ability and desire to know the truth. The Clarity is in light of the Source. Scripture possesses the “power to interpret itself” and is the supreme judge of all controversies.

The Reformers referred to this as the “analogia Scriptura” Scripture interprets Scripture. “The obscure texts are explained by the plain ones, and the fundamental ideas of Scripture as a whole serve to clarify the parts.” Bavinck

Perspicuity is an attribute of Holy Scripture that Scripture claims for itself.

The Law was given in the Old Testament to be understood by the people. (The Word was meant to light their path to God.) Deut. 30:11; Ps. 19:8-9; 119:105, 130; Prov. 6:23

The Word came through the Prophets addressed to all the people. (not just the priests, elite etc.) Is.1:10; 5:3; 9:1; 40:1; Jer. 2:4; Ezek. 3:1)

The WORD (Jesus) spoke to openly to all the crowds that followed Him. Matt. 5:1; 13:1-2; 26:55

 The Apostles wrote to ALL those called saints with the intention of being understood by all to bring hope, endurance, comfort and edification. Rom. 1:7; 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 John 1:1

Scripture is meant to be understood by all and it is intended to be proclaimed just as clearly in the Church to all that have ears to hear. This principle directs the Church on how to teach, preach and apply the ministry of the Word to the saints.

The authority and power of the church then lies in how they handle apply and expound scripture not in itself. The role of the Church is to teach and proclaim these truths with equal clarity by employing literal, historical, grammatical hermeneutics based on this principle.

The principle of the perspicuity of scripture should then be the basis for all Confessions of faith, sermons, lessons and discussions in the church.

The Church has been charged with…

“Training in the Word” – 1Timothy 4:6-11

“Preserving the Word” – 1Timothy 6:20

“Preaching the Word”- 2 Timothy 4:2

“Defending the Word” – Titus 1:9

“Command from the Word” – 2Thess. 3:6

 The Church is called to explain the Word just as the teachers of the Old Testament were called to do, we are also commanded to make clear the less clear by interpreting Scripture with Scripture. Nehemiah 8:5-12

This is why God gave a gift to the church – pastor-teachers. Ephesians 4:11-14

Pastors are not the final authority on all things, the church is not the final authority either but when the principle of perspicuity of scripture is applied by the Church and pastors then the message they proclaim is clear to all.

The message proclaimed from scripture alone is our final source and authority for all things in the Church and when a pastor and Church follow that authority God is glorified and the saints are edified. 2 Peter 1:2-3

Pastor Randy – Sovereign Grace Bible Church – Ada, OK    www.sovereigngracebc.wordpress.com

26
Mar
09

The Gospel is not about me

I was recently reading through Mark Dever’s book “The Deliberate Church” and ran across the following.

“The Gospel is not ultimately about me.

It is about God’s glory, and gathering worshipers for Himself who will worship Him in spirit and truth. It is about God vindicating His holiness by punishing Christ for the sins of all those who repent and believe. It is about making a name for Himself in the world by gathering people and separating them to Himself for the spread of His fame to the nations.

“Benefit evangelism” fills our churches with people who are taught to expect everything to go their way just because they became Christians. But Jesus promises persecution for following Him, not worldly perks (John 15:18-16:4; cf. 2 Tim. 3:12). We want to build Christians and churches who persevere through hardship, who are willing to suffer and be persecuted and even die for the Gospel of Christ, because they value God’s glory more than the temporal benefits of conversion. We don’t want people to become Christians because it will reduce their stress. We want them to become Christians because they know they need to repent of their sins, believe in Jesus Christ, and joyfully take up their cross and follow Him for the glory of God.

There are indeed wonderful benefits to the Christian life; but being God-centered in our evangelism by focusing less on the temporal benefits and more on God’s character and plan makes for more Christians ready to suffer, and more churches motivated by God’s glory.”

I thought Pastor Mark’s words summed up our mission and motive for establishing a new church in Ada.

The motive for our ministry in Ada is to establish God’s glory in and then through the church then to the world around us. We intend on doing this by building this ministry on God-centered worship that comes through Bible-driven exposition and Christ-centered worship as opposed to man-centered worship.

We desire this so that they may see the manifold wisdom of God through the church to the praise of God’s grace.

Ephesians 3:7-12 (ESV)

7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

To find out more about our mission and our heart please go to our website.

Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Ada, Oklahoma

http://sovereigngracebc.wordpress.com

20
Mar
09

I love the smell of Sheep!

As you may know we are embarking on a new journey in church planting in Ada, Oklahoma. This new ministry has given me much to pray and ponder about lately. In preparation for the journey I have been looking at the lives of other pastors in the past to help prepare my own heart to “shepherd the flock of God” in the present.

Lately I have found myself reading about the ministry of R.C. Chapman who was referred to by C.H. Spurgeon as “The saintliest man I ever knew.”

Men like Chapman and Spurgeon give me great hope and great guidance in serving as God’s undershepherd. The following thoughts from R.C. Chapman have been in my mind and heart for some months now and I have found them to be a source of joy. I love to hear fellow pastors express their joy and love in serving as undershepherds and their testimony only fuels my burning desire to honor Christ by loving His sheep. I find great delight in the pursuit of loving and leading Christ’s church as a result of testimony and advice I have discovered here in Chapman’s life and ministry. Much of the following is derived from Alexander Strauch and Robert L. Peterson’s booklet on “Agape Leadership”.

“For those who are to exercise any office in the Church – that of evangelist, pastor- it is not knowledge and utterance only which are needed; but also, and above all, grace and an unblameable [lifestyle]…

Our joy in Christ speaks a language that all hearts can understand, and is a testimony for Him, such as mere knowledge and utterance can never give…

The figure of the mote [log] in the eye [Matthew 7] shows what skill and tenderness he has need of who would be a reprover to his brother. Who would trust so precious a member as the eye to a rough, unskillful hand?…”

R.C. Chapman

Chapman was never rough or harsh with people. Describing him, a friend said that Chapman was ‘bold as a lion and gentle as a nurse.” His model of handling others was God himself…

Chapman once said:

“Do we meet with unkindness from brethren? Instead of shooting our bitter words at them, let us judge ourselves; and endeavor, in love and wisdom, to overcome evil with good.”

Chapman found no satisfaction when a problem of sin and unrepentance had to be resolved by disfellowship from the church. He continued praying for restoration. Chapman cautioned that we must remember God’s love toward us when dealing with the sin of others.

“In reproving sin in others, we should remember the ways of the Holy Spirit of God towards us. He comes as the Spirit of love; and whatever His rebukes, He wins the heart by mercy and forgiveness through Christ.”

As a good undershepherd Chapman was constantly looking out for his sheep individually. He desired to encourage and equip them to serve others in the body of Christ by the exercise of their spiritual gifts.

“The Church, the body of Christ,” he said “cannot rise above its present low estate until there be a conscience in the members of fulfilling each one his office in the body.”

Chapman believed his responsibility, as pastor was to help people individually as well as corporately develop their faith in the Lord by laboring alongside them one on one.

“The lonely, the mournful, the friendless, the tempted, the defected, the despised, the forsaken, the outcast, Christ will wait on each one of them, whatever his case, as though that one were His only charge.

By this exact and special oversight of each member of His body, how precious, how lovely, how glorious, does Christ appear!”

As wonderful as Chapman’ testimony has proved to be as a minister of Christ I find that the Apostle Paul sums up my heart and the heart of all men who desire pastoral ministry better than anyone in 1 Thessalonians.

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (ESV)

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

As I ponder the responsibilities of pastoral ministry I am reminded that pastors like other Christians are ambassadors of Jesus Christ – we are called to be His representatives to the flock!

Pastors must be known by their clean hearts, clean hands, and clean conversation.

These traits are only possibly by grace alone that is why pastors must lean upon Christ in order to lead like Christ.

Pastors are called to be examples for the flock to follow as they follow Jesus.

1 Timothy 4:11-12

Prescribe and teach these things.

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

“It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” – Robert Murray M’Cheyne

I love the smell of sheep!

Pastor Randy

Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Ada, Oklahoma

Dedicated to the doctrines of grace and expressing those doctrines with grace.

 

(A church plant in progress for the glory of God and the good of the saints!)

20
Mar
09

I love the Puritans

I love the Puritans!

Thanks be to God for sanctifying some parts of the Internet.
Due to God’s mercy and faithful laborers we now have access to some of the richest theological works in the world right at our fingertips through the Internet.
Some of our richest resources come to us through the practical, theological and passionate writings of the Puritans. These writers passionately display our biblically reformed heritage in words that are both rich in meaning and doctrine yet packed with practical implications and application.

I love the Puritans, these were men and women devoted to living out their theology in every aspect of their life. For the Puritans as well as for all Christians in history there is no division of life into secular and sacred. The Puritans understood all of life was “set apart” to God as sacred. Their homes, business, friendships and fellowship in the Church were all seen as the arena to practice Christian love toward others and devotion to God. One example of their deep commitment to God and the practice of godliness has been encapsulated for us in a small book titled “The Valley of Vision” which is a compilation of Puritan prayers.

My fellow reformed brothers and sisters are probably well acquainted with this title and I hope you are all acquainted with its rich and practical content.
If you are not acquainted with this work please let me serve you by sharing just a taste of the blessing with you in this blog. I pray you after reading this you will be challenged to prayer more passionately and biblically. Let this example help you to peer at life through the eyes of those who lives were marked by constant seeking and savoring the glory of God in all arenas of life.

Please read this slowly and carefully then use it as fuel for your own prayer life.

Sovereign God,
Thy cause, not my own, engages my heart,
and I appeal to thee with greatest freedom
to set up they kingdom in every place
where Satan reigns;

Glorify thyself and I shall rejoice,
for to bring honor to thy name is my sole desire.

I adore thee that thou art God,
and long that others should know it, feel it, and rejoice in it.

O that all men might love and praise thee,
that thou mightest have all glory from the intelligent world!

Let sinners be brought to thee for thy dear name!
To the eye of reason everything respecting
the conversion of others is as dark as midnight,
But thou canst accomplish great things things;
the cause is thine,
and it is to thy glory that men should be saved.

Lord, use me as thou wilt,
do with me what thou wilt;
but, O, promote thy cause,
let thy kingdom come,
let thy blessed interest be advanced in the world!

O do thou bring in great numbers to Jesus!
Let me see that glorious day,
and give me to grasp for multitudes of souls;
let me be willing to die to that end;
and while I live let me labour for thee
to the utmost of my strength,
spending time profitably in this work,
both in health and in weakness.

It is thy cause and kingdom I long for, not my own.

O, answer thou my request!

The “Valley of Vision” prayers remind us to go to Scripture to examine our heart and rejoice in God’s manifold graces that come to us through Jesus. Many of these prayers also remind us of the precious gift of Christian fellowship expressed through the local church. The Puritans put great biblical emphasis on the importance of gathering together locally to prepare their hearts to praise God with one voice.

Within the local Church they preached the one true Word, prayed together to the one true God, and praised God together with one voice united in Jesus Christ. This fueled their passion to go proclaim the Gospel of God to the world through evangelistic profession and personal holiness.

The Lord’s Day was precious to the Puritans because here they were feed the graces that fueled their hearts. From within the Church flowed a river of grace poured out into their souls and it shaped their life practically and passionately. That grace was first felt within their family life and then flowed out to the world. The Puritans called the family the little church. In their homes they fed upon Christ daily with their children which is our foremost ministry and mission field. This devotion led their children to see the transforming power of Jesus in their parent’s life then see that authentic witness reach out to the world.

The Puritans witness was not just intentional it was unavoidable for these dear souls because they were consumed with a desire see God glorified in every place and in every soul they met.

The Puritans consuming passion for God’s glory came their love of God’s Word which declares God’s chief end – “His own glory”.
The Puritans loved to hear the Word preached, practiced and praised!
Does that desire consume your soul today? Is there a seeking and savoring of scripture in your life? Do you love to gather with other saints in worship? Is there a burning desire to minister to your family first then the world? Are you and I consumed with seeing God glorified in the Church?

I pray that this simple prayer will help fuel your desire to see Jesus Christ exalted in and through the Church and go out into the world for the Glory of God the Father. Amen

20
Mar
09

Speaking of the Word

Speaking of the Word

What is the secret to a successful church?
Many books have been written and sold (mass marketed) on this subject but I only know of one book that actually can answer this question.
The Bible.

The Bible is the book and the answer to the question.
The success of the Church of Jesus Christ is not based on man’s view, the world’s view, polls, or the numbers of people in the pews.
The success of the Church is based on and determined by God’s standards not man.
God standard of a healthy successful church is often quite different than mans standard.

A successful church is filled with people who are shaped by scripture not culture.
A successful church is spiritually minded not worldly-minded.
A successful church exalts Christ not self.
A successful church trusts the scripture to transform lives not secular psychology.
A successful church loves to share the gospel message with the lost not just our friendship.
A successful church loves to worship God corporately not lean on man-centered programs.
A successful church is being conformed to the Christ not the world.
A successful church comes together on Sunday for God’s glory not for christian entertainment.
A successful church is committed to preaching biblical doctrine not pleasing men’s ears with trivial stories.

What is a successful church…well to be quite simple it is a Biblical church.

Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

“Only the Word feeds the church and causes it to grow; only the Word protects the church from its archenemy, the false teacher; only the Word leads the church to higher and better ground.”

“The hearts of true believers crave a fellowship which will last – a fellowship in the Spirit with each other, because of common fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
R.C. Chapman