Archive for the '1' Category

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