Archive for the 'Jesus' Category

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

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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!)

13
Mar
09

God’s Word brings Life

Obeying God’s Word brings life to a dead world.
A pattern arises…
Disobedience brings death.
Obedience brings life.

Adam’s disobedient life – brought eternal death.

Romans 5:12-15 (ESV)
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

Christ’s obedient life – brought eternal life.

Hebrews 5:7-9 (ESV)
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.
9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,

The pattern arises from Genesis.
Genesis 6:22
Noah – obeyed God’s word and brought life. (To a physically dead world)
Noah was saved by faith in God’s word.
Genesis 12:4
Abram – obeyed God’s word and God brought him life.
Abram was saved by faith in God’s word… what saves us today?

In Abram we see God grant righteousness and faith to an undeserving man.
Through this gift from God we see a miracle nation (Isaac’s birth) brought forth by this man’s obedience. This nation “Israel” was set apart by God to proclaim to the world and “fill” it with the good news and testify to God’s grace and glory.

Israel was set apart first in the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision Gen. 17:9-11 this was a physical mark on their bodies to set them apart but it represented a spiritual separation an unseen-inward mark.

Later Israel was given outward marks to distinguish it from the world – the Law of Moses. These Laws and rites distinguished Israel from the Gentile world causing them to stand out or to be “an outstanding example to the world”.

Ultimately through Abram a Savior would come.
Jesus Christ would bring eternal life to all those who believe as Abraham did by “faith alone” in God’s word.

Romans 4:9-16 (ESV)
9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness.
10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.
11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all, who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,
12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.
15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

We too are called to live separated lives from this world not by works of the law but by faith in the One who fulfilled the Law perfectly. The Lord Jesus Christ imputed His righteousness to our lives through His substitutionary life and death on the Cross and transforms us inwardly and outwardly by grace.

1. Inwardly (circumcised hearts)
Colossians 2:11-14 (ESV)
11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

2. Outwardly (distinct from the world – “sanctified, set apart for holy use”)
Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

v.13 -“waiting for” – this is a reference to the Second Coming of Christ.
v. 14 -This looking forward to Christ coming does something in us just as it did in Noah and Abraham. It produces zealous, pure workers that eagerly long for God’s glory to be revealed.

What kind of workers are we today?
Are we set apart from the world?
Are we obedient even in the face of persecution?

Like Noah and Abraham we are called out from this world to declare who our God is and share this knowledge with others.

Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV)
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

We must live in this world in such a way that our lives can testify to who our God is and then we in our obedience can bring others to see the glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ and His gift of eternal life.

In Genesis we are commanded to fill the earth.
(Both physically and spiritually with the news of who our God is.)
1. Adam was commanded to – multiply and fill the earth…with children who would pass the knowledge of the true God on to others.
2. Noah was commanded to do the same.
3. Abraham was commanded to declare who God was by being separated from the world and to raise a nation who was set apart from the world around them
(A lighthouse to shine God’s truth in the dark world).

What does all this mean to us today?
How do we fill the earth with the knowledge of God today?

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We have been given a command to go into the world today.
We must live out this message in obedience to Christ command.
Go to into the world but do not be conformed to the world.

We share this message with individuals.
Make disciples – evangelize and follow through.

We teach this message to the Church corporately.
Teach the Word. This is how we are to fulfill the command.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV)
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

13
Mar
09

C.H. Spurgeon on Galatians 3:19

“This I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” Therefore, no inheritance and no salvation ever can be obtained by the law.

Now, extremes are the error of ignorance. Generally, when men believe one truth, they carry it so far as to deny another; and, very frequently, the assertion of a cardinal truth leads men to generalise on other particulars, and so to make falsehoods out of truth. The objection supposed may be worded thus: “You say, O Paul, that the law cannot justify; surely then the law is good for nothing at all; ‘Wherefore then serveth the law?’ If it will not save a man, what is the good of it? If of itself it will never take a man to heaven, why was it written? Is it not a useless thing?” The apostle might have replied to his opponent with a sneer—he must have said to him, “Oh, fool, and slow of heart to understand. Is it proved that a thing is utterly useless because it is not intended for every purpose in the world?

Will you say that, because iron cannot be eaten, therefore, iron is not useful? And because gold cannot be the food of man, will you, therefore, cast gold away, and call it worthless dross? Yet on your foolish supposition you must do so. For, because I have said the law cannot save, you have foolishly asked me what is the use of it? and you foolishly suppose God’s law is good for nothing, and can be of no value whatever.”

This objection is, generally, brought forward by two sorts of people. First, by mere cavillers who do not like the gospel, and wish to pick all sorts of holes in it. They can tell us what they do not believe; but they do not tell us what they do believe. They would fight with everybody’s doctrines and sentiments, but they would be at a loss if they were asked to sit down and write their own opinions. They do not seem to have got much further than the genius of the monkey, which can pull everything to pieces, but can put nothing together. Then, on the other hand, there is the Antinomian, who says, “Yes, I know I am saved by grace alone;” and then breaks the law—says, it is not binding on him, even as a rule of life; and asks, “Wherefore then serveth the law?” throwing it out of his door as an old piece of furniture only fit for the fire, because, forsooth, it is not adapted to save his soul.

Why, a thing may have many uses, if not a particular one. It is true that the law cannot save; and yet it is equally true that the law is one of the highest works of God, and is deserving of all reverence, and extremely useful when applied by God to the purposes for which it was intended…

The first use of the law is to manifest to man his guilt. When God intends to save a man, the first thing he does with him is to send the law to him, to show him how guilty, how vile, how ruined he is, and in how dangerous a position. You see that man lying there on the edge of the precipice; he is sound asleep, and just on the perilous verge of the cliff. One single movement, and he will roll over and be broken in pieces on the jagged rocks beneath, and nothing more shall be heard of him. How is he to be saved? What shall be done for him—what shall be done!

It is our position; we, too, are lying on the brink of ruin, but we are insensible of it. God, when he begins to save us from such an imminent danger, sendeth his law, which, with a stout kick, rouses us up, makes us open our eyes, we look down on our terrible danger, discover our miseries, and then it is we are in a right position to cry out for salvation, and our salvation comes to us.

The law acts with man as the physician does when he takes the film from the eye of the blind. Self-righteous men are blind men, though they think themselves good and excellent. The law takes that film away, and lets them discover how vile they are, and how utterly ruined and condemned if they are to abide under the sentence of the law…

The law tells you that unless you perfectly obey you cannot be saved by your doings, it tells you that one sin will make a flaw in it all, that one transgression will spoil your whole obedience. It is a spotless garment that you must wear in heaven; it is only an unbroken law which God can accept.

So, then, the law answers this purpose, to tell men that their acquirements, their amendings, and their doings, are of no use whatever in the matter of salvation. It is theirs to come to Christ, to get A new heart and a right spirit; to get the evangelical repentance which needeth not to be repented of, that so they may put their trust in Jesus and receive pardon through his blood.

“Wherefore then serveth the law?” It serveth this purpose, as Luther hath it, the purpose of a hammer. Luther, you know, is very strong on the subject of the law. He says, “For if any be not a murderer, an adulterer, a thief, and outwardly refrain from sin, as the Pharisee did, which is mentioned in the gospel, he would swear that he is righteous, and therefore he conceiveth an opinion of righteousness, and presumeth of his good works and merits. Such a one God cannot otherwise mollify and humble, that he may acknowledge his misery and damnation, but by the law, for that is the hammer of death, the thundering of hell, and the lightning of God’s wrath, that beateth to powder the obstinate and senseless hypocrites. For as long as the opinion of righteousness abideth in man, so long there abideth also in him incomprehensible pride, presumption, security, hatred of God, contempt of his grace and mercy, ignorance of the promises and of Christ. The preaching of free remission of sins, through Christ, cannot enter into the heart of such a one, neither can he feel any taste or savor thereof; for that mighty rock and adamant wall, to wit, the opinion of righteousness, wherewith the heart is environed, doth resist it. Wherefore the law is that hammer, that fire, that mighty strong wind, and that terrible earthquake rending the mountains, and breaking the rocks, (1 Kings 19:11-13) that is to say, the proud and obstinate hypocrites. Elijah, not being able to abide these terrors of the law, which by these things are signified, covered his face with his mantle. Notwithstanding, when the tempest ceased, of which he was a beholder, there came a soft and a gracious wind, in the which the Lord was; but it behoved that the tempest of fire, of wind, and the earthquake should pass, before the Lord should reveal himself in that gracious wind.”…

“Wherefore serveth the law.” It was sent into the world to keep Christian men from self-righteousness. Christian men—do they ever get self-righteous? Yes, that they do. The best Christian man in the world will find it hard work to keep himself from boasting, and from being self-righteous.

John Knox on his death-bed was attacked with self-righteousness. The last night of his life on earth, he slept some hours together, during which he uttered many deep and heavy moans. Being asked why he moaned so deeply, he replied, “I have during my life sustained many assaults of Satan; but at present he has assaulted me most fearfully, and put forth all his strength to make an end of me at once. The cunning Serpent has labored to persuade me, that I have merited heaven and eternal blessedness by the faithful discharge of my ministry. But blessed be God, who has enabled me to quench this fiery dart, by suggesting to me such passages as these: ‘What hast thou that thou hast not received?’ and, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am.'” Yes, and each of us have felt the same. I have often felt myself rather amused at some of my brethren, who have come to me, and said, “I trust the Lord will keep you humble,” when they themselves were not only as proud as they were high, but a few inches over. They have been most sincere in prayer that I should be humble, unwittingly nursing their own pride by their own imaginary reputation for humility.

I have long since given up entreating people to be humble, because it naturally tends to make them proud. A man is apt to say, “Dear me, these people are afraid I shall be proud; I must have something to be proud of.” Then we say to ourselves, “I will not let them see it;” and we try to keep our pride down, but after all, are as proud as Lucifer within. I find that the proudest and most self-righteous people are those who do nothing at all, and have no shadow of presence for any opinion of their own goodness.

The old truth in the book of Job is true now. You know in the beginning of the book of Job it is said, “The oxen were ploughing, and the asses were feeding beside them.” That is generally the way in this world. The oxen are ploughing in the church—we have some who are laboring hard for Christ—and the asses are feeding beside them, on the finest livings and the fattest of the land. These are the people who have so much to say about self-righteousness. What do they do? They do not do enough to earn a living, and yet they think they are going to earn heaven. They sit down and fold their hands, and yet they are so reverently righteous, because forsooth they sometimes dole out a little in charity. They do nothing, and yet boast of self-righteousness. And with Christian people it is the came.

If God makes you laborious, and keeps you constantly engaged in his service, you are less likely to be proud of our self-righteousness than you are if you do nothing. But at all times there is a natural tendency to it. Therefore, God has written the law, that when we read it we may see our faults; that when we look into it, as into a looking-glass, we may see the impurities in our flesh, and have reason to abhor ourselves in sackcloth and ashes, and still cry to Jesus for mercy. Use the law in this fashion, and in no other…

“Could your tears for ever flow,
Could your zeal no respite know,
All for sin could not atone;
Christ must save, and save alone.”

If ye would know how we must be saved, hear this—ye must come with nothing of your own to Christ. Christ has kept the law. You are to have his righteousness to be your righteousness. Christ has suffered in the stead of all who repent. His punishment is to stand instead of your being punished. And through faith in the sanctification and atonement of Christ, you are to be saved.

Come, then, ye weary and heavy laden, bruised and mangled by the Fall, come then, ye sinners, come, then, ye moralists, come, then, all ye that have broken God’s law and feel it, leave your own trusts and come to Jesus, he will take you in, give you a spotless robe of righteousness, and make you his for ever. “But how can I come?” says one; “Must I go home and pray?” Nay, sir, nay. Where thou art standing now, thou mayest come to the cross. Oh, if thou knowest thyself to be a sinner, now—I beseech you, ere thy foot shall leave the floor on which thou standest—now, say this—
“Myself into thy arms I cast:
Lord, save my guilty soul at last.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

05
Mar
09

Religion or Revelation?

Ever notice the universal reality of how “religious” our world is today?
We live in a “enlightened society” and notice how highly religious we are.

Interesting facts: probably already outdated!
In our country there are many different religions.
Buddhism – 1.5 million +
Mormons – 13 million (worldwide)
Hindu – 1 million +
Agnostics – 1.4 million +
Atheists – 1.3 million +
Baha’i – 120 thousand +
Taoist – 50 thousand +
Scientology – 100 thousand +
Eckankar – 30 thousand +
Pagans/Wicca/Druids – conservatively – 1 million +

So conservatively we have millions of “Religiously” lost souls in America.

Why would I say they are “religious” and lost?
Every religion that is not based on “God’s Word” alone is a distortion of the one true God’s revealed truth.
The truth is only found in the 66 books of the Old and New Testament which reveals God’s will and way to heaven that comes to us by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone.
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.

In truth all other religions according to Scripture are distortions of the reality of what Biblical Christianity teaches.
Scripture is clear that man can only come to God one way and through one truth that will grant us eternal life. We cannot come to God through any man-centered ideology, philosophy, religious experience or religious organization we can only come to God by faith in His revealed Word.

Mankind is religious by nature but we are regenerated by God’s revelation.

Let’s think about what religion is for a moment.
It is man’s attempt to reach God whereas regeneration occurs because God has reached down to man.
Mankind tries to find God by studying or sampling all the religions of the world.

This may prove insightful but it will not lead you to the true essence of “biblical” religion that is only found in God’s revelation – the Bible alone.

According to Scripture in order for religion to be true and accepted to God that religion must be based on what God has revealed about Himself in Holy Scriptures.
John 4:21-24 (ESV)
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The essential nature of religion is based on God’s self-disclosure.
“Religion is concerned with man’s relation to God, and man has no right or ability to accurately determine the nature of this relation. It is God’s prerogative to specify how man should be related to Him, and He does this in His divine word.”
Louis Berkhof

In the Old Testament “fear” of God moved the truly elect of Israel to view the Law as representation of God’s holiness.

This Law served to point out mankind’s failure to please God on their own merit.
That inability produced “fear” and fear drove them to depend on God’s mercy not their religious acts.
Genesis 15:1-6 (ESV)
1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”
5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Romans 4:2-3 (ESV)
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Romans 5:1-2 (ESV)
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The whole sacrificial (religious) system was intended to produce trust in God’s mercy not the sacrificial system.

The religious system instituted by God displayed or pictured what was to occur within the heart of all the truly elect of Israel.

It was through that system that they learned to fear God and that drove the elect to depend on God alone to provide their atonement for sin.
That fear was shaped by God’s revelation.
Hebrews 10:1-18 (ESV)
1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.
2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sin?
3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year.
4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ”
8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),
9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second.
10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

The essence of true religion in Old Testament is the “fear” of God that came through His revelation (His self-disclosure) through His word that came to man.
Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Job 28:28 (ESV)
28 And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’ ”
Psalms 19:7-9 (ESV)
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

Divine revelation effects the emotions, intellect and will of man and produces “awe-reverence” which is the essence of true religion.
Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The New Testament shines more light on holy “fear” by showing us that “Fear entails Faith”.
Galatians 2:16-21 (ESV)
16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!
18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ.
20 It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Romans 16:25-27 (ESV)
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—
27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Again we see that the essential nature of religion is based on God’s revelation not man‘s imagination.

In the New Testament we see that “true religion” is based on faith in Christ’s atoning work of redemption not Law.

So in the New Testament we see that the “fear” of God moves us to seek Him by “faith” knowing we cannot appease this holy God on our own merit.

Holy fear then leads to holy faith.
A holy fear also protects against carelessness or heresy in religion.
Matthew 10:28 (ESV)
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Hebrews 12:28-29 (ESV)
28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
29 for our God is a consuming fire.
Ephesians 5:15-21 (ESV)
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,
20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV)
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Holy fear moves us to sorrow over offending our holy God.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 (ESV)
9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.
10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

The essence of true religion can be defined as a “true fear of God based on His word as it reveals His holy nature through the Law and the Life of Christ.

That fear then moves the sinner to see his own nature in light of such holiness and drives the sinner to trust in God to justify him by faith alone in God’s mercy. Faith and fear are both revealed to the sinner through the self-disclosure of God through Holy Scripture. This revelation brings us into right relations with holy God through God the Son Jesus Christ atoning work on our behalf.

In the Old Testament this relationship was revealed to be necessary by God’s self-disclosure through the Law (his holiness). In the New Testament by Christ (the holiness of God incarnate) who displayed holiness by fulfilling the Law on our behalf.

This gracious act of God (His self-disclosure) produces in the man both “fear” that moves us to see ourselves in light of His holiness and “faith”.

Biblical based fear and faith drives man to trust in Jesus Christ’s holiness and Jesus’ righteous standing before God the Father not our own.
Romans 3:10-18 (ESV)
10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

True saving faith and fear moves us to complete dependence on God’s promise of eternal life. Dependence and trust in God produces obedience to His will out of love for His grace and this produces true religion and true worship based on God‘s revelation found only in Scripture.

1689 Baptist Confession of Faith
1. The light of nature shows that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in and served, with all the heart and all the soul and with all the might.
Jer. 10:7; Mk 12:33

But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.
Gen. 4:1-5; Ex 20:4-6; Mtt.15:3,8-9; 2 Kings 16:10-18; Lev.10:1-3; Deut. 17:3; 4:2; 12:29-32; Josh.1:7; 23:6-8; Mtt. 15:13; Col. 2:20-23; 2Tim. 3:15-17

2. Religious worship is to be given to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to him alone;
Mtt.4:9-10; John 5:23; 2 Cor. 13:14

not to angels, saints, or any other creatures;
Rom.1:25; Col. 2:10; Rev. 19:10

and since the Fall, not without a mediator, nor in the mediation of any other but Christ alone.
John 14:6; Eph. 2:18; Col. 3:17; 1Tim.2:5

Pastor Randy

26
Feb
09

Spurgeon’s Burden

I want to share some words with you from the “prince of preachers” Charles Haddon Spurgeon these words were taken from sermons preached during the years of 1855-1889.

Spurgeon’s words are compelling, convicting and Christ honoring. I pray they will stir our souls to worship the Lord Jesus more fervently and move us to obey His commands more excellently.

The burden of a preacher…
“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay…

Do we really believe that sinners will be damned forever? Do we think about their fate very often, if ever? Or do we busy ourselves in the work of the Lord, and never bother to implore them to come to the Savior? In general, the modern pulpit is deathly silent when it comes to the horrors of Hell. When do we hear preaching about the reality of the Lake of Fire or of the terrible wrath of God? Such themes aren’t popular with modern preachers. They never have been. They are not popular with me. Other topics are more attractive, but preachers must not ignore the fate of the lost, because if we do, we run the risk of it also being ignored in the pews…

If we don’t implore the world to turn from sin it’s because we don’t truly believe God’s Word. We cannot be so deathly cold, so evil-hearted as to not care. We haven’t let the reality of Hell sink into our minds and soften our hard hearts. The fact of its existence should horrify us beyond words, and then it should be reflected in our prayers and in our preaching.”

“The burden, which the preacher of God bears, is for God and on Christ’s behalf, and for the good of men. He has a natural instinct, which makes him care for the souls of others, and his anxiety is that none should perish, but that all should find salvation through Jesus Christ…”

“You cannot preach conviction of sin unless you have suffered it. You cannot preach repentance unless you have practiced it. You cannot preach faith unless you have exercised it. You may talk about these things, but there will be no power in the talk unless what is said has been experimentally proved in your own soul. It is easy to tell when a man speaks what he has made his own, or when he deals in secondhand experience…”

The proper use of the Bible…
“Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself!”

“The sermons that are most likely to convert people seem to me to be those that are full of truth, truth about the fall, truth about the Law, truth about human nature and its alienation from God, truth about Jesus Christ, truth about the Holy Spirit, truth about the Everlasting Father, truth about the new birth, truth about obedience to God and how we learn it, and all such great verities. Tell your hearers something, dear bretheren, whenever you preach, tell them something, tell them something!”

“Preach Christ or nothing; do not dispute or discuss except with your eye on the cross.”
“They will never accept grace till they tremble before a just and holy Law. Therefore, the Law serves a most necessary purpose, and it must not be removed from its place…
The Law is the surgeon’s knife that cuts out the proud flesh that the wound may heal. The Law by itself only sweeps and raises the dust, but the gospel sprinkles clean water upon the dust, and all is well in the chamber of the soul. The Law kills; the gospel makes alive. The Law strips, and then Jesus Christ comes in and robes the soul in beauty and glory. All the commandments and all the types direct us to Christ, if we will heed their evident intent.”

“I do not think I can preach more, for a faintness has come over me, nor is there need for more if you will but chew the cud of this one precious truth: Jesus is the Lamb which God provided, and He is the Lamb, which God Himself presented at the altar. Yet, I must rouse myself to say a little more. Who was it that sacrificed the Lamb of God? Who was the priest on that dread day? Who was it that bruised Him? Who put Him to grief? Who caused Him the direst pang of all when He cried, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Was it not the Father Himself? This was one point in the hardness of Abraham’s test – “Take now your son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him a sacrifice.” He must himself officiate at the sacrifice. This the great Father did! He is the Lamb, the Lamb of God. And now today the bright side of this truth remains. He is the Lamb that God always accepts, must accept, glories to accept. Bring but Jesus with you, and you have brought God an acceptable sacrifice.”

12
Feb
09

A Compelling Commission

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Ephesians 3:8-12 (ESV)
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.

Through the Church the manifold wisdom of God is made known, through the Church God has called us to reach  all the nations as well as the communities we live in. Through the church people are to be discipled, baptized, taught and edified through the explantion of God’s Word so that the eternal purpose of God would be accomplished. That purpose is to open blinded eyes to the glorious light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father.
God compels us to obey this commission.

This subject has been heavy on my heart for sometime now.
As hard as I try I cannot escape the burden I see all around, it seems God has captured my heart and my mind regarding this need.

It breaks my heart to think about the how great the need is for “gospel-driven” churches that preach the Word in season and out through exposition and living, loving application.

This heartache can be a motive for heart-action, we must all commit to pray, plan and persevere in seeing the great commission accomplished through the planting of Christ-Focused churches. I see the need all around and yet as I look around I see that we need to be compelled to obey this command. Pray this my heartache will produce heart-action.

God has given us a compelling commission.
In the excerpt from the article below Mr. Newton helped me see this need with new eyes.

Phil Newton – Founders Journal
In a given community where there are plenty of church buildings with dying congregations limping through the motions of Christian worship but no viable gospel ministry, no passion for the lost, no missionary spirit, and no one willing to engage the culture with the gospel, then it’s time to plant a church! The goal, however, is not to trample on the existing churches. Perhaps in God’s mercy, existing but lethargic churches will be reinvigorated by a new church planted in their area. The new church will focus on reaching the unchurched that the existing churches are not reaching; and the new church will become a refuge for gospel-starved believers that struggle through their membership in gospel-weak churches.

Accompanying biblical, theological and geographical reasons for new churches is the desire to see Christ magnified and honored through churches that are unashamedly gospel-driven. Not given to the latest fads or gimmicks to attract uninterested people, gospel-focused new churches seek to display in their relationships, worship, preaching and ministry the centrality of Christ’s glory in the church. Unfortunately, many existing churches are depressingly void of Christ’s glory. They have organization, programs, liturgy and money but the savor of Christ and His gospel is noticeably absent. They may draw numbers and claim converts but lack the distinctively biblical marks of a church. In such a setting, it’s time to plant a new church for the sake of Christ’s glory in a community.

The New Testament offers many images to describe the church: the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16), the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), God’s household (Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 3:15), dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22), the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15) and the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 19:7-9). That last picture of the church as the bride of Christ reminds us of the constant goal that must motivate our church organization and ministry. Rather than being shaped by the marketing techniques of the world, the church must prepare for the eternal marriage with Christ. He gave Himself for the church to sanctify and cleanse her “by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27). Yet many churches lack the evidence of Christ’s sanctifying work. Could it be that many are nothing more than religious organizations with Christian titles? New churches must be planted that live with the passion to do all that they do to the glory of Christ…
(full article is found on http://www.founder.org)

I am learning that God’s commission is irresistibly compelling to those called to this work. Those who are compelled must pray that God would establish new churches that preach the Word and carry out the great commission. We must pray that God would use whatever means it takes to see that happen even if it means using “clay pots” like ourselves so that His name would be great among the nations.
2 Corinthians 4:5-7 (NASB)
5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;

Pastor Randy