Archive for the 'John Piper' Category

10
Feb
09

Raising Children with Hope in God!

Helpful words about ministering to children from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The church and the home provide an environment where God often does His saving work in the heart. Our obedience to God and our faithfulness as parents does not ultimately save our children from wrath, but it is very often the means by which God saves our children.

Similarly, our disobedience and unfaithfulness as parents does not necessarily condemn our children, but is often the means by which our children are led to destruction. God has ordained that parents bear the responsibility of acquainting their children with the Word of God and the life of faith.

Our success in this endeavor matters more to Him than it does to us, and He has made all the resources of heaven available to us. Therefore, we as parents and as a congregation must be faithful to teach our children to fear the Lord and to keep all His statutes and commandments and to love the Lord with all [our] heart . Statutes and commandments can easily be taught so that a child can remember them and repeat them back. We can also train our children to conduct themselves in certain ways and to maintain behavior which portrays godliness.

However, teaching them to fear and to love God in the fullest sense of those words is our greatest challenge. We want our children to not only know the truth but to embrace it with all their hearts lest it be said of them:

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God, or give thanks to Him. (Romans 1:21) or
They profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. (Titus 1:16)

Our children can know all about God. They can know endless Bible stories, and even have vast portions of Scripture memorized and yet not honor God or have fellowship with Him. They can live their lives knowing who God is and yet never meet Him until they meet him at the judgment seat and hear Him say, “Depart from Me. I never knew you.”

When we teach children we must aim for their hearts as well as their heads. We feel that more effort needs to be made to raise the expectations of parents and teachers of what God might do in the heart of a child in response to hearing the truth.

The prerequisite for nurturing faith in children is that parents and teachers must love God and love His word. It is almost impossible to teach something you have not experienced.

Children will not be excited about God unless those that are teaching them are excited about God. God will not be real to them if He is not real to us. If God is not real to the parent or teacher, if His word is not treasured and respected, then transferring a love for God and His Word is almost impossible.

Therefore, parents and teachers must be diligent in keeping their own hearts alive for the sake of their children.

A healthy love and fear of God is more easily cultivated in children that have a healthy love and fear of their parents. It is very difficult for children to learn to honor God if they defy their parents and resist their authority. It is very difficult to nurture a reverence for God and humility before Him when children are permitted to treat parents and adults in general with disrespect.

As a church we must be very earnest in our efforts to help our people be courageous parents. The permissiveness that is encouraged and taught in our culture, and which is rampant in the American church and evident in our own congregation, not only makes life miserable for those who have to be with our children but can lead our children to destruction.

Discipline your son while there is hope; do not set your heart on his destruction. Proverbs 19:18

We can model, teach and discipline in a way which encourages the heart to respond but only the Holy Spirit can effectually change the heart of the child. Therefore, priority must be given to intercession in any ministry to children and their parents.

Bethlehem Baptist Church

30
Jan
09

Take up and Read

venerabledead2“The man who never reads will never be read;
he who never quotes will never be quoted.
He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains,
proves that he has no brains of his own.”
— C. H. SPURGEON
I received this quote from a friend a couple of days ago and thought it was worth passing on. I hope it challenges us all to “take up and read” a biblically grounded Christ-focused book.

Read men who walked the bible out daily in trials and in joy (the puritans are of highest value here). Read the men who actually believed that God ordained the preaching of His Word to transform the lives of His people and give life to dead sinners.

You might be asking why do you think another sermon or book on sermons will actually change the lives of those that hear and read them?

Because God says in 2 Timothy 3:16-4:3
“All scripture is inspired by God and PROFITABLE for TEACHING, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, for TRAINING in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. I solemnly 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: PREACH the WORD; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction.”

Why Preach the Word?
Paul tells us why in 2 Timothy 4:3 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine (teaching); but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires”

The Word is to be proclaimed historically, contextually, grammatically and passionately. This is God’s ordained means of grace to sinners and saints. This is God’s blessed and God’s empowered means to convert, transform, sanctify and bring joy to the human soul. This happens when there is a clear Exposition, Explanation, Exhortation and Admonition of the Word. This is powerful because the contextual exposition of the Word is God’s self-disclosure and our only source to bring the light of Christ to bear on our soul. So, when we read a book or listen to a preacher this should be our guide and criteria. Is the author or speaker following these rules? If we are going to spend our time and money wisely we should at least carefully examine those investments.

So now let me challenge you to pick up some dusty old books that derive power from the clear exposition of the Scriptures. Read them with new eyes that are transformed by old truths.
Jeremiah 6:16 “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.”
God has called us to stay in tune with Him by staying on the old path.
Staying on the old path doesn’t mean we don’t recognize cultural changes and challenges. It does however mean that we are not to be changed by our culture, we are to confront it and challenge the culture to be transformed by truth. We are new creations in Christ Jesus and we belong to a new culture that is based on Christ not the contemporary. We need to engage the contemporary not run from it but to do so we must be prepared to accurately proclaim the only thing that can transform culture namely God’s Word. Bible-saturated Christians are the only one’s equipped to do this with power and love. Only Christ’s people have the words of eternal life and hope. God’s truth has not changed though culture always will. The Scriptures alone is eternally relevant because it reveals the objective truth of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done The Bible alone has the power to cut through culture and pierce the heart of sinful man and bring joy to the redeemed soul.
Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV)
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

The early church didn’t seek to be relevant they were relevant because the message they proclaimed was divine. The message of the Scripture hasn’t changed nor will it ever change and when we try to change it or make it more relevant through our cleverness we only dilute or distort the truth. We are equipped with the same source of relevance as the early church – The Word of God it never changes it remains the same forever yet it always changes those who hear it.
Isaiah 40:8 (ESV)
8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

New movements come and go but the truth of God’s word is always fresh, relevant and powerful enough to reach anyone, anywhere at anytime. So, why not take up and read books that proclaim the truths that are ageless and Christ-centered rather than time sensitive, man-centered and irrelevant.

28
Jan
09

HOW TO FEED YOURSELF

HOW TO FEED YOURSELF

Developing a healthy intake of scripture.

2 Timothy 3:15

Clean me, Feed me, Wipe my nose… we need to learn how to do all these things if we are ever going to grow up.

This lesson is designed to teach you how to clean yourself, feed yourself and well I’ll leave nose wiping up to your mom!

My goal is to drive you to the table of God’s Word daily without having to hold your hand to get you there every time.

Ephesians 4:11-16

Growing up is not always easy it requires labor, time and diligence (dedication) but the benefits are definitely worth the pains, matter of fact the pains are what actually stimulate growth (to build muscle you have to stretch it).

Before we can look at “How to Feed Yourself” I want you to understand “Why” we are commanded to do so in scripture.

2 Timothy 3:15

“Why” do we need to grow up in the Word?

Galatians 6:1-6; Philippians 3:14-17; Romans 15:1-6; Ephesians 4:14-16

We get a glimpse of “Why” in Ephesians 4:14

Maturity will protect you from being “tossed like a child here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine”

Ephesians 4 goes on to say in verse 16 that when we as individuals grow up then the whole body of Christ (the church) will grow in love for each other and for Christ who is our head.

These passages give us reasons why we must grow up and learn to feed ourselves. Growing up is not so much for our own good but for the good of others we grow up for the good of the body of Christ and the glory of God.

We must “grow up” – WHY?

We are called to grow together in unity and strength because the body of Christ (the church) is called to do battle.

Matthew 16:15-18

In order for the church to face the battle against the gates of Hades we need to have a healthy strong body and that begins with you as individuals.

You can’t keep living through your teachers vicariously you have to learn to feed on the Word yourself so that you will pull your weight in the battle.

We are called to be healthy soldiers.

2 Timothy

In 2 Timothy we are given our marching orders and only healthy soldiers will survive this battle against the “waves of false teaching” that beat against the church.

Paul commands Timothy (and you and I) to…

1. Be on Guard – 2 Timothy 1:14

(You can’t be alert or strong unless you are healthy.)

2. Be Strong – 2 Timothy 2:1

(Entrusting your life to God’s favor -only happens when you know your God which only happens when you know scripture.)

3. Be Careful – 2 Timothy 2:2

(Discern who you entrust this message.)

4. Be Devoted – 2 Timothy 2:3-4

(To the pursuit of bringing God glory no matter the cost.)

5. Be Accurate -2 Timothy 2:15

(A man armed with the Word and accuracy is unstoppable.)

6. Be Convinced -2 Timothy 3:14-17

(Know what you believe by careful study of the whole counsel of God – Study the Old and the New Testaments because scripture is the best interpreter of scripture. Once you have dug out the treasures found for yourself within these pages then it is yours forever.)

Within the six commands above we see “Why” we must develop a healthy daily intake of scripture.

The Bible is a treasure worth living and dying for. Buried within this living book is the pearl of great price as we dig we unearth the truth about Jesus our Savior. In the Bible alone we see God’s sovereign grace extended to sinners through out all the centuries of mankind and here alone we see the culmination of God’s sovereign plan in Jesus’ work of redemption.

How do we grow strong in the Word?

Strength and endurance is only achieved and maintained with daily exercise.

Exercise #1

Read the Bible – Develop a daily bible reading plan.

First choose a New Testament book then read through it in an orderly manner.

Example: Begin Ephesians start at chapter 1:1 then continue reading it in order until you have completed the entire book chapter 6:24.Read this book in it’s entirety for a month.

Try one chapter a day (repeatedly) or read the entire book each day either way but continue it for an entire month. At the end of the month you will be amazed at what you have learned along the way.

Secondly you should also be feeding on the Old Testament.

Choose an Old Testament book and begin reading it in a devotional manner maybe every evening before bed (don’t try the repetition process here or you will live and die in Leviticus) just read through the books to get the flow of the Old Testament.

How should we prepare our hearts for daily bible reading?

We must always Prepare our hearts to receive God’s Word so we must…

1. Begin with Prayer – Psalm 119:18

What should the prayer focus on? Colossians 1:9-10

This prayer should focus on our inability to understand the Word apart from the Holy Spirit’s illuminating work and our prayer should also entail confession of sin.

This daily exercise will not only equip your mind it helps keep your soul in check as well.

Helpful daily reading hint:

Pick a time each day when you are alert. Don’t rush through your reading allow time to meditate on the Word as you read.

Exercise #2

Study the Bible (not the same exercise as reading)

Study is more than reading.

Begin by dedicating a specific time each day or week. Psalm 1:1-3a

(Those who study will not be tossed to and fro by winds of doctrine he will be planted firmly.)

Bible Study involves careful analysis.

The process of studying entails:

1. Systematic/Contextual study.

(Reading it verse by verse. Read systematically going through a book one verse at a time.)

2. Asking questions as you read, keeping a notepad handy to write them on.

This requires hermeneutical skills of interpretation.

Ask: Who? What? Where? When?

a. Who wrote the book and who is he addressing?

b. What do doctrinal words mean? (propitiation, justification, foreknew) Keep a bible dictionary handy and look these up and write them down.

c. What is the context of the chapter and book?

d. When was the book written? (before Paul was arrested or after)

e. Where does this book take me in relation to the whole counsel of God?

Look for:

a. Repeated words or phrases (Ephesians 1:4-12 – HE)

b. Commands (Imperatives and Indicatives statements)

Example of a Imperative – 2 Timothy 4:1-2 straight forward commands.

Example of a Indicative – Romans 15:1 (ought) indicates a necessity.

Helpful study hint:

If your not sure where to begin then begin by taking notes on Sunday’s sermons then use that text as your starting point.

Exercise #3

Live the Bible

Begin to apply what you have studied that is when real growth occurs.

After you have dwelt long and hard in your study find ways of taking it to the street.

The apostles James and Paul remind us that if we don’t live it we don’t really believe it.

2 Timothy 1:7-12

James 1:21-27

We are all commanded to grow up and mature as Christians.

Our calling demands that we dig deep into the treasure house of God’s Word. We are commanded to mine the wealth out of it out so that we can pour it out on all those we come in contact with.

That is our calling and that should be your burning desire if you want to truly be a soldier of the Cross ready, willing and able to serve our great God and King.

Training Equipment

To maintain your strength you need good equipment to workout with here is a listing of some good resources to build you up in your faith.

Remember these are eternal investments that will bring eternal riches to those who use them well.

1. Bibles (good translations not paraphrases NO “Message” junk)

NASB, ESV, NKJV, KJV, Young’s Literal and some NIV 1973, 1978, 1984.

Study Bibles

MacArthur Study Bible, Reformation Study Bible, ESV Study Bible.

2. Bible Dictionary

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

The New Bible Dictionary (Douglas, Ed w/FF Bruce, Tasker, Packer, and Wiseman)

3. Bible Concordance

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible (R. Young)

4. Bible Commentaries

Expositor’s Commentary set

Matthew Henry

John Calvin

John MacArthur

Matthew Poole

John Gill

5. Scripture Cross Reference Material

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

“A preacher armed with this book and his Bible will never run out of material nor resources” Dr. John MacArthur.

6. Bible Study Software

Online Bible – inexpensive and loaded.

WordSearch 8 – great updates and tons of books!

Esword

Pastor Randy Tyler