Archive for the 'Puritans' Category

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

09
Feb
09

Sola Fida Conference

I was recently blessed by being able to attend the Sola Fida Conference at Countryside Bible Church in Southlake, TX. They have been holding a series of Conferences over the last few years dealing with the importance and implications of the five Sola statements that came forth out of the Reformation.
These doctrinal statements practically applied set the church free from Roman Catholic bondage and superstition. The statements set forth that man is saved according to Sola Scriptura (scripture alone), by Sola Gratia (grace alone), through Sola Fida (faith alone), in Sola Christus (Christ alone), to Soli Deo Gloria (to God be the glory alone). The conferences have been highlighting the essential nature and effectual nature of these doctrines rightly understood and applied to the Christian life.

Dr. Steve Lawson and Dr. James White spoke about how Justification and Regeneration come to us by faith alone.
“Regeneration is done in us, God is the surgeon who operates in us and gives us a new heart and Justification is done to us, God the holy judge who makes a declaration that we are now forgiven”. We are justified (declared right) based on the sinless life and substitutionary death of Jesus Christ alone. Nothing in our hands we bring but solely to the Cross we cling.

Dr. Steve Lawson spoke on the practical application of Sola Fida in the Christian’s life. Faith alone in Christ alone saves but when saving faith is granted by God it is never alone. Saving faith always produces good works because it is effectual faith and granted for that purpose. Ephesians 2:8-10

“Faith alone bring you a new standing and a new standing always leads to a new walk.”

Dr. Lawson spoke about how the effectual work of saving faith in the life of Jonathan Edwards drove him to live hard for the glory of God.
Edwards became one of the most influential Christian leaders in America and throughout the world.
“Jonathan Edwards was the greatest preacher, theologian, philosopher, and author that America has ever produced.”

Dr. Lawson went on to say that Edwards was considered to be great due to God’s grace not his own human intellect nor was it his giftedness as a preacher though that giftedness and intellect was great what truly made Jonathan Edwards stand out was his godliness. This godliness was wrought in him by the Spirit of God and it was his desire to walk out that godliness with “resolve”.

Edwards “Resolved” to pursue God’s glory in his life…that is what made him great!
“He had a godliness that surpassed his giftedness. Better to be godly than gifted.”

Edwards did not want to loose one minute of time to sin or selfishness he “resolved” to seek God’s glory in his life by living in a godly manner in speech, conduct and in his use of time itself.

Edwards Resolved to…
“Never to loose one moment of time but improve it the most profitable way I can.”

Edwards Resolved to…
“Never to do anything that I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.”

Dr. Lawson pointed out that Jonathan Edwards’ great ministry was due to the overflow and response of God’s gift of saving faith. Saving faith changes our heart and out of that changed heart our mouth speaks, our life is lived and as a result we become living epistles of Christ as we walk in sanctification we become a walking exposition of Christ Jesus.

The life that is “resolved” to love God with all our strength will also be “resolved” to live for God with all our strength through our speech and conduct and that is now possible and effectual thanks to saving faith. The man who despises or discourages godliness is a man who despises God and grieves the Holy Spirit.

We are called to pursue righteousness even after we have been declared righteous through Justification and the true believer takes great joy in his pursuit of godliness. This pursuit will stir in you a new “resolve” to live for God’s glory in every area of your life. This pursuit will curb your sinful appetites, it will make you hunger for righteous behavior, it will turn complainers into encouragers it will do all this because “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” God’s good pleasure is for you to magnify His grace and glory in your life and through saving faith He accomplishes His good pleasure in you and me!

2 Peter 1:2-8 (ESV)
2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As I listened to Dr. Lawson speak about Jonathan Edwards I was reminded that great leaders like Edwards are remembered for their influence not their power. Edwards was not a pushy leader (“pushy leader” is an oxymoron – Christian leaders don’t push people, they lead in love and others follow out of admiration and love) Edwards was a slave of Christ and a lover of God’s glory. Leadership was not Edwards’ goal, Christ-likeness was his goal and desire. Consequently as we “resolve” to grow in Christ-likeness the more likely people will follow us as we follow Christ. 1Timothy 4:12-16

Faith alone saved Jonathan Edwards and that faith was not alone it continued to work in his life and that growth in tenderness and carefulness of speech produced fruit in his ministry. He tenderly pastored his flock, gently led them to green pastures of truth and guided them with his staff a little here and a little there through the valleys of life. He did all this not be being severe but being “resolved” to follow Christ and explain Christ Word and exegete Christ in his life. This was evident even when his flock turned against him. In Edwards’ farewell sermon to this erring flock he did not rail against them but chose rather to speak about the beautiful day when they would all be reunited in glory. He spoke of how these differences would be eternally washed away as they sang together around the throne of God with one voice. Even in his most hurtful moments Edwards was “resolved” to preach for the glory of God and the good of his flock.

Pastor Randy

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