Archive for the 'Theology' Category

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

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06
Mar
09

Declare His Glory!

Psalms 96:1-13 (ESV)
1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

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

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

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

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

04
Feb
09

Glory in our Redeemer

I was recently talking with someone who made a trip down from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and was reminded of how the mountains throughout that state declare God’s glory and righteousness. My family loves to go to Colorado and marvel at the wonderful mountains we always look forward to our first glance and then can’t wait to climb to the peak and survey the wondrous landscape God created.

Every trip we make up to Colorado reminds me of how awesome our God is when I see the heights of those mountains and remember how and why they were created.
I am reminded that those mountains were pushed up from beneath the earth by the judgment and wrath of God against sinners during Noah’s flood and then my mind rushes to another mountain that displayed God’s mercy and grace.

I am reminded of how on another mountain God reversed the curse of sin by pouring out His holy wrath on the sinless One in our place. On that mountain called Calvary where my Savior bled and died God’s wrath was fully satisfied in the death of His Son and many sinners were rescued from the flood of God’s wrath. I am also reminded as I write this of how Jesus was buried in the earth yet He burst forth higher than the mountain peaks and ascended to His rightful place at the right hand of God to rule and reign over all creation!

One day that same Jesus the risen Lord of creation will come back and purge this world once again with fire against all who do not trust in Him. On that day He will reveal His full glory and righteousness for all the world to see and then every man and all creation will bow and cry out that “Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of God the Father!” Some people will say this because they have trusted in Jesus as Lord and they will enter into eternal peace with God and live in the light of the Lord Jesus forever. Yet others will have their knees bent though because they will not willingly acknowledge Jesus as Lord today and they will enter into God’s eternal wrath and that will be the darkest day in all human history for them. At the darkest moment in man’s future history Jesus will pierce the darkness as lighting splits the sky and declare His glory! When Christ returns from above some will marvel at His Light and others will tremble but all the earth will see the glory and righteousness of our God and Savior.

“The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory.”

Ps. 97:1 The LORD reigns; Let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad!
2 Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
3 A fire goes before Him, And burns up His enemies round about.
4 His lightnings light the world; The earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
6 The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory.

Glory in our Redeemer, who came and is coming again!

Pastor Randy