Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

This is what I will be sharing with my church family tonight:

New Year's Eve

2008-2009


1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. - Colossians 3:1-10 (ESV)


  1. A Time to Review our Priorities

    1. Raised with Christ?

    2. Minds set above, or on earth?

  2. A Time to Review our Position

    1. Dead

    2. Hidden with Christ in God

    3. Appearance in glory

  3. A Time to Review our Practice

    1. Put to Death:

      1. sexual immorality

      2. impurity

      3. passion

      4. evil desire

      5. covetousness

      6. idolatry

    2. Put Away:

      1. anger

      2. wrath

      3. malice

      4. slander

      5. obscene talk

    3. Recognize that we once walked and lived in these, even in this past year.

  4. A Time to be Renewed

    1. Put off the old self, put on the new

    2. Be renewed in knowledge coming from the Creator


      O Lord,

      Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed in thy presence, in thy service, to thy glory. Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour, that I may not be one moment apart from thee, but may rely on thy Spirit to supply every thought, speak in every word, direct every step, prosper every work, build up every mote of faith, and give me a desire to show forth thy praise; testify thy love, advance thy kingdom. I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with thee, O Father, as my harbour, thee, O Son, at my helm, thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails. Guide me to heaven with my loins girt, my lamp burning, my ear open to thy calls, my heart full of love, my soul free. Give me thy grace to sanctify me, thy comforts to cheer, thy wisdom to teach, thy right hand to guide, thy counsel to instruct, thy law to judge, thy presence to stabilize. May thy fear be my awe, thy triumphs my joy. (“New Year”, Valley of Vision, pg. 206-207)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Puritan Reading Challenge - Completed





This evening I completed the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge made by Timmy Brister. In the process I have enjoyed a wealth of devotional reading, been challenged by a 17th century worldview, and been exposed to a vision of the Holiness of God and His Providence that is sadly lacking in much contemporary writing and preaching.

Thanks Timmy for a great challenge!

Next year I will engage in my personal John Calvin Reading Plan.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sure Guide to Heaven - Obedience and Inability

Your law will I lay before me; this shall be the copy which I will keep in my eye, and study to write after. According to this rule do I resolve by Your grace to walk: after this law shall my whole man be governed. And though I cannot perfectly keep one of Your commandments—yet I will allow myself in the breach of none. I know my flesh will hang back: but I resolve, in the power of Your grace, to cleave to You and Your holy ways, whatever it cost me. (Joseph Alleine, A Sure Guide to Heaven, pg. 129)

Our inability to perform the Law in no way removes the requirement to obey.

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent - Acts 17:30, ESV

...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. - Romans 5:8-11, ESV

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
(Isaac Watts)

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

Even in my inability, His great love "demands my soul, my life, my all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Only in Texas - A Football Story

If this doesn't put a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye, then you are probably already too far gone for a doctor, and your family needs to call the undertaker.

The oddest game in High School football history.

Anyway, with the economy six feet under and Christmas running on about three and a half reindeer, it's nice to know that one of the best presents you can give is still absolutely free.

Hope.



HT: Zach Nielson

Sure Guide to Heaven - Will you have this God?

To be short, He tells you, 'I am the true and faithful God. If you will have Me for your God you must be content to trust Me. Will you venture yourselves upon My Word, and depend on My faithfulness, and take My bond for your security? Will you be content to follow Me in poverty, and reproach, and affliction here; and to tarry until the next world for your preferment? Will you be content to labor and suffer, and to tarry for your returns until the resurrection of the just? My promise will not always be instantly fulfilled; will you have the patience to wait?'

Now, beloved, what do you say to this? Will you have this God for your God? Will you be content to live by faith, and trust Him for an unseen happiness, an unseen heaven, an unseen glory? Do your hearts answer, 'Lord, we will venture ourselves upon You. We commit ourselves to You, we cast ourselves upon You. We know whom we have trusted. We are willing to take Your word; we prefer Your promises before our own possessions, and the hopes of heaven before all the enjoyments of earth. We will do Your pleasure—what You will here, so that we may have but Your faithful promise for heaven hereafter.' If you can in trust, and upon deliberation, thus accept of God, He will be yours. (Joseph Alleine, A Sure Guide to Heaven, pg. 112)

Sure Guide to Heaven - Dying Well

Oh, better were it for you to die in a jail, in a ditch, in a dungeon, than to die in your sins. (pg. 92)

As John Piper reminds us, don't waste your life. What does it matter where we die, just so long as we don't die in our sins, and don't die at the end of a wasted life? It appears that we often fear death, when we should instead fear living outside of God's will. In His will we will not die one second too soon nor live one minute too long.

It might be that we will be called to suffer for Christ, but what a privilege we will miss if we seek at all cost to avoid it.

Keeping Christ in Christmas?

Is this really the best way to recognize Christ at Christmas?

Church Members Dress Like Jesus

Wouldn't it be better to act Christ-like instead of trying to look like Him?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Technology and Death

Ben Witherington describes a modern trend, and ties in some ancient history.

I now have another reason to insist on having the casket closed while preaching a funeral sermon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

22 Word Children's Story Challenge

Abraham Piper has posted a challenge to bloggers to create a 22 word children's story. Mine follows below:

The Christmas basket that Timmy's family received was a sign of the love that the church had for Timmy and his Mommy.

Update:

I think that I misunderstood the challenge. Instead of being a story for children, it might be a story about children. As a result:


Toby hit his twin brother Trevor, claiming: "I am just doing what Jesus said, 'do unto others before they do unto you'".

Additional Update:

Abraham has clarified that it can go either way. As a result, I now have both bases covered. However, with 44 words worth of stories I will probably be disqualified.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sure Guide to Heaven - A Prayer for the Lost

'O Lord God, help. Alas, shall I leave them thus? If they will not hear me—yet may You hear me. O that they might live in Your sight! Lord, save them—or they perish. My heart would melt to see their houses on fire when they were fast asleep in their beds; and shall not my soul be moved within me to see them falling into endless perdition? Lord, have compassion, and save them out of the burning. Put forth Your divine power—and the work will be done!' (pg. 67, A Sure Guide to Heaven, by Joseph Alleine)

Sure Guide to Heaven - Arise then!

Arise then! What do you mean, O sleeper? Awake, O secure sinner, lest you be consumed in your iniquities! Say, as the lepers, 'If we sit here, we shall die!' (2 Kings 7:3-4). Truly, it is not more certain that you are now out of hell, than that you shall speedily be in it—unless you repent and be converted. There is but this one door for you to escape by. Arise then, O sluggard, and shake off your excuses; how long will you slumber and fold your hands to sleep? Will you lie down in the midst of the sea, or sleep on the top of a mast? (Prov 23:34). There is no remedy—but you must either turn or burn! There is an unchangeable necessity of the change of your condition, unless you have resolved to abide the worst of it, and fight it out with the Almighty. If you love your life, O man, arise and come away. I think I see the Lord Jesus laying the merciful hands of a holy violence upon you; I think He acts like the angels to Lot: "Hurry," they said to Lot. "Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out of here right now, or you will be caught in the destruction of the city." When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful. "Run for your lives!" the angels warned. "Do not stop anywhere in the valley. And don't look back! Escape to the mountains, or you will die." Genesis 19:15-17 (Gen 19:15-17). (pg. 65-66, A Sure Guide to Heaven, by Joseph Alleine)

Sure Guide to Heaven - No Purpose

You are to no purpose. Unconverted man is like a choice instrument, which has every string broken or out of tune. The Spirit of the living God must repair and tune it by the grace of regeneration, and sweetly move it by the power of actuating grace, or else your prayers will be but howlings, and all your service will make no music in the ears of the Most Holy. All your powers and faculties are so corrupt in your natural state that, except you be purged from dead works, you cannot serve the living God. (pg. 52, A Sure Guide to Heaven, Joseph Alleine)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Not Guilty Anymore



So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. - Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. - Romans 8:1 (ESV)

HT: Ray Ortlund

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sure Guide to Heaven - Soundly Converted and Hating Sin

In this age of "easy believism" and "decisional regeneration" it is important that we consider what true, Biblical, Holy Spirit led, new birth, conversion really looks like.

One of the marks of true conversion, as demonstrated by Joseph Alleine in A Sure Guide to Heaven, is an aversion to and repulsion of sin:

The sound convert is heartily engaged against sin. He struggles with it, he wars against it; he is too often foiled—but he will never yield the cause, nor lay down the weapons, while he has breath in his body. He will make no peace; he will give no quarter. He can forgive his other enemies, he can pity them and pray for them; but here he is implacable, here he is set upon their extermination. He hunts as it were for the precious life; his eye shall not pity, his hand shall not spare, though it be a right hand or a right eye. Be it a gainful sin, most delightful to his nature or the support of his esteem with worldly friends—yet he will rather throw his gain down into the gutter, see his credit fail, or the flower of his pleasure wither in his hand—than he will allow himself in any known way of sin. He will grant no indulgence, he will give no toleration. He draws upon sin wherever he meets it, and frowns upon it with this unwelcome salute, 'Have I found you, O my enemy!' ( pg. 38-39)

Do we fight sin even when our worldly interest would be threatened by the fight?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Eschatology*

Here are a couple of items of interest.

First, a chart showing the various millennial views.

Second, a chart describing amillennialism.

(both of these links will result in .pdf downloads.)

*Eschatology - The study of the end times.

Sure Guide to Heaven - Introduction

It is difficult to believe that we have almost come to the end of the Puritan Reading Challenge originally suggested by Timmy Brister. December's book is A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine. Originally published in 1671 as An Alarme to Unconverted sinners...Whereunto are Annexed Divers Practical Cases of Conscience Judiciously Resolved, this work has undergone numerous printings over the ensuing centuries, most recently as the Banner of Truth Puritan Paperback being read this month with the shorter title.

Timmy Brister has already posted the biographical material for Joseph Alleine found in Beeke's Meet the Puritans, so I won't repeat it here. Suffice it to say that Alleine suffered many of the same difficulties encountered by faithful ministers following the 1662 Act of Uniformity.

Unlike some of the earlier Puritan books read this year, this work is a page turner, and I am already way ahead of my reading plan for this month. To demonstrate the beauty of this work I note a couple of excerpts from my reading so far:

And had you not better, O sinner, let the Word convince you now in time, and let go your false and self-deluding hopes, than have death open your eyes too late, and find yourself in hell before you are aware?

I would be a false and faithless shepherd if I would not tell you, that you who have built your hopes upon no better grounds than these before mentioned, are yet in your sins! Let conscience speak. What have you to plead for yourselves? Is it that you wear Christ's livery; that you bear His name; that you are a member of the visible church; that you have knowledge in the points of religion, are civilized, perform religious duties, are just in your dealings, have been troubled in conscience for your sins? I tell you from the Lord, these pleas will never be accepted at God's bar. All this, though good in itself, will not prove you converted, and so will not suffice to your salvation. O look to it, and resolve to turn speedily and entirely. Study your own hearts; do not rest until God has made thorough work with you; for you must be converted men, or else you are lost men. (pg 23-24)

O repent and be converted, break off your sins by righteousness. Away to Christ for pardoning and renewing grace. Give up yourselves to Him, to walk with Him in holiness, or you shall never see God. O that you would heed the warnings of God! In His name I once more admonish you. Turn you at my reproof. Forsake the foolish, and live. Be sober, righteous, and godly. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you double-minded. Cease to do evil, learn to do well (Prov 1:23 and Prov 9:6; Titus 2:12; James 4:8; Isa 1:16-17). But if you will go on, you must die. (pg. 24-25)

You begin at the wrong end if you first dispute about your election. Prove your conversion, and then never doubt your election. If you cannot yet prove it, set upon a present and thorough turning. Whatever God's purposes be, which are secret, I am sure His promises are plain. How desperately do rebels argue! 'If I am elected I shall be saved, do what I will. If not, I shall be damned, do what I can.' Perverse sinner, will you begin where you should end? Is not the word before you? What says it? 'Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.' 'If you mortify the deeds of the body you shall live.' 'Believe and be saved' (Acts 3:19; Rom 8:13; Acts 16:31). What can be plainer? Do not stand still disputing about your election—but set to repenting and believing. Cry to God for converting grace. Revealed things belong to you; in these busy yourself. It is just, as one well said, that they who will not feed on the plain food of the Word should be choked with the bones. Whatever God's purposes may be, I am sure His promises are true. Whatever the decrees of heaven may be, I am sure that if I repent and believe, I shall be saved; and that if I do not repent, I shall be damned. Is not this plain ground for you; and will you yet run upon the rocks? (pg. 30)

The Gospel

In addition to my Puritan reading, I have been busy reading other important books all year long. If you look at the side bar list of "Recent Reading" you will note that my reading this year has been far from eclectic, with most of it being Christian works, both old and new.

One book that I am reading right now is a small treatise entitled "What is a Healthy Church Member?" by Thabiti M. Anyabwile (go ahead, and say his name 5 times quickly!). Brother Thabiti is the pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman, having presently served with Mark Dever. His blog is a must read, and is found at Pure Church.

As I was reading this morning I came across a couple of gems that should be read by all Christians. In a chapter entitled "A Healthy Church Member is Gospel Saturated", Bro. Thabiti begins:

The greatest need in the world today is the gospel. It is the greatest need of the world because men, women, and children are perishing without a vital knowledge of God through the good news of our Savior and his Son, Jesus.

The greatest need in the church today is the gospel. the gospel is not olnly news for a perishing world, it is the message that forms, sustains, and animates the church. Apart from the gospel, the church has nothing to say - that is, nothing to say that cannot be said by some other human agency. The gospel distinguishes the church from the world, defines her message and mission in the world, and steels her people against the fiery darts of the evil one and the false allurements of sin. The gospel is absolutely vital to a vibrant, joyous, persevering, hopeful, and healthy Christian and Christian church. So essential is the gospel to the Christian life that we need to be saturated in it in order to be healthy church members. (pg. 39)

Wow, just wow!

And then, if there are any questions as to what the Gospel is, he gives this definition:

The gospel or good news of Jesus Christ is that God the Father, who is holy and righteous in all his ways, is angry with sinners and will punish sin. Man, who disobeys the rule of God, is alienated from the love of God and is in danger of an eternal and agonizing condemnation at the hands of God. But God, who is also rich in mercy, because of his great love, sent his eternal Son born of the Virgin Mary, to die as a ransom and a substitute for the sins of rebellious people. And now, through the perfect obedience of the Son of God, and his willing death on the cross as payment for our sins, all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ, following him as Savior and Lord, will be saved from the wrath of God to come, be declared just in his sight, have eternal life, and receive the Spirit of God as a foretaste of the glories of heaven with God himself. (pg 40-41)

By way of comparison, take note of what I posted earlier where Baxter gives his Summary of Christian Religion. While Baxter goes into more detail related to redemptive history, we see that Bro. Thabiti has given us all of the essentials of the Gospel message.

May we continue to preach this glorious Gospel to ourselves and to lost sinners as we marvel at God's grace.

The Reformed Pastor - Conclusion

I am a bit late in posting this final post related to November's reading, but wanted to conclude with a question:

Does anyone know of a source for inexpensive printed copies of Spurgeon's "A Puritan Catechism"?

Baxter made quite an argument for the systematic use of catechisms for the development of healthy believers, and I am certain that he used some form of the Westminster Catechism. However, as a Baptist, there is some content in that document that would be problematic. I believe that this is what led C.H. Spurgeon to publish his catechism for use in Baptist churches.

Searching Amazon.com and other internet vendors shows that this catechism has been printed in the past, but it appears to be out of print at present. If I could find a source to purchase this catechism in booklet form for a couple of bucks each I would order 40 or 50 for immediate use. If nothing like this is available I will probably format the content into a .pdf document, and then get it printed, and probably spiral bound for durability. However, this is probably going to cost somewhere in the order of $5 or more each.

So, if you know of a source, or want to start printing an inexpensive version, or just want to offer some suggestions for a solution that I have not considered, pleas edrop me a note. Thanks.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Spending?




Advent Consipiracy

Samaritan's Purse

The Reformed Pastor - Summary of Christian Religion

Baxter provides what he calls " the sum of the Christian religion in a few words":

You must know, that from everlasting there was one God, who had no beginning, and will have no end, who is not a body as we are, but a most pure, spiritual Being, that knoweth all things, and can do all things; and hath all goodness and blessedness in himself. This God is but one, but yet Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost, in a manner that is above our understanding. And you must know, that this one God did make all the world by his Word; the heavens he made to be the place of his glory, and a multitude of holy angels to serve him. But some of these did, by pride or some other sin, fall from their high estate, and are become devils, and shall be miserable for ever. When he had created the earth, he made man, as his noblest creature here below, even one man and one woman, Adam and Eve; and he made them perfect, without any sin, and put them into the garden of Eden, and forbade them to eat of one tree in the garden, and told them that if they ate of it they should die. But the devil, who had first fallen himself, did tempt them to sin, and they yielded to his temptation, and thus fell under the curse of God’s law. But God, of his infinite wisdom and mercy, did send his own Son, Jesus Christ, to be their Redeemer, who, in the fullness of time, was made man, being born of a virgin, by the power of the Holy Ghost, and lived on earth, among the Jews, about thirty-three years, during which time he preached the gospel himself, and wrought many miracles to prove his doctrine, healing the lame, the blind, the sick, and raising the dead by his Divine power; and in the end he was offered upon the cross as a sacrifice for our sins to bear that curse which we should have borne.

‘And now, if sinners will but believe in him, and repent of their sins, he will freely pardon all that is past, and will sanctify their corrupted nature, and will at length bring them to his heavenly kingdom and glory. But if they make light of their sins and of his mercy, he will condemn them to everlasting misery in hell. This gospel, Christ, having risen from the dead on the third day, appointed his ministers to preach to all the world; and when he had given this in charge to all his apostles, he ascended up into heaven, before their faces, where he is now in glory, with God the Father, in our nature. And at the end of this world, he will come again in our nature, and will raise the dead to life again, and bring them all before him, that they may "give an account of all the deeds done in the body, whether they be good, or whether they be evil." If, therefore, you mean to be saved, you must believe in Christ, as the only Savior from the wrath to come; you must repent of your sins; you must, in short, be wholly new creatures, or there will be no salvation for you.’ (The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter, pg. 244-245)

How many Christians (or even ministers) today could express the Biblical message so completely in so "few words"?

The Reformed Pastor - Pattern for Instruction

I confess, some of these words of Paul have been so often presented before my eyes, and impressed upon my conscience, that I have been much convinced by them of my duty and my neglect. And I think this one speech better deserveth a twelvemonth’s study, than most things that young students spend their time upon. O brethren! write it on your study doors – set it in capital letters as your copy, that it may be ever before your eyes. Could we but well learn two or three lines of it, what preachers should we be!

[a] Our general business – Serving the lord with all humility of mind and with many tears.

[b] Our special work – Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock.

[c] Our doctrine – Repentance toward God and faith toward our lord Jesus Christ.

[d] The place and manner of teaching – I have taught you publicly and from house to house.

[e] His diligence, earnestness, and affection – I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. This is that which must win souls, and preserve them.

[f] His faithfulness – I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, and have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

[g] His disinterestedness and self-denial for the sake of the gospel – I have coveted no man’s silver or gold or apparel: yea these hands have ministered unto my necessities and to them that were with me remembering the words of the lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

[h] His patience and perseverance – None of these things move me neither count I my life dear unto me, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the lord Jesus.

[i] His prayerfulness – I commend you to god and to the word of his grace which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

[j] His purity of conscience – Wherefore I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men.

Write all this upon your hearts, and it will do yourselves and the Church more good than twenty years’ study of those lower things, which, though they may get you greater applause in the world, yet, if separated from these, they will make you but as ‘sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.’ (The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter, pg. 229-230)

The Reformed Pastor - Ministerial failings

This explains quite a bit:

I am, therefore, forced to say, that hence arises the chief misery of the Church, THAT SO MANY ARE MADE MINISTERS BEFORE THEY ARE CHRISTIANS. (The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter, pg. 222)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let's Play a Little Game

Rules:

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.

* Turn to page 56.

* Find the fifth sentence.

* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note to your wall/blog

* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

What a poor business is it to themselves, to spend their time in acquiring some little knowledge of the works of God, and of some of those names which the divided tongues of the nations have imposed on them, and not to know God himself, nor exalt him in their hearts, nor to be acquainted with that one renewing work that should make them happy! (The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter, pg. 56)

This was about 2" closer to me than my Bible, due to the fact that I read it this morning after my Bible reading.

HT: The Sola Panel

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm Confused

Baptist Press reports today that the Southern Baptist North American Missions Board (NAMB) has received criticism for its handling of the "GPS - God's Plan for Sharing" initiative. The criticism is that NAMB has not set aside funding for media blitzing related to this initiative as has been the historical practice for previous national evangelistic efforts.

Here is where my confusion comes in. GPS includes the following components:
  • Praying
  • Engaging
  • Sowing
  • Harvesting
Southern Baptists are to pray for and engage the lost, sow the seed of the Gospel, and harvest the results through their churches. Why do you need any media dollars to do any of this? Is this a classic case of "we have always done it that way", and the critics don't know that personal evangelism is far more effective than any national media campaign?

I have been in Southern Baptist life since 1972. Since that time I have seen and participated in the "I found It", "Good News, America", "Celebrate Jesus, 2000" and "Here's Life" campaigns (along with others that I have forgotten). I don't remember any of them being particularly effective. Maybe instead of doing it like we have in the past there is a need to get back to Biblical basics.

How much money does it cost to pray for lost people? None. (I certainly hope that Baptists don't need to pay people to pray.)

How much money does it cost to engage lost people in relationship? None. (However, it might just cost you your comfort and/or your life.)

How much money does it cost to sow the seed of the Gospel? Possibly a small amount if you provide Bibles or New Testaments and tracts, but it could be done for free. (Just how much did the Day of Pentecost cost?)

How much money does it cost to harvest new believers into our congregations? Very little. (In fact, if they are true converts they will pay their own way as the Lord directs their pocketbooks.)

How much national advertising and media purchases does any of this require? Zero, zip, zilch, nothing. (In fact, this type of media "blitzing" may prove counterproductive to this type of grassroots evangelism.)

Maybe I am just confused and the critics are correct, but I think that it is the other way around.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gospel Preaching

Gospel preaching is all about the content. The context may vary, but the content never changes.



HT: Timmy Brister

The Reformed Pastor - Reformation on our terms?

Reformation is to many of us, as the Messiah was to the Jews. Before he came, they looked and longed for him, and boasted of him, and rejoiced in hope of him; but when he came they could not abide him, but hated him, and would not believe that he was indeed the person, and therefore persecuted and put him to death, to the curse and confusion of the main body of their nation. ‘The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in. But who may abide the day of his coming and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.’ And the reason was, because it was another manner of Christ that the Jews expected; it was one who would bring them riches and liberty, and to this day they profess that they will never believe in any but such. So it is with too many about reformation. They hoped for a reformation, that would bring them more wealth and honor with the people, and power to force men to do what they would have them: and now they see a reformation, that must put them to more condescension and pains than they were ever at before. They thought of having the opposers of godliness under their feet, but now they see they must go to them with humble entreaties, and put their hands under their feet, if they would do them good, and meekly beseech even those that sometime sought their lives, and make it now their daily business to overcome them by kindness, and win them with love. O how many carnal expectations are here crossed!

(pg. 191-192, The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter)



What a shame it would be if we miss God's best by demanding what we want.

Not as crazy as some other ideas floating around

I was home sick on Tuesday, with a 24 hour bug of some type. In between catching up on some reading, and getting a couple of naps, I saw a little bit of Fox News. One item in particular jumped out at me, when Neil Cavuto, in exasperation, made a comment that maybe it would be cheaper and more effective to give every man woman and child $100,000.00 instead of bailing out the industries that have put us in our present mess.

Neil is not alone, here is a template for you to use to petition the president elect to act in a similar way.

Now, I am the first to admit that the whole idea of bailouts, on any level, turns my stomach. Being free means that you are free to fail. Many of America's greatest successes experienced numerous, and character defining, failures prior to hitting it big. However, if we have to have bailouts, why not apply them at the lowest level and let the American people (after all, it is their money) decide which industries get that money.

As I put my mind to it, I see the following happening if every Tom, Dick, Harry, and little Timmy received a clear $100K:

  • GM wouldn't have to worry. They wouldn't be able to keep up with the demand for gold Escalades.
  • The mortgage mess would be fixed, since anyone should be able to dig out of their subprime mess.
  • The liquor industry would zoom (and the associated taxes going into the Treasury).
  • The electronics industry would be back ordered for every imaginable form of video game equipment.
  • "He went to Jared" and cleaned them out of jewelry and "bling".
  • Firearms and ammunition? Bring it on!
  • The smart folks would pay off their debt and invest the rest.
  • Christians would support the work of the Lord.
There might be some downsides though:
  • Drug overdoses and alcohol poisoning cases would significantly increase.
  • Kidnappings may become a regular occurance on this side of the Mexican border ("Hey, that single mom with four kids can certainly afford to pay big bucks to get little Johnny back.")
  • People would expect more after this runs out, and see government as a surrogate for God.
No, this isn't as crazy as some of the other ideas floating around, but that isn't saying much.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sobering Words

And that you may see that it is not a causeless sorrow that God requireth of us, I shall call to your remembrance our manifold sins, and set them in order before you, that we may deal plainly and faithfully in a free confession of them, and that God who is ‘faithful and just may forgive them, and cleanse us from all iniquity.’ In this I suppose I have your hearty consent, and that you will be so far from being offended with me, though I should disgrace your persons, and others in this office, that you will readily subscribe the charge, and be humble self-accusers; and so far am I from justifying myself by the accusation of others, that I do unfeignedly put my name with the first in the bill of indictment. For how can a wretched sinner, one chargeable with so many and so great transgressions, presume to justify himself before God? Or how can he plead guiltless, whose conscience hath so much to say against him? If I cast shame upon the ministry, it is not on the office, but on our persons, by opening that sin which is our shame. The glory of our high employment doth not communicate any glory to our sin; for ‘sin is a reproach to any people.’ And be they pastors or people, it is only they that ‘confess and forsake their sins that shall have mercy,’ while ‘he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.’

(pg. 134-135, The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter)

You can't make this stuff up

Virtual infidelity leads to reality divorce.

Just a reminder that infidelity is a thing of the spirit, not the body.

And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” - Malachi 2:13-16 (ESV)

Finally, some common sense reporting

From When Seconds Count: Stopping Active Killers:

The other statistic that emerged from a study of active killers is that they almost exclusively seek out "gun free" zones for their attacks.

In most states, concealed handguns are prohibited at schools and on college campuses even for those with permits.

Many malls and workplaces also place signs at their entrances prohibiting firearms on the premises.

Now tacticians believe the signs themselves may be an invitation to the active killers.

The psychological profile of a mass murderer indicates he is looking to inflict the most casualties as quickly as possible.

Also, the data show most active killers have no intention of surviving the event.

They may select schools and shopping malls because of the large number of defenseless victims and the virtual guarantee no one on the scene is armed.

As soon as they're confronted by any armed resistance, the shooters typically turn the gun on themselves.

HT: David Codrea

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2009 Reading

As I am almost done with the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge, I am beginning to plan my reading schedule for 2009. Since next year marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, I want to include him prominently in my plans.

For many years I have been in possession of the two volume 1559 Institutes of the Christian Religion. J. R. Harris has a fairly ambitious reading plan to cover all of this material in one year, but following this plan might prove a bit much and still allow me to pursue other devotional reading and devote myself properly to sermon/Bible study preparation.

I also have a copy of the hard cover 1536 Institutes of the Christian Religion on my bookshelf. This might be a bit easier to manage in one year, since it would require only one page per day, and I could supplement it with selections from the 1559 edition as needed.

Another reason not to tackle the 1559 version is due to my recent acquisition of two "Calvin 500" works that I would like to read next year. They are:

A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes: Essays and Analysis, and
The Legacy of John Calvin: His Influence on the Modern World.

Additionally, I am in possession of Ford Lewis Battles' An Analysis of the Institutes of the Christian Religion of John Calvin.

I think that I could manage the 1536 Institutes, the two "Calvin 500" volumes, and Battles' Analysis, and that these would require only a small portion of my daily reading schedule. This would still allow me plenty of time for my other reading and study.

This plan is not set in stone, and I would entertain other suggestions.

UPDATE 12/30/2008: As I have considered several other Calvin reading plans that have been posted on the internet, and revisited my suggested plan shown above, I am more convinced than ever that my original plan is the one that will work for me.

As a result, in 2009 I will be reading:

1536 Institutes of the Christian Religion
A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes: Essays and Analysis
The Legacy of John Calvin: His Influence on the Modern World (completed)
An Analysis of the Institutes of the Christian Religion of John Calvin
I will supplement, as needed to understand "An Analysis" and the other works, with selections from 1559 Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Update 7/3/2009:

At the half-way point of the year I find that I am reading the 1536 Institutes slower than I anticipated, due to having to think hard on just about every page. I should be done before the end of the year. I am still planning to complete the other books listed, and have also already competed john Piper's John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God. I have also obtained two other volumes from the Calvin500 series:

The Piety of John Calvin: A Collection of His Spiritual Prose, Poems, and Hymns, translated and edited by Ford Lewis Battles

Calvin in the Public Square: Liberal Democracies, Rights, and Civil Liberties by David W. Hall

How to defeat Calvinism



Don't you just love the background music? "I see NOTHING, I know NOTHING."

HT: Truth Matters

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Maybe Greek isn't so straightforward after all


A review of Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek by Constantine R. Campbell.

During my seminary studies, now two decades ago, I soon discovered that I loved Greek and hated Hebrew. While Greek seemed straightforward, almost to the point of simplicity, Hebrew was indecipherable, complex, and frustrating. Possibly this was related to differences in instructors and selections chosen to translate and analyze, but my initial impression was that Greek was easy and Hebrew was hard.

Yet, over the years I have come to realize that possibly Greek isn't as straightforward as I first imagined. For example, I have often found that my translations fall flat, and lack much of the color and flair that many commentators appear able to discover.

While I would not suggest that I have now unlocked the key to all of this additional understanding uncovered by the commentators, I have discovered something that may assist in enhancing this process. Constantine Campbell's Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek has opened up a new way of looking at the Greek text. Not once during my seminary study did I hear the term "Verbal Aspect" nor its importance in understanding the New Testament. Rather than trying to describe "Verbal Aspect", I direct you to the author's blog post on Koinonia where he defines it as both viewpoint and subjective choice.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part, consisting of the first five chapters, contains theory and history. The second part, in workbook format, contains numerous examples and exercises, listed by "tense-form" (the author's preference for "tense-form" over "tense" is described on page 24).

Strengths:
1) Print is large enough and clear enough to make reading easy for aging eyes.
2) Bolding is used simultaneously in both Greek and English text to make examples clear.
3) A helpful glossary of terms is provided.

Weakness:
Only one: I get the impression that there was much more that the author wanted to share, but was precluded by either editing or publication deadline.

Recommendation: If you desire to more deeply engage your Greek Testament you will discover that this work will give you a new perspective. I would caution that if your Greek basics are rusty that you brush up some prior to reading this work. I had let my Greek get away from me over the years following graduation, but earlier this year made a commitment to get back into its use. If I had not done so I would have benefited little from this book.

Now that I have discovered that Greek isn't so straightforward after all it might be time for me to take another look at Hebrew. Where did I store that BDB?

Veterans Day

A veteran - whether active duty, retired, National Guard or Reserve - is someone who at one point in his life wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' (author unknown)

Tomorrow marks the 90th Anniversary of the end of World War One - "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" in 1918. This date was first known as Armistice Day, and changed to Veterans Day in 1954.

President Bush's 2008 Veterans Day proclamation reads as follows:

“On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the men and women who in defense of our freedom have bravely worn the uniform of the United States.

“From the fields and forests of war-torn Europe to the jungles of Southeast Asia, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, brave patriots have protected our nation’s ideals, rescued millions from tyranny and helped spread freedom around the globe. America’s veterans answered the call when asked to protect our nation from some of the most brutal and ruthless tyrants, terrorists and militaries the world has ever known. They stood tall in the face of grave danger and enabled our nation to become the greatest force for freedom in human history. Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard have answered a high calling to serve and have helped secure America at every turn.

“Our country is forever indebted to our veterans for their quiet courage and exemplary service. We also remember and honor those who laid down their lives in freedom’s defense. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. On Veterans Day, we remember these heroes for their valor, their loyalty and their dedication. Their selfless sacrifices continue to inspire us today as we work to advance peace and extend freedom around the world.

“With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor America’s veterans.

“Now, therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2008, as Veterans Day and urge all Americans to observe November 9 through November 15, 2008, as National Veterans Awareness Week. I encourage all Americans to recognize the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans through ceremonies and prayers. I call upon federal, state, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to support and participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I invite civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, businesses, unions and the media to support this national observance with commemorative expressions and programs.”

To all of my fellow veterans I say thank you for your sacrifices and fidelity in honoring your oath of service.

It Is The Soldier

(Charles Michael Province, US Army)

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Reformed Pastor - Being Chased

If a bear was chasing after you, I expect that you would RUN AWAY as fast as your feet would carry you. However, if you were to say "I am being chased by a bear!", but were sauntering along at a carefree pace, why would anyone ever believe you?

If one bid you run for your lives, because a bear, or an enemy is at your backs, and yet do not mend his own pace, you will be tempted to think that he is but in jest, and that there is really no such danger as he alleges. When preachers tell people of the necessity of holiness, and that without it no man shall see the Lord, and yet remain unholy themselves, the people will think that they do but talk to pass away the hour, and because they must say somewhat for their money, and that all these are but words of course. Long enough may you lift up your voice against sin, before men will believe that there is any such evil or danger in it as you talk of, while they see the same man that reproacheth it, cherishing it in his bosom, and making it his delight. (pg. 84, The Reformed Pastor)

3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
4
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
5
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:3-5, ESV)

Twenty-Three Words

Seeing that I am not as focused as Abraham Piper, it takes me twenty-three words to get my message into the blogosphere.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post Deletions

I have chosen to delete some of my more partisan political posts in an attempt to move forward now that the election is over. I do not believe that anything that I posted was inappropriate prior to the election, but have chosen to remove them in its aftermath.

We should now pray for President-elect Obama, and respect him as our new national leader.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Reformed Pastor - Start young, start right

If tutors would make it their principal business to acquaint their pupils with the doctrine of salvation, and labor to set it home upon their hearts, that all might be received according to its weight, and read to their hearts as well as to their heads, and so carry on the rest of their instructions, that it may appear they make them but subservient unto this, and that their pupils may feel what they aim at in them all; and so that they would teach all their philosophy in habitu theologico, – this might be a happy means to make a happy Church and a happy country. But, when languages and philosophy have almost all their time and diligence, and, instead of reading philosophy like divines, they read divinity like philosophers, as if it were a thing of no more moment than a lesson of music, or arithmetic, and not the doctrine of everlasting life; – this it is that blasteth so many in the bud, and pestereth the Church with unsanctified teachers! Hence it is, that we have so many worldlings to preach of the invisible felicity, and so many carnal men to declare the mysteries of the Spirit; and I would I might not say, so many infidels to preach Christ, or so many atheists to preach the living God: and when they are taught philosophy before or without religion, what wonder if their philosophy be all or most of their religion! (pg. 59-60)


Are we "blasting" the bud of youth or nurturing them in the Word of God?

An Election Night Proverb

No matter where we stand on the candidates, the election results, or the state of our nation, the following is an important passage of scripture for us to heed:

21:1 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.

2
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart.

3
To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

4
Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
the lamp of the wicked, are sin.

5
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

6
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.

7
The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
because they refuse to do what is just.

8
The way of the guilty is crooked,
but the conduct of the pure is upright.

9
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

10
The soul of the wicked desires evil;
his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.

11
When a scoffer is punished, the simple becomes wise;
when a wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge.

12
The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked;
he throws the wicked down to ruin.

13
Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself call out and not be answered.

14
A gift in secret averts anger,
and a concealed bribe, strong wrath.

15
When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous
but terror to evildoers.

16
One who wanders from the way of good sense
will rest in the assembly of the dead.

17
Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man;
he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

18
The wicked is a ransom for the righteous,
and the traitor for the upright.

19
It is better to live in a desert land
than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.

20
Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling,
but a foolish man devours it.

21
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor.

22
A wise man scales the city of the mighty
and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.

23
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
keeps himself out of trouble.

24
“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man
who acts with arrogant pride.

25
The desire of the sluggard kills him,
for his hands refuse to labor.

26
All day long he craves and craves,
but the righteous gives and does not hold back.

27
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;
how much more when he brings it with evil intent.

28
A false witness will perish,
but the word of a man who hears will endure.

29
A wicked man puts on a bold face,
but the upright gives thought to his ways.

30
No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel
can avail against the Lord.

31
The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but the victory belongs to the Lord.

Proverbs 21, ESV

As John Piper stated in A Prayer for the Election, "long after America is a footnote to the future world, he (Christ) will reign with his people from every tribe and tongue and nation."

Victory belongs to the Lord!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Reformed Pastor - Introduction

Another month, another Puritan Classic. I have been looking forward to this month's selection, The Reformed Pastor, by Richard Baxter ever since Timmy Brister first suggested the Puritan Reading Challenge at the end of last year. In William Brown's Preface to the 1829 edition he writes of this work:

Could we suppose it to be read by an angel, or by some other possessed of an unfallen nature, the reasons and expostulations of our author would be felt to be altogether irresistible; and hard must be the heart of that minister, who can read it without being moved, melted, and overwhelmed, under a sense of his own shortcomings; hard must be his heart, if he be not roused to greater faithfulness, diligence, and activity in winning souls to Christ. It is a work worthy of being printed in letters of gold; it deserves, at least, to be engraven on the heart of every minister. (pg. 23)

In his Dedication, Baxter, in defense of making complaints against the church of his day public by publication of this work, states as one part of his defense:

Too many who have undertaken the work of the ministry do so obstinately proceed in self-seeking, negligence, pride, and other sins, that it is become our necessary duty to admonish them. If we saw that such would reform without reproof, we would gladly forbear the publishing of their faults. But when reproofs themselves prove so ineffectual, that they are more offended at the reproof than at the sin, and had rather that we should cease reproving than that themselves cease sinning, I think it is time to sharpen the remedy. (pg. 39)

As J.I. Packer tells us in the Introduction, the "reformed" in the book's title does not mean "Calvinistic in doctrine, but renewed in practice." (pg. 14) In fact, Baxter sometimes had problems with his "Calvinist creds", and also seems to have been a bit of a "colorful character" in his day. Yet, this work, and others, live on and transcend his human frailties. Ministers of diverse traditions have long appreciated The Reformed Pastor, with praise coming not only from his Puritan contemporaries but also from Methodists (both Wesleys), Baptists, and others.

Has there ever been a time in the history of the church when her ministers better need reproof and a renewed faithfulness, diligence, and activity in winning souls to Christ? I know that I sometimes need a swift kick in the pants, and possibly the November's reading will prove to serve that purpose.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Christian's Great Interest - Conclusion

Don't you wish that all books came with either an outline or a synopsis?

William Guthrie's The Christian's Great Interest concludes with the following:

Conclusion--The whole Treatise resumed in a Few Questions and Answers

Quest. 1. What is the great business a man has to do in this world?

Ans. To make sure a saving interest in Christ Jesus, and to walk suitably thereto.

Q. 2. Have not all the members of the visible church a saving interest in Christ?

A. No, verily; yea, but a very few of them have it.

Q. 3. How shall I know if I have a saving interest in Him?

A. Ordinarily the Lord prepareth His own way in the soul by a work of humiliation, and discovereth a man's sin and misery to him, and exerciseth Him so therewith, that He longs for the physician Christ Jesus.

Q. 4. How shall I know if I have got a competent discovery of my sin and misery?

A. A competent sight of it makes a man take salvation to heart above anything in this world: it maketh him disclaim all relief in himself, seen in his best things: it maketh Christ who is the Redeemer, very precious to the soul: it makes a man stand in awe to sin afterwards, and makes him content to be saved upon any terms God pleases.

Q. 5. By what other ways may I discern a saving interest in him?

A. By the going out of the heart seriously and affectionately towards Him, as He is held out in the gospel; and this is faith or believing.

Q. 6. How shall I know if my heart goes out after Him aright, and that my faith is true saving faith?

A. Where the heart goes out aright after Him in true and saving faith, the soul is pleased with Christ alone above all things, and is pleased with Him in all Him three offices, to rule and instruct as well as to save; and is content to cleave unto Him, whatsoever inconveniences may follow.

Q. 7. What other mark of a saving interest in Christ can you give me?

A. He that is in Christ savingly, is a new creature; He is graciously changed and renewed in some measure, in the whole man, and in all his ways pointing towards all the known commands of God.

Q. 8. What if I find sin now and then prevailing over me?

A. Although every sin deserves everlasting vengeance, yet, if you be afflicted for your failings, confess them with shame of face unto God, resolving to strive against them honestly henceforth, and see unto Christ for pardon, you shall obtain mercy, and your interest stands sure.

Q. 9. What shall the man do who cannot lay claim to Christ Jesus nor any of those marks spoken of it?

A. Let him not take rest until he make sure unto himself a saving interest in Christ.

Q. 10. What way can a man make sure an interest in Christ, who never had a saving interest in Him hitherto?

A. He must take his sins to heart, and his great hazard thereby, and he must take to heart God's offer of pardon and peace through Christ Jesus, and heartily close with God's offer by retaking himself unto Christ, the blessed refuge.

Q. 11. What if my sins be singularly heinous, and great beyond ordinary?

A. Whatsoever thy sins be, if thou wilt close with Christ Jesus by faith, thou shalt never enter into condemnation.

Q. 12. Is faith in Christ only required of men?

A. Faith is the only condition upon which God does offer peace and pardon unto men; but be assured, faith, if it be true and saving, will not be alone in the soul, but will be attended with true repentance, and a thankful study of conformity to God's image.

Q. 13 How shall I be sure that my heart does accept of God's offer, and does close with Christ Jesus? .

A. Go make a covenant expressly, and by word speak the thing unto God.

Q. 14 What way shall I do that?

A. Set apart some portion of time, and, having considered your own lost estate, and the remedy offered by Christ Jesus, work up your heart to be pleased and close with that offer, and say unto God expressly that you do accept of that offer, and of Him to be your God in Christ; and do give up yourself to Him to be saved in His way, without reservation or exception in any case; and that you henceforth will wait for salvation in the way He has appointed.

Q. 15 What if I break with God afterwards?

A. You must resolve in His strength not to break, and watch over your own ways, and put your heart in His hand to keep it and if you break, you must confess it unto God, and judge yourself for it, and flee to the Advocate for pardon, and resolve to do so no more: and this you must do as often as you fail.

Q. 16 How shall I come to full assurance of my interest in Christ, so that it may be beyond controversy?

A. Learn to lay your weight upon the blood of Christ, and study purity and holiness in all manner of conversation: and pray for the witness of God's Spirit to join with the blood and the water; and His testimony added unto these will establish you in the faith of an interest in Christ.

Q. 17. What is the consequence of such closing with God in Christ by heart and mouth?

A. Union and communion with God, all good here and His blessed fellowship in heaven forever afterwards.

Q. 18. What if I slight all these things, and do not lay them to heart to put them in practice?

A. The Lord comes with His angels, in flaming fire, to render vengeance to them who obey not His gospel; and thy judgment shall be greater than that of Sodom and Gomorrah; and so much the greater that thou hast read this Treatise, for it shall be a witness against thee in that day.

The end

(pg. 193-196 in the Banner of Truth Puritan Paperback, this excerpt taken from the CCEL site.)

Weighty questions indeed. What amazes me about the state of modern evangelicalism is that these types of questions are rarely thought about, let alone asked. And then, if the questions were to be asked, where would the average church goer find answers?

*****

He that is in Christ savingly, is a new creature: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Christian's Great Interest - "Pray this Prayer"

Many contemporary evangelistic approaches end with a "pray this prayer" step for the sinner. What if the prayer looked like this?

'O Lord, I am a lost and fallen creature by nature, and by innumerable actual transgressions, which I do confess particularly before Thee this day: and although, being born within the visible church, I was from the womb in covenant with Thee, and had the same sealed to me in baptism; yet, for a long time, I have lived without God in the world, senseless and ignorant of my obligation by virtue of that covenant. Thou hast at length discovered to me, and impressed upon my heart, my miserable state in myself, and hast made manifest unto my heart the satisfying remedy. Thou hast provided by Christ Jesus, offering the same freely unto me, upon condition that I would accept of the same, and would close with Thee as my God in Christ, warranting and commanding me, upon my utmost peril, to accept of this offer, and to flee unto Christ Jesus; yea, to my apprehension, now Thou hast sovereignly determined my heart, and formed it for Christ Jesus, leading it out after Him in the offers of the gospel, causing me to approach unto the living God, to close so with Him and to acquiesce in His offer, without any known guile. And that I may come up to that establishment of spirit in this matter, which should be to my comfort, and the praise of Thy glorious grace; therefore, I am here this day to put that matter out of question by express words before Thee, according to Thy will. And now I, unworthy as I am, do declare, that I believe that Christ Jesus, who was slain at Jerusalem, was the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world. I do believe that record, that there is life eternal for men in Him, and in Him only. I do this day in my heart approve and acquiesce in that device of saving sinners by Him, and do intrust my soul unto Him. I do accept of reconciliation with God through Him, and do close with Thee as my God in Him. I choose Him in all that He is, and all that may follow Him, and do resign up myself, and what I am, or have, unto Thee; desiring to be divorced from everything hateful unto Thee, and that without exception, or reservation, or anything inconsistent within my knowledge, or any intended reversion. Here I give the hand to Thee, and do take all things about me witnesses, that I, whatever I be, or have hitherto been, do accept of God's offer of peace through Christ; and do make a sure covenant with Thee this day, never to be reversed, hoping that Thou wilt make all things forthcoming, both on Thy part and mine, seriously begging, as I desire to be saved, that my corruptions may be subdued, and my neck brought under Thy sweet yoke in all things, and my heart made cheerfully to acquiesce in whatsoever Thou dost unto me, or with me, in order to these ends. Now, glory be unto Thee, O Father, who devised such a salvation, and gave the Son to accomplish it: Glory be to Christ Jesus, who, at so dear a rate, did purchase the outletting of that love from the Father's bosom, and through whom alone this access is granted, and in whom I am reconciled unto God, and honorably united unto Him, and am no more an enemy or stranger: Glory to the Holy Ghost, who did alarm me when I was destroying myself, and who did not only convince me of my danger, but did also open my eyes to behold the remedy provided in Christ; yea, and did persuade and determine my wicked heart to fall in love with Christ, as the enriching treasure; and this day does teach me how to covenant with God, and how to appropriate to myself all the sure mercies of David, and blessings of Abraham, and to secure to myself the favour and friendship of God for ever. Now, with my soul, heart, head, and whole man, as I can, I do acquiesce in my choice this day, henceforth resolving not to be my own, but Thine; and that the care of whatsoever concerns me shall be on Thee, as my Head and Lord, protesting humbly, that failings on my part (against which I resolve, Thou knowest) shall not make void this covenant; for so hast Thou said, which I intend not to abuse, but so much the more to cleave close unto Thee, and I must have liberty to renew, ratify, and draw extracts of this transaction, as often as shall be needful. Now, I know Thy consent to this bargain stands recorded in Scripture, so that I need no new signification of it; and I, having accepted of Thy offer upon Thine own terms, will henceforth wait for what is good, and for Thy salvation in the end. As Thou art faithful, pardon what is amiss in my way of doing the thing, and accept me in my Lord Jesus Christ, in whom only I desire pardon. And in testimony hereof, I set to my seal that God is true, in declaring Him a competent Savior.' (pgs. 180-182 in the Banner of Truth Puritan Paperback, this excerpt taken from the CCEL site.)

Guthrie then says: Let people covenant with God in fewer or more words, as the Lord shall dispose them--for we intend no exact form of words for any person--only it were fitting that men should before the Lord acknowledge their lost state in themselves, and the relief that is by Christ; and that they do declare that they accept of the same as it is offered in the gospel, and do thankfully rest satisfied with it, intrusting themselves henceforth wholly unto God, to be saved in His way, for which they wait according to His faithfulness. If men would heartily and sincerely do this, it might, through the Lord's b1essing, help to establish them against many fears and jealousies; and they might date some good thing from this day and hour, which might prove comfortable unto them when they fall in the dark afterwards, and even when many failings do stare them in the face, perhaps at the hour of death--'These be the last words of David: although my house be not so with God, yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; for this is all my salvation, and all my desire.' (2 Sam. 23: 5.) It is much if a man can appeal unto God, and say, Thou knowest there was a day and an hour when in such a place I did accept of peace through Christ, and did deliver up my heart to Thee, to write on it Thy whole law without exception; heaven and earth are witnesses of it--'Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou hast caused me to hope.' (Psa. 119: 49.)

Maybe praying in this way would result in less false converts.