Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Paul Washer on Election

I have to say, this is probably the best explanation of election that I've ever heard. Right on Mr. Washer!

And one more to help you remember.... Calvinism is not the issue!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Only One Life....

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “’twas worth it all”;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.

-I believe this was written by missionary C.T. Studd

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Freedom & Bondage: The Paradox of Christianity

As Christians we often speak of the “freedom” and “liberty” we have in Christ. But what exactly does this mean? Let’s see what the following conversation has to say…..

Let me ask you, what are free from?
I am free from the law.
What law?
The law that condemns me as a sinner.
The law of sin then? Not just the law in the Old Testament?
Well, yes.
Yes, it goes deeper than just an external law does it not? Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that the law goes much further that just outward performance, rather inward perfection.
Tell me, what does it mean to be free from this law?
It means that I am no longer under law.
How do you mean?
Well it no longer binds me to keep it.
Why not?
Because Christ has kept it for me.
So you are free to do whatever you want now?
No, no of course not.
Than are you really free?
I am free from the law.
What law?
Why do you keep asking that?
Because there are different laws. There’s the law of sin (which is connected with the moral law in the Old Testament) and then there’s the law of the Spirit of life. Romans 8:2 says that we have been set free from the law of sin and death, by the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. So are you really free?
Well, I am free from the law of sin.
That is good, but would it be true to just say that you are free and no longer under any law?
Well, I suppose not.
So you are under a law – but it’s not like the law of death, it leads to life.
Yes, and there is freedom in that.
Yes, but there is also freedom in the other.
How do you mean?
Under the law of sin and death you were free from the law of the Spirit of life in Christ. Now it is reversed, you are under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ and free from the law of sin and death. But you are not entirely free, you are always under a law.
I've never really thought about it...
Being under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ what does that mean?
It means I have life?
Yes, but it means that you are under it, under its authority. More specifically, His authority. 1 Corinthians 6 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.” (1 Cor 6:19-20) When God redeemed us, He redeemed us out of the bondage of sin. He purchased us with His blood and thus He owns us! Our lives are not our own, but we are under subjection to the Spirit of God. My question to you now is, how then should we live?
We should live in holiness and walk after the Spirit.
By obeying Him.
Good. But remember the law goes much deeper than just externals. It’s an inner law, a spiritual one. In 1 Corinthians Paul discusses the issue of Christian liberty and he writes this, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:24-27) Paul is not simply talking about simple obedience here would you agree?
So there’s something more than just obedience. There’s a full pursuit after the things of God. He says run after the prize– which is what?
The imperishable crown?
That’s part of it, but I think it’s more that that, we are seeking Christ. The Bible talks about Him being our inheritance and reward.
So we are running after the prize – which is Jesus, more of Jesus in us and showing through us. Paul says that those who run in a race are “temperate” in all things. What does that mean?
It means disciplined, and having self-control.
So how are we to restrain ourselves in this race after Christ?
By not giving into sin.
Is that all?
By striving after Christ.
And being Christ-like.
Right, because we are His body – that’s what Ephesians says, we are the body of Christ.
Hebrews says, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…” (Heb 12:1-2). So there’s the race that we’re running and we’re looking to Jesus. What are we to throw off?
What else?
What are those?
Hindrances yes. But they are not “sin”, did you notice that? The weights and the sin are two different things and we are to throw both of them off.

How about you? What is it that hinders you from a full pursuit of Christ? Are there things in your life that distract you from Christ, take away time that you should be giving to Him? Remember, this is not a “liberty” issue, this is about running the race and pursuing Christ. We belong to the Lord, and we are not our own. We are called to a life of surrender and pursuit of the Lord who bought us.

Watchman Nee, a Chinese pastor who suffered and died under Communist rule wrote this statement: “The whole principle of the Christian life is that we go beyond what is “right” to do that which is well pleasing to Him.” That is our aim, Paul said, to be “well-pleasing to Him” (2 Cor 5:9). It’s not simply about “right” and “wrong” or about “sin” and “not sin”… but what is pleasing to our Savior. And living to please the Savior should be our ultimate goal.

Leslie Ludy once said, “A lot of us take the attitude, ‘I’ll just do the bare minimum so I can stay on God’s good side’ – especially when it comes to dressing modestly, living in purity, and caring for the needs of others. But in light of what Christ did for us on the cross, how can any sacrifice for Him be too extreme?” Similarly Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “What kind of a God is it who asks everything of us?  The same God who ‘did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all; and with this gift how can He fail to lavish upon us all He has to give?’  He gives all.  He asks all.” Wow. That’s all I can say to that quote! That and - Take all of me Lord Jesus! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Watch and Pray… pressing on when God is silent.

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my
rock and my salvation: He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my
salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
 -- Psalms 62:5-7

Recently I have walked through a pretty intense time of testing. God was testing and proving my faith in prayer and as a result there was very little sleep for about 5 days. When the time ended, the outcome was not quite what we had desired. God answered our prayer to an extent, but yet there was no YES. There was a WAIT. In other words, the answer you desire is not to be right now, but keep it in prayer until it comes. There was also a refining of my prayers because am still very much influenced by the flesh and thus my prayers are not always of the Spirit of God and in alignment with His Word and will. The Lord is very gracious to train us how to pray and so very patient.
As I was meditating on these days/nights of prayer and the testing of my faith and I was reminded of Hebrews 11:13 that says, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”  They all had faith, but yet they did not receive all the promises that God gave them. They died. They died in faith; they died trusting that God would bring the promises to fulfillment. Sometimes people pray for things but often their faith is in their own faith, or their hope is in the desired outcome. Thus when it does not come they give up in defeat. But true faith is focused on one thing: Christ, not the outcome. It does not look to itself, but to God. Thus I can say that despite the outcome my faith this week was actually strengthened in the Lord. It was not centered on the outcome that I desired and as a result when the outcome was not what I would have liked, my faith did not fail me, but was still steadfast. I was still resting in the Lord, and trusting HIM, believing that He does all things well and according to the counsel of His will. My faith is built upon a rock on which is written the promises of God, and when He leads His people to fight, He is always victorious!
In Matthew 26:41, Jesus and His disciples are in the garden of Gethsemane and Jesus says to them, “Watch and pray.” It is interesting that Jesus doesn’t tell them what to pray for, just to “Watch and pray”. And the purpose of this prayer watch? One purpose was to guard and strengthen them spiritual to resist temptation, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” Jesus said. The flesh and great Enemy is always tempting us to doubt, but this must be resisted. The second purpose is at the end of this verse where Jesus adds, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."  Often when God calls us to prayer it is not a convenient time. For the disciples, it was late at night and it had been a long day. Sure their spirits desired fellowship with the Father in prayer, but their bodies were weak and tired and the flesh demanded full attention. It is in those times that it is the most crucial to stand against the flesh, resist the temptation to serve self and instead die to it and spend your time praying instead of sleeping, eating, being with friends, or whatever it may be. Prayer is a discipline of dying to ourselves and giving our all for Christ in that moment.
When God’s answer to our prayers is WAIT it is a call to press on despite the fact that nothing is happening in the natural realm. To wait is to be quiet, silent. To rest in full dependence on another. For us, it’s waiting on and depending on Christ. Do we truly rest on Christ? Abide in Him so that everything we do, say, write is an overflow of the life of Christ? That is true faith. It is that which waits on God no matter what. It is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” and it believes that He is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:1 & 6). Do you really believe that God rewards those who diligently seek Him?
Oh, brother, sister, let me ask you: what is it that you are waiting for?  Are you waiting for your desired outcome? For your dreams to come true, for your prince or princess to show up, for the desires of your heart to be fulfilled? Then, my dear friend, you are waiting for the wrong thing. If you are longing for or leaning on anything more than Jesus Christ, that is idolatry. We should not desire our own dreams, but His will. We should not long for our story to unfold, but for His perfect plan to be made known. We should not wait for our desires to be fulfilled, but wait on Him. He is our expectation and our reward. If our faith is built on Christ than our faith shall never fail, for it is placed in a God who never fails. Since our faith is in Him we can say with Job, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). We accept no defeat, no loss. Our God is faithful, He cannot lie, and He always wins.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spurgeon Quotes

Here’s some of my favorite quotes by Charles Spurgeon:  :-D

“There is a general kind of praying which fails for lack of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anywhere. Possibly somebody would be killed, but the majority of the enemy would be missed."

"You are not mature if you have a high esteem of yourself. He who boasts in himself is but a babe in Christ, if indeed he be in Christ at all. Young Christians may think much of themselves. Growing Christians think themselves nothing. Mature Christians know that they are less than nothing. The more holy we are, the more we mourn our infirmities, and the humbler is our estimation of ourselves."

“The saint may expect to discover deeper experience and to know more of the higher spiritual life by being much in prayer. There are common frames in the Christian life, there are feelings of repentance, there’s the faith, the joy, and hope that are enjoyed by the entire family of God. But there is an upper realm of rapture of communion, of conscious union with Christ that is far from being the common dwelling place of believers. All believers seek Christ, but not all believers put their fingers into the prints of the nails or thrust their hands into His side…. In the Ark of salvation we find a lower a second and a third story, all are in the ark but not all are in the same story. Most Christians are only up to their ankles in the river of experience; some have waded till the stream is up to their knees, a few find the water up to their shoulders, but a very few find it a river to swim in, the bottom of which they cannot touch. There are heights in experiential knowledge of the things of God the eagle’s eye of acumen and philosophic thought have never seen. God alone can bring us there but the chariot in which He takes us up and the firry steeds with which the chariot is dragged is prevailing prayer.” 

“There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer – I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it.”
(from A Defense of Calvinism)

“The doctrines of original sin, election, effectual calling, final perseverance, and all those great truths which are called Calvinism – though Calvin was not the author of them, but simply an able writer and preacher upon the subject – are, I believe, the essential doctrines of the Gospel that is in Jesus Christ. Now, I do not ask you whether you believe all this – it is possible you may not; but I believe you will before you enter heaven. I am persuaded that as God may have washed your hearts, he will wash your brains before you enter heaven.”

"Free will I have often heart of, but I have never seen it. I have always met with will, and plenty of it, but it has either been led captive by sin or held in the blessed bonds of grace."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bearers of His Presence

To [the Saints] God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27

Did you know that you bear the presence of God? That Almighty God, the same One who created the world, parted the Red Sea and sent fire from heaven, dwells in you? So often, we as Christians affirm this truth, but yet the impact of it has yet to influence our lives.

I heard a story once of a pastor who was discipling a young man who was struggling with pornography. The pastor asked him if he believed in the omni-presence of God. “Of course,” the young man responded. “No you don’t,” the pastor replied, “because if you really did believe that God is everywhere and sees everything than you wouldn’t be looking at what you do.”

Do we really believe that God actually indwells us or is it just a nice Christian concept? Is it just a doctrine we hold or is it a reality in our life?

The Ark of the Covenant: Israel bearing the presence of God.

And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, to Kirjath Jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God the Lord, who dwells between the cherubim, where His name is proclaimed. So they carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came to Chidon's threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God… David was afraid of God that day, saying, "How can I bring the ark of God to me?" So David would not move the ark with him into the City of David, but took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that he had.
-1 Chron. 13:6-14

Then David said, "No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever." And David gathered all Israel together at Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it… And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. He said to them, "You are the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order." So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
-1 Chron. 15:1-3, 11-15

In the Old Testament, the people of Israel bore the presence of God, but it wasn’t on an individual level but rather corporate. God’s presence was between the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant and the Levites bore it on the behalf of all the people. But God did not intend to always dwell among His people this way. In 2 Corinthians Paul writes, “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people’”. (2 Cor 6:16) The New Testament with the death and resurrection of Christ and the giving of the Holy Spirit brought this prophesy to fulfillment. “You are the temple of the living God” says Paul. No longer does God dwell between cherubim but in the hearts of His people. Each of us, if we have put our trust in Christ and given ourselves to Him, receives the presence of God in return.

You bear the presence of the Son of God.

Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18) and at the end of the Great Commission promised, “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt 28:20). Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless you fail the test.” We should know and have assurance that Christ Himself dwells in us and we are to test ourselves against the Word of God.

You bear the presence of the Father.

It is not just the Son that you bear though, it is also the Father. John wrote, “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23). And Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).

You bear the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus promised not just His presence, but the constant presence of the Holy Spirit of God: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). In Romans 8 Paul equates the Holy Spirit as being the “Spirit of Christ”: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9). The Scriptures also tell us that the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is an evidence of our salvation.

The gravity of bearing the presence of God Almighty…

If we really believed that God actually lived in us would we live the way we do? Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Cor 3:16-17) and, “…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's” (1 Cor 6:19-20).

As the temple of God, we are called to “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord” (2 Cor 6:17). We are not to be of the stuff of the world and entangled in its delights. Rather, as Peter writes, “…as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:15-19). There is a requirement to bearing the presence of God, and that is holiness. We must die to the flesh and to self, reckon the power of sin over us as nullified and present ourselves in obedience and service to God.

The GLORY of bearing the presence of God Almighty…

Paul writes in Colossians, “To [the Saints] God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). To think that wherever we go, whatever we do, we have the presence of God in us and with us, leading us, comforting us, directing our every step. What a privilege, what a blessing! That we might bear the presence of our Lord in our body. Thus we can say with Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20)!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Gospel Hymn

The Lord looked down on me and saw
A rebellious wretched child
‘Tis a woeful sinner here
No beauty here no bride.
Yet He took a spotless robe of white
And wrapped me there within,
He purified the darkest spot
And made me whole again.

Jesus cleanser of my soul
The blood that washes clean,
Find a grateful sinner here
‘Tis all I have to give.
I surrender Him His rightful throne
To wear the lawful crown,
If He ‘dost rule the foe must keep
Underneath His feet.

Jesus let me bear a cross
That I may like Thee be,
And walk the road of suffering
As though I bear a crown.
Blood-stained, rough though it may be
And cause my body wear,
‘Tis my joy to walk with Thee
My privilege and my prize. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Gospel & the Righteousness of God

What is the point of the Gospel? Likely answers to that question would be, “the point of the Gospel is to save us from our sin”, or “to bring us to God” or “to reveal to us the good news of salvation”. All these answers are very nice, comforting facts which are all true. But I would say that the main point of the Gospel is none of these. In fact it isn’t even a comfortable thing. When Paul begins his letter to the Romans which is primarily a discourse on soteriology, or the study of salvation, he begins this way:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to
salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith;
as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
Romans 1:16-17, NKJV

In verse 16 we have the reason Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel… “it is the power of God to salvation…”! But in the next verse we have the reason why it is power unto salvation-- the point of the Gospel-- it reveals the perfect righteousness of God. And in revealing God’s perfect righteousness it also reveals His perfect, holy, justice. In verse 16 and 17 the words “righteousness” and “just” are from the same root Greek word (dik - justice, punishment). Thus, the word righteousness and just/justice are interchangeable. And as Paul begins this discourse on salvation, he doesn’t begin with the love of God or even the grace of God; he begins with the righteous justice of God. Instead of discussing the righteousness of God in the Gospel, Paul turns to the law of God and how God’s justice/righteousness is displayed in and through it and contrasts it with man’s utter unrighteousness. For, in order to understand how the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God, we must first look at how it was revealed before the Gospel came.

  • The law of God reveals the righteousness of God in that it reveals who He is:

For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.   -- Lev 11:44 (NKJV)

Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today that it may go well with you…   -- Deut 4:39-40 (NKJV)

  • The law of God reveals the righteousness of God in that it reveals man’s sinfulness:

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.   -- Romans 3:19-20 (NKJV)

However, the Jewish nation thought that they could achieve righteousness through the law:

Then [the law] will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.'
-- Deut 6:25 (NKJV)

But it is not possible to keep the law… its purpose was not to make us righteous, but rather to: 1) reveal God’s righteousness (so man would see His unrighteousness), and 2) to point us to what will make us righteous (that is, Christ).

But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith."
          -- Gal 3:11 (NKJV)

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator…. For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe… Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
-- Gal 3:19, 21-22, 24 (NKJV)

And thus the righteousness of God has been revealed apart from the law:

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
-- Romans 3:21-26 (NKJV)

Man’s response: We must submit to the righteousness of God as revealed in the Gospel, that is, to Christ:

For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
-- Romans 10:3-4 (NKJV)

… for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.   -- Gal 2:21

The reason Christ came and died was to reveal the righteousness of God through the Gospel – that yes, there is judgment for sin, but He (Christ) took that punishment! This is grace! This is hope! This is the only way to be justified in the sight of God and we are called to submit to it by repenting of our sin and putting our trust in Christ who “loved us and gave Himself for us” (Eph. 5:2). How great is His love! Look to the Lord and be saved…. For with Him is abundant redemption!

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might
become the righteousness of God in Him.
-- 2 Cor 5:21 (NKJV)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lose the Label!

“I’m a _________, therefore I believe….”

Have you ever heard someone say something like that? Even the best of us can make the mistake of defending our beliefs based on a label. “I’m a protestant therefore I believe we are saved not by our works”, “I’m a Calvinist, so I believe in election”, “I’m a Baptist so I don’t dance”, “I’m a Pentecostal so I believe in speaking in tongues”, etc. etc…. Whatever happened to basing our beliefs on the Word of God? Shouldn’t we rather say, “Based on the Word of God, I believe ___________” and then just leave it at that?

Jesus said to the Father, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). Our religion is not based on the teaching of man, but of God. It’s not about a denomination; it’s about what the Word of God says. When we put a label on ourselves, whether it’s a denomination name (like Baptist or Pentecostal) or a man’s name (like Calvinism or Arminianism) I truly believe we diminish the name of Christ.

If you specifically asked me what denomination I am I will probably tell you that I am a Reformed Baptist. In other words, I’m Calvinistic in regards to the “doctrines of grace” as they are called, but I’m not Presbyterian when it comes to baptism, I believe in believer’s baptism not infant baptism. In labeling myself so I am taking what I believe and packaging it in a simple box. We all have labels. Catholic, Protestant, liberal, conservative, Wesleyan, Lutheran… I used to be very proud of the fact that I was a “Calvinist” and I would argue and defend Calvinism and loved it. I found a security and pride in what I believed. But in the last year I’ve realized that my heart behind my love for doctrine was all wrong. I was finding my security in doctrine instead of the Person of the doctrine.


Most people think that idolatry is worshiping something instead of God. While that is true, the meaning actually goes deeper. Idolatry is putting anything before God. Idolatry then can be anything. Marriage can be an idol if you esteem it more than you do God. Children, money, man’s approval… can all be idols in our hearts. But have you ever considered that doctrine can be an idol?

Do you put doctrinal points at the center of your life instead of God Himself? Do you find that you are consumed with studying doctrine instead of studying to become more like Christ? Do you argue about a doctrinal position at the expense of alienating or offending a fellow Christian? (And just so you know, I will admit that I have done these things.)

Lose the label!

I don’t know about you, but the only label I want to bear is Christ – and that’s an awesome enough label as it is! Think about it…. Christian. It literally means “little Christ”. We bear the very name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; the One who lived and died on our behalf. The Bible says that Christ actually dwells in us… we are His temple, His dwelling place! The question is how well do we bear His presence?

“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ’…. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect… For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Cor 1:10-12, 17 & 2:2)

I shall end with a marvelous quote from Spurgeon, with whom I quite agree:

“There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer – I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it.”
 – C.H. Spurgeon (from A Defense of Calvinism)

Let us learn to love only the label of Christ Himself, and may the center of our doctrine be Jesus and the Gospel of His kingdom, and the layer around it – sincere love for the brotherhood.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

You Can Walk on Water

You Can Walk on Water.
“No I can’t”, you may protest. “That’s impossible! OK, so Jesus walked on water… and Peter did when Jesus called him to, but we can’t.” But we are called to live an impossible life. Jesus said, “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Are you perfect? “Of course not”, you reply. “No one is.” Well, what are we to do then? The modern church will just pat you on the back and say, “It’s ok, God will still accept you the way you are.” But is that true? Habakkuk 1:13 says of God, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness”. We cannot come to God in our sin. “Well, yes,” you will agree, “But God’s grace covers all our sin”. Does it? Grace is not just God coming along side of us and accepting us, Grace is found in Jesus.  “Yes, in Christ we are forgiven” you respond. Indeed. It was while we were “yet sinner”s that Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8) but does coming to Christ mean only forgiveness? Are we just to accept that and sit back in the boat when we could be walking on water? “Christ walked on water so we didn’t have to” you may argue. But if that’s true than once we’re “saved” we can go back living the way we were before. “No… um… well...” you say while shifting uncomfortably, “of course there’s supposed to be a change, but there’s only so much we can do”. Much more so, without Christ we can do nothing. “So if it’s impossible,” you sigh, “then what are we arguing about?” Because, “if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:13-14). If we are indeed sons of God then we are called to live accordingly. We are called to live a life in accordance to the Spirit of God. “But how are we supposed to walk on water if it’s impossible?” you cry. The secret of imitation is impartation. We only have the power to imitate Christ by the fact that Christ lives in us. Paul said in Galatians 2, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). We are crucified to the flesh. While we still live and breathe, Christ is the one who is living through us. “But it doesn’t seem like Christ is living through me” you protest. Romans 6 says, “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7). “I know that that’s what the Bible says,” you cry, “but it doesn’t seem like I’m free”. That’s because knowing this is not enough; verse 11 says to “reckon yourself” as dead to sin. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”. This is truth and you must reckon it as such in your life. Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63). It is only through the Spirit of God that we can have new life and victory over sin. “But if I’m saved don’t I already have the Spirit of God?” is the next question you ask. Yes, you do and He is changing you, but you do not have His power working in your life do you? “Well,” you say uneasily, “I have… I mean… isn’t the Christian life supposed to be struggling against sin? That’s what Romans 7 talks about.” Well, then, what about Romans 6? That comes first you know. And besides, at the end of chapter 7 when he cries out for deliverance he says, “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 7:25). And that goes right into Romans 8 that is all about walking after the Spirit. Are you walking after the Spirit? “No,” you reply miserably, “I feel like I’m stuck in chapter 7.” It is the realization that Christ lives in you that will set you free. Ephesians 2 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-6). Not only are we made alive and raised up to new life, but we are seated together IN Christ. Paul talks about the mystery of God that now revealed which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). In this light, “if Christ is in you, [than] the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10). You need to realize your position in Christ. God’s grace is not just forgiveness; it is the enabling power of God working in and through us. It is the grace of God that is teaching us that, “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
Now we can say with Paul, that although we were once slaves to sin “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57)! 
And to that, I pray you will say, “Amen”.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Jesus I am Resting....

I recently discovered a music artist named Matthew Smith. He has a song called “Jesus, I am Resting”, that I’ve come to love, so I will share the lyrics with you:

Jesus I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art,
I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee as Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy life-transforming power, Thou has made me whole.

Jesus I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art,
I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.

O how great Thy loving kindness, vaster, broader than the sea!
O how marvelous Thy goodness, lavished all on me.
Yes I rest in Thee beloved, know what wealth of grace is Thine
Know Thy certainty of promise and I’ve made it mine.

Jesus I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art,
I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.

Simply trusting Thee Lord Jesus, I behold Thee as Thou art.
And Thy love so pure so changeless, satisfies my heart!
Satisfies its deepest longings, meets, supplies its every need.
‘Compasth me round with blessing, Thine is love indeed!

Jesus I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art,
I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.

Ever lift Thy face upon me, as I work and wait for Thee,
Resting ‘neath Thy smile O Jesus, earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory, sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting, fill me with Thy grace!

Jesus I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art,
I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.

Listen HERE: 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ONE in Christ

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish… For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Eph 5:25-27, 30-32 (NKJV)

I have read this passage many times. I’ve heard it read at weddings and exposited by different preachers. At the end Paul says that he is speaking of Christ and the church, but I still didn’t quite get it. But recently I had a revelation – meaning the Holy Spirit gave me new insight to Scripture that I hadn’t had before. And it was this: I am one body, one flesh, one bone, with Christ.

I have known for some time the fact that I am one with Christ, but God has been increasing my understanding of what it really means. What does it REALLY mean to be ONE with Christ?

It is interesting to note that in this passage Paul quotes from Genesis 2 which refers to the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib and the union that it resulted in. This was a pre-fall event so there was no sin yet in the world. As Adam slept and gave up his rib for the forming of his sinless bride, so Christ slept in death in order to create for Himself a sinless bride, who would be one with Him. Sinless? Yes, sinless! (Keep reading!) Our lot is better than Eve’s though because through Christ’s sacrifice we not only receive right standing before God (which is what Eve enjoyed) but we have the life of God dwelling within us! Through His blood we are cleansed and in Him we have no spot or wrinkle, we are holy and without blemish. It says “that she should be holy” and I somehow thought it was referring to the future in that one day we “would” be holy. But what it says is that Christ cleansed her so that she should be holy – meaning that she IS holy. HE did the work and made her holy! In Christ, it’s not that we “should” be holy from our own efforts or that we have to wait for holiness, we ARE holy! We are, in Christ, sinless! “For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” How amazing is that? “…the two shall become one flesh.” We are really, truly ONE with Christ! Think, just think of the power of that position! IN Christ. Can anything get through Jesus that He doesn’t allow? Than it can’t touch us! As long as we are IN Him we won’t sin, the problem is, is that we keep listening to our experience or the “old man” that is positionally dead. Praise be that when we sin we have an Advocate who is Christ Himself, but we have been given the Word of God “so that [we] may not sin” (1 John 2:1). O that we would be lost in Christ and stay in Him! Jesus, draw me nearer to your heart that I may rest in You from my dead works; that all I do may be born of the Spirit of God and not of my own talents and abilities. May the Church of God rise up and not grieve the Spirit nor shut out the One who died for us, but may He have ALL of us! May we not be cold or lukewarm and lose the light that has been give us (Revelation 3) - may we burn with passion for Him!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Spiritus Sanctus (A prayer to the Holy Spirit)

O Holy Spirit,
As the sun is full of light, the ocean full of water,
Heaven full of glory, so may my heart be full of thee.
Vain are all divine purposes of love and the redemption wrought in Jesus
except Thou work within, regenerating by Thy power,
giving me eyes to see Jesus, showing me the realities of the unseen world.
Give my Thyself without measure,
as an unimpaired fountain, as inexhaustible riches.
I bewail my coldness, poverty, emptiness, imperfect vision,
languid service, prayerless prayers, praiseless praises.
Suffer me not to grieve or resist Thee.
Come as power, to expel every rebel lust, to reign supreme and keep me Thine;
Come as teacher, leading me into all truth, filling me with all understanding;
Come as love, that I may adore the Father, and love Him as my all;
Come as joy, to dwell in me, move in me, animate me;
Come as light, illuminating Scripture, molding me in it's laws;
Come as sanctifier, body, soul and spirit wholly Thine;
Come as helper, with strength to bless and keep, directing my every step;
Come as beautifier, bringing order out of confusion, loveliness out of chaos.
Magnify to me Thy glory by being magnified in me,
and make me redolent of Thy fragrance.

~From The Valley of Vision 

Monday, June 6, 2011

He Controls the Wind

O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind...
-Psalms 104:1-3

June 1, 2011 will be a day that many will remember in the state of Massachusetts. Not one, but TWO tornado’s touched down in the southwestern part of the state, killing 4 people, injuring around 200 and destroyed hundreds of homes.

My mom, sister and I were in Springfield MA that afternoon doing some shopping. Around 3:00 we heard a weather announcement of a tornado watch in the Springfield area, but we’ve had those before and so we didn’t think very much of it. Around 3:45 pm we got in the car and my mom asked my sister if she wanted to go anywhere else, but she really wanted to go home as she and her little one (my nephew) were pretty tired. We drove across the Connecticut River and down routes 91 and 20 to her house (about 5 miles east of the town of Brimfield MA). My mom left us there and I took my car and went to switch cars with my brother-in-law where he worked just the next town north of them. I got back to her house around 5pm only to find no one around. “We’re down here” my sister yelled from the basement. “Why are you in the basement” I inquired. “Because the weatherman said that there’s a tornado coming this way and to get in the basement!” Oh. Well, I had the presence of mind to grab a few things before going downstairs, but then I kept coming back up to keep checking outside. After about a half hour we decided it was safe to come up and we hadn’t seen a trace of a storm let alone a tornado and thanks to the TV we could see that it had gone north of us. But just as we were starting to relax, we were informed by the weather channel that there was another storm coming and it could turn into a tornado. Well, I wanted to be prepared so I got some bottles of water, food and stuff for the baby all ready to take downstairs if we needed to go down again. Around 6:30pm it was announced that there was a second tornado in the Springfield area. It was looking like it would miss us again but it could always change direction so we were waiting and watching. At 6:45pm my brother-in-law got home, and the weatherman announced that the tornado was headed due east (straight towards us)! I remember even then having just a calmness and assurance that everything was going to be fine. Just as we were going to head downstairs, the power went out completely. We went into the basement and stayed there for a half an hour, occasionally going out to check the sky and listen. We heard and saw nothing, and didn’t even get a drop of rain. We knew that it couldn’t have been too far away, but we had no power to find out anything and the cell phone reception wasn’t very reliable either. Later that evening we got a really bad thunderstorm which made us a little nervous – would there be a third tornado? But, there wasn’t, it was just a bad storm and there was no damage from it. It wasn’t until the next day that we found out just how close, and how destructive the tornado had been. It had missed us by about 5 miles! Just the next town over had been directly hit, houses and businesses completely destroyed and acres of woods flattened! Furthermore, we learned that the first tornado traveled from Springfield MA along the Connecticut River and on or near routes 91 and 20 – where we had been only 45 minutes prior! Needless to say, we are praising God for His provision and are extremely thankful for having been spared from being hit by the storms! 

The first tornado going over the Connecticut River. You can barely see the bridge in the picture - 
we crossed at that spot about 45 minutes before it hit!

Tornado damage:
 Location: Monson, MA
Location: Brimfield, MA (next town over from where I was)
Location: Brimfield MA
I love this last picture. I was drawn to this verse in light of it: "When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation" - Proverbs 10:25.  If these people weren't believers - I sure hope and pray they will see God's protection and turn to Him!

The LORD controls the wind, and I for one am glad; even though I don't understand why He lets things like this happen, I'm glad He's in control... otherwise He is no all-powerful God! Even when bad things happen, He is still good, just and holy. May all this destruction call to mind His greatness and may all the world humble themselves before Him!

“There were present at that season some who told [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish’." (Luke 13:1-5, NKJV)