LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Thursday, January 31, 2008


To be pampered, flattered, and applauded by men,
is a poor, base thing, that is not worth having.

To be despised, to be spit upon, to be caricatured, and to
be jeered, is the highest honor that a Christian can have.

Th world despises Christ......

Do not imagine that it is possible, fairly
and squarely, to preach Jesus Christ and
His Gospel without raising opposition.

There is no hope of faithfully preaching
Christ without being called disrespectful
names, regarded as a fool and reckoned
among the vulgar and ignorant. Some kind
of ugly name will always be appended to
the preacher of the true Gospel.

Brethren, expect it and accept it!
Bid farewell to a quiet life, if you
resolve to be true to Jesus.

Nothing excites such animosity
as the preaching of Jesus!

The carnal mind rages
at the Cross of Christ!

That which would be to men the greatest
comfort and the greatest joy if they were
in their right minds, is their direst hate
because sin has perverted their judgments.

Of course nobody opposes
an indistinct, colorless, please
everybody gospel that is not
worth anything.

But speak clearly and distinctly the doctrine
of the great Sacrifice and you will bring upon
your head a shower of opposition.

The carnal mind rages at the Cross of Christ!


"And the world hates them because they do not
belong to the world, just as I do not." John 17:14

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Poverty in Prayer

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
(Proverbs 28:9 – ESV)

Did you ever have a problem, a serious problem, and no matter how hard you prayed, God seemed to be turning a deaf ear to you? Perhaps it is because your prayers are not seasoned with soul food; you haven’t been in your Bible lately. However, if you have been in His Word, and your prayers aren’t getting answered with a “yes”, then there is some other thing, and this might not apply to you today. Be on guard about it, though, and be brutally honest with yourself about it. For the seasoned Christian, we most often sin in ways we don’t even realize (Psalm 19:12-14).

If you have been out of His Word, then you cannot hear His voice because your heart is so hard He could be shouting the answer, and you still wouldn’t hear. It isn’t that God is deaf it is that you are. You aren’t answering His call. It is like you have a phone call in to Him, but He was already on the other line trying to call you first. You can’t seem to get through to each other because you are on different lines. He called you first, click over to that line. He is always calling you to read His Word, to study it, to learn it, to do it. He cannot answer your prayer until you answer that call. We must continually be in His Word for that Word to be continually keeping our hearts soft, our eyes open, and our ears ready and able to hear.

If you stay out of His Word, you can’t pray out of your world. You dug yourself into that worldly pit without His Word, and now you must dig yourself out with His Word. Why should God deliver you right now when you failed to plant the seeds of deliverance back then? No, you must plant those seeds for there to be a harvest. How can His Word save you when it isn’t sown in your heart? If you had sown it long ago, but haven’t sown it recently, are your meager tears enough to water the seed and make it active again? Is that what you mean to do, to trust in your own sincerity when the chips are down? The less worth God’s Word has to you the less worth your prayers will have to God.

Friend, you need to work your soil and keep planting the seeds of God’s kingdom in your heart. You cannot do this on your own any old time you feel like it; you must remain diligent. Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty (Proverbs 28:19 – ESV). The reason you are in such spiritual poverty is that you have strayed from the house of God, from the Word of God, from the people of God.

Now true, godly spiritual poverty is where you remain broken and usable before God, where you may be bold because of finding your worth in Christ (Hebrews 4:16), at the same time understanding your utter poverty without Him. This is evidenced by reliance; continued reliance on Him. And this happens by staying in His Word, not straying from His Word (John 8:31-32). You see there is the spiritual poverty where someone has tended another garden, outside the will of God, outside the Word of God, outside the walls of God’s design, and the fruit is ripe to cause destruction in your life (Galatians 6:7-8).

It isn’t about mustering up a mustard seed when you pray. It isn’t about how much faith you have during the prayer; it is about how much faithfulness you have had before it. Not how obedient you have been to earn a prayer reward, no, we aren’t talking about a performance based prayer theology. But have you been spending time with Him in His Word at all, do you know His voice, today? Remember, He values your words as you value His.


Bumpable Post - Gone With The Wind

We are experiencing a tremendous windstorm right now in Rochester. The lights, they are a flickering. If you don't see me around these next 2 days it is because the wind has wiped me out of blog existance. (Prolly not a bad thing, eh?)



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Holy Manna

John 6:58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.

Praise God that just as he feeds the birds and everything else with his bounty, he provides the human race with all that is necessary to sustain their physical life. How much more are sinners blessed for the holy manna that is provided for their spiritual lives. Jesus provided this spiritual food with his own flesh on the cross of Calvary. Those sinners that partake of this free bread receive the gift of eternal life. Jesus said: John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

Free holy manna is indeed a wonderful and glorius thing for our meditation. This meditation will lead sinners to acknowledge the wonderful theological principles that are contained in the great hymn listed below. No matter what our worldly circumstances are with ill health and troubles, believers are blessed beyond measure and should rest in the fact that, when we are called to heaven, we will sit at Christ’s table and be served sweet manna all around. Praise God for the peace and joy this brings.

Brethren We Have Met To Worship
Words by: George Atkins

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Brethren, see poor sinners round you slumbering on the brink of woe;
Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go?
See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down;
Brethren, pray and holy manna will be showered all around.

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Is there here a trembling jailer, seeking grace, and filled with tears?
Is there here a weeping Mary, pouring forth a flood of tears?
Brethren, join your cries to help them; sisters, let your prayers abound;
Pray, Oh pray that holy manna may be scattered all around.

Let us love our God supremely, let us love each other, too;
Let us love and pray for sinners, till our God makes all things new.
Then He’ll call us home to Heaven, at His table we’ll sit down;
Christ will gird Himself and serve us with sweet manna all around.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Message of The Gospel

The Gospel.

As I see it presented, discussed and interpreted in some blogs, the message of the gospel is made out to be so overly complicated, who could understand it? Or, by contrast, it's reduced to practically nothing, so who really needs it?

It seems to me that the Scriptures are very, very clear on who God is, on man in relation to Him, on sin, repentance, forgiveness and salvation.

Everything - as in E.V.E.R.T.H.I.N.G. - begins and ends in God. God is. I AM

I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. "Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it. "Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker -- An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?' Or the thing you are making say,'He has no hands'? "Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?' Or to a woman, 'To what are you giving birth?' " Isaiah 45:5-10

Wow - this and many other passages just like it ought to cause us to tremble at the Great God and Maker of this universe and everything in it.

And despite what some teachings would claim, God wasn't so lonely or desperate that He created man because He looooonnnnged for fellowship with him. Throughout the Bible, we see that everything He does is for the purpose of making known His glory. Good reference tools are Crosswalk.com and BibleGateway.com. Do a search on "glory" and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Without turning this post into a thesis paper, I'll simply say the Scriptures teach that human beings are depraved sinners. We're this way by nature via birth. 'Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned'-- Romans 5:12. In other words, because Adam (the 'one man') disobeyed God, the DNA of the entire human race became fractured. So again, despite bad teaching, we are not born "good" and become "bad" through upbringing and environment.

See also Romans 3.

Because we are depraved sinners, we cannot have a relationship with a just, holy and righteous God; we cannot know Him, and we cannot spend eternity with Him. We cannot be 'good enough' to earn His favor; we have nothing to offer Him - e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. is ALREADY His; we have nothing with which to barter. We are helpless and hopeless in our wicked, sinful, depraved state. And we're headed for hell without His merciful intervention.


He is merciful; He is gracious, and He is loving. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

See this whole passage in Romans 5.

Read Ephesians 2, too!

God condescended. He sent His Son to live on this earth. To absorb His wrath. To die so that we might be saved. 'He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. ' 2 Cor 5:21

The Bible teaches that we must repent. And that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2:21

Good News, indeed.

Maybe in reading this, God has begun to stir your heart. Perhaps this writing is just one tiny thing in a string of events that God has used or is using to draw you to Himself. I wouldn't really know. But He does. And you do.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Neither do I condemn you

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I despair. Despair over my own lack. Despair over my seemingly slow-as-molasses sanctification. Despair over my miniscule love for God. Despair over my greed, my selfishness, my pride.

I don’t wallow in it to the point of actual depression or visible despair. If you met me, you’d never know these thoughts invade my inner heart. But still, I despair.

Yesterday, while reading a regular mailing from John Piper’s ministry, I saw these words regarding the story of Christ telling the woman caught in adultery, "Neither do I condemn you..."
(John 8:11):

“Wearing Jesus’ righteousness, the Father viewed her as if she had never sinned and as if she had perfectly obeyed, because Jesus became sin for her and he perfectly obeyed the Father on her behalf.”

What struck me immediately was that this states she was able to "wear Jesus' righteousness" before He had physically served as the propitiation for her sins - she was forgiven of God before Christ physically hung on the cross.

This reminded me of a question that Daniel had once posed to me, when he asked, in essence, “How do you think OT saints were saved - by the blood of bulls and goats, or by the blood of Christ?”

It seems remarkable to me now that I had never before given that idea the deep consideration it is due, but instead somewhat idly figured that God had saved them somehow before Jesus' death and resurrection - and separate from it. Yet the Old Testament is replete with references to the coming Savior for His people.

They were saved – just as we are today – by faith through grace in One Lord, one Messiah, one Redeemer. They were merely looking forward – whereas I look back – to one point in chronological time when something remarkable occurred that was arranged in eternity.

Although all of this is intellectually interesting, it became all the more appealing to my heart when I read words of John Piper quoted further down in the letter. He wrote: “…and I need the grace of promised help from Jesus today and tomorrow.”

It made me realize that I needn’t despair of my seemingly slow sanctification, my imperfect walk, my shallow heart.

Although I recognize that all of my sanctification rests in God’s hands – I need not only look back with a grateful heart; I too can look forward – just like the OT saints did. I look forward to God’s promises that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Not that I mustn’t continue to submit to Him wholly or mortify the old man, but that I must in the faith He has bestowed upon me rest fully in His promises.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Tolerance or nonsense

Acts 4:13-20 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (14) But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. (15) But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, (16) saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. (17) But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” (18) So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. (19) But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, (20) for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

Peter and John were told by the rulers , elders, and scribes to speak no more about Jesus. Why? They did not want the message about Jesus, that Peter and John were proclaiming to spread any further because their religion and their beliefs were being challenged. Their message about Jesus was a message that was in conflict with their religious dogma and it threatened their power. Peter and John were making exclusive truth claims. Peter and John boldly stated that they were compelled to obey God and not men and continue to proclaim the truth.

This truth is also under tremendous attack today in our post-modern culture. Truth is deemed relative and hard to know for certain. Freedom of religion has been a hallmark in America since the beginning of the country, and tolerance is the concept that freedom of religion rests. Religious tolerance means to have a permissive attitude toward beliefs that you do not agree with and consider wrong. However, an ever-growing number in our post-modern society consider this view to be intolerant. Since many claim truth is relative, it is considered intolerant to believe your truth is correct and someone with a different truth belief is wrong. Post-modern thinking asserts that two conflicting religious views must both be considered valid in order to be tolerant. This nonsense is pervasive in our country as most political, media and university leaders all affirm that accepting the validity of conflicting religious beliefs is necessary to be politically correct and tolerant. Perhaps this illogical nonsense reached a pinnacle when Bill Mahr said on the Bill O’Reilly show, “I hate it when people tolerate intolerance.” There you have it. The only thing left not to tolerate is intolerance. Bible believing brothers and sisters we are considered intolerant for not affirming other religions as being valid and true. Many that claim to be Christians have already adopted this PC view. For example, Larry King loves to ask Christians of all stripes if Jesus is the only way to salvation. It seems very few will say without reservation yes Larry that is true, and many will openly assert that God is so loving and big that he surely has provided many ways to salvation. The result of this politically correct gobbly gook is that everyone who claims Christianity as the only truth and only way are marginalized as fundamentalist, conservative, literalists, born again, intolerant, etc. Further those holding these views are called dangerous and in many cases compared to being as dangerous as Islamic Jihadists.

We are now faced with the same decision that Peter and John faced. Are we going to conform so as to be acceptable by the world or are we going to listen to God? The pressure to conform is increasing as we speak.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hunger For The Lost

Oh, my brothers and sisters in Christ, if sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stop, and not madly to destroy themselves. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.

From Spurgeon's sermon, "The Wailing of Risca"


Monday, January 21, 2008


The Mountains so high, the rivers that flow
The flowers with their scent, the wintry snow.
The birds singing their song, the wind fierce and calm,
The beauty of Salvation, I sit in your palm.

The bright stars in the sky, the water, the land,
The many animals all so unique, our fellow man,
The homes we live in, the food we eat,
You have not left anything you promised, incomplete.

The bible you have given us Old and New
we cherish the words that flow through and through,
your sword pierces our heart and pierces our mind
and opens up the heart of the lost and blind.

I'm in Awe of you Majesty, I'm in Awe of your strength
Your love is for always, you forgive at any length.
Your the Lamb of God, Your the sacrifice of your sheep
your blood set us free, this is the promise you will keep.

(Mark asked me to post this)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

John 15:18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (12) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus concluded the Beatitudes with the statement in the above passage. He pronounces a blessing on Christians that have been reviled and persecuted and goes on to tell them that they should rejoice and be glad when it happens.

(Revile: to assail with contemptuous or opprobrious language; address or speak of abusively.)

Therefore the contributors here at Bluecollar have reason to rejoice and be glad over the comments we had this past Thursday and Friday. For proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ unfiltered we have been accused of and called the following: ignorant, bigoted, cowardly, deluded, impatient ,superstitious, self-righteous, afraid of questions, prejudiced, having a god-delusion, needing to be ashamed, wallowing in an evidence-denying world, intolerant, dogmatic, fanatical, aggressive, lack of humility, lack of graciousness, judgmental, making scary threats, bullying, perpetrating our delusion, sounding like a monk doing his incantations, and purposefully filling children’s heads with fear! All of this was written on just two threads. One Unitarian universalist said, "truth is what you perceive it to be" and won a convert from New Zealand with this logic. JD was lied about and falsely accused of being a self-styled prophet and in the ministry for financial reward. Some of the commenters were from England and insulted and accused our president of going to war because “God told him to”. We were mockingly asked if we have any idea where the Lake of Fire actually is? Then, after JD set the record straight on the falsehood about his position, he was accused of resorting to ad hominem attacks. I believe we have met the standard for being reviled.

Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!

Our response should be love and prayer. There is no greater love than proclaiming the truth to people under the control of Satan and the world. This we did and we can be comforted and be glad for our response of truth. We are not called to be passive and concede the truth battle, but we are to put on the whole armor of God and participate. In addition to the Bluecollar contributors, I would like to commend donsands, Matt Waymeyer, Ben, and Magnus for their contributions and support.

The Holiness of God by Paul Washer (Part 1)

A sobering video about the foremost attribute of God-Holiness

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Friday, January 18, 2008


(an email from James Lush)

“We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves
as public relations agents sent to establish good will
between Christ and the world. We must not imagine
ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to
big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our
message is not a compromise but an ultimatum”
- A.W. Tozer


Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Does the sinner need to repent in order to be saved?
by Colin Maxwell

I'm afraid so!. Not the best of news to any who want to enjoy Heaven while they can hold unto their sins, but this is how it stands in the Bible, and we fail to preach the whole truth if we either neglect it or (worse still) oppose it.

Repentance in the Bible is a change of mind, induced by faith in the gospel message, but it is a change of mind that will lead to a change of direction. IOW, you can talk all you want about a change of mind, but if it doesn't work its way through to the behaviour, then your words are empty words.

Does this leave us open to the charge that we are preaching salvation by faith plus works? Are we asking the sinner (say the drunkard) to give up his sins in order to be saved? Are we preaching reformation of character as part of the mix that leads to forgiveness of sins? We say, like Paul, at this point not only "In no wise" but "God forbid!" The sinner has no power in himself to forsake his sins in any Evangelical sense of the word. He might be able to swap his sins i.e. cease being a drunkard and become a good living Pharisee, but he cannot forsake them in the manner demanded by the word of God. Furthermore, unless the Spirit of God has being moving upon his heart, the sinner has no desire to forsake them. They are the darling sins of his heart. He loves their darkness rather than the light, for his deeds are evil (John 3:19) Only the goodness of God will lead him to repentance (Romans 2:4) and such must be given unto him (Acts 11:18) While he has a responsibility to forsake his sins - it is never right to stay in sin - yet that same sin has chained him and so he needs nothing less than the mighty power of God's saving truth to set him free (John 8:32-36)

Repentance preachers are not looking for reformation of character. We do not tell (say) drunkards to go away, clean up their lives and come back when they have been off the drink for 3 or 6 months (zero tolerance) and then (and only then) we will explain John 3:16 to them.

A sinner hears the gospel. He learns that there is a hell for sins and a Saviour in Jesus Christ etc., Being convicted of his sin by the power of the Holy Spirit, he expresses his desire to be saved. We ask him: "Saved from what?" We are not looking here for theologically precise answers. He is a sinner from off the street and not necessarily a doctrinaire. We are not going to nitpick his language, but we need to know why he has expressed a desire to be saved. If he just wants to be saved from the hell below, but not from the hell within (i.e. the chains and bondage of sin) then he has not properly understood the gospel. That might (at least partly) be our fault. Have we faithfully preached Christ as the Saviour of His people from their sins? (Matthew 1:21) Did we emphasise in our message that Jesus Christ is the One Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14) If not, then we must make up the slack here as we chat with this interested sinner. We lay it down the line, gently but firmly, that he cannot know peace with God if he is still living in rebellion as a sinner. God does not save His people in their sins, much less for their sins. Is he willing to then forsake these sins that alienate him from God and is he willing to cast the destiny of his soul upon the finished work of Jesus Christ as the only hope of his salvation? He affirms. We do not (as said) send him away for a trial period. There and then, we point him to the Lamb of God in faith. If the Spirit of God has truly being doing His work, that sinner's life will be changed for ever - not by mere outward, man produced reformation, but by the mighty power of the gospel that automatically makes those that be in Christ to be new creatures. There is no more merit in repentance than there is faith. Neither of them earn salvation for the sinner, but both are required to bring him salvation. Christ does not pardon those who are living in brazen rebellion.

This is the old time gospel, as proclaimed by old time Evangelicals, both Calvinists and non Calvinists alike. Listen to J. Vernon McGee's comments on Ephesians 2:8-9
"Someone else objects, 'Maybe I'm not given the gift of faith.' That's not your problem. Your problem is that you don't want to give up your sins which the Bible condemns. Whenever you get sick of your sins, when you want to turn from yourself, from the things of the world, from religion, from everything the Bible condemns, and turn to Christ, then you will be given faith. You can trust Him."

Let me take another man, John R Rice, whose books sold in the millions:
“To repent literally means to have a change of mind or spirit toward God and toward sin. It means to turn from your sins, earnestly, with all your heart, and trust in Jesus Christ to save you. You can see, then, how the man who believes in Christ repents and the man who repents believes in Christ. The jailer repented when he turned from sin to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” (John R. Rice, What Must I Do to Be Saved?, 1940).

There is no shortage of quotes from the Calvinist side of the Evangelical fence, but I'll let these quotes from John Calvin suffice:

"The Hebrew word for repentance denotes conversion or return. The Greek word signifies change of mind and intention." (Institutes 3:3:5) Having defined repentance, Calvin continues elsewhere, "We never obtain forgiveness without repentance."

So, we answer that the sinner must repent to enjoy salvation. If he does not repent, then he will perish (Luke 13:5) The perishing of Luke 13:3-5 is not some temporary, earthly disaster. The wicked do not always reap their sins in this life. This fact has often caused great problems to many of God's people - David in Psalm 73 comes to mind. They often die in the greatest of prosperity and live long, pleasure filled years. The Lord Jesus in Luke 13:3-5 is referring to the burning hell of Luke 16:19-31 from where (significantly) the Rich Man sought Lazarus to be sent to preach repentance to his five remaining brothers, lest they too come to place of torment.

I, for one, regard this as a fundamental of the Christian faith. Don't let it be lost!

Useful reference pages with quotes:
I am not a fan of David Clouds, but this page on repentance is sound, again many good quotes:

Any thoughts? Keep them civil!

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Question For Free Gracers

See the discusion here http://free-grace.blogspot.com/2007/12/so-youre-born-again-but-will-you-walk_19.html

Let us say there was a person who, since the very moment he came to believe Jesus' promises for eternal life, lived a life in total obedience to The Father. His meat was to do his Father's will, and he was always about his Father's business. This was so for many years.

One day though he fell into temptation and lay with a woman not his wife, and died during this adulteress affair.

1) would this disqualify him from being considered an overcomer?

2) Wouldn't that mean that one cannot know for sure that they are an overcomer until they are on their deathbed, just minutes away from death?

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Power of Praise?

And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.
(2 Chronicles 20:22 – ESV)

Many people talk of or teach on the power of praise. They often use this passage from 2 Chronicles to “prove” their point. Now there may be a power of praise, but is this really what this passage is teaching us? Lets look at the context by giving a short synopsis of what was going on.

2 Chronicles 20:1-2 – The land was under invasion from several enemies.
2 Chronicles 20:3-13 – Jehoshaphat & the people seek God by fasting and prayer.
2 Chronicles 20:14-17 – They receive the promise of victory by prophecy.
2 Chronicles 20:18-19 – The people fell down in worship, the priests rose up and praised God.
2 Chronicles 20:20-25 – The king rallies everyone, appoints singers to go before the army, and as they praise God the enemies are overthrown, and the spoil is abundant.
2 Chronicles 20:26-30 – They give thanks for the deliverance and for the blessings, they return to Jerusalem with music, and there is peace.

Now there is no doubt that praise is a main element in this story. However, many look at verse 22 and think they see some secret power of praise. Yet this victory was not about some power of praise it was about the power of God predicated upon the repentance we see beginning in 2 Chronicles 19:4, and continued with the prophecy of victory and the people’s worship. It was not because they began to sing and praise but at the same time that they began to sing and praise. They turned to the Lord in repentance, and then they received word that God was going to deliver them, and they praised as God did His deliverance. It wasn’t that they’d never thought of praise, and that then God gave them some revelation about praise warfare, and that now we can all enjoy the blessing of that. It is not as if praise is the answer to all our problems.

No, this wasn’t a revelation of praise warfare, as if we can just sing our way out of sin, without any reference to or regard for repentance from sin. This wasn’t some magic formula given that we now apply universally to all our situations. Indeed, praise is a weapon of sorts, it is definitely part of the process, but it must be the outflow of an understanding of grace, and a natural consequence of having turned to the Lord in repentance. Otherwise praise IS NOT the answer to all your problems, and you cannot simply sing your way out of sin.

They turned to the Lord in repentance, and then they received the message, and the message was about the fact God was going to deliver them, not about how praise was going to deliver them. The message God may give to you may be of a different sort, but then we praise as an outcome of that. We must also turn to the Lord in repentance first, and then receive the message of victory the Bible declares, and then we can praise as God does His work. The thing to notice in this passage is not that praise won them the victory but that they turned to God and praised because He was going to deliver them. They didn’t praise to get something, they praised because they had already been promised it and were in the midst of getting it.

This doesn’t mean we look for some obscure promise in the Bible, and then if we want it we can “activate” it by praising God for it. No, this is simply a moment in the grand scheme, a slice of redemptive history. The lesson for us is that we should turn to God when we are surrounded by enemies, which spiritually speaking, is always. The world, the flesh, and the devil are always on the offensive against us. Then when God gives us a victory, we should praise His name. The power of praise is about recognizing the power of God. We should always be giving thanks to and praising God. We praise, not to get something, but because He is something.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Word Picture

...the glory of Christ, who is the image of God
(2 Corinthians 4:4 – ESV)

In 2 Corinthians 3:18 we are told that those who are beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory. And we are told that this change is by the Spirit of the Lord. We were made in the image of God, but that image was marred by the fall of man into sin. Now when we are born again, we begin to be transformed into Christ’s image. As we behold Him, the Spirit of the Lord changes us. The question is, how do we “behold” Him?

In this passage and our text above, the word image is “icon”, or picture, figure, representation. There are some churches that believe in having pictures that depict biblical persons or scenes and relics and such. They say they don’t worship them but they venerate, or revere them. I’m not so sure about all that, but in any event, that isn’t what the Apostle Paul means when he says we are to behold Christ.

We don’t become more like Jesus by looking at pictures we made, but by looking at the picture God has drawn, the “Word” Picture. The most beautiful pictures made by man can capture a sense of but not the substance of the real thing. However, God through the miraculous inspiration of the Holy Spirit gives us something of the substance of His Son in the words of scripture. In the bible we see Christ as He is, not in fullness but in truth. It is untainted by conception and aided by divine revelation.

Those things we think bring us closer to God, like a beautiful sunset, inspiring music, a thoughtful story, etc., are wonderful, and they serve a useful purpose, but the beauty of these things is only a shadow. They do not mediate the revelation of God to us or invoke the presence of God among us (1 Timothy 2:5). If those things inspire us to pray and give thanks to God for His creation and His common grace, then well. If we think those things bring special revelation of the saving kind, or that they are a ticket to the throne room, then we are in big trouble.

We are to come boldly before the throne of God by our prayers, not by our pictures (Hebrews 4:16). When James tells us to “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you ”, (James 4:8 – ESV) he means through the bible, prayer, and resisting Satan, not by looking at some artists conception, or by some means of grace not found in the Word.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Peace with God

Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (2) Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Peace is indeed an elusive commodity. Peace in family relationships, peace in the work place, peace in organizations, peace in the community, peace in the country, and world peace seem to always be in a state of turmoil. While it is possible to be at peace with not having peace, no human being can control or be assured of having peace with any other human being or with any human institution. In our fallen world the lack of peace is such a part of human life that it is taken for granted and considered normal. Police, lawyers, courts, laws, armies, counselors, rules, and divorce are just a few examples of things that are needed because of a lack of peace in human relationships. Man’s sinful nature has produced a world where peace between humanity is not possible, and even worse; mankind is under the wrath of God for this rebellion.

However, God has provided a way for human beings to have peace with Him. Praise God that through Jesus Christ the only peace that people really need is available. Peace with God is secured by his grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Since the promises of God are solid and enduring, peace with God is assured through this faith. Man’s peace may fail you, but the peace with God that comes through Jesus Christ is perfect and forever. You can count on it and rest in it.

No matter what our circumstances may be in this worldly life, having peace with God is far more valuable than any peace we may have with temporary worldly relationships or institutions. What a comfort it is to know that we have peace with God even if we do not have youth, wealth, health, or anything else of this world. Even death itself is but a door that carries us into the beginning of the eternal life that comes through God’s amazing grace. The older we get and the closer we get to passing through that glorious door that takes us to our heavenly home, the more praise we should have for God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Joy and thanksgiving, rather than fear, are the proper responses to such a glorious salvation. There will be peace in the valley for all that place their faith in our savior Jesus Christ. Praise and thank God for this peace that is our present possession and will be made perfect on that great day when we have peace in the valley.

Peace In The Valley
By: Thomas A. Dorsey

Well, I'm tired and so weary
But I must go along
Till the Lord comes and calls me away, oh yes
Where the morning's so bright
And the Lamb is the light
And the night is as bright as the day, oh yes

There will be peace in the valley for me some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord, I pray
There'll be no sadness, no sorrow, no trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me!

There the flowers will be blooming
And the grass will be green
And the skies will be clear and serene, oh yes
The sun ever beams in this valley of dreams
And no cloud will ever be seen, oh yes!

Well the bear will be gentle
And the wolves will be tame
And the lion shall lay down by the lamb, oh yes
And the beasts from the wild shall be led by a child
And I'll be changed from this creature that I am, oh yes!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Calvinism Precludes Human Merit

Calvinism, by definition, precludes any inclusion of human merit to God’s grace and the gift of eternal life. While Calvinism does not deny man’s will in his choice and decisions, it holds that man’s will is in such bondage to sin that he cannot choose God in his fallen nature. Man is simply unable to respond spiritually to God because he is spiritually dead. Due to original sin, man is born spiritually stillborn. He not only cannot attempt to merit eternal life, he can’t even accept the free gift of eternal life. Unless God intervenes with grace the human creature will remain spiritually dead. How can a Calvinist believe this and then add human merit or works to justification? It is logically incompatible.

Paul tells us “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—(Ephesians 2:4-5).” God, quickens spiritually dead men to spiritual life and enables them to respond. The Bible reports in Romans 8, Romans 9, Ephesians 1, and elsewhere that God before the foundation of the world chose some men to receive the free gift of eternal life and it is not based on anything they do or he foresees they will do. Even the faith to believe comes from God and not the decision of man (Eph. 2:8-9). How can a Calvinist believe this and then add merit or works to justification? Again, he can’t because it is logically impossible.

From the two foundational truths (Total inability and unconditional election) of Calvinism, it logically and necessarily follows that grace is irresistible and God will enable the elect to persevere in faith until death. Perseverance is an effect that God causes. Let me repeat, perseverance (the P in TULIP) is an effect not a cause. It is a result of God’s salvation and not a cause. If irresistible grace and perseverance do not follow the first two, then the first two are invalid and therefore not true. If human merit or works for justification is added at any point, then the whole theological system crumbles and becomes mere nonsense.

Now, it may be possible for a person to affirm Calvinism and erroneously add justification by works to the Biblical doctrines of Calvinism. However, that would be a problem with an individual human being and not the reformed system of doctrine known as Calvinism. If anyone attempts to add works justification to Calvinism, it is no longer Calvinism. If any critic quotes any persons’ writing in context or out context to assert that Calvinism adds works to justification, then they are pointing out the error of an individual and not the Calvinistic system.

Critics that continually charge that Calvinism affirms justification by works through the back door, side door or any other door are either:
(1) misunderstanding the doctrines of Calvinism
(2) incapable of logical thought
(3) disingenuous and attempting to elevate their faulty system by falsely discrediting Calvinism

Are there any other possibilities than these three? If you assert that Calvinism affirms a justification by works, which of these three reasons apply to you? For those of the “FREE GRACE THEOLOGY” system, you may consider this a challenge to show how adding works to justification would not morph Calvinism into something that is no longer Calvinism!

Please note, this article is not meant to provoke debate on the truth of Calvinism, but is intended to show the folly of critics who accuse Calvinism of attaching human merit to justification by faith alone. Therefore, I will not debate the five points of Calvinism on this post.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ministry Fulfilled

And say to Archippus, "See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord."
(Colossians 4:17 – ESV)

Why and how do we fail to fulfill our ministry in the Lord? Often we see our own fulfillment (enjoyment) as a prerequisite to fulfilling it. In other words, we won’t do it unless we are assured we will get something out of it. Sometimes, if we are trying to be pious or make ourselves feel as if we are rightly motivated, this means results. We see our fulfillment only if we feel we are fulfilling it. This may seem subtle but these are replacements for being fulfilled in Christ, and they are a means of self-salvation, in a sense.

Our failure to do it right, in the Lord, as unto God, for His glory, is due to our functional rejection of Him, our failure to relate what we do to what He did. Remembering Him frees our heart so we can change like we are commanded to. We don’t look down at ourselves but look up to Him. Now is not the time to get our eyes off of God. We must be on guard against mere moralism. Alistair Begg – the Gospel is not an invitation to imitate Jesus Christ, but it is an invitation to be transformed by Jesus Christ.

Unless we can see Him fight and win over the forces of ministry stress and ministry burnout and ministry rebellion and ministry rejection and all of that, then how can we fight the battle ourselves? But He has done it, He has fought and won the most important battles, and He has been our substitute, He has fulfilled that ministry perfectly, and now He empowers us to do ours. We can have a deep-seated security, knowing that we can continue to fulfill our ministry, because He has fulfilled His and He is helping us to fulfill ours, and He will never leave us nor forsake us in that call. That call always has something to do with the gospel, proclaiming it and living it out in whatever situations we find ourselves in, within our church community, and within own individual worlds, with words and actions.

If we were to fulfill our wildest dreams but do them without Christ it would do us no good. But Christ has given us the provision of His presence and we can fulfill our ministry to the glory of God, because it is not about us, but Christ in us. Look to Him and believe in Him and you will see to it that your ministry is fulfilled in the Lord. Then you will be able to say like the Apostle Paul said in Colossians 1:29 – For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. And 1 Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. And Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 3:20-21, and all those other verses swimming in your head right now will start to drive the point home to you.

If you are a Christian, God has already given you a ministry, and He has accepted you in His beloved company and approved you for this position of ministry. Only when you realize that will you be able to fulfill your ministry. God has already set His love on you, prior to your obedience, because of Christ’s obedience. Knowing that, you can have the heart to start and to keep going.

Only by taking our joy from His fulfilled ministry can we truly fulfill ours. If you are only trying to fulfill your call so that you will have a fulfilled life, you are not doing it for His sake, but your own. Without taking our joy from, seeing, and resting in Christ's obedience for us, we will never be obeying for the right reason, and not even truly obeying at all.

Look to Christ. Jesus has already seen to it, and even if we lose our ministry, if we lose our family, if we lose our wealth, if we lose our health, if we lose our wives, if we lose our lives, we will never lose our salvation!

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