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Thursday, December 12, 2013


Freewill - "The power asserted of moral beings of choosing within limitations or with respect to some matters without restraint of physical or divine necessity or causal law" (Webster Dictionary).   According to Webster's there may be some limits to freewill and there may be cases where there is no restraint.

I have been in church for over 45 years and have heard the term freewill so many times that I have lost count.  In a religious context the term is being used in relation to man and God.  Does man truly possess absolute freedom of choice or perhaps there are some limits to his choices?

A few observations of my freewill not working as of late.  First, the lake where I live is 8 feet low and it is a growing concern for local residence.  I went to the lake and stood on the shore and freely decided that the lake should be full.  Not surprisingly the lake is still 8 feet low.  Second, I am a avid cyclist and runner and in recent months my right knee has been causing me some problems.  Thus, the other night I freely and definitively made the freewill choice for my knee to be fully well.  However, my knee still hurts today.  Third, I have tried my freewill in the physical world, the physical body, and now I have tried it in a family matter.  My daughter lives in Alaska and recently gave birth to our first grandson.  They live just a bit over 4,000 miles away from us.  I made the freewill decision to have them move to Texas.  They are still in Alaska.  My freewill does not seem to be working out the way I wish it would. Fourth, perhaps I should try out my freewill in spiritual matters.  The thing that causes me the greatest difficulty in this life is sin.  If I could quit sinning surely my life would be full of abundance.  I made a resolute and firm freewill decision to stop sinning.  I decided that I would never sin again.  Well?  It did not work.

I was reading in Exodus this morning and started pondering the freewill of Pharaoh.  Pharaoh made a lot of decisions, but where his decisions contradicted God's decisions it was God who always got his way and Pharaoh who lost.  I list but one example.  In Exodus 1:10 Pharaoh says pen-yirbe, which means, "lest they multiply".  Pharaoh makes a decision to keep the Hebrew people from multiplying and enacts a direct order to murder all male babies.  In Exodus 1:12 God says, ken-yirbe, which means, "the more they shall multiply".  Two decisions have been made by two opposing parties.  They cannot both have what they choose.  In Exodus 1:20 the text says, "And the people multiplied and grew very strong".

God is the only possessor of absolute freedom and whatever He chooses He receives.  To quote the Psalmist, "Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases" (Psa. 115:3).  Rather than clinging to and yearning for a supposed freewill it would be far better to humbly fall before the God of heaven and say, "Thy will be done".  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bibles, Tablets, and Phones

I suppose I will be labeled as old fashioned or as a man who refuses to keep up with his culture, but there are many things that bother me about the modern devices of our generation.  I must admit upfront as I type on my Macbook Pro and listen to music playing on my iPad while waiting on cell service to reach Alaska where my iPhone will work, that I am a part of the technology of the day.  I have enough sense to know that I cannot stop the media world from going forward and I cannot escape the reality that I exist in this world.  I know that to get a message to my church family that I must send out the text message, email, twitter, or some other form of communication.  Gone are the days of a simple phone call or just simply meeting at the local coffee shop and passing on information.  I sure enjoyed life a whole lot more when people actually used their mouths to talk and their eyes to look at each other when they did.  I think it is important to look someone in the eye and have a conversation and to read the reactions of their faces.  All of this is lost in the electronic world and there is much mis-interpretation over text, email, and etc.

However, there is one thing that I am holding on too and I am resolved to hold on to it till the day that I die.  I am not willing nor am I ever considering giving up one piece of my history.  I have seen this item all but disregarded in my day, but I will go to the grave with mine.  It has been put away with numerous justifications by much of the religious world and the preachers have helped to usher this item out of our hands.  You may have guessed already, but let me be clear.  I am holding on to my book!  I am going to feel the leather on my fingers.  I am going to turn pages.  I am going to mark and underline with a black pen.  I am going to put notes in the front of my bible that are important to me.  I will use the first blank pages of my bible to write down quotes that are important to me.  When the preacher preaches I will look up the text in my book.  I will memorize my text on most occasions when I preach, but when I stand before the people I will open the book and place it on a pulpit (elevated and before the people; Neh. 8:4).  When I preach a funeral I will open the book and read the text in sight of the people.  When I go to the graveside I will open the book and read the appropriate text before the last prayer is prayed.  When it is time to join two people together in marriage I will continue to open the book and explain the covenant of marriage and to declare the gospel to all who are present.  When I go to the mission field to preach on the street, in the church, or in any other location I will not need electricity, powerpoint, nor will I need the projector to work.  I will simply open the book and help the people to understand the sense of it.

I know, I know that the electronic people have an answer for me.  I have heard all the answers before.  They use there tablets to do all of the above things that I listed.  Their tablets contain the same words my bible does.  I also know and have seen tablets (etc.) freeze up, batteries run dead, and the preacher to go to panic mode because one of his devices does not work.  I say, "memorize your text and take a bible in your hand".  I suppose electronics are faster, search better, and they have an amazing capacity to access all types of information.  It sounds good when people say this, but in reality I still hear more theology and in depth bible comprehension from the Puritans who possessed no electronics.  Stephen Charnock, John Owen, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Watson, and etc. remain far superior in the Word of God than the modern man with his electronic device.  We need to face the fact that information easily attained does not have the same root system  as that which is gained by diligent study.  

10 Reasons I think that people ought to hang on to their bibles:

  1. God's people are to be holy (separate from the world) and carrying a bible to church, school, work, or anywhere else will separate you from most of the known world.  
  2. An open bible on a desk, lunch table, or park bench communicates far better than a tablet
  3. Electronics are extremely distracting to study and temptation to view other things is real
  4. Fascination with what an electronic will do is different than marveling in the glories of Christ
  5. Your bible will never ring, vibrate, or make any other distracting noise while the preacher is preaching
  6. Electronics have glitches, bibles do not.
  7. Leaving electronics at home and loading bibles in the car will communicate much to your children about the Sabbath
  8. Gadgets demand your eyes, but the bible is more conducive to meditation upon the Word.  
  9. You do not have to upgrade every year if you buy a good bible and even if you buy a top of the line bible it will be cheaper than a tablet
  10. There is a great heritage to the book we call the bible and many men have bled and died to ensure that we have copies of it in our own language.  It is important to hang on to this heritage and pass it on to the next generation.  
P. S. When I grew up we received bibles at birth, graduation, ordination, weddings, and on other special occasions.  We always had an open bible on the communion table in the front of the church.  We had an open bible in the foyer of the church.  The pastor always had a bible on his desk when you went in his office.  These things mean something and they are worth holding on to. 

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Reporting Converts

Reporting of Conversions
I have been in the Southern Baptist church for over 45 years now and of those 45 years I have been involved in full-time ministry for almost 20 years.  I have seen, heard, and experienced the reporting of conversions in the church my whole life.  I have seen the usual method of seeing people walk forward at the end of a church service and ask Jesus in their heart.  This act was followed by a bold declaration of the pastor that so and so has been born again.  The congregation would always respond with a generous hand clap and the usual amen from the guy who always says amen.  I have seen the revival techniques of countless evangelists and their ability to get large numbers to come forward at the end of a service and ask Jesus into their hearts.  Once again this is followed by the joyful declaration of the pastor that so many were born again and then, yes you guessed it, the generous hand clap and the usual amen.  
I have heard the reports of foreign mission trips and local mission trips a hundred times over.  The numbers have been extremely large at times and followed with great rejoicing.  I distinctly remember one of my Mexico mission trips where we gathered at the end of the week and tallied up the numbers of converts.  What was so heartbreaking for me was that the number we came up with in Mexico grew by 20 by the time the report was given in the states.  I asked the pastor if 20 of our own people got saved on the bus ride home and he was not too impressed with my question.  
I am a man who is committed to the gospel and a man who regularly shares the gospel, but I am a man of questions as well.  Questions will not erase reality, but they will certainly expose falsehood.  I read an article this morning and the following is the gist of it (Article is found in “Southern Baptist Texan: Church outreach marks nearly 600 converts since 2010”; by Norm Miller; pg. 2):
Church outreach records 600 converts.  Out of these 600 converts they baptized 1/5 of them (120 – 480 were not baptized or we do not know if they were or not).  Why are 480 unaccounted for?  The church claims that the converts came from Beautiful Feet Ministries, mission trips, preaching in other churches, retreat settings, Vacation Bible School, musical presentation, jets, vacations, business trips, and North American Mission Board’s Evangelism Response Center.  I will comment upon this a little later.
How does the church report these converts?  A person leads someone to accept Jesus and then gets the converts name and contact information.  The person then calls the pastor and lets him know that another person has been converted.  The pastor has seven electric candles in front of the church and he lights one every time a call comes in and then on Sunday the people see the candle shining in front of the church and they can rejoice that God saved another soul.  This reporting is based upon John 1:4-5 and has now been given the title “Shattering the Darkness”.  My article would grow way too long to comment upon the misuse of John 1:4-5, so I shall refrain.  
I am all for conversion, but I have a few questions and thoughts.  I personally worked at Beautiful Feet Ministries for 3 years (a homeless mission in downtown Ft. Worth, Texas).  At Beautiful Feet Ministries they reported salvations almost every week and many of the ones they reported were from the same people getting ‘converted’ week after week.  In three years of ministry I never witnessed one baptism.  I did witness people who were drunks, drug addicts, and prostitutes who were reported ‘converted’, but they continued week after week as drunks, drug addicts, and prostitutes (I am not claiming no one was ever converted, but that the vast majority of ‘converts’ were repeats . . . God knows).  The article not only listed BFM, but also Vacation Bible School.  Why were the children from VBS not baptized?  After all the Southern Baptist are only a couple of years away from infant baptism so it seems like they ought to be able to get these 4 and 5 year old ‘converts’ baptized before VBS is over. 
How do you know if a man is converted?  How can you report confidently that a man has been born again?  If a man prays a prayer to accept Jesus, but never unites with a local church, is never baptized, and never becomes a disciple are we to conclude that he will go to heaven when he dies?  If a man says that he has prayed a prayer to ask Jesus in his heart five times can you guarantee that when you led him through the prayer the sixth time that it worked?  Can we light a candle and put in the front of the church as a testimony to the mercy of God in saving a sinner when there is a high probability that the person we lit the candle for is still unconverted?  
It is not a great achievement to get someone to repeat a prayer to ask Jesus into the heart, but try getting a person to stand in the waters of baptism and give their own testimony, unite with the local church, and serve that church for the glory of God until they die.  This will take a miracle and only God can accomplish it.  When Jesus finished sharing the gospel His disciples said, “Who then can be saved?”  Perhaps Jesus should have got the rich ruler to repeat a prayer and then Jesus could have lit a candle and the disciples could have rejoiced.  

Conclusion, preach the gospel, pass out tracts, do one on one evangelism, preach open-air, go on mission trips, and any other means possible to get the gospel into the ears of the lost, but do not buy into a superficial reporting of numbers for the glorification of the flesh and the winning of awards by the convention.  How should converts be reported?  Let them stand in the baptismal waters and give their own testimony and let them live their testimony out in a local church for the rest of their lives and all will know that they are one of Christ disciples.    

Friday, November 15, 2013

What to tell a sinner

How is the gospel presented today?

Years ago men knew how to speak to sinners and use the truth to touch the heart of man, but in the 21st century it is apparent that our approach is different.  There are numerous tracts that are given out to supposedly lead men to Christ, but there is a definite trend that shows the gospel is being weakened.  The modern gospel has a inherit desire to simplify things and to try as hard as possible to put things on a kindergarten level while at the same time presenting a picture of God that looks a little more like Santa Clause rather then the thrice holy God.  Let us take a brief look at a familiar gospel tract and contrast it with what the old dead guys would say to a sinner.

There was a popular gospel tract called the 4 Spiritual Laws and it is still around today.  The tract is introduced by saying that there are certain laws in nature (gravity) and there are certain laws spiritually. Here are the four laws that they present to man:

First, God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.

Second, man is sinful and separated from God.  Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life.

Third, Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin.  Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life. 

Fourth, we must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives. 

These four laws are quickly followed up with a simple prayer that can be prayed and when the prayer is repeated the person is then given assurance that they are right with God and will go to heaven when they die. 

Short synopsis of the above 4 laws - God loves you, there is a sin problem, God gave Jesus to help make things right, and now it is in the hands of men to make the right decision where love can be experienced. 

Contrast the above thoughts with what a godly pastor would tell a sinner just a few hundred years ago:

Dear sir, you must stop provoking God by your great sins, you need to abandon your carnal lusts, you need to separate from being involved in the cares of this world, you need to think upon your sin and your offense towards God, and you must consider the shortness of life and the horror of hell.  Time is a thing that is exceedingly precious; eternity depends on it, but time is very short.  

First, it is God's manner to make men sensible of their misery and unworthiness before he appears in his mercy and love to them.

Second, God convinces sinners of the dreadful danger they are in by reason of their sin, that is, the relation that their sin has to misery.

Third, men generally respond to conviction of sin by trying to be better people so that God will give them the grace to become believers.  Through failed efforts to become better people they begin to see the need for help.

Fourth, the very meaning of the word 'gospel' or good news implies that it is news of deliverance and salvation, after great fear and distress.  

The above thoughts are from Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and I have paraphrased them.  The contrast between the two sets of thought ought to be obvious.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

12 steps to Hope

John Flavel (1628-1691)
Spiritual Curriculum that God uses to bring sinners to conversion
Flavel cautiously stated that though the order and degree may vary, God’s teaching upon the soul always includes the following:
First, an intuitive knowledge of the abundant evil of our sinful actions and nature
Second, a trembling fear of the wrath and misery threatened against sinners
Third, the concern that salvation from sin and God’s wrath is the most important business in life
Fourth, a compelling obligation to strive after salvation yet despair of obtaining salvation by one’s own will-power or worthiness
Fifth, a dawning hope from the general promises of the gospel that salvation is possible
Sixth, satisfaction with the fullness of Christ that everyone who receives Him will be saved to the uttermost
Seventh, the firm belief that no one can benefit from the blood of Christ unless he is united with Christ by faith
Eighth, the inward necessity to prayerfully seek from God all the grace we need to be united to Christ
Ninth, an abandonment of sinful lifestyles and companions to find mercy with God
Tenth, a heart-engaging view of the beauty and excellence of Christ’s church
Eleventh, a resolved determination not to give up on Christ and not to turn back to sin no matter what the cost, lest one be damned

Twelfth, courage to venture upon Christ despite one’s wickedness and fears of damnation because of the great promise of His grace

Typical 12 Step Recovery Plan 
(I have altered some of the wording but kept the same basic content)

  1. We admit we are powerless — that our lives have become unmanageable.
  2. We believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. We having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, have tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

It does not take long to become man centered and man powered when the Word of God is abandoned and human philosophy is inserted.  The puritans of old truly understood the issue with man is a heart issue and the issue is sin.  Sin must be repented of.  Sin must be forgiven.  Sin's obliteration will only be accomplished by a Savior.  Jesus Christ, the very Son of God is the only One who can deal with the sin issue of the human heart.  Man is required to repent and to believe upon Christ (as He defines Himself).  All human effort for salvation, recovery, deliverance, and hope for eternal life is to disregarded and the only sufficient hope is faith in Christ. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Doctrine of Preparation

William Perkins (1558-1602)
Doctrine of Preparation
Steps to Salvation
  1. 1) God gives a sinner the outward means of grace, especially preaching plus some inward or outward affliction to subdue his stubbornness
  2. 2) God makes him attentive to the law to see what is good and what is evil
  3. 3) God causes him to “see and know his own peculiar and proper sins, whereby he offends God”.
  4. 4) God “smites the heart with a legal fear . . . makes the sinner fear punishment and hell, and despair of salvation, in regard of anything in himself”.

** One may experience the first four stages and yet not be born again

  1. 5) God stirs the person’s mind seriously to consider the gospel
  2. 6) God kindles in the heart sparks of faith consisting of a persistent desire to trust Christ
  3. 7) God sustains this faith to combat doubt, despair, and distrust
  4. 8) God quiets the conscience so that the soul rests on the promise of salvation
  5. 9) God stimulates the heart to “evangelical sorrow for sin, because it is sin, and because God is offended”.  This is evangelical repentance.
  6. 10) God gives grace to the saved sinner to labor to obey God’s commandments.

Willaim Ames (1576-1633)
Doctrine of Preparation 
How a sinner ought to prepare himself to conversion
  1. 1) Take a serious look in the law of God and into your life (James 1:23-25)
  2. 2) Be convicted by conscience that you are shut up in sin and without excuse (Rom.1:20; 2:20; 7:7; 11:32)
  3. 3) Despair of salvation by your strength or by any other means (Rom. 7:9, 11, 13)
  4. 4) Be humbled in grief, fear, and confession of sin.  This humiliation includes confession of particular sins (Rom. 7:7; Acts 2:23, 37).  It is often preceded by some painful circumstances (2 Chron. 33:12).  Though people feel various degrees of humiliation, “all those that are truly converted are also truly humbled”.
  5. 5) Recognize from the gospel that forgiveness is possible
  6. 6) Earnestly desire or hunger to be saved
  7. 7) Know that union with Christ by faith is the evidence of effectual calling
  8. 8) True repentance from sin and faith towards God are your only hope 
Modern Gospel (1930-Present)
Doctrine of Presentation 
How sinners can be counted in the church for the glory of man
  1. 1) Offer something to man that he simply cannot refuse. (fish fry, tickets to ball game, Halloween candy, Santa Clause, etc.)
  2. 2) Do whatever is possible to make the sinner feel welcome and comfortable in the church. (Starbucks coffee, secular music, comfortable couches, communion out of a popcorn bucket)
  3. 3) Present talks on currents trends, interesting topics, and 12 step plans to keep the sinner interested. (Sex, marriage, how to live victoriously, making money work for you, etc.) 
  4. 4) Repeatedly talk about the love of God for all people and esteem the sinner as special and tell him that if he was the only one on earth God would have sent his Son to die for him because he is so special. (elevate man, do not talk about sin, and exclude holiness)
  5. 5) Do nothing to stir the mind and cause the sinner to contemplate his predicament before God. (Thinking is hard, so make everything as easy as possible)  Note: Do not use words like propitiation, election, repentance, wrath, hypostatic union, Trinity, etc.)
  6. 6) Tell the sinner that salvation is in his hands and if he is smart enough he will choose to open the door and let impotent Jesus in.  (Congratulate him for his intelligent decision and do not bring up the fact that all other lost people are just too stupid to choose Jesus)
  7. 7) Tell the sinner that if he has any doubts about his standing with God he simply needs to come to church regularly, tithe more, and do community service. (Put him on a committee, make him a deacon, just keep him busy enough that he keeps coming)
  8. 8) Tell the sinner that if his conscience is bothering him that it is probably the devil whispering lies into his ears and he simply needs to rebuke the devil and bind him from his life (Teach him how to bind the devil, kick the devil out, and to let go and let God) 
  9. 9) Tell the sinner to reform his life by hanging out with better friends, practicing self-control, and above all to use his free-will to choose that which is right. (Remember, environment is more effect than anything else so teach him that friends, groups, and organizations is the key to peace for his soul)
  10. 10) Finally, to ensure that the sinner is ready to be presented to the church, tell him to repeat a prayer after you, get baptized tonight in the evening service, and although you may never see him again at least you had a great church service and the sinner now has a dead conscience. (We have come a long ways since William Perkins, William Ames, and many other Puritans were leading the church . . . God help us!)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Road Less Traveled

"Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair.  I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none" (Psa. 69:20).

I have two markings in my bible in regards to Psalm 69.  The first mark is at the beginning of the chapter and reminds me of a close friend who terminated our friendship and accused me of being a false teacher.  The second mark is in the right hand column beside verse 20 and it says, "saddest verse in Scripture".  I often put these thoughts together in my mind and heart and by the Spirit I find great solace.  Here is how my thought pattern or meditation goes:

I begin by thinking upon the Captain of my Salvation.  I picture in my mind the sinless Son of God who came to earth to redeem wicked men for the glory of His Father.  Jesus Christ did everything in his life perfectly and all that He did was for my good.  His life, teaching, preaching, character, attitude, emotions, and His path to the cross were all impeccable.  I then ponder the way that He was regarded by others in the world.  Jesus had followers that seemed very committed to Him, followers that were superficial, folks that straight-up hated Him, and others who did all they could to ignore Him.

It is when trouble comes that a man finds out who his friends really are.  When the fire became its hottest the number of people associated with Jesus dwindled to none.  The large crowds abandoned him in John 6, Judas was not far behind the crowds, and even those who were closest too Him turned and ran. The great Peter had his self-confidence blown over by the breath of a sorry little girl. When the cursing, mocking, beating, stripping, and the wagging of heads was at its highest temper there were none to be found siding with the great Captain of my Salvation.  David says, "[Jesus] looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but [Jesus] found none".  His Father above was pouring down wrath and Jesus was drinking that cup to the last drop, while at the same time the world below was hurling insults and running to hide and deny any association with Him.  The Captain of my Salvation then said the greatest words I have ever read, "τετέλεσται"!  Yes, the greatest war ever won in all of history was won by one man, alone!  Even though heaven and the world turned against Him, He still walked the narrow road all the way to victory.  I love my Savior!!!!

Secondly, I evaluate my circumstances, emotions, disappointments, and my supposed sufferings in light of my Christ centered meditations and somehow my heart is strangely warmed.  Honestly I say to myself, "the whole world would be justified in turning their back on you because of the greatness of your sins" and my mouth is stopped.  If every friend was to desert me, every family member was to disown me, and even if my own household were to turn against me there would be justifiable reason for them to do so in light of the wickedness of my own heart.

How in the world can such meditation and pondering be helpful to the soul?

First, there is no better medicine for the soul than to look upon Christ.  Secondly, human nature has a way of exalting self and pride is a dangerous friend.  Third, a proper view of a man's heart will cause him to have a higher view of Christ.  Fourth, horizontal visions distort the truth and vertical visions bring clarity to the heart.  Last, no matter how lonely a road may seem, a road that is traveled with Christ is the best road to walk upon.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ministerial Discouragement

Ministerial Discouragement
The intent of this writing is simply to grant encouragement to a few brothers in the Lord.  I have been reading a book about the prayers of George Swinnock and have been blessed by it (J. Stephen Yuille: “A Labor of Love”; Reformation Heritage Books).  There is a prayer under the title “A Courageous Soldier” that impacted me today and I just wanted to send out a few thoughts on it.  
Ministerial discouragement is the chief reason pastors leave the ministry.  They arrive at a point where they’re convinced the cost far outweighs the reward.  As I write this I can assure you I have been on the precipice of running or staying to many times.  There are days in which I wish I could find a road to nowhere and purchase a one-way ticket.  There are days when the amount of work done to feed the sheep seems for too much in comparison to what is received as a reward.  Countless are the days that I have longed for a wise pastor to give me counsel as to how to go forward.  Timothy had the blessing of having Paul to give him counsel (we may be shocked by his counsel, and later I will repeat Paul’s counsel to Timothy and apply it to us) and by default we should turn to Paul and let him counsel us.  
What is going on with young Timothy in 2 Timothy?  What is he dealing with?  First, he is dealing with doctrinal defection.  Timothy is surrounded by those who have philosophies that have strangled the people and they cannot discern truth from error.  Oh how frustrating it is when a man has clear understanding that he knows to be true and yet the sheep keep eating bad food.  Second, he is dealing with frustration.  It is a frustrating ministry to sacrifice, sweat, bleed, and die for a people who will not or cannot muster the unction to worship because they are too busy with their cell phone, I-pad, TV, and ballgames.  Third, he is dealing with carnality.  Worldliness in the church is a tough pill to swallow.  Leading a small church that loses more than it gains and living in a world of entertainment make it difficult to grow a church.  People are so obsessed with entertainment and worldliness that they are bored with church, because it does not excite them.  Fourth, he is dealing with confusion in his own mind.  Perhaps he feels that he is in over his head and that he does not have the capability to lead the church.  Perhaps he feels as if he is walking through a minefield in the middle of the night and wondering what will blow-up next.  Fifth, he is dealing with isolation.  Everyone wants a godly pastor and when they finally get one, they stay away from him.  Everything about his life is a testimony to what theirs is not and they keep their distance leaving the pastor alone in isolation.  Sixth, he is dealing with loneliness.  Surely isolation leads to loneliness.  If a man cannot learn to be alone he will never make it in the role of a godly pastor.  Friends are far and few between and having been stabbed by Phygelus and Hermogenes it is difficult to know who to trust.  Lastly, he is dealing with some level of fear.  He is dealing with the fear of man, fear of self, fear of failure, fear of rejection, and quite simply the fear that in the end all will be for naught. 
All of the above can be elaborated upon for sure and perhaps you have, are, or will be dealing with every one of them and maybe a few additional ones.  In George Swinnock’s prayer these lines captured my heart, “As a sworn soldier of the Lord of hosts, I wish that  - when I experience trials and tribulations, and face danger and death - I might not forsake my Captain, but 'endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ'”.  Swinnock goes on to say, “If I - like Jonah - were to run from Thy presence, unwilling to deliver an unwelcome message, I would expect a storm to follow me - either the waves would swallow me up or the whale would swallow me down.  If the service of my God is not the best, then why did I choose it?  If it is the best, then why would I leave it?

The counsel of Martyn Lloyd-Jones is fitting here, “When you feel your weakness and ineptitude, and as you are conscious of the forces that are set against you, remember that He, the Head of the body to which you belong, is at the right hand of God, that all authority and power is in His hands, controlling the universe and the cosmos, that He is Head over all things.  He can direct everything, the wind and the storm, the rain and the sunshine; He can order all things, and is doing so – for you!”

Surely the prayer of George Swinnock and the counsel of Martyn Lloyd-Jones are of great benefit, but I am confronted profoundly with the counsel of the apostle Paul to Timothy.  The counsel that Paul gives is so contrary to worldly philosophy, human ingenuity, and political correctness.   The counsel of the modern church would go along these lines, “you deserve better”, “they are not being fair to you”, “you should go to a church that would appreciate you”, “that church does not realized how blessed they are to have you”, “you need to get away and take a nice vacation”, and on and on the counsel would go.  What is Paul’s counsel?


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Homosexuality and the Mediator

εις γαρ θεός, εις κάι μεσίτης θεου κάι ανθρώπων, άνθρωπος Χριστός Ιησούς (1 Tim. 2:5).

"One for God, One and Mediator God and man, man Christ Jesus" (Word for word from Greek to English)  "For there is One God, and One Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (My translation).  "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (ESV).

I am beginning a work on 1 Tim. 2:5-6 for some messages that I will be preaching in Mexico City and in Maine upon the subject of propitiation (the means of appeasing of the wrath of God).  In the beginning of my meditating upon this Scripture passage there are a few things that stand out as very obvious.  First, there is a definite hostility between two parties.  The two parties are God and man. Psalm 11:5 says that the LORD . . . "hates the wicked and the one who loves violence" and Romans 1:30 says that man is a "Hater of God".  The great problem between God and man is that God is Holy and man is sinful.  Holiness and sinfulness go together no better than oil and water, pro-life and abortion, freedom and slavery, or light and dark.  They are opposed to one another.  Second, the only way in which reconciliation can be obtained is through the work of the Mediator.  A mediator is "One that mediates between parties at variance" (Webster).  Third, the only way these two parties can be reconciled is if God is appeased.  The only way God can be appeased is by His justice being fully satisfied.  The only way to satisfy His justice is for Him to execute His full wrath upon the guilty party.  Thus, the Mediator in this scenario will need to place Himself υπέρ (in his stead, substitute, in place of) the guilty party.  Lastly, the One Mediator (vs. 5) will give His life as a sufficient ransom (vs. 6) and this Mediator is to proclaimed to the whole world.  The entire world needs to know that their hope is through Him alone, by faith alone, because He alone is the Savior.

Man has sinned (Rom. 5:12) and broken the law of God.  God is holy (Isa. 6:3) and will not excuse sin.    The only hope for reconciliation is for a sufficient Mediator to resolve the conflict.  Jesus Christ throws Himself between holiness and sinfulness and becomes the sponge for the water of God's wrath.  Jesus Christ soaks up the totality of God's wrath in the place of the guilty sinner.  The guilty party looks to Jesus Christ by faith for salvation.  If the guilty sinner does not trust in Jesus Christ alone for his pardon then he will have to absorb God's wrath himself for all of eternity in hell.  An eternity in hell will not be sufficient for man to pay his sin debt.  The only way the sin debt can be satisfied is for an absolutely perfect Mediator to substitute His life in place of the guilty party.  Jesus Christ has done this.  Repent and believe Him.

One last paragraph to touch on the title of this blog.  Homosexuality is a sin (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Deut. 23:17-18; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10).  God hates sin.  Man sins when he commits acts of homosexuality.  The only way to solve this dilemma is to find a Mediator.  The homosexual must look to Jesus Christ alone as his substitute for the remission of sin.  The only way for the homosexual to have peace with a holy God is submit his life to Jesus Christ by repenting of his sin and believing upon the meritorious work (a work that satisfied God) of Jesus.  It is utter blasphemy to think that Jesus absorbed the wrath of God in the place of sinners to enable them to continue living in their sin.  Jesus' mediatory work was done to set men free from sin, not to enable him to live in it.  Oh, that the homosexual, fornicator, drunkard, prideful, reprobate, and etc., would repent of sin and flee to the only One who can bring peace between them and God.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013


καί ουκ ειμί μόνος - Yet I am not alone (John 16:32).

Towards the end of Jesus' public ministry He comes to a point of acknowledging that all His closest followers will abandon Him.  Those who have heard His teaching, seen His miracles, and marveled at His prayer life will be scattered to their own homes and leave Jesus all alone.

Certainly there is a level of pain to be deserted by those you have invested so much in.  The Lord had taught these men personally.  He had slept out under the stars with them.  He had eaten and drank with them on numerous occasions.  He had done ministry together with these men.  They had prayed together and discussed the Scriptures together.  They witnessed Him walking on water, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, causing the lame to walk, and He even raised the dead.  He could even raise men who were four days dead.  Jesus not only did all of these things, but He was kind, loving, merciful, thoughtful, and the best friend they would ever have.  Yet, at the hour of His deepest need they would scatter in fear of their lives.  They would leave Him all alone.

How would Jesus respond to such treatment?  How do we respond to such treatment?  The common response is anger, hurt, disappointment, and a range of emotions that send many a soul into depression and anxiety.  Many people look within themselves and try to figure out what they have done wrong.  Others pour out anger upon the person who would desert them.

What means are used to deal with a time of desertion by the closest of friends or even family?  Some will turn to eating food to comfort their emotions.  Some will spend money and buy things that will supposedly give them happiness.  Some will take a trip and simply try to get away in order to escape the pain.  Some will curl up in a ball and pull the covers over their head in hopes that all will go away.  Some turn to alcohol and drugs.  Some turn to Prozac.  Some will turn to Dr. Phil, Oprah, and the Ellen Degenerate show.  The ways people respond to abandonment are entirely to numerous to list,  so let us return to the Lord and His response.

He responds with a truth that is sufficient for all of eternity and rises above the level of horizontal wrangling, "I am not alone"!  The reason He knows this is because the truth is that His Father will never abandon Him.  He follows this statement with direction for those who abandoned Him and then the next chapter is the recording of the greatest prayer ever prayed.  Oh, to God that we could learn such a valuable lesson from the King of Glory.

When abandoned by parents, children, siblings, relatives, church friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even by our best friend, that is the time to respond like unto our Lord.  "I am not alone".  The reason the Christian is not alone is because He will never leave us or forsake us.  He has never lost one of His own.  He will not cast away anyone who comes to Him.  The Christian can never say, "Nobody loves me", "Nobody cares", "Nobody knows my pain", or "I have no friends".  These are all lies.  The truth is that in Christ the Christian is never alone.  A Christian may have gloom, depression, and real sadness over relationships, but it is at these points that the Christian must learn to preach to himself: "I am not alone"!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sin: Psalm 51:4

The Psalmist said, "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words" (Psalm 51:4).

Sin is a wicked and grievous thing that the flesh does not want to deal with.  When people are pressed by the Spirit of God about their sin the temptation is to try and cover it.  The desire of man to cover up sin has been going on since the days of Genesis 3.  Adam and Eve sought to cover their sin with leaves.  Cain tried to cover his sin with ignorance when he said, "I do not know where he is".  Ananias and Sapphira tried to cover their sin by lying to God and man.  It goes on and on and on. 
In our generation we have simply invented different ways to cover sin, but our inventions are no better than those who have gone before us. If we sin in a local church that holds us accountable we simply run to another church in order that we do not have to deal with our sin.  If our sin is nagging at our hearts we simply medicate it with prozac or some other mind-numming drug that will never cure us.  If we sin against our spouse we simply divorce and move on to someone else.  If we sin against a friend we simply delete them from our Farsebook (Facebook) account.  If we sin against God we simply cover it with blaming everything else around us in order to justify our own hearts.  It seems that man would rather attempt to cover his sins with more sin rather than be honest with God and repent of sin.  I believe the Puritans captured the magnitude of sin correctly when they stated:

Let me never forget that I have an eternal duty to love, honor, and obey thee,
that thou art infinitely worthy of such;
that if I fail to glorify thee I am guilty of infinite evil that merits infinite punishment,
for sin is the violation of an infinite obligation.

The God of which we sin against cannot be pacified with prozac, self-justification, denial, blame, fig leaves, ignorance, lies, running away and hiding, nor any other of man's inventions.  The only way that the holy God of heaven will be pacified is by the blood of His dear Son. Beloved, go to God with an honest, humble, and broken heart and cry out to God saying, "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight".  He is just and faithful to forgive.  If you will be honest with God and truly seek Him in these important matters you will find freedom and refreshing from the Spirit of God.  You will not have to go to the psychologist, the divorce lawyer, the bottom of a beer can, the end of a cigarette, the next church down the road, and of the greatest blessing you will be able to walk with a clean conscience before God.