Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Two Catagories, One Savior - Tuesday with Timothy #52

I Timothy 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

We have the designation of "all men" so all of humanity, all of the world is included. Within this group of humanity there are two categories, the believers and the unbelievers. This whole chapter thus far is speaking of these two categories. A little further, and two more categories are in view, false doctrine, which is concerned with the ascetic (what to eat, whether to marry) contrasted with true doctrine. Verses 1-3 are about men who depart from the faith and teach doctrines of devils, contrasted by the faithful brethren in verse 6. These unbelievers are people in Timothy's midst, even some in the church. He is preaching to both categories of people, who are hearing now two different doctrines.

Now, let's look at the immediate context:
1Ti 4:7-11  But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.  (8)  For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.  (9)  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.  (10)  For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.  (11)  These things command and teach.
Here we also find two categories. The life that is now, and the life which is to come. Thus far in the argument, Paul as set several items against each other.

    A                                    B
Believers                    Unbelievers
Pure Doctrine             False Doctrine
Spirituality                 Sensuality
Bodily Exercise         Godliness
Life that is now          Life that is to come

Category A is concerned with truth, believers, and godliness and eternal life. Category B, which is being fought against, is to do with the earthly.  These differences in worldliness and living for today contrasted by truth and living for eternity.  Now we get to verse 10 in which Paul does connects this verse with the context of the previous chapter by saying "For, therefore".  This is a worthy saying and because it is a worthy saying and to this end, we suffer for the true gospel and fight for true doctrine for the believers as we exercise ourselves to godliness. That is why Paul labors and suffers. "Because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe."

Again we have two categories of people, those who believe (Group A) and those who don't (Group B).  Now, even my Arminian friends must admit that Jesus cannot be the same kind of Saviour to both categories. Jesus did not eternally save the rich man in Luke 16 who lifted his eyes up in Hell and save Lazarus in Paradise. Then it says especially of those that believe. Paul says that Jesus is the σωτήρ (sōtēr) the deliverer, sustainer, preserver of all men. God gives life to both believers and unbelievers. Those false brethren who teach sensuality and the doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1) do so with their Lord's air, God's food "which God created" (1 Timothy 4:3) in the bodies God gave them (1 Timothy 4:8) . But Jesus is the eternal Saviour, not only of the body, but of the soul to those that believe. Following the flow of the chapter, I think this is clear that Paul is tying up his final thoughts on these two groups of people by showing two different categories of "salvation" or deliverance. Those that are profaning the truth of the gospel and promoting a sensuality are doing so by taking God's creation (I Timothy 6:13; Acts 17:28).
Jesus is the Saviour of all men because there is no other name under Heaven whereby we must be saved. He is the sustainer and protector and keeper of the whole universe. Paul uses the same idea in Acts 13:23 "Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus..." Did God raise unto Israel a Saviour? Yes He did, but why is Paul preaching to the Gentiles? Because God had blinded the eyes of the Jews (Acts 28:25-28; Romans 9-11).

When I present the gospel, I compel men to come to Christ, and if they do in faith, Jesus will save them.  Jesus is the only hope for humanity. He is the only Saviour of men. But especially the Saviour of those who believe, because Christ saves them.

Remember what Paul is doing here. He is instructing Timothy to preach the truth even when people don't want to hear it. Preach the truth when there are heretics in his number who are trying to lead people away. Preach the truth when church members are trying to split the church by preaching about fables and old wives tales. Preach the gospel, Timothy. Labor in the gospel, suffer for the gospel and keep these faithful sayings. Why? Because the truth that Timothy declares is the true gospel, that Jesus is the Saviour.  He is the Saviour in an experimental way for those that believe. Christ died for them and saves them. Keep preaching to believers and unbelievers alike. Preach the gospel to the lost; preach it to the saved.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Be Filled with the Spirit - by Lewis Kiger

Ephesians 5:18 says this: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit”

The filling of the Spirit is one of the most controversial subjects among Christianity. Ask any average believer, what it means to be filled with the Spirit and there is no telling what kind of reply you might get. The responses may range from indifference to ignorance or even to religious superstition.

Yet, the Bible clearly explains that when any individual flees to the cross and finds forgiveness of sins and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell within them immediately, completely and unceasingly. Romans 8:9 states that if anyone does not have the Spirit of God, they are not the child of God. At the very moment of salvation, every believer has all the Holy Spirit they are ever going to get. Yet, there is a difference between the indwelling of the Spirit and the infilling of the Spirit. The question is not, do we have “all the Spirit,” but rather; does the Spirit have all of you?

We who are saved are commanded here in this Inspired Text to be filled with the Spirit. Readers, the human spirit fails unless the Holy Spirit fills. Too much of our Christian life is attempted in the flesh. We seek to serve God in our own power and we fail again and again. Trying to serve God without the enabling of the Spirit is a tiring and unproductive task. It is akin to buying a brand new car with all the bells and whistles, but you don’t know how to operate it. So, you just put it in neutral and push it everywhere you go. So is the Christian who seeks to serve God by his own strength. It will wear you out and you will not get very far.

Each of us, if we are to honor God with our lives, need to be Spirit-filled Christians. This text is a command, not a suggestion. God never makes suggestions. God always gives directives. We are commanded by God, to be filled with the Spirit.

The verse actually begins with a prohibition against drunkenness. “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess.” The believer is never to be needlessly under the influence of any substance, alcohol included. Intoxicants lower our inhibition, they make us more vulnerable to sin and more susceptible to yielding to what is forbidden.

The prohibition in this passage from drunkenness states that it is excess or debauchery. Too many of us have known men and women who have wasted away their lives because of the powerful influence of alcohol.

Drunkenness causes us to lose control while being filled with the Spirit causes us to gain control. In fact, Galatians 5:22,23 lists the nine fruit of the Spirit; the last of which is self-control.  To be filled with the Spirit is not some spiritual intoxication or inebriation where you lose control of yourself. Instead, the filling of the Spirit will cause you to exercise temperance or self-restraint.

Too many Christians place too much emphasis on the first half of this verse and not nearly enough on the second. The command to be filled is just as stringent and necessary as the command not to be drunk with wine. If we are to be fruit-bearing Christians we must be filled with the Spirit. This demand is not for a select few, but for every believer. Further yet, the original language presents this mandate to us in the present tense meaning, “keep being filled with the Spirit.”

A well-known evangelist was asked one time if he was filled with the Spirit to which he replied: “yes, but I leak.” And so do we all.

We are filled with the Spirit when, and only when, we yield to the Spirit. When we disobey God it grieves the Spirit. To be Spirit-filled, we must maintain a steady diet of Scripture. We must live in fellowship with God by avoiding sin and obeying His Word. The Spirit-filled Christian will take up his cross, die to himself and follow after the Lord Christ.

Only God knows what could be accomplished if all His children would surrender their whole lives to Him and seek to faithfully serve Him by the empowerment of the Spirit.

Lewis KigerPastor Lewis Kiger
Memorial Heights Baptist Church

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sermon Prep on the "hard, high road"

"What is more surprising and disquieting is the fact that those who might be expected ex officio to have a profound and permanent appreciation of literature may in reality have nothing of the sort. They are mere professionals. Perhaps they once had the full response, but the ‘hammer, hammer, hammer on the hard, high road’ has long since dinned it out of them. I am thinking of unfortunate scholars in foreign universities who cannot ‘hold down their jobs’ unless they repeatedly publish articles each of  which must say, or seem to say, something new about some literary work; or of overworked reviewers, getting through novel after novel as quickly as they can, like a schoolboy doing his ‘prep’. For such people reading often becomes mere work. The text before them comes to exist not in its own right but simply as raw material; clay out of which they can complete their tale of bricks. Unfortunately, ambition and combativeness can also produce it. And, however it is produced, it destroys appreciation." C.S. Lewis - An Experiment in Criticism. 
Lewis was talking about professors and reviewers of books who view reading great works as merely a job and though they read, they no longer profit from them. They allowed their deadlines to hardened them.

I thought of sermon prep as I read this. It can become easy to ‘hammer, hammer, hammer on the hard, high road’ and become a sermon smith rather than feed off the Word in the study. Sunday is always just around the bend. It's coming and you have to have something to say. Though it can be stressful and difficult and does require great amounts of mental labor, prayer, and time; don't allow the continual work in the Text to harden your soul to where you are no longer speaking the Words of God, but performing your outline. The farmer that labors has to take the firstfruits (2 Tim 2:6).  You can make excellent outlines, but are you feeding your soul? But the consequences are far more grave for a man of God than a literary professor.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Ten Tenets

Scott Oliphint  provided, in his book Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith, ten crucial theological tenets for a covenantal, Christian apologetic. If you are interested in shaping your worldview or getting more indepth in the tenets listed below, I recommend the book.

1. The faith that we are defending must begin with, and necessarily include, the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who, as God, condescends to create and to redeem. 

2. God’s covenantal revelation is authoritative by virtue of what it is, and any covenantal, Christian apologetic will necessarily stand on and utilize that authority in order to defend Christianity. 

3. It is the truth of God’s revelation, together with the work of the Holy Spirit, that brings about a covenantal change from one who is in Adam to one who is in Christ. 

4. Man (male and female) as image of God is in covenant with the triune God for eternity. 

5. All people know the true God, and that knowledge entails covenantal obligations. 

6. Those who are and remain in Adam suppress the truth that they know. Those who are in Christ see that truth for what it is. 

7. There is an absolute, covenantal antithesis between Christian theism and any other, opposing position. Thus, Christianity is true and anything opposing it is false. 

8. Suppression of the truth, like the depravity of sin, is total but not absolute. Thus, every unbelieving position will necessarily have within it ideas, concepts, notions, and the like that it has taken and wrenched from their true, Christian context. 

9. The true, covenantal knowledge of God in man, together with God’s universal mercy, allows for persuasion in apologetics. 

10. Every fact and experience is what it is by virtue of the covenantal, all-controlling plan and purpose of God.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Ornery Article

 In Huckleberry Finn, Huck found himself taken up by a family that was in the middle of a blood feud. All week, the two families would kill one another; except on Sunday, when they would all go to church together. Huck described the sermon: “It was pretty ornery preaching—all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and preforeordestination, and I don’t know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet.”

Huck would probably think this is a pretty ornery article too,  because the doctrine of predestination and election is a most humbling teaching and it rubs against the grain of our natural feelings. The doctrine of election is that in eternity, before God created the world, He chose among the children of men sinners to whom He would show mercy and save in Jesus Christ. God "predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" where God had made us accepted in Christ (Ephesians 1:4-6 ).

The fact of God's sovereign election of sinners unto salvation is found throughout the whole Bible. Whether in explicit, clear, undeniable teaching, (Ephesians 1; Romans 8:28-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) or through examples of the lives of believers, you find God's choice of particular people. God chose Noah and his family. God chose Abram out of all the other Chaldean men. God chose Isaac, not Ishmael. God chose Jacob and not Esau prior to them being born, doing either good nor evil (Romans 9). God chose Israel and not Egypt or the Canaanites, or Amorites. God chose Paul on the road to Damascus, and not his traveling companions. Why? Grace – underserved favor to undeserving sinners.

Election is a worshipful, God exalting doctrine because God gets all the glory. Men will allow God to be everywhere, except His throne, but the Lord is in Heaven and does as He pleases. Charles Spurgeon said "…I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen him; and I am sure he chose me before I was born, or else he never would have chosen me afterwards; and he must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why he should have looked upon me with special love."

The question for Bible believers is not whether God chooses, but why. If God saves based on what we do, then it is no more grace.  Ephesians 2:8  "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God". Christian, love God as he has revealed Himself. Worship the Potter (Romans 9:20-23) and believe that salvation is of the Lord.  dougnewell4th@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Work and Suffer - #51

1Timothy 4:9-10 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach.

To be a faithful pastor, you must preach the word of the Lord. "This is a faithful saying" includes all that was said before about being a faithful pastor. What Paul has said is true and worthy to be believed. Everyone has advice and knows what  a preacher should do, but only the Word of God should bind the conscience of the man of God. Not all advice is bad, not all advice is good. Paul isn't giving advice and you need to believe it.

Paul believes this truth so much that he gives his life over to the work and suffers for the glory of Christ. Paul loved those he ministered to enough to tell them the truth whether they hated him or not. Van Til used to say we should be "mild in manner, strong in matter". You can be kind and gentle and winsome all day and litterly twice on Sunday, and if you are faithful to the Word of God, you will suffer reproach from those who do not want to hear the truth. Once you refuse old wives fables (4:7) the story doesn't end there, because those that sell fables are not going to be happy. Paul suffered for the sake of the gospel - it is worthy to suffer for.

Man of God, the gospel is more important than our feelings, more important than our own lives. We are the ambassadors of Christ and must count it all joy to be able to declare the truth. The God we serve is the living God. He is living so He can bless you. Living, so He will support you. He is living, so He sees you in your work. Trust Him. Trust your Saviour. He will be your strength when you have none and He will support you when the time comes to hold to these faithful sayings. Take heart and take courage that the living God is with those that declare His truth. This doesn't mean that you will have no troubles. It means that when you do have troubles, keep in mind that you are the ambassador of the Living God declaring His message and there this road of suffering for the truth is a well traveled road.

Next time, we will get a little more in depth about the "Saviour of all men". Earlier in the series, a man said that my treatment of chapter two was "the most ridiculous thing he had ever read in his life". So as not to disappoint my semi-Pelagian friend, I want to give a full treatment of the passage.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Make Judah Great Again

“It was Jeremiah’s lot to prophesy at a time when all things in Judah were rushing down to the final and mournful catastrophe; when political excitement was at its height; when the worst passions swayed the various parties; and the most fatal counsels prevailed; It was his to stand in the way over which his nation was rushing headlong to destruction; to make an heroic effort to arrest it, and to turn it back; and to fail, and to be compelled to step to one side and see his own people, whom he loved with the tenderness of a woman, plunge over the precipice into the wide, weltering ruin.” 

W.G. Moorehead

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Bad News of the Gospel

When God saves a soul, He comes in resurrection power . God saves with the abundant and immeasurable greatness of His power according to the same power which Christ rose from the dead (Eph1:19-20). Paul continues this theme of resurrection power in Ephesians two.  “And you who were (past tense) dead in trespasses and sins." First he mentions Christ's bodily resurrection, then says the church at Ephesus were at one time, dead. The true diagnosis for the human spirit is not sick, or uneducated or needing motivation. The Biblical diagnosis is we are born spiritually dead. Humanity died in spirit when Adam fell and we all became guilty sinners before God.

In order to find the correct remedy, we need to know what is wrong with us. Urging people to do better and act better treats the symptoms, not the cause. It would be a poor doctor who saw a patient with a broken leg and his only course of action was to put a Band-Aid on it with some pain killer. The symptom is the pain, the problem was the broken leg. Morality treats the symptoms, the act of sinning, but the root problem goes much deeper. We get a "spiritual physical" of our soul in Ephesians two, and it's bad news. The Great Physician tells us that we are dead. If the problem was that we needed to straighten up and fly right, I could help you. But the diagnosis is we are spiritually dead! Well then, who can be saved? With men it is impossible. However, we are not without hope because God has come in mercy. Right after the news that we are dead in sins we read in Ephesians 2:4 – “but God”. There is hope. We were dead – but God. We were walking according to the path of the Devil, fulfilling our desires, with no thought or love of God – but God.  

This is why Paul spoke of the resurrection power at the end of chapter one and why that power needs to be worked in us. We were dead and needed to be brought to life! Verse 5 says “even when we were dead, God had quickened us together with Christ! By Grace are ye saved”.  Jesus said “ye must be born again” because we don’t need reformation but regeneration. Not a change of heart, but a heart change (Ezekiel 36:26). Salvation is a miracle of grace that God works in us. By grace, because we are neither willing, nor able to fix ourselves.

God is kind to us, and provided in His Word the true spiritual diagnosis of the soul, otherwise, we would go on deceiving ourselves. The gospel means "good news" and this is the bad news of the good news. The bad news is we are dead in sins, without spiritual life to come to Christ. There is no hope for the dead to do anything – no hope, but God. dougnewell4th@gmail.com

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Natural Born Sinners

You don't have to teach a fish to swim or a squirrel to climb a tree. Spiders don't go to engineering school to learn how to build their astounding webs, they just do it. It is natural. Not exactly a profound observation, I know. But why do we deny the same self-evident truths about our own nature? When a child is born, people gather around to look at the precious little babe, and say things like "What a perfect little angel; so innocent and pure". But new parents soon realize that the "innocent" child is a little bundle of sin. No one teaches the child to lie, or to be selfish, or dishonor their parents, they just do it. It is natural. It's the default human position. They are called the "terrible two's” and not the "innocent and tranquil two's" for a reason. We sin, because we are natural born sinners.

The theological issue is not about whether men have a will; the problem is that man's will is broken and bound. We cannot and will not choose the God of the Bible. Our will is in bondage to sin and we are, by nature, the children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Our hearts and minds are naturally contrary to the glory of God and is not "subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7). The heart of man is not naturally seeking God, or praising God, or serving God, because no one seeks God (Romans 3:11).  

Why do people choose one thing over another? Because they want to. But that brings us back to what the Bible says about our nature. We naturally want to fulfill the desires of our hearts, but our hearts are corrupted (Jeremiah 17:9; Ephesians 2:3) which makes us unwilling to come to Christ. Spiritually, it is worse than that. We are born dead in trespasses and sins. We don't need to make a choice, we need to be born again. We need the life giving grace of God.

Martin Luther once said "It is one thing to say that a thing was done by free-will and another to prove it." We can say that we freely chose God, but it's quite another thing to take the Bible and show that man is in a neutral state and that salvation hinges upon the choice that he makes outside of the grace and mercy of God. We just don't understand the clear Biblical teaching on  how bad our situation is and how hopelessly lost we really are. The Bible tells us that we of ourselves will not come to Christ that we might have eternal life. Our only hope is that God comes to us in full, free, sovereign Grace. What is required is not a decision, but a miracle of regeneration. When you realize that you cannot save yourself and will yourself to love God, only then will you see your desperate need of a Saviour.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Sovereignty of God

 Psalm 115:3  But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

God is sovereign and that means He does everything He wants, when He wants to do it in exactly the way He wants it to work out – and there isn't anything that can stop Him. Before He created the world, when there was nothing but Himself, God ordained the history of the universe all the way to the end.  God would do as He pleased and nothing would thwart His plan. From the rise and fall of the Roman Empire to the rise and flight of a cardinal on Buffalo Creek, God ordained it and purposed it, He planned it, and He brought it about (Isaiah 46:9-11).

But if you confirm what the Bible says about our Lord's sovereignty, you need to believe it all the way down. You cannot just believe that God is almighty when it comes to the past or that God is almighty when it comes to the uncertain future. Sovereignty cannot  kept only in the realm of governments and far away events of history. To be truly almighty means that God does whatever He wants in all points of life and that includes your life. God is sovereign over sickness and health, finances and weather. God is also sovereign in salvation, from beginning to end – not just in an abstract philosophical way, but God is sovereign over your soul.

There is much preached about the free will of man, but what about the free will of God? Before you tell me about your free will tell me about God's. Before you advocate your choice, what does the Bible say about God's choice? Does God have the freedom to save who He pleases? If God has purposed it, who can frustrate His plan? If the mighty Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar cannot frustrate God's plan, do you think that you can? The plan and the will of God is unchangeable (Isa 14:27; Heb 6:7) which means God's will is free and your will is not.

God doing what He pleases means that God is sovereign all the way down. We are mere creatures; clay in the hands of a sovereign Potter who can do with us as He wishes. God being partly sovereign is like a woman being sort of pregnant. You either are or you're not.  The evidence of Scripture is that the God of the Bible is the Alpha and Omega, the Almighty King of kings. Instead of coming to the subject of the salvation talking about man's will, I believe a Christian should first affirm the truth that God is Almighty. Christian, confess that the Lord does whatever He wants in Heaven in Earth. There can only be One sovereign and there cannot be two beings that are absolutely free to do as they please. Only God has the freedom to do everything He wants. God's does what he pleases, even in the salvation of sinners. Hallelujah, the Lord omnipotent reigns! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Worthless, Temporary, and Profitable - Tuesday with Timothy #50

1Timothy 4:7-8  But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

A good pastor will be in God's Word. He will read it, study it, live by it, and be controlled by the Word of God. While he is feeding himself and those he shepherds on the good Word of the Lord, he is also shunning the worthless, wicked old wives' tales. There are two parts here, the taking in of good and the shunning of the wicked. Too many try to have it all. They try to take in all the wickedness and worthless tales they can get their hands on while trying to balance it all out with a good measure of the Word of God. That isn't how it works any more than having a balanced diet by eating  equal portions of salad and chocolate cake.

Athletes have to watch what they take into the body. They eat the right foods at the right times and avoid the junk food, though tasty, it isn't helpful in reaching their goal. Like the athelete, shun the foolishness. It is worse than worthless. It harms your mind, it wastes your time, it takes up your energy that could be better spent doing something else. Many of the profane myths and stories that make their way into the church come by people who are looking for something new and exciting. People come up with some "deep" teaching that no one else has thought of or that no one else can see. Far from being deep, these fables are garbage and are not worth your time, other than to dismiss them and warn others to do the same.

Instead of wasting your time on worthlessness, do something profitable and exercise toward godliness. Use your time becoming more godly. Read good books. Think about profitable doctrine. Think on good, pure, lovely things. Kill sin in your life. Pray. Serve your church. Love your family.

Paul tells us to exercise unto godliness. This is discipline. Don't make the mistake that anything to do with the spiritual life has to come bubbling up from some inner promptings that you feel deep down in your soul. Yes, reading your Bible is Spiritual, but you have to get up and get out of bed and open your Bible and read. This takes discipline and it takes work.  While God the Holy Spirit is responsible for working in us all that is good in our spiritual lives, He does not do this instantly and without our effort. The means He has chosen is our applying ourselves unto godliness.

Physical exercise is profitable. Keeping your body in shape is a good thing to do, but the benefits are temporary. Exercise will help us live healthy, feel better, and live longer, but exercise doesn't let us live forever. There is point  in the life of every athlete where he can't run as fast or jump as high. No matter how good you take care of yourself, you will start to ache and hurt and slow down. The profit of physical exercise eventually comes to an end. However, if you exercise unto godliness, that is good for you now and forever. Exercising towards godliness is not a waste of time. You have the promises from God of the blessings godliness brings you in this life and you have the promises God has given you in the world to come.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Autobiography of George Muller

God hears and answers prayer and in his autobiography, Muller tells how the Lord saved him, brought him to the truth and into the ministry and showed him that God answers prayer, even today. The purpose of this book was to give glory to God and show that God answers prayer. I was blessed and encouraged by hearing the many stories and instances of how God provided him all the money to build and maintain the orphanages simply through prayer, without asking for a penny.

There are a couple interludes that are wonderful. I got a lot out of the section on why he preached expositional messages and how he learned that Bible reading before prayer was the key to preparing his heart. Feed the soul before prayer helped him to do both.

I read the unabridged version, so there are a lot of figures in monetary denominations that I'm not familiar with from another era. So and so gave this amount. Received that amount on this date, etc.; it was sort of like having to sit through someone else's business meeting. An abridged version might be a little easier to get through for American audiences.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Study the Gospel

Do you study the gospel or have you been convinced the gospel is just for lost people? The simplicity of the message of Jesus Christ, dying as a substitute, a sacrifice for sinners and rising from the dead, does not mean a shallowness in doctrine. I’m convinced that we will spend eternity pondering and examining the “unsearchable riches of Christ” and will never come to the end of the glories of the gospel. When a person is born again, they are awakened to spiritual truths that are plainly laid out in Scripture. A new convert realizes the gospel is a simple to receive but unsearchable in the vast and rich beauty of how it was accomplished. It should be the desire of the Christian heart to know more about Jesus and our salvation. Doctrine shouldn’t be avoided, but it should be desired. The more we learn about our Saviour, the lovelier He is to us.
The only way we can know the details of the work of salvation is if God reveals His mind to us. I can tell you what happened when the Lord saved me from my perspective, but since I didn’t save myself, that is an awfully poor perspective to use as the foundation of my theology. When I was first saved, I didn’t know much more than I was a sinner deserving Hell, and Jesus saved me. I was a theologian after the mold of the blind man in John 9 “one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see”. I thought I knew other things about God and the Bible, but I soon discovered those early opinions were very wrong. I had a lot of assumptions about God, sin, and salvation based upon my preconceived notions, personal feelings, and tradition. But it is not the will of God for His people to remain in this state and to walk around with nothing but our experience to guide us in the details of salvation. Since I was saved by Another, and by grace on top of that, I want to have the perspective of my Saviour about the salvation He provides. Jesus saved me, then gave a book that revealed His mind and His will about the matter of salvation. The question is whether we will receive the truth about salvation from the God who provides it, even if it is offensive to our natural thoughts about God.

The gospel of Christ turns the world upside down. It is a paradigm shifting, idol destroying, world changing truth. Join me in the coming weeks in an examination of the topic of redemption. With an open mind and open Bible, seek to study what the Lord tells us about our salvation. Chesterton wrote “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” Truth loses nothing from examination, but the more you look and the more you see, the more beautiful it becomes.  

Friday, July 8, 2016

Read Revelation

Revelation 1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

The book of Revelation begins with a promise – if you read this book, you will be blessed. Some shy away from the book of Revelation, because it can be difficult to understand, but it's worth the effort. I want to encourage you to pick up your Bible and read the book of Revelation. When you think of Revelation, you may think of only Satan, plagues, the Antichrist and other such scary images. Really, this book is about Jesus. It is, after all, the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The word translated Revelation comes from a Greek word apokalupsis,  where we get the word "apocalypse". It mostly now associated with disaster and chaos, but the word simply means to lay bear, or to disclose a truth of something before unknown. This book is revealing something that was once hidden. Jesus Christ is telling us things that only God can know – things about the future. But this book does much more than tell us about future things. There is instruction for churches, warnings to sinners, and promises for God's people.  When the world is dark and bleak, when we find ourselves in the middle of trials and heartaches, it is good to go and remind ourselves of the inheritance we have waiting for us. To read of the beautiful New Jerusalem, where no evil doer will ever step foot, or to read of the pure river, clear as crystal, that flows from the throne of God. When so much heartache fills our minds and hearts, let us go and refresh ourselves by thinking of that blessed tree of life, that is for the healing of the nations and glory in the thought of the Earth, with "no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him" (Rev 22:3).

You should read the book because it is about Jesus Christ. In this book alone, Christ is revealed to be the redeemer, a righteous judge and the royal Bridegroom. He is shown to be the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. Christ is described as the Lamb of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Warrior on His white horse. Jesus is proclaimed to be the Truth, the Amen of God, the head of the Church, and the worthy One. He is worshiped by angels, adored by saints, and feared by His enemies. He is the glorious King of the millennial kingdom, the Alpha and Omega, and the bright and morning star. Though Revelation does disclose to us much about judgment, Satan, and evil, it does so to show how God brings judgment to sin and will ultimately set all things right and restore what sins has destroyed. Even so, come Lord Jesus.