Thursday, December 5, 2019

A letter from Spurgeon to his son.

MY DEAR SON,—You are a good son to write to your father so often and so lovingly. I am indeed happy in having two of the best of sons.

I shall be right glad if you can help the Colportage in any way, for just now it is in great straits. Therefore, go to Birmingham, if you can.

In general follow this rule—Do not engage yourself far ahead; for some fitting place for you to settle in may suddenly appear and it would be a great pity to lose it for the sake of some travelling engagements. Work hard now at theology, and never leave off doing so. The more you put in the more will come out. Get nearer and nearer to the Lord in prayer, and in your general walk, and so you will gain a depth which cannot come in any other way.

Your time will soon be up, and I should like you to begin in some sphere, not too large, nor too small, from which you may step into a life-long position. I think you will maintain a good congregation, and by God's blessing will be useful. We must not push or strive to get you a position, but wait on the Lord and He will do better for you than I can. When Bishops look out for livings for their nephews or sons we condemn their nepotism, and we must not fall into it ourselves. You will be patient and believing, and the right door will open. Cheer them all at home.

Your loving father, C. H. SPURGEON.

**I've had this in the draft for a very long time and regrettably, I didn't record where I read this.**

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A Happy Exchange. Funeral Sermon by Thomas Brooks

"She has exchanged: earth—for Heaven, a wilderness—for a paradise, a prison—for a palace, a house made with hands—for one eternal in the heavens, imperfection—for perfection, sighing—for singing, mourning—for rejoicing, petitions—for praises, the society of sinful mortals—for the company of God, pain—for ease, sickness—for health, a bed of weakness—for a bed of spices, her brass—for silver, her pennies—for gold, her earthly contentments—for heavenly enjoyments, an imperfect, transient enjoyment of God—for a more clear, full, perfect, and permanent enjoyment of God."

Read the rest HERE

Monday, November 25, 2019

John Brown of Haddington

From the Introduction to The Systematic Theology of John Brown of Haddinton:
While I have been occupied in instructing you, your consciences must bear me witness, that my principal concern was to impress your minds with the great things of God. Now, when I am gradually stepping into the eternal state, to appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, permit me to beseech you, as you wish to promote his honour, and the eternal salvation of your own and your hearers' souls, 1. See that ye be real Christians yourselves. I now more and more see, that nothing less than real, real Christianity, is fit to die with, and make an appearance before God. Are ye then indeed born again, born from above, born of the Spirit? created in Christ Jesus unto good works?—new creatures in Christ Jesus, having all old things passed away, and all things become new? Are ye indeed the circumcision which worship God in the Spirit, habitually reading, meditating, praying, preaching, conversing with your hearts, under the influence of the Holy you no confidence in the flesh, no confidence in your self-righteousness,your learning, your address, your care and diligence, your gifts and graces;—but being emptied of self in every form, are poor in spirit, less than the least of all saints, and the least of all God's mercies; nay, the very chief of sinners in your own sight? Has it pleased God to reveal his Son in you? and to instruct you with a strong hand, to count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ as your Lord, and to count them but dung, that you may win him, and be found in him, not having your own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by faith,—and to know the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings,—and to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, John 3:3,5-6; Eph 2:10; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Phil 3:3; Matt 5:3; Matt 16:24; Eph 3:8; Gen 32:10; 1 Tim 1:15; Gal 1:15-16; Phil 3:7-14. If you be, or become either graceless preachers or ministers of the gospel, how terrible is your condition! If you open your Bible, the sentence of your redoubled damnation flashes into your conscience from every page. When you compose your sermon, you but draw up a tremendous indictment against yourselves. If you argue against, or reprove other men's sins, you but aggravate your own. When you publish the holy law of God, you but add to your rebellion against it, and make it an awful witness against your treacherous dissimulation. If you announce its threatenings, and mention hell with all its insupportable torments, you but infeoff yourselves in it, and serve yourselves heirs to it as the inheritance appointed you by the Almighty. When you speak of Christ and his excellencies, fulness, love, and labours, it is but to trample him under your feet. If you take his covenant and gospel into your mouth, it is but to profane them, and cast them forth to be trodden under foot of men. If you talk of spiritual experiences, you but do despite to the Spirit of grace. [Heb 10:29] When you commend the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and invite sinners to new-covenant fellowship with them, you but treacherously stab them under the fifth rib, [2 Sam 3:27; 2 Sam 20:10] betray them with a kiss, [Luke 22:48] and from your heart cry, This is the the heart-transforming knowledge of Christ and him crucified, all your knowledge is but an accursed puffer up, and the murderer of your own souls. And unless the grace of God make an uncommon stretch to save you, how desperate is your condition! Perhaps no person under heaven bids more unlikely to be saved, than a graceless Seceding minister;—his conscience is so overcharged with guilt, so seared as with an hot iron, [1 Tim 4:2] and his heart so hardened by the abuse of the gospel.—Alas! my dear pupils, must all my instructions, all the strivings of the Holy Ghost, all your reading, all your meditations, all your sermons, all your evangelical principles, all your profession, all your prayers, as traps and snares, take and bind any of you, hand and foot, that, as unprofitable servants, you may be cast into utter darkness, [Matt 25:30] with all the contents of your Bible and other books,—all your gifts and apparent-like graces, as it were, inlaid in your consciences, that, like fuel, or oil, they may for ever feed the flames of God's wrath upon your souls! After being set for a time at the gate of heaven, to point others into it,—after prophesying in Christ's name, and wasting yourselves to show others the way of salvation, and to light up the friends of our Redeemer to their heavenly rest,—must your own lamp go out in everlasting darkness, and ye be bidden, Depart from me, I never knew you, ye workers of iniquity? [Matt 7:23]—Must I,—must all the churches behold you at last brought forth and condemned as arch-traitors to our Redeemer? Must you, in the most tremendous manner, for ever sink into the bottomless pit, under the weight of the blood of the great God, our Saviour,—under the weight of murdered truths, murdered convictions, murdered gifts, murdered ministrations of the gospel, and murdered souls of men!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Old and Wrong

God commanded us to honor our Fathers and Mothers and to respect the elderly (Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 20:29; Job 12:12). Those who have walked in the ways of the Lord are also worthy of our respect. Indeed, to tie the two thoughts together, the Biblical office of a man who leads the church is an “elder” (1 Peter 5:1-5; Titus 1:5). In a world where things work as they ought, mature men in the faith and men matured in years should be wise guides and steady hands for the young, immature, and those under their care. One generation guiding the next, careful to point others following in their footsteps along the surefooted path of righteousness. Each generation, learning the way of wisdom and forsaking folly’s quick and easy path, living together, following the Lord. The Lord’s ways are always the best ways.

However, being old doesn’t make you right. I’ve known a lot of old fools, with 70+ years’ experience. I’ve even had the terrible displeasure of knowing those honored souls who had the misfortune of being honored. Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 9:1-14, concerning the impending doom of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. They were proud and hard hearted instead of hearing God’s Word and repenting, turning to the Lord for forgiveness and mercy. God said He would “cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.” The head in this metaphor were the, “ancient and honorable” and the tail was the “prophet that teacheth lies.”

The problem with the ancient honorable fool and the false prophet is people listen to them. Their age and their position give more weight to their words because they should know better. The consequence of their folly is found in verse 16, “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.” These elders were leaders and the prophets preached, but they led them to error and doom. Which is why you must be discerning. In our fallen world you cannot just assume the man with the grey head is wise and the man behind a pulpit is showing you the right path. I saw a meme recently that said, “If an old dude ever gives you advice while peeling an apple with a pocket knife and eating the pieces off the blade, you should probably take it.” I understand the sentiment. But I grew up on an apple orchard and I’ve seen many goofballs eat apples off the blade of their jigged bone Barlow. It ought to be so, that a person whose seen more sunrises has untold wisdom, but sadly, it’s not always the case. God’s people must respect and honor their elders – but they must respect and honor God more. It is essential to believe what God says over the gray head because you are ultimately responsible. It's a great blessing to have a Titus 2 man and woman in your life. Make sure your guide is sound.

Name is Mud

I always heard the phrase, “your name is mud” referred to Dr. Samuel Mudd, the physician who doctored a young man's broken leg in the middle of the night. What's so bad about that? The man happened to be John Wilkes Booth, who broke his leg in the escape after assassinating President Lincoln. After splinting Booth's leg and letting him rest a few hours, Dr. Mudd allows Booth to leave. Mudd tried and convicted as a conspirator and sentenced to life in prison. Depending on who you ask, he was either wrongfully convicted, or let off easy. Having the name "Mudd" is to have a ruined reputation, and an infamous name. But, apparently John Badcock coined the phrase some 40 years earlier. Nonetheless, history is far kinder to Dr. Mudd than John Wilkes Booth, a name that goes down in infamy. It’s a rotten name and he ruined it by his wickedness. "The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot," (Proverbs 10:7).

How will you be remembered? How will people talk about you when you're gone? I don’t think we should spend our time worrying about what other people may think of us. I am proposing we consider our life and our works. I can’t change what someone thinks, but I should consider my way, and how my life is impacting those around me. Am I concerned with eternal matters? Is my focus on myself or on others and my God? Do I live in light of eternity, or in light of the incandescent glow of the cell phone and social media? The memory of the just is blessed  and the name of the selfish, self-centered wicked will rot.

We can’t worry about what people think of us now because some of history's most favored and beloved men were hated while they were alive. In Charleston, around the Capitol Complex, there are statues of Abraham Lincoln and Stonewall Jackson. Both are held in high esteem now (by most), and both were not well liked (by most) while they lived. In fact, the more selflessly we live, the better we’ll be remembered, but usually the more disliked we are in the present. It's the life of a prophet (Matthew 23:29-32).

I thought of pastors in my life, who have gone on to be with the Lord, where the very mention of their name reminds me of the good they did for me or my family. Men like Medford Caudill, Reggie Moore, and Don Pennington. I could go on and fill this space simply with the names of dear Christian saints who are remembered for their kind and gracious works.  You don’t know these men, but their name is blessed in the Newell home. You don't have to be famous to leave a mark on someone. I suppose it goes both ways. There are some others who also have left a mark on me, but we’ll not mention their name. We’ll just let it rot. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Who controls the past, controls the future

Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
"At first I thought this habit, of portraying the past through a politically correct and generally radical lens, was mildly annoying. Various aspects of it couldn’t be criticised without risking stupid, false accusations of bigotry. So weird things, way out of their right time and place, which would normally have been mentionable became unmentionable. But now I have begun to think it sinister, another aspect of a fast-accelerating cultural revolution in which almost everything I value in this country is being wiped out of existence and memory. Most of our history is simply not taught to most children, so it is easy to introduce rubbish into their minds. 
As George Orwell wrote in words often only partially quoted from 1984: ‘If all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” ’ 
More painfully, he also described his hero, Winston Smith, despairing ‘within twenty years at the most… the huge and simple question, “Was life better before the Revolution than it is now?” would have ceased once and for all to be answerable’ and the new revolutionary rulers could insist that they had improved life ‘because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested…’ 
That is what comes to mind when I see dramas that portray a Britain that never existed, and when important books that I know well, such as War Of The Worlds, are altered and edited to wipe out all memory that the past was different from now. This is what is going on. It is not as trivial as it looks."

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Slanderously Reported

You need to argue well.  In the first part of Romans 3, Paul answers objections some had concerning justification by faith. After building a case proving all men are under sin and without excuse, verses 7-8 are specific charges against Paul as a liar and a heretic. Romans 3:8, “And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil that good may come; whose damnation is just.”

Paul was slandered. His enemies lied about his doctrine and purposely mischaracterized his teaching. His enemies used a straw man argument, which is a logical fallacy taking a person's position and either exaggerating, distorting, or misrepresent it. After, fashioning this mangled proposition you attack it instead of what was said. It’s like making a scarecrow that looks sort of like your enemy, then waging war in your garden. Turn on any cable news channel, wait for a political segment, then wait about 30 seconds and you’ll hear a straw man argument. Logic calls it a fallacy, Paul called it slander. 

We tend to think of argument only in a negative way, but an argument is simply, trying to persuade someone to your side. There are many ways to lawfully make that happen, and wisdom is the surest guide to which tack to take. But you can’t lie about a person and misrepresent them. Why would a person slander their opponent? It certainly isn’t to win that person to your side. I’ve never had a person lie about me or mischaracterize my position and then say, “you know, despite the character assassination, I think I’ll consider their side of the debate.” Slandering an opponent will fire up the base and those already on your side, but the truth is not served when defending it in a lie. You can be on the right side and fight the wrong way. The truth is consistent. The truth will triumph and doesn’t need subversive stratagems. It's much easier to fight dirty, but the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.

Paul makes a marvelous argument in this section that’s beyond the scope of this space (but well worth your time to study it out). But notice Paul’s clear denunciation of his interlocutors. They will be judged and their damnation is just. Paul was harsh, but not ungodly. He was firm. He didn’t compromise the truth and rebuked truthfully. He took the argument of those who opposed him and dealt with it fairly, considered the logical implications, and then returned fire. A man of God must defend the truth and must seek to stop those who preach false doctrine. But, the man of God needs to do this with the goal of convincing the gainsayers (Titus 1:9), not displaying their beaten and bloody corpse upon the pillory (metaphorically speaking of course). Titus 1:13  says, “Wherefore rebuke them sharply…” and there is, believe it or not, a second part to that sentence, …”that they may be sound in the faith.”

Friday, November 8, 2019

Godly Contentment

Have you ever said, “I can’t take it anymore” or, “I’m at the end of my rope?" If you are in the habit of thinking like that, you are missing out on tremendous blessings and sinning against God. Those kinds of statements are common, but lack godly contentment. Maybe you think life just isn’t the way you want it to go, and if you just had a different job, you'd be happy. Or you just had one real good friend to confide in. Or if you just had a little more money, or if you just could have that health issue resolved. Maybe it’s your marriage, your car, your home and if that changed you could be satisfied. Your problem is not that you don’t have what you need, the problem is you don’t have what you want and you think those missing parts will bring you  satisfaction.

Jeremiah Burroughs has a good definition for what we mean by Godly Contentment. "Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and Fatherly disposal in every condition."  Or to shorten it “taking pleasure in God's disposal." Contentment is freely submitting to God’s will. Not by force, or by dulling the trial, not by ignoring the situation, or denying the trail exists and not by our fleshly determination, but submission to God's providence (Philippians 4:10-13). A criminal resisting arrest will finally submit when there are enough knees in his back and lumps on his head. That is not contentment that is resignation and the realization that stun guns hurt. You absolutely will go through God’s plan for your life, but godly contentment allows us to rejoice along the way. Not in the circumstances of providence, but in the God of providence, no matter the circumstances.

Economy, jobs, unemployment, retirement, healthcare issues are all on the forefront of the national conversation, many concerned Christians are upset and worried about their future, their family, and their livelihood. There is nothing wrong with planning and being prepared, and we ought to do all we can to be ready, but when God has put us in a situation, and we have done all we lawfully can do, the Christian's duty is to quietly submit to the Lord's dealings with us, in faith, trusting His kind and Fatherly plan for us.

When we have godly contentment, we spend our days thinking about what Jesus has done for us, is doing for us, and what He WILL do for us. You see life as planned by God for your good. That the stars in space, the clouds in the air, the ground beneath your feet, the flowers in the fields are there, in accordance to God’s providence, for your good. Your poverty, your pain, your sickness was planned by God. Be content that your Heavenly Father is in control and that this world is not all there is and God is now preparing you for glory.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Given to Change

Proverbs 24:21-22 My son, fear thou the Lord and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?

Progressives are reformers who labor to move organizations or nations “forward” and seek progress toward a vision of a better world. But, if I'm standing on the edge of a cliff, moving forward is the last thing I want. Progressives presupposes change is always in the right direction, or a change in any direction is needed at all. They also assume their vision of the future is not only the best way, but the righteous way, and opposition to "progress" and their agenda is a moral evil. It was said of President Calvin Coolidge, "Nobody has ever worked harder at inactivity... thwarting political activity wherever there are signs of life.” As Coolidge knew, too often political movement is usually pushing boundaries, tearing down fences, and moving in the wrong direction. There are times and ways in which people, organizations, and countries must change - but those given to change are rebels against authority and the Bible warns against such revolutionaries and reformers.  

Our proverb tells us to fear the Lord and the King, to respect and honor authority. Fearing the Lord is conforming our lives to his instructions, and our hearts to His law. Fearing the king is to honoring the laws and his authority as long as they do not conflict with the laws of God. Our concern should not be to “get with the times” or to “be on the right side of history” but to be right with God. The revolutionary's vision of a future utopia trumps everything else, sometimes even reality, to obtain progress by any means necessary.

Sometimes, the best way is backwards. Sinners are called to repent, to turn away from sin and unto God. There are standards of truth and when you stray from what’s right, the only sensible way to go is back. If you were swimming in the ocean, and look up and realize you have drifted too far from the shore, “Onward!” is not the wisest move. You may come from a long and noble line of people who have been wrong for generations. For you, "progress" would be to stop, turn around, and go back.

Sometimes, the best move is no move at all. God’s people are told to stand fast in the faith, to hold fast to the doctrines we have received. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s outdated. God defined marriage, it’s purpose, and it’s participants, so any deviation from God’s eternal truth will be the ruin for all involved. 

If you get caught up in the fashions of the day, dismiss truth from previous generations, and follow the trends of the progressives, you'll be able to get with the program and move the accepted direction. Progressives are in the business of tearing down the old to make way for the new. But realize, there’s a generation of toddlers right now, future reformers, waiting their turn to topple over today’s progressives.

Fear the Lord. Follow the God who does not change. Stand for truth. Hold fast to sound doctrine. Don't be given to change. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

I am Persuaded

If you grew up with a hymn-book similar to mine, you are familiar with 2 Timothy 1:12, “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” I sang this song so much as a young man, when I read this verse, I usually say, “I know whom I have be-lie-ved…” playing pronunciation gymnastics to make it fit the tune. But what a glorious verse and no wonder the hymn writer, Daniel Whittle took up this theme. 

I know whom I have believed. Paul suffered for the gospel because he knew whom he believed. Not “what” he believed, but in “whom”. The object of the believer’s faith is the person of Jesus Christ. Paul knew him. He knew him savingly. He knows Christ is faithful. He knows Jesus is true. He knows the Lord is wise. He knows Jesus saves to the uttermost.

Because our faith is in the perfect person of Jesus Christ, I am persuaded he is good to his word. Faith includes not only belief but assent to that belief. Knowing Jesus lived and died is a historical fact. But you also must have affiance to the truth. It's having confidence and being persuaded with the truth. Many know Jesus died and rose from the dead, but don't care. A person persuaded that Christ is able to save is one who repents, humbles themselves before God, obeys the Lord, and loves Him with all of their heart. A persuaded person acts on their true faith and is persuaded of the facts.

Since Paul knows Christ, he know Jesus can keep his soul which he has committed to him unto the last day. Paul’s soul is anchored to the Rock. Christ is able to do what he promised. Jesus is able to save, to cleanse from sin, to keep unto the last day, to raise up this mortal body and change it to a glorified body.  The Lord Jesus is able to do all that he promised, so he is trustworthy to believe in and follow after.

When facing persecution, hardships, tribulations, and struggles in serving Christ, the Christian can press on in faith, knowing the Lord will not forsake him. He can live under the reproach of man and not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ because it is Christ’s gospel, and he is able. Samuel Rutherford, whose faith persuaded him to be banished and imprisoned for Christ said, “Forward then, dear brother, and lose not your grips. Hold fast the truth for the world sells not one dram-weight of God’s truth, especially now when most men measure truth by time, like young seamen setting their compass by a cloud…" If you know Christ, your faith is in one stronger than you, able to save, true to His word, and faithful to keep his promises.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Whet the Edge

Ecclesiastes 10:10  If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

I packed my weed eater across the creek, and up the hill before realizing I forgot the gas. Back down the hill I went, across the creek, grabbing the gas can, and back up the hill. I then spent the next several minutes  pulling the rope hopping to hear the thing start. After making another trek to my tools and a few adjustments, I did get it started, but not before enduring an existential crisis. Am I really going to have to go through this struggle for the rest of my life? How many more times am I going to have to pull on that rope hoping to hear the rumble of the motor? I set the weed eater down, whet to my computer and ordered a mowing scythe.  

As a boy, I worked on my Grandpa's apple orchard in Kentucky. He had us mow under the trees with scythes. The men hated mowing. I actually thought it was cool, swinging a giant blade around, chopping and hacking. The first time I tried, I grabbed a scythe and started swinging for the fences like Griffey, Jr. in a homerun derby. My Grandpa stopped me and said I was going to kill myself. He sharpened my blade then told me to let the scythe do all the work, that's what it's made for. He just barely moved the blade through the grass at his "grandpa pace" but then I realized how he cut the grass down like it was nothing. He took down a lot more grass in a lot shorter time than I had because used the tool and took time to prepare for the work.

Harkening back to simpler times, I took my scythe to the hill side this summer and went to town, forgetting everything I knew and started hacking at the grass and swinging for the fences. After the newness wore off and the soreness came in, I remembered the blade needs to be sharp, and the tool needs to do the work. If the blade isn't sharp, you can still cut some of the grass, but it won't' do a good job, and takes much more effort, and you'll tire out before you get very far. With a sharp blade, it takes less effort and you'll be able to do more work with less effort. No grass falls while you are sharpening, but in the long run, you'll get more done and with less effort if you stop ever few minutes to sharpen the blade.

There are countless applications, but I'll just take a few. Do you tire yourself in study and Bible reading without whetting the edge with prayer? Do you have so much to do, that you don't have time to pray? Do you take time in prayer before church, asking for wisdom? Perhaps you preach or teach Sunday School. Do you spend hours crafting a homeletically sound outline, but labored all week without prayer for the sermon?  Perhaps you have searched the commentaries and read the works of authors down through the centuries and you haven't seen your desk since Tuesday, since it's covered in a mountain of books. You've consulted the lexicons and diagrammed sentences, and still struggling with a message, but have you come to God in humble prayer? Have you talked to your children about a particular sin, and fussed and cried and pleaded for them to hear you and to listen and yet, you neglected to go the Lord in prayer for wisdom, strength, and that your words would be effectual? Wisdom is profitable to direct.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Conference on the Attributes of God

Last weekend, Buffalo Valley Baptist Church hosted our annual Bible Conference. Our theme was on the Attributes of God. We hosted 9 preachers from around the country to preach on various aspects of God’s perfections. Each message had direct application to the life of the believer. Subjects such as, “The Immutability of God and His Word” and “Comfort for Christians in the Sovereignty of God,” and “The Goodness of God Demonstrated in the Life of Paul.” The attributes of God are not for our vain curiosity, nor simply a matter of theological debate or scholarship. Every believer should desire to know more about God, but also understand this knowledge is for our good. Knowing God is knowing the person of the Father, through the Person of the Son, by the power of the Person of the Spirit. Knowing God impacts your life now and the life to come. Knowing the attributes of the true and living God is practical when you are lying in a hospital bed, when you're sitting in a funeral home, when you are witnessing to your lost child, or changing a diaper at 3:00 am.

Have you ever dedicated yourself to studying the doctrine of God? If not, you should because it pleases God (Colossians 1:10). The study of God’s perfections, by faith, is an honorable pursuit (Jeremiah 9:23-24).  We don’t have anything of ourselves to glory in, but our boasting is in Christ, and by His grace, we can know God. It’s possible to know God! Indeed, the Almighty is beyond our finite minds to exhaust, but we have His self-revelation in the Bible for the purpose of knowing Him. This weekend, men stood up behind our pulpit and told us about God and that is only possible because God has revealed Himself to us and provided us all things that “pertain unto life and godliness” in the Bible. The knowledge of God we have, in the great and precious promises of Scripture, are a source of peace and sanctifying grace (2 Peter 1:2-3). God has called us to both know him and grow in our knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). The 19th century Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon well said, “Plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in His immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.” Knowing God is a blessing of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:33-34) and the positive side of the first two commandments (Exodus 20:3-6). We are commanded to have no other gods and if you are worshiping a god that is NOT the god of the Bible, you have a different God altogether. There is no god like our God in the Earth – so fill your heart, mind, and souls with thoughts of the LORD God.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Hating Grace

A lot of people hate the gospel. Do you? Timothy was called to suffer for the sake of the gospel, because the good news of salvation is rejected by the world. Timothy was persecuted for telling people that God saves sinners by grace through Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:8-9).  Jesus doesn’t try to save us, or give the opportunity for salvation, but does save us, finally, fully, and freely. Mankind naturally hates the grace of God. Those who are saved by Jesus Christ are called by the Holy Spirit and those who are called are saved. God doesn’t save and not call, nor does he call and not save. Don’t mistake this holy calling as God looking for and calling men unto salvation who live holy, and act holy. On the contrary, it’s a holy calling despite our works, as Paul says, “not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Grace.

Do you rejoice in God’s grace or recoil? If you are saved, it’s not because you are a good person. If you are a Christian, it’s not because of how much you work, how much you deny yourself, and how unspotted from the world you remain. If you are going to Heaven, it’s not because you are a decent person who tries their best and goes to church as much as you can. If you are redeemed, it’s not because you are a member of a church, because you were baptized, or even because you said the sinner's prayer the preacher told you to repeat. Christians are not saved by their works, but according to God’s “own purpose and grace.” If you are saved by works, you are not saved by grace and vice versa. Grace is an underserved gift. If you work 40 hours a week, your boss doesn’t give you a gift on payday. He pays you what he owes you. If God saves because of your choice, your works, or you good deeds, then you are not saved by grace. And, if you are not saved by grace, you are not a Christian. Salvation is in the work of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, purposed in God, to save his elect, from all of their sin. We are the recipients of God’s grace in Christ, whom we receive, not by works, but by faith alone.

Do you recoil at sovereign grace? There is no other gospel. The Bible, from beginning to end, tells of the sovereign God, doing as He pleases, saving undeserving sinners by His grace. There is no good news in being saved by works, because the law cannot justify you it only condemns. God saves sinners by grace through faith. We don’t need help, we need saved. We don’t need reformed, we need regeneration. The pride of the human heart hates the confession of our inability, thus hates grace.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

A Heart Deceived

2 Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

Rather than feeling ashamed for the gospel, Paul urges Timothy press on past those wrong feelings and join the fight. It’s a simple command – don’t be ashamed. Shame is an emotion and our emotions are not infallible, and that’s why they make terrible guides. I’m a Christian, not a stoic, so I don’t believe humans should act like emotionless droids, but I know you should not be ruled by your emotions. If you feel shame, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself why? Have you committed a sin against God, according to Scripture? Have you done something or left something undone which smote your conscience? Then shame has done a worthy work in your life, and now repent and find forgiveness in the blood of Christ. But, if you feel shame, and have done nothing wrong (according to the Bible, not according to your feelings), then you know your emotions deceived you. The best course of action, after you have determined your heart has deceived you, is to not be ashamed anymore. 

Sitting on the fence or trying to play both sides will make you awfully uncomfortable and practically useless in the work. Wanting to serve the Lord, but not wanting to offend the world will make you ineffective for God’s work, and undesirable to the world you want to think highly of you. The best way to overcome the fearful timidity Timothy had is to jump in the fight and be all in for Christ. If you give in to the wrong emotion of shame of the gospel, you are feeding this bad emotion and making it stronger. President John Quincy Adams wrote, "Highly as I reverenced the authority of my constituents...I would have defended their interests against their inclinations, and incurred every possible addition to their resentment, to save them from the vassalage of their own delusions." A Christian should rather stand for truth and be hated for it than to go along with a lie and live in peace. What good is a man of God whose only goal is favor with the world? What worth is a preacher who will only tell you pleasant things? What value is there in a witness for Christ being afraid to take the stand? And, what do you gain by not taking criticism from the world who hates your Lord? There isn’t really an upside. Some of the most miserable people I’ve ever known were backslidden Christians. They couldn’t enjoy their rebellion because they were God’s people and He wouldn’t let them and they couldn’t recreate the joy of the Lord out in the world. They were double losers because of what they gained in the world made them miserable and what they lost in fellowship with Christ made them desolate.  

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Local Church

Every word must have a meaning and when reading the Bible, we can’t take modern usage or our assumptions and read them back into the Bible. The word translated church meant in New Testament times, “a called assembly”. The English word church, defined by context, tells me the Lord’s churches are local bodies. Indeed, the use of the plural “churches” is enough to teach the local, not universal and invisible, church (e.g., “churches in Asia” or “churches in Galatia”). Almost 90% of the usage of the word church in the Bible refers explicitly to local churches.

Jesus started a local church with called, baptized disciples. For several years, there was only one church on Earth. One local assembly of believers. When you eventually get to more than one church in the book of Acts (cf. Acts 11:20-30; 13:1) you find separate, independent bodies, conducting business and acting as separate bodies. You have to travel a couple hundred years past the book of Revelation, and the 7 churches of Asia, to find a “universal invisible” church ever mentioned by men. The Lord started and still has local and visible churches.

Some use passages in Ephesians and Colossians to prove the existence of this universal invisible assembly, but there, Paul uses singular word “church” to talk about the institution of the church. I have a book called “The Theology of the Family.” Notice, the title, the family, in the singular. The book doesn’t suggest that we are all one big giant universal family, but the author used the singular to teach on the institution. In Ephesians, Paul likewise speaks of “the church” as an institution, but not one universal body. There are requirements, blessings, boundaries, duties, and responsibilities each local church has in common, if it is a church of Christ. Paul, speaking of the institution, speaks of these universal characteristics of every local church.

All application in Scripture concerning the church teaches the local church. The only way to obey the commands concerning the church, to fulfill one's duty in the church, to bless and be blessing in the church is through a local assembly. Church discipline, praying, preaching, baptizing, Lord’s Supper, giving, receiving -- all point to and applies only in a local body. Confusing and confounding the family of God, the kingdom of God, and the church of God has caused a great many people to accept false teaching about the church, about baptism, and about church government. The teaching on the church is important because Christ is glorified in his church. He died for his church. We serve him in his church. We should love what Jesus loved, and hold as important what Jesus views as important. Error never leads to edification and blessing, but it does lead to more error. It breaks down the necessity of Scriptural baptism, the reality of a Scriptural church, blurs the lines of Christian responsibility, diminishes the authority of the local church, and will always lifts up individuals to lord over men.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Marks of a Church

Lots of Marks

I was looking for a book on my shelves a while back and found, among the Baptist books, a Louis L'amour Hopalong Cassidy novel. I don't know what Hopalong's religious affiliation was, or his stance on the church, so I took it off the shelf and when I removed the Western, I joined two other books together in the process.

The one was JR Graves book, Old Landmarkism and a newer book by Mark Dever, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. Since it had been a while since I read either of them, I took the pair down and started to skim. Dever's book talks about church health, and while I don't agree with all his marks, his concern is whether or not a church is healthy, is an important topic.

The Bible makes clear that scriptural churches can be unhealthy. Revelation 3:1-2, “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” Being on the verge of death is very unhealthy. And, it appears the issue at Sardis didn’t have anything to do with a particular doctrinal error, but practice. How they were living was killing the church.

I turned to Graves and noticed, he also had “marks” of the church, only his were 7 marks of a scriptural church. Is the church local and independent, does the church practice scriptural baptize, etc.

I chuckled at first, thinking about how unlikely a pair Graves and Dever would be and how they both had the “marks” in their book and now would have to dwell side by side on my shelf. I continued to consider the juxtaposition of their views on the church. Dever's book assumes that all assemblies and groups that claim to be a church, are a church, and the most important thing is to be in a healthy church. I know this because men of various denominations have blurbs on the back of my edition of the book. Graves makes no such assumption because there are clear identifying marks or requirements that an organization must have to be a church to start with.

Yes, a scriptural church can be unhealthy, but an unscriptural church will never be a healthy church. Sprinkling will never be baptism. Sacraments will never confer grace. And no matter how well functioning the assembly, no matter how good the preaching, or the style of preaching, or how concerned the assembly is for souls, if you are not scriptural, you are not healthy. Many organizations that call themselves churches of the Lord Jesus Christ do not bear the marks of a scriptural church.

Actually, I don't think it is one or the other. I think you should first desire to be a scriptural church and then work towards being a "healthy" church.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Dirty Skunk

Charles Spurgeon, commenting on Psalm 120, tries to describe what would be a fitting punishment for the person who slanders another. He writes on how the slanderer often gets away with the crime.
“Or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?” How shalt thou be visited? The law of retaliation can hardly meet the case, since none can slander the slanderer, he is too black to be blackened; neither would any of us blacken him if we could. Wretched being! He fights with weapons which true men cannot touch. Like the cuttlefish, he surrounds himself with an inky blackness into which honest men cannot penetrate. Like the foul skunk, he emits an odour of falsehood which cannot be endured by the true; and therefore he often escapes, unchastised by those whom he has most injured. His crime, in a certain sense, becomes his shield; men do not care to encounter so base a foe. But what will God do with lying tongues? He has uttered his most terrible threats against them, and he will terribly execute them in due time."

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ashamed of the Testimony

“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner...” 2 Timothy 1:8.

Shame, according to Merriam-Webster’s is a “painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. A condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute. Something that brings censure or reproach.” Timothy was tempted to feel ashamed, but not for doing wrong, but rather the pain of disgrace, impropriety, and reproach that comes from following Christ. This is directly tied to the fear in the previous verse. Fearing man, rather than God, will cause us to care more about what men think of us than what God thinks of us. To bear the testimony of our Lord is not a popular opinion held by the world. You’ll be thought of as a fanatic, a zealot, or a “fundamentalist”.

Preachers love to speak of Paul as if they would have been fast friends - but I’m not so sure. A lot of men didn’t like Paul. A lot of preachers didn’t like Paul because he took the things of God seriously. That rubs people the wrong way. And friendship with Paul wasn’t a badge of honor with the elite. It wasn’t exactly the fast-track to fame and popularity to be the buddy of an old, fervent, preacher in chains, especially with the unbeliever. To preach the gospel, and to be associated with that old man in prison was disgraceful and maybe a little embarrassing to the highbrow, and those that would like to be. But only a disgrace to those who didn’t know the Lord. Paul was no disgrace to God.

You don’t have to be part of the elite class to be tempted by the desire to fit in. Just the desire to be among them is enough to watch what you say and how you say it. Preachers and churches face the temptation of carrying what the world thinks of us. Those in New York City don’t care what we think or believe here in West Virginia, but oh how many desperately care what they think of us! Catch phrases, ministry strategies, acceptable speech and behavior is set by worldly men, and those who want to fit in must adapt.

The only way to be ashamed of Christ and the gospel is to put more stock in what men think of you than what God thinks of you. To be ashamed of the gospel of Christ is to care more about men thinking well of you than caring for their soul. Christ is my judge. Jesus saved my soul and that is a fact. The blood of Christ does indeed wash away sin. There is a Hell as sure as there is a Charleston. Why should I be ashamed at believing and declaring the truth? People who are duped by con men are ashamed when it comes to light, because they feel the disgrace of believing and trusting in a lie. Why be ashamed of the truthful reality described in God’s Word?

Are these things true or not? What things? The things of Christ. The things of doctrine. The things of the church. The things of living a holy and separated life.

Then don’t be ashamed of the truth and don’t be ashamed to associate with those who believe it. Nothing would make the wolves happier than to convince the sheep it's a disgrace to stick close to the Shepherd. I'm sure the wolf would be glad to give all sorts of advice to the sheep. And nothing is more perilous to the soul than for a sheep to care if the wolves think they are nice and friendly.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Foulest Whelp of Sin

"Slander occasions distress of the most grievous kind. Those who have felt the edge of a cruel tongue know assuredly that it is sharper than the sword. Calumny rouses our indignation by a sense of injustice, and yet we find ourselves helpless to fight with the evil, or to act in our own defence. We could ward off the strokes of a cutlass, but we have no shield against a liar's tongue. We do not know who was the father of the falsehood, nor where it was born, nor where it has gone, nor how to follow it, nor how to stay its withering influence. We are perplexed, and know not which way to turn. Like the plague of flies in Egypt, it baffles opposition, and few can stand before it. Detraction touches us in the most tender point, cuts to the quick, and leaves a venom behind which it is difficult to extract. In all ways it is a sore distress to come under the power of "slander, the foulest whelp of sin." Even in such distress we need not hesitate to cry unto the Lord. Silence to man and prayer to God are the best cures for the evil of slander."
C.H. Spurgeon

Monday, September 2, 2019

Maybe I'm Wrong

Years ago, I had a theological debate with a man over a vital doctrine. He pleaded with me to open my mind up to his unorthodox teaching. I told him I would I not open my mind, but it would, God willing, remain firmly and finally shut on the matter. He told me I was arrogant because I didn’t believe I could be wrong, and I should live with the idea that I could be wrong about everything. Granted, I could be wrong about a lot of things, but on this particular matter, I wasn’t and it would be the height of folly to walk around persuading myself not to believe. It isn’t humility to convince yourself not to believe any divine truth with all your heart and soul. False teachers always want their people to doubt and to question everything, except their allegiance to their mystic, mushy, pliable uncertainty.  

Understanding and true knowledge is a gift of God (Ephesians 1:7). One of the purposes of the church and the role of the pastor is to teach and declare the Word with the goal of "the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God," (Ephesians 4:13). Paul prayed the church in Colossae would be "filled with the knowledge of [God's] will" and increase in the "knowledge of God," (Colossians 1:9-10). Paul wanted the people of God to be comforted and "knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ," (Col 2:2). Not only is knowing the truth possible, the Bible stresses the importance of coming to the knowledge of the truth and provides the way for it to happen. 

Yes, it’s possible to become proud in what you know. I read an article where the author quoted from Jeremiah 9:23-24, “Thus said the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might…” Very powerful and on point. Don’t be proud and lifted up with your “doctrine” warned the author. But what was left out of the verse after the ellipses? “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord.” This verse wasn’t condemning theological knowledge, but condemning the pride of wisdom of men. Jeremiah tells us to know and understand the Lord. 

It is certainly possible to be deceived. It’s not only possible, but common for a person to deceive themselves, and become proud and hard-hearted refusing to be corrected, insisting they are right when all the evidence points to the contrary. With the Spirit's help, we can know the truth and be settled in what God has given us in His Word. Pray that He would open your heart to the truth, examine your heart and motives for any wrong, any pride, and then cling to His inerrant word (Psalm 139:23-24). 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

All we need in trial

"All that we need in trial, is the simple promise of God that he will sustain us; all that we need in the hour of death, is the assurance of our God that we I shall be happy forever. What would this world be without a “promise?” How impossible to penetrate the future! How dark that which is to come would be! How bereft we should be of consolation! The past has gone, and its departed joys and hopes can never be recalled to cheer us again; the present may be an hour of pain, and sadness, and disappointment, and gloom, with perhaps not a ray of comfort; the future only opens fields of happiness to our vision, and everything there depends on the will of God, and all that we can know of it is from his promises. Cut off from these we have no way either of obtaining the blessings which we desire, or of ascertaining that they can be ours. For the promises of God, therefore, we should be in the highest degree grateful, and in the trials of life we should cling to them with unwavering confidence as the only things which can be an anchor to the soul."
Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible from Second Peter 1

Thursday, August 29, 2019

It's A Trap

Proverbs 26:27  Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.

Every time I read this verse, I think about Disney's Swiss Family Robinson. It's not very spiritual, I know, but it's the truth. When the family learns of an imminent attack by pirates, they make various traps to defend their home, including digging deadfall traps (with a tiger thrown in for good measure). They  fortified themselves atop the mountain and made log falls to roll down if the enemy was foolish enough to climb up for them. But what if it wasn't a Disney movie, and the bad guys are the ones making traps? That's the image we have in our proverb.

The bad guy in the scene really wants to hurt his enemy, and he's going to go through a lot of trouble to set the trap. It takes a lot of work to dig a pit. Naturally, after I watched the Swiss Family Robinson, I wanted to dig a pit and try it out, like most boys probably did. But it takes a lot of  time and effort to dig a  deep pit and I always gave up. And to roll a stone up a hill? You would really have to hate someone to go through all the trouble to destroy them. One wonders what the payoff was for the man in the proverb? Most of the  time, the effort we put into vengeance is far more costly than the original offense.

Think about the effort pushing that rock up the mountain. Covered in sweat, muscles straining, gasping for air, pushing that rock up the hill –  all for vengeance and to hurt and kill. Every inch of ground takes all his strength to keep pushing and also to keep it from falling. It is up the mountain a pretty good way, but not far enough. It needs to be high up to cause maximum damager, because he cannot allow them to get away with that offense, or that slight. Suddenly, the stone is caught and it won’t go any further.  Hard as he tried, it won't budge, but he also can’t let go of the stone, he'll get run over. The stone of vengeance is caught by the rock of divine justice. He's worked himself into his own trap. Your sin will find you out and now there is no place else for the rock to go but down and to destroy whatever is in its path, starting with the one who worked so hard to get the stone up the hill.

God said vengeance is His – He'll take care of evildoers. You want vengeance because you are proud and don't like it when someone sins against you. Do you think God likes it? Stop trying to do God's job, because He's much better at it than you. You'll just end up mumbling to yourself in the bottom of a pit, or getting flattened by a rolling stone.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Pastor's Wife

A Detailed and Exhaustive Exposition of the Biblically Prescribed Duties of the Office of the Pastor's Wife
Doug Newell


The End

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Gospel of God

Romans 1:1-2  Paul… separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,).

Paul's life calling was to preach the gospel of God. It's a common misconception that people in the Old Testament were saved by works and in the New, saved by Grace. No doubt, there are two covenants (that's the whole reason it's called the Old Testament and the New Testament), but that doesn't mean that God changed his mind about the way people are saved.

In the Old Testament, the people of God offered sacrifices after the pattern of the Heavenly. The sacrifices pictured the way God would redeem His people. Moses was saved by grace, through faith, like all other of the saints of God. The Old Testament sacrifices, ceremonies, prophesies, and poetry, pointed God's people to the future Messiah. God promised to save his people from the very start. When man fell in the Garden, God cursed man, women, the earth, and the serpent. In the judgment of the serpent, in Genesis 3:15, God said, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." This is a promise. God promised that through the seed of the woman, a man would come to crush the serpent. The Devil will be defeated. All things will be made right by this man. This is the first gospel. The first "good news" and who preached it? God.

Listen to Christ Jesus Himself. After his resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus met with some disciples and began to preach to them. In the gospel of Luke 24:26-27;44, it says, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Then later he said, "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me." Jesus started in the Old Testament, and opened up the Scriptures, from every book, and taught and expounded how Christ suffered and entered into His glory. The Old Testament is about Jesus. The Old Testament preaches God's gospel.

Do you read your Bible like Jesus? Do you see God's gospel in the Old Testament? Do you take the light of the New Testament and see the glory of Jesus Christ and his gospel in the Old? Yes, Paul gets very deep, and very specific in His teaching in the epistles. It's not a different gospel, it's a deeper examination of the gospel of God. It's always been there, we just have more light. Paul gets very deep,  in the epistles, but it's not a different gospel, it's a deeper examination of the gospel of God.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Hi, I'm Paul

Hi, I'm Paul

The Apostle Paul is one of the great men in history. The Christian men and women we often admire in history and look up to as being great, were people hated in their own time, and lived not for their glory, by for God’s. Paul's humility and service to Christ is exemplified in the way he introduces himself in the book of Romans, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God."

Paul introduced himself first as a servant of Jesus Christ. Ethnically, Paul was a Hebrew and nationally, a Roman citizen. Paul enjoyed all benefits and privileges of Roman citizenship and appreciated and used those privileges, recognizing  God's blessing. But he didn’t identify himself here with his family heritage or his nationality. Paul didn’t deny who he was, and was not ashamed of his family or lineage, but that is not the most important thing about him. Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ. Paul did what his master wanted him to do. He thought the way his master wanted him to think. He lived in a way that pleased not himself, but his master, Jesus Christ. And he loved it.

You'll also notice Paul was not a servant of the church. He never identified himself a servant of other men, but a servant of Christ, unto the church. The church did not give him the office of apostle. Paul didn’t earn this position making his way up the ranks, but rather, Jesus called Paul to be an apostle. Paul continually had men trying to deny his apostolic authority (his authority is still challenged and attacked today by liberals and unbelievers). Paul went from persecutor of the people of God to the Lord’s chosen vessel to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and he says he was separated or set apart for that good work. The whole mission of Paul’s life was to make Jesus Christ known. It is good to point out that being separated unto the gospel does not limit one to preaching only a gospel message. Consider the book of Romans. Paul preaches about sin, about justification by faith, the relationship between the believer and the law, election, predestination, the end times, Israel, the church, how to live under the rule of a government and much more. A truly “gospel-centered” church must not only preach the gospel, but also doctrine, law, and applications of the gospel. If a church neglects teaching on all the truths of scripture they are not Christ centered.

Paul sometimes called the gospel he preached, “his gospel”. Here, he calls it the gospel of God. The good news didn’t come from the mind of Paul, which is another way liberals attack the apostle. The good news is God’s message of salvation through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. God's gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. Believe God's message – "The just shall live by faith," (Rom 1:16-17).

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Amen

"[Jesus]was also “the Amen” in all His teachings. We have already remarked that He constantly commenced with “Verily, verily.” The Pharisees in their teachings began with insinuating doubts, beclouding the mind with mystifications, and raising needless difficulties. It was considered to be the right thing for a philosopher never to teach dogmatically, but Christ never spoke in any other way. You find Him beginning, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” Christ, as teacher does not appeal to tradition, or even to reasoning, but gives Himself as His authority. He quotes indeed the authority of “It is written,” and speaks of the things which He had seen and heard of His Father, but this He states upon the authority of His own oneness with the Father. He comes clad with divine authority, and He does not deign to dispute or to argue, but He claims for His words that they are Amen. We have accepted His teachings I hope in that same spirit. I do not open the evangelists to find Christ’s words to cavil over them. I do not turn to the epistles to criticize the teachings of my Lord, nor to raise difficult questions wherewith to wrangle with the great Teacher. The position of a Christian is at his Master’s feet, not disputing but receiving; not questioning, but believing; and in this sense Christ claims, as a prophet and teacher to be “the Amen.”
Charles Spurgeon, The Amen

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

An Essay on Anger by John Fawcett

I'm working my way through a little treatise "An Essay on Anger" by John Fawcett. One profundity after the other, to where it would almost easier to mark the passages that are not striking.

OK, perhaps I overstated the case a tad, but it is really good. If you have a Google account, you can read it for free by clicking right HERE.

Otherwise, you could sample these quotes. Chew them up and ruminate on their truth.

"It is pride that makes men passionate. They cannot bear the least slight, or that which hath the appearance of it, because they think themselves of so much importance."
"A weak mind is easily kindled into resentment."
"Let us learn to expect injuries and affronts, that we may not be surprised when they occur. — We do not live among angels, nor among men free from perverseness, and unspotted with impurity : we dwell among a people of irregular tempers and unclean lips. If we would have no provocations, we must needs go out of the world."
"The mettle of a young and vigorous steed is not only harmless, but serviceable, when under due regulation. Much the same may be said of anger in the mind of man. When meekness is the bridle that restrains it, and wisdom the hand that guides it, we are safe ; but if it be not under proper government, it breaks through all decorum, grows headstrong and outrageous, and threatens mischief to our selves or those about us. So the unmanage able horse tramples on those who stand in his way, and perhaps throws the rider headlong on the ground : it should be restrained, there fore, with bit and bridle. We are not to submit to anger as to our master, but to govern it as our servant. It should never appear but on proper occasions, nor then but under the strictest guard. We should never suffer it to carry us beyond the bounds of decency. our resentment should never be either deep or lasting."

Friday, August 2, 2019


Lazarus has been dead for four days. His cold, dead, body is laid in a tomb. His family, especially his sisters, are heartbroken at the loss of their dear brother. He's gone. Death is a separation. It's a very unnatural thing that happens. It's seems like the most natural thing. But in the beginning, it was not so. When sin entered the world, death followed. It's most natural for the body, soul, and spirit to be united. But because of sin, death separates the body and soul.

Death also separates the living from the dead. Mary and Martha were upset because there brother was gone. It's a separation of loved ones, a separation of family relations. It feels like a hole is left in your life because of the absence. Life will never be the same since that person is gone. After my Mother passed away, for almost a year, I would grab my phone to send a text, a picture, or to call her about something and then it hit me afresh, she was gone.

Martha rebuked the Lord for not showing up in time to save Lazarus. Jesus responds by telling her Lazarus will rise. She agreed, but the hope of the resurrection and eternal life was no comfort because she knew the truth, but didn't rest in the truth. Then, in John 11:25-26, Jesus said, " I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."  Eternal life. Death doesn't end eternal life. Eternal life begins when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and are united to Christ by faith. Knowing God through Jesus Christ is eternal life. Death isn't the end of life because those who believe in Christ, even though the body dies, the soul lives. Better still, the body will be raised and reunited with the soul. Whosever believe in Christ shall never die.

When they arrive at the tomb, and Jesus says to roll away the stone door of the tomb, Martha reminds Jesus that it's too late. His body has already been dead so long, it stinks with corruption and decay.  But when Jesus calls for Lazarus, he came out of the grave. Jesus is the resurrection. Jesus is life. Lazarus' soul was reunited with his body and he lived.

Death is the great separator, but the sting of death has been taken away by the life of Christ. Jesus Christ defeated death, when He died and rose again.  Death separates, but what a glorious truth in the gospel, that the soul goes on to be with Jesus and the body of death will be raised and glorified. For the Christian, the separation of a child of God is only temporary. One day, at the resurrection, body and soul will be reunited. Loved ones will be reunited. The family of God will be gathered, and never again experience the pain of death.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Great and Precious Promises

Do you have peace in your life? Do you know God? In Christ, there is peace that passes all understanding, but for the child of God, there is a multiplication of grace and peace through the knowledge of God (II Peter 1:1-4). The more you know God the more peace you’ll experience. You cannot get "more saved" or "more forgiven" but you can experience more of God's peace and reap more benefits of God's grace in your own soul. Knowing more about God gives us more peace. That's a motivator to get after it and read your Bible. You don’t need anything else. No matter what hobby you have, there is likely a whole industry designed to cater to all the “needs” that come along with it. I heard one astute gentleman recently say, “Half the fun of fly-fishing is buying and using all the gear.” Fishing is one of those hobbies that it can get as expensive as you want it to get. Makes me embarrassed catching fish as a boy with my Zebco 33, I obviously didn’t know at the time I should have been using the latest $500 carbon fiber rod. God has given us “all things that pertain until life and godliness, through the knowledge of him,” so you are equipped, child of God, with all you need.

The more you know of God, the more confidence and assurance you’ll have in your salvation. When you leave behind your natural feelings about religion, and understand true sovereign grace, then will you experience more peace. We are given “exceeding great and precious promises” in so many aspects of our lives, not the least the promises of salvation. The more you know God’s character and the more you understand his promises to you, the more joy and peace you’ll have when this life isn’t going like we want it to, or when we sin and fail in the midst of temptation.

These promises are not for the saints of old only, but for all God’s people. Peter was an apostle, but he wrote Second Peter to those who have “obtained like precious faith” and are saved by and have the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Are you saved? Then you have the same promises Peter had. You have the same Lord, the same Saviour, the same covenant, the same promises, and the same assurance. Though we live in a fallen, sin-cursed world, we have escaped the corruption that is in the world and by God’s grace, will be parkers of the divine nature. One day, we’ll stand on golden streets, breathe the air of the New Earth, always and forever in the peace of eternal life. Oh, what great promises we have! Christian, do you look for the promises in the Bible? They are yours! Read them, think about them, and believe them. If you want to be fruitful in this life, know what God has promised you and live in joyful confident assurance.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

God's Name

In G. Campbell Morgan's book, The Ten Commandments, in addressing the first commandment lays the foundation of who the God is we are to worship -- Jehovah. Readers of this blog know this is something I've studied for a long time. I find it interesting that there is a rise in the number of books and authors who no longer use the name Jehovah. Morgan gives a defense of His Bible and the name Jehovah.
"There is deep significance in the name by which God here declares Himself, JEHOVAH. It is a combination of three Hebrew word, which may be translated into an English form thus: Yehi, "He will be," Hove, "being," and Hahyah, "he was." A combination is made from the tree workds by taking the fist syllable of the firs YeHi, the middle syllable of the second, hOVe, and the last syllable of the third, hahyAH, so that we have the name YEHOVAH. The whole name means, "He that will be, He that is, He that was."
In a footnote, Morgan went on to explain:
"This interpretation of the meaning of the word Jehovah has been severely criticized, and among other things has been designed "elaborated absurdity." The interpretation is that of the late Mr. Thomas Newberry, the author of the Englishman's Bible, a Hebraist of conspicuous ability. Of course it is a personal conclusion by one who interprets the Old Testament in the light of the New. The original Hebrew form YHVH left open the question of hte vowels. The generally accepted idea that the word Jehovah is a hybrid of the combination of the vowels ADONAI and YHVH is also a conclusion arrived at, and cannot be fairly stated to be a certainty. In correspondence with Mr. Newberry on the point, after the criticisms referred to, he said in a letter to me, 'The explanation of the Divine title Jehovah is given as a simple statement of facts on the authority of the Sacred Scriptures. In Revelation 1:4, the Holy Ghost has so interpreted its meaning." this may appear to some to be "elaborated absurdity," There are others of us who look upon it as sound and spiritual exposition."

Friday, July 26, 2019

Two Difficult Things

Thomas Watson, in his book, The Divine Cordial wrote, "There are two things, which I have always looked upon as difficult. The one is, to make the wicked sad; the other is to make the godly joyful. Dejection in the godly arises from a double spring; either because their inward comforts are darkened, or their outward comforts are disturbed." The reason a Christian does not experience the our promised is we forget God and His promises while trial and tribulation shake us until all we see are our troubles. When we don’t look to God and trust in His provision for us in Christ during life’s many or constant trials, we loose sight of our hope, which in turn, makes us miserable.

On my way to work this morning, I was listening to a podcast by a former Navy Seal talking discussing staying calm under pressure. He gave some practical tips but also a warning, knowing and doing are two different things. You can know what to do mentally but putting it in practice takes discipline and patience. Not an hour later, I was at work and with several deadlines approaching and passing me by, I was under pressure, and completely forgot the Seal’s advice. We may know, but we also need to remember. This only comes by constant meditation on the promises of God.

Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” All things, good and ill, work together for good for God’s people. Nothing will stop or slow God's will and everything God wants to do, He will do. What a wonderful thought, especially when I think that God loves me, and is for me; He is not my enemy, but my Father. Christ is my Lord, my Saviour, my friend, and sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for me.

The wicked, on the other hand, seem unconcerned with weighty spiritual truths of eternity. Living, as if God did not exist, with no regard of sin and eternal judgment. Where the Christian loses hope and comfort when they forget what God has done for them, the ungodly has a groundless confidence. The Christian has ever reason to look beyond their failures and heartaches and look to the Author and Finisher of their faith, but the wicked know not God. The Christian forgets they are justified in Christ and nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus, while the unsaved justifies himself and finds contentment in his own good works.

If you have repented and turned to Jesus Christ and his finished work at Calvary and trusted in Him for the salvation of your soul, then believe Him and have assurance in what He has done for you. Take the promises of God, who does not change and cannot lie as a sure and strong consolation and rejoice in Him.

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Worry Business

This is from a sermon delivered by C.H. Spurgeon on Thursday January 27th 1876.
Have you, - You who are in the habit of worrying and fretting, ever made any profit by doing so? How much a year do you think that anybody would give you for all your fretting? How much has it brought you in ? Come, brother, if it is a good business, I would like to go into partnership with you; but I should like first to know something about your profits. As I look at your face, I notice that I is careworn and anxious. That does not seem to indicate that the business is a profitable one. If I listen to your speech, I hear you murmuring a great deal instead of praising God. That does not seem to me to be a profitable concern. In fact, as far as I have ascertained, either by my own experience or by the observation of others, I have never discovered that anxiety has comforted anybody, or that it has brought any grist to the mill, or any meal to the barrel. Well, if a thing does not pay, what is the good of it?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Decalogue and Gettysburg

In 2007, Kelton Research surveyed 1,000 Americans showed 80% of those surveyed knew the ingredients of McDonald's Big Mac. Of that same group, less than 60% knew the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," and only 45% knew "honor thy father and thy mother." I often wonder how many people who are for and against the 10 Commandments in public schools know them for themselves? Could you name them from memory?

When I was in 6th grade, I sat next to the wall with a poster of the Gettysburg Address. After staring at it for a couple days, I decided to memorize it. I may have been better served to do the work  assigned – but that is beside the point. My teacher asked me why I was staring at the wall, and I revealed my plan. Instead of scolding me for not paying attention, she was happy I was interested and thought it would be a wonderful idea for the whole class to memorize and recite. I was not the most popular person after that stunt.

I read and meditated on the Gettysburg Address and it began my lifelong fascination with the American Civil War. It changed me. No one (except for my classmates) discouraged what we were doing.  People were happy that we were studying a political, philosophical speech. But why? The speech draws from Biblical passages and themes (Psalm 90:10; John 3). I think it's because it's religious enough, but not too religious to turn people off. It talks of great ideas, but boils them down to generalities about freedom and equality. He speaks of God, but which God? It urges action, even unto death, to defend the cause. It deems any against the "idea" is worthy of death. The speech begins and ends with a proposition which is, "a statement that expresses a judgment or opinion."  And to declare someone worthy to die for opposing that proposition is a moral judgment. Apparently, people are not opposed to morality and moral judgments, just God's morals and God's judgments.
Americans have an opinion about the 10 Commandments, whether they know them or not. Just as Americans have an opinion about the Gettysburg Address, whether they have read it or not. As a boy, I was allowed to read and think about Lincoln's proposition, but not God's. Lincoln's philosophical idea, civil religion, and moral judgment is acceptable. God's law is unacceptable because it condemns us and shows us we have sinned. Men are not against moral judgments, just against God's law.  

Maybe Americans know the law. It's hard to say if that poll is accurate - it's hard to believe any poll anymore. I know many people who are tied of deceiving polls and pundits, spinning the truth to advance their agenda. It aggravates me when politicians and the news media manipulate polls to spin things the way they want. The pollsters and the media may have just been bearing false witness. There ought to be a law against that.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Who are you going to believe?

I was once at an event about Biblical creation. In the parking lot, I met a group of protestors. Atheists who came to tell me I was believing a lie and should be ashamed for bringing my kids to an exhibit based on blind faith. They told me (in many different ways) I should abandon "faith" and trust in reason. Scientist, they said, are neutral and are only concerned with the facts and come to a conclusion after fair deliberation. I suppose, once a man puts on the sacred white lab coat, they cannot lie and are infallible. It's a popular, albeit false premise. Both creationist and evolutionist deal with the same evidence. The difference stems from  faith and belief. You cannot recreate evolution to examine it by scientific method. Creation and the origin of the species are historical events. Observing changes in kinds of animals is not the same as observing one species evolve into another.  It comes down to our starting points and who we are going to believe.

Maybe you are thinking, “Sure, Bible believing scientists have the evidence, but they have a preconceived agenda.” But, how can an evolutionary scientist be fair and unbiased while excluding possible outcomes from the beginning? The assumption of evolutionist is God did not create the Heavens and the Earth in six literal days. Every test starts with the assumption there is no God, which is coming to the table with a preconceived bias. Everyone has a predisposition. Neutrality is a myth.

Here is some evidence I would like to bring to your attention. Not about creation or evolution, but about man.  You can test it out yourself and use your friends, family as subjects. Every man is a liar (Romans 3:4). All of humanity are liars (Psalm 116:11). We have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and have a deceitful heart, even fooling ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9). The evidence of our wicked heart is how we live (Matthew 15:19-20). If you tell me the Bible isn't accurate about the heart of man, then you are a liar and are deceived, and also prove my point. The same Bible that gives us such an unflattering, yet accurate look at our own heart tells us that the Bible is true (Psalm 119:160) and it's an enduring truth that will not be overturned (Psalm 117:2) from a source of infinite understanding (Psalm 147:5).  Who are you going to believe?

Since science cannot recreate origins, everyone must start somewhere with an assumption to interpret the data. There may be millions of volumes of scientific writing on the big bang, or evolution, but that is a mountain of research, all written on the assumption of an unprovable theory, from fallible humans. Are you willing to build your view of the world, and eternity based on the words of biased, agenda based men?  Are their studies a sure foundation for your soul? Will you trust in the ever-changing works of scientist and live and die by their conclusions? 

Since the beginning, Satan has attacked God’s word telling Eve “Ye shall not surely die” when God said they would if they ate the fruit. Eve had to ask herself “who am I going to believe?” It was a direct attack on the authority of God’s word. Every since, man and Devil alike have attacked God’s word, its truthfulness, its accuracy, its reliability, its authenticity; yet the Word of God remains! The great shame of it is that God’s children put more faith in a fallible scientist and believe gap theories and theistic evolution rather than the Holy Spirit. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:1-3 Who are you going to believe? Faith in a scientist or faith in the Word of God? We will use the Bible as our proof, because it is the best proof and it would be foolish not to use it. Why hide the very Word of God as our proof and try to use words of men when God has plainly told us in His inerrant word. Who are you going to believe?

Who are you going to believe? The scientist starts saying there is no God. We start with the text “In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth (Gen 1:1).” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to exclude the Bible from the start is to assume the evolutionist is correct in their claims about God. Evolutionist insists we start with the idea there is not God, then look at the facts, which of course is prejudice to the fact there is a God. It is not impartiality or objectivity to speak about creation without using the Bible, it is extreme bias. The Bible is our starting place. The Bible is the unchangeable, infallible Word of God, so we must look at everything through the eyes of the Holy Bible. Want to know about fossils? Look at fossils through the Bible. The Bible tells us that all creatures were created in the first six days of creation. Start first with scripture, the known truth, and then interpret the evidence. You may think that is biased, but consider what evolution does. They take a fossil and start with the premise of evolution, then interpret the fossil in the context of millions of years.

Who are you going to believe? Creation is not a developing science, it is history. One that studies the Civil War is a historian, one that studies Greek or Roman Empire, historian. A person that examines ancient ruins is called an archaeologist. How is creation any different? The science of origins is not an ongoing repeatable science but rather a onetime historical event. Any scientific study that occurs now in the study of origins will only prove a preconceived notion since it cannot be repeated, and it was a historical event.

Who are you going to believe?
It is an act of faith; you will either believe the Word of God or the word of fallible men. The Bible is firsthand testimony from the one who was there! You cannot dispute He who never lied. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth."

Do not mistake a belief in creation for eternal life. God makes it clear that man naturally can see that there is a Sovereign God, in His creation. Believing God exists will not save your soul. Some confirm God’s existence, believe in creation, yet reject the Saviour. Many will call Him Creator and many will call His the Son of God; but few will call Him Saviour.

Who are you going to believe? Your heart, or the Word of God? What the bible says is true, from front to back. The Creator demands for His creation to be Holy. Failure to keep His commandments is called sin. The wages of sin is death, eternal judgment in the Lake of Fire. The Bible also tells us that there is salvation in Jesus Christ. That God sent His only begotten Son into the world to be a sin sacrifice. Christ Jesus bore the sins of His people on the cross and gave himself for a ransom for sinners, shedding His blood as the sin offering. He died and after three days and three nights rose from the dead.

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, trust in His word on the cross and be saved.


Douglas Newell IV

Thursday, July 11, 2019


Melchisedec  is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament, in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110:4. Why does that matter to a Christian today?  The latter part of Hebrews 5 and all of chapter 6 is a rebuke, a warning, and an exhortation to press on in the Christian faith. Those professing Christ at this point, should have been teachers instead of kindergarten students. They should have had their doctorate, not learning their ABC’s. Their lack of knowledge and spiritual growth was directly tied to their lack of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of the Bible. What brought about this lengthy rebuke? They didn’t know about Melchisedec. How is a man mentioned twice the Old Testament that important? The Psalmist, says the Messiah will be a priest forever after Melchisedec’s order, God swears it. From Psalms, we know this man is connected, in some way, to Christ. But how?

Melchisedec means “king of peace”. He lived in Salem, which means peace. He was also a priest. But wait a second -- the priesthood came into effect in Exodus, not Genesis. Moses received the law, and that won’t happen for around another 400 years. The patriarchs of the family offered sacrifices during this time. Genesis 14 is the first time the word priest is used in the Bible. So how did he become a priest? Who was his family? Well, we don’t know. He just came on the scene and sort of disappears. He isn’t connected to Abraham or his family. 

When Melchisedec came to Abraham after the battle of the kings, he brought bread and wine and Abraham tithed the spoils of war to him. The tithe came before the law as we see Abraham tithed to God through a priest. But the law in the Old Testament says only the tribe of Levi could be priests, and the children of Israel tithed to them only.  Hebrews 7:7 the less is blessed by the better. Or, the higher office blesses those under him. The office of priesthood is higher than the rank of those they bless. So Melchisedec  was higher than Abraham, the father of Isaac, the Father of Jacob, the father of Levi and the priesthood.

You could only be a priest based upon your family tree. Israel tithed to the Levites, who had a higher office. But in the family tree of Abraham, Melchisedec is better than Levi, since the family tithed in Abraham. The very thing the priests were proud of, their family tree and their lineage, was evidence that the family tree was “lesser” to the line of Melchisedec. Jesus, is greater than the Levitical priest. He is the true king of righteousness, the true king of peace, taking the office of High Priest, not out of inheritance, but sworn by an oath by God the Father. A Priest in an everlasting line, one where no one can or will take his place. We have a sure salvation in Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for us.