Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Did You Have A Good Christmas?"

My wife and I were talking today and we got on the subject of Christmas; she mentioned that she has noticed a lot of people asking, "Did you have a good Christmas?" When they ask this question most people are really asking, "Did you get a lot of presents?" or "were you able to buy all of the gifts that you wanted to buy?" Most likely when a person asks this question they have absolutely no thought (at least at that moment) of what Christmas really is. In Luke chapter two we read:
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11 (ESV)
Think about that; unto us is born a Savior. A Savior. Really, take a minute to let that sink in. Born to us is a Savior. In Matthew we are told that this baby, this Savior, was to be given the name Jesus because, "he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21). This is Good news! This is the Gospel!

Because of our sin we are destined for death(Romans 3:23, 6:23). But because Jesus came we can all be reconciled to God. We read in again Romans:
For if whole we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:10-11 (ESV)
And in Colossians:
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless before him,
Colossians 1:21-21 (ESV)
So what does all of this mean? It means that Jesus, whose birth we are celebrating at Christmas, was born in order that he might reconcile us to God through his death. Without this event we would all still be an enemy of God, hostile in mind and doing evil deeds. But while we were enemies Christ died for us.

So the next time someone asks you, "Did you have a good Christmas?" answer them with the Gospel. And then ask them "How could I not?"

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's About The Cross

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Luke 2:1-20

This passage in the Gospel of Luke tells us of the birth of Christ, but have you ever wondered why He was born in the first place? If you have ever asked that question, either out loud or quietly to yourself, take a few minutes to watch this video by the Go Fish Guys and you will have your answer. This is why Jesus came, and this is the true meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas from the Christian Journey

Friday, December 21, 2007

What's In A Name?

I thought we could have some fun by looking at something in the Bible that is not obvious to the casual reader, but that shows us the great lengths to which God will go to get His message of love, grace, and redemption to us. There is a little known prophecy in Genesis chapter five that lays out the Gospel and because most of us don't speak Hebrew we miss it.

But before we look at this passage we need to understand that the sin that Adam committed did not take God by surprise. God knew what was going to happen before He created Adam and He already had his plan of redemption in place; Ephesians tells us that this plan was in place before the foundation of the world.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
Ephesians 1:3-6

The first prophecy of this coming redemption is found in the third chapter of Genesis, where we read:

“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Genesis 3:15

But as I mentioned above, there is also something amazing found in Genesis chapter 5. We often just glance at chapters like this one when we are reading through the Bible and we ask ourselves what we could possibly learn from a list of names like this; what's the big deal about who begot whom? Well, after you see this you may never look quite the same way when you come to a list of names in the Bible.

In Genesis 5 there is a list of names, a genealogy that runs ten generations from Adam to Noah. Unlike most of our names today the names in the Bible actually have a meaning; that is why, for example when God changed people's names in the Bible; their name had some meaning that represented who they were in their relationship to God. Well this is also true of the names in Genesis five; each name in this list has a Hebrew meaning, and the meanings are as follows:

  1. Adam – Man
  2. Seth – Appointed
  3. Enosh – Mortal
  4. Kenan – Sorrow
  5. Mahalalel – The Blessed God
  6. Jared – Shall Come Down
  7. Enoch – Teaching
  8. Methuselah – His Death Shall Bring
  9. Lamech – The Despairing
  10. Noah – Comfort and Rest

When you put these ten names together in a sentence, in the exact order that they appear in this genealogy, we see something truly amazing. We get a sentence that says:

“Man [is] Appointed Mortal Sorrow [but] The Blessed God Shall Come Down Teaching [that] His Death Shall Bring [the] Despairing Comfort and Rest.”
In this brief sentence God has spelled out the message of the Gospel for us. So the next time you run across a list of names in the Bible pause and thank God for the love and grace that He has shown us, and praise Him for the redemption that is ours In Christ Jesus.

What an awesome God we serve!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Puritans (Part 4)

Here is another great excerpt from the writings of Thomas Watson. This is from his exposition of the Beatitudes, which he penned in 1660. As I read this today I was struck by just how relevant this is to us today; how many of our churches are wasting time "washing swine" instead of preaching the Gospel. Jesus called us to be pure in heart, the Puritans echoed that call, and that is what we need to hear today.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8

External morality is not heart-purity. A person may be clothed with great moral virtues, such as justice, charity, prudence, and temperance — and yet go to hell.

We must not rest in mere outward morality. A swine may be washed — yet be a swine still. Morality does but wash a man — grace changes him. Morality may shine in the eyes of the world — but it differs as much from purity, as a pebble differs from a diamond!

Morality is but strewing flowers on a dead corpse!

A man who is but highly moral — is but a tame devil.

How many have made 'morality' their Savior!
Morality will damn — as well as vice! A boat may
be sunk with gold — as well as with dung.

The moral person, though he will not commit gross sins — yet he is not sensible of heart sins. He is not
troubled for unbelief, hardness of heart, vanity of thoughts. He abhors gross-sins, not gospel-sins.

The snake has a fine appearance — but has a deadly sting! Just so, the moral man is fair to look on — but has a secret antipathy against the holy ways of God.

Morality is not to be rested in. The heart must be pure. God would have Aaron wash the inner parts of the sacrifice (Leviticus 9:14). Morality does but wash the outside; the inside must be washed. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8

Thomas Watson - 1660

Monday, December 17, 2007

What Do You Want Me To Do For You?

Matthew 20:32-34 Jesus stopped, called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" "Lord," they said to Him. "open our eyes!" Moved with compassion Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they could see, and they followed Him.

Have you ever thought about how you would answer if Jesus ask you "What do you want Me to do for you?" In our passage today that is exactly the question that Jesus asked these blind men. We don't know anything about them prior to this day, but they had to have heard about the miracles that Jesus had been doing in and around Jerusalem. We also get the impression that they knew who He was, by which I mean that they knew He was the Messiah, because in verse 30 they called Him "Son of David" which is one of the Old Testament titles for the Messiah.

So what can we learn today from these blind men? The first thing that we are told is that they were blind. This is talking about physical blindness, but we can draw a parallel here to our our spiritual blindness apart from Jesus. Just as they had their eyes opened physically, we all need to have our spiritual eyes opened.

The second thing we see is their faith. These men believed that Jesus could heal them, and they called out to Him for mercy. Again, just like these men we rely on the mercy of Jesus and we must also put our faith in Him and believe that He is the One that can open our eyes. Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God, because those who come to Him must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

The third thing we can learn here is the importance of persistence. The crowd tried to quiet these men, but the more the crowd told them to be quiet, the more they cried out. This too is a lesson that has application for us today; we are told in Jeremiah 29:13 that we will find God when we search for Him with all of our heart. These men didn't let anything stand in their way, not fear, not blindness, and not the crowd. They sought Jesus and they didn't give up until they found Him.

And what happened? Jesus opened their eyes and they followed Him. Do you see yourself in this story? I sure hope that you do.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Examine Your Motives

Matthew 20:1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.

Jesus has just had a conversation with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22) and then told His disciples that it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven that it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Peter then asks Jesus since he and the other disciples have given up everything to follow Him "what will there be for us?"

Jesus says that they will be rewarded for their labor, and tells them that many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Then He tells them a parable; He says the kingdom of heaven is like a land owner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. Many have misrepresented this parable by saying that the wages paid to the workers represent eternal life, or that the wages represent rewards for service, but neither of these are what Jesus was trying to teach His disciples (or us).

First, He can't be talking about the wages being salvation because that would mean that they were earning their salvation, and the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is by grace and that we cannot work for it (Ephesians 2:8-9). Second, He couldn't have meant rewards either, because they all received the same amount, and the Bible teaches that God will reward us individually for what we have done (1 Corinthians 3:8). So what was the point of this parable?

I think that Jesus was trying to make us see that we need to watch our motives. Remember, Peter was asking what he was going to get in return for all he had given up, and Jesus was letting him know that he would be rewarded for his work, but just because he was one of the first to follow Jesus didn't mean that He would be first in the kingdom of heaven. The person who will be first is the one who serves Christ for the sake of serving Christ, not for what he will get in return.

Warren Wiersbe writes, "It is a solemn thing to realize that Christians whom we may admire today will be “last” at the final reckoning at the Judgment Seat of Christ because their motives were wrong."

So today remember that our motives are important and that our service to Jesus should be motivated by our love for Him and not what we will get for it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Possessions, Or Eternal Life

Matthew 19:21 "If you want to be perfect," Jesus said to him, "go sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me."

The man we know as the Rich Young Ruler has come and ask Jesus what he needs to do to to have eternal life. If someone came to you and asked you that question what would you say? I bet it would not be what Jesus said here. First Jesus told this young man that if he wanted to receive eternal life he should keep the commandments. The young man responded, "Which commandments?" Jesus replied, "do not murder, do not steal, do not commit adultery, love you neighbor as yourself." The young ruler then replied that he had done all of this since his youth and asked what else he was lacking. So Jesus told him; if you want eternal life, sell what you have, give the money you make to the poor, and follow Me. And the man went away grieving because he had a lot of stuff.

So what we see here is Jesus sending away a man who genuinely wanted eternal life. The problem though was that he was not willing to give up his possessions and could not admit that he was a sinner. This man had made an idol out of his possessions; they had taken the place of God for him, and when Jesus confronted him on it he chose his stuff over eternal life.

The other thing that Jesus did was tell him that he needed to keep the commandments, which he said he had done since his youth. Jesus has been making the point throughout His ministry that keeping the commandments goes beyond mere outward obedience (see Matthew 5-7) and that even if a person keeps the law perfectly on the outside, we are all still guilty on the inside. The response of this man should have been, "I am a sinful man and I have broken these commandments in my heart, how then can I be saved?" But the mans pride would not allow him to do this.

The last thing that Jesus said was "follow Me." It is not enough to say that you believe in Jesus, or to just say a prayer asking Jesus to come into your heart, we need to follow Him. That means that we need to know Him, to study His word, and do what He did. This does not mean that we are earning our salvation, we could never do that - Jesus did it all. But if we are truly born again we will want to do everything that we can to please our Lord.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Announcing: Study The Word

I have been asked to post some of my more in depth Bible Studies on this blog, but since I really enjoy the format here, and since most of these studies are rather lengthy, I decided to create a second blog where I will be posting only verse by verse expositional studies. Please feel free to check it out and post comments or questions; it is my hope that this site will evoke some great dialog on both the meaning and application of Scripture, and that together we will all grow to be more Christ like through it.

You can find the new blog here: Study The Word

Due to the nature of this new blog, and the amount of time that goes into writing these expositional studies, I will not be updating it as frequently as I do The Christian Journey. I will, however, still try to post here several times a week.

Thank you to everyone who visits this site; my prayer is that it is, and continues to be, a blessing and an encouragement to you.

In Christ,

Thursday, December 6, 2007

We Must Forgive

Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?"

I think this is something we have to deal with on a daily basis on our lives, so how would you have answered this question? I think Peter genuinely wanted an answer; he wasn't trying to show how spiritual he was by saying that he would forgive up to seven times, he was looking for the answer. And Jesus answered him with a parable.

There was a slave who owed his master a debt that was so large he would never be able to repay it; in the parable Jesus says that he owed 10,000 talents. A Talent was worth more than 15 years wages for a laborer, so what this man owed would have taken him 15,000 years to repay. The master told the servant that he, his wife , and his children were to be sold to repay the debt, but when the servant begged his master for patience and said that he would repay the debt his master had mercy on him and forgave the entire debt. Then after being forgiven an unpayable debt this same man turned around and had a man who owed him a small debt thrown into prison because he cannot repay.

When you hear this story do you find yourself becoming angry? Do you ask yourself how a man could be forgiven such a large debt and then be so unforgiving to someone who is in a similar circumstance? Well, God asks us that same question every time that we withhold forgiveness. He has forgiven us a debt that all eternity would not be long enough to repay. We were so indebted to God for our sin that is cost Him the life of His Son to erase it, and yet we still hold grudges and withhold forgiveness to people who offend us.

Peter asked Jesus how many times we should be willing to forgive, and Jesus answered "not seven times, but seventy times seven." Jesus didn't mean that we are to forgive 490 times and that's all; He was making the point that we should forgive so often that we loose count. If God has forgiven your sins, you have no right to withhold forgiveness from anyone else; they could not have done anything that is as bad as what we have done to God.

Is there someone you need to forgive today?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Sovereignty of God

Over the past week or so I have been engaged in a debate with a fellow blogger named Preston, who writes the blog An Open View. We have been debating the issue of God's Sovereignty and Omniscience; if you are interested in that debate you can read it here. I am writhing this post in response to that debate in order to more fully clarify my position on this issue.

A.W. Tozer wrote, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." This is one of the truest statements, outside of the Bible, that has ever been written, and this is the very reason that I engaged in this debate to begin with; we must strive to have an accurate view of who God is, and what He is like. That includes an accurate view of His Sovereignty, and why there is evil in the world (the very things that were attacked by Preston in his post).

A.W. Tozer wrote, "God's Sovereignty is the attribute by which He rules His entire creation, and to be sovereign God must be all-knowing, all powerful, and absolutely free." That we understand that God is all- knowing (Omniscient) and all-powerful (Omnipotent) is absolutely essential to how we view Him and how we relate to Him as His children. I believe that the Bible teaches us that God knows all things, including the future, and that He is Sovereign over all things, including evil, and that ultimately all things will bring glory to Him and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We can see this in the letter to the Colossians where Paul, speaking of Christ, wrote:
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

Colossians 1:16-18
In commenting on these verses John Piper said:
clipped from
All that came into being exists for Christ—that is, it exists to display the greatness of Christ. Nothing—nothing!—in the universe exists for its own sake. Everything from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the mountains, from smallest particle to the biggest star, from the most boring school subject to the most fascinating science, from the ugliest cockroach to the most beautiful human, from the greatest saint to the most wicked genocidal dictator—everything that exists, exists to make the greatness of Christ more fully known—including you, and the person you have the hardest time liking.

blog it
I couldn't agree more. But does this meant that God is responsible for the evil that is in the world? Not at all! With that very question in mind I asked Preston the following in our debate:
Does God have the ability to stop evil in the world? If He does, and there is no purpose in allowing it to continue, then God would be evil Himself. BUT, if God has the ability to stop evil, and He allows it to continue there must be a purpose in His allowing it. If you say that God cannot stop evil that makes evil more powerful than God, and He is not Omnipotent.

blog it
He responded with a new post entitled A Case Study: Satan & The Problem Of Evil where he made the following statement:
The war-torn nature of our cosmos reflects this tragic fall and ongoing war. Satan’s fall was catastrophic, which is ultimately why we experience catastrophic horrors in this world. Yet this fall was not altogether cataclysmic, for even in this worst case scenario God is still victorious. Though he must now operate in a terrible war zone, God’s goal of acquiring a bride cannot be thwarted.

blog it

Look back at the quotes above from A.W. Tozer on the sovereignty of God; in that quote we saw that God must be "absolutely free." That means that He cannot be forced to "operate in a terrible war zone." He cannot be "forced" to do anything - He is absolutely free.

So why does God allow evil to continue in the world? Why didn't He just wipe out evil the second Satan fell? Why does He allow bad things to happen in our world? These are some very serious questions, and questions that we must answer if we are to ever have a proper understanding of who God is, His sovereignty, His omniscience, and His power over all things - including evil.

So what then are we to do with the fact that God is sovereign and that there is evil in the world? If you conclude, as Preston did, that God is forced to live with the evil that exists in the world what you have said is that evil is more powerful than God. On the other hand, if God can put a stop to evil at any time he chooses, and He hasn't chosen to do so, then you have only two choices:

(1) Either God is evil Himself
(2) God has a purpose is allowing the evil to continue

I choose to believe the latter. As we have already seen all things exist for the glory of Christ. To further illustrate this point John Piper wrote:

clipped from

My conclusion is that from cover to cover the Bible presents God as governing Satan and his demons. He has the right and power to restrain them any time he pleases.

I conclude, therefore, that God permitted Satan’s fall, not because he was helpless to stop it, but because he had a purpose for it. Since God is never taken off guard, his permissions are always purposeful. If he chooses to permit something, he does so for a reason—an infinitely wise reason. How the sin arises in Satan’s heart, we do not know. God has not told us. What we do know is that God is sovereign over Satan, and therefore Satan’s will does not move without God’s permission. And therefore every move of Satan is part of God’s overall purpose and plan. And this is true in such a way that God never sins. God is infinitely holy, and God is infinitely mighty. Satan is evil, and Satan is under the all-governing wisdom of God.

blog it
So what I am saying here is this: We serve a holy, powerful, and loving God who has promised that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). It is only because God is who the Bible says He is that He can make this promise; His plans are not thwarted by evil, nothing takes Him by surprise, He knows the future and He holds ours in His hand.

Our ultimate good will only be realized in Christ; He will be glorified by everything (and everyone) that has ever been or ever will be created. God is sovereign over His creation and we can rest assured that all things have been created through and for Christ - to bring glory to Him.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Lost Sheep

Matthew 18:12-13 "What do you think? If a man has 100 sheep, and one of them go astray, won't he leave the 99 on the hillside and go search for the stray? And if he finds it, I assure you: He rejoices over that sheep more than the 99 that did not go astray.

In this parable Jesus is making sure that we believers in Jesus Christ understand our relationship to Him, and more importantly His relationship to us. In this parable Jesus is the shepherd and we are the sheep. I want to show you a few things I saw as I read this parable and make a few observations that I hope will be a blessing to you.

This first thing that I saw as I read this passage is that Jesus is talking about sheep going astray. These were not goats disguised as sheep, these were true sheep. Why do I make this point? Because we have a lot of people in our churches today who think that if a person goes astray and falls into sin that proves that they are not, and were not ever, truly saved, but in this passage Jesus teaches us that sometimes even sheep go astray.

The second thing I noticed as I read this is that it is the shepherd that went in search of the lost sheep. He did not send someone in His place, nor did He say that it was the sheep's own fault that it wondered off and got lost. Neither did He say If the sheep want to come back it knows where to find Me. No the text is clear, it says that Shepherd went and He searched and He found the lost sheep , and then He was the one who brought the sheep back home.

The third thing I noticed is that when the sheep went astray Jesus did not just abandon the other 99 to go and find the one that was lost. The text says that He left them on the hillside when He went to search. I am not a shepherd, but I think it's safe to assume that if the shepherd is going to go searching for a lost sheep he would first make sure that the rest of the flock was safe. In this parable Jesus tells us that the shepherd left the rest of the flock on a hillside; I believe that He is showing us that they were left in a place where they could continue to graze (if that's what sheep do) and that they would be safe until the shepherd returned.

The fourth observation that I made is that when the lost sheep is finally found the shepherd rejoices over it. The text says that He rejoices more over the lost sheep that was found than over the 99 that were not left on the hillside. But please note that Jesus does not say that the shepherd does not also rejoice over the other 99 sheep; He actually says "He rejoices over that sheep more than the 99 that did not go astray." This indicates that the shepherd did rejoice over all of this sheep.

This also tells me that when a lost sheep is found and it is brought back to the flock the rest of the sheep should also join in the rejoicing. We can see another example of this in Luke 15. In this chapter we have the parable of the Prodigal son and at the end of the chapter when the elder son is complaining to his father about the treatment of his returning younger brother the father says, "Son, you have always been with me, and all this is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found." (Luke 15:31-32)

So as you go think about this parable today, rejoice and be glad that you have a shepherd that cares enough for you to search for you if you happen to go astray, and rejoice with the shepherd whenever a wondering sheep is brought back to the flock.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Puritans (Part 3)

Here is another excerpt from that great Puritan, Thomas Watson. This is from his book entitled "A Divine Cordial," which was written in 1663. Enjoy.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Even temptations are overruled for good, to the children of God. A tree which is shaken by the wind is more settled and rooted. Just so, the blowing of a temptation does but settle a Christian the more in grace.

Temptations are overruled for good in eight ways:

(1.) Temptation sends the soul to prayer. The more furiously Satan tempts, the more fervently the saint prays. The deer being shot with the dart—runs faster to the water. When Satan shoots his fiery darts at the soul—it then runs faster to the throne of grace. When Paul had the messenger of Satan to buffet him, he says, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me" (2 Cor. 12:8). That which makes us pray more, works for good.

(2.) Temptation to sin, is a means to keep from the perpetration of sin. The more a child of God is tempted—the more he fights against the temptation. The more Satan tempts to blasphemy, the more a saint trembles at such thoughts, and says, "Away from me, Satan!" When Joseph's mistress tempted him to lust—the stronger her temptation was, the stronger was his opposition. That temptation which the devil uses as a spur to sin—God makes a bridle to keep back a Christian from sin!

(3.) Temptation works for good—as it abates the swelling of pride. "To keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud!" (2 Cor. 12:7). The thorn in the flesh was to puncture the puffing up of pride! Better is that temptation which humbles me—than that duty which makes me proud! Rather than a Christian shall be haughty minded—God will let him fall into the devil's hands awhile, to be cured of his swelling pride!

(4.) Temptation works for good—as it is a touchstone to try what is in the heart. The devil tempts—that he may deceive us; but God allows us to be tempted—that He may try us. Temptation is a trial of our sincerity. It argues that our heart is chaste and loyal to Christ—when we can look a temptation in the face, and turn our back upon it. Many have no heart to resist temptation. No sooner does Satan come with his bait—but they yield; like a coward who, as soon as the thief approaches, gives him his purse. But he is the valorous Christian, who brandishes the sword of the Spirit against Satan, and will rather die than yield. The valor and courage of a saint is never more seen than on a battlefield, when he is fighting the red dragon, and by the power of faith puts the devil to flight. That grace is tried gold, which can stand in the fiery trial, and withstand Satan's fiery darts!

(5.) Temptations work for good—as God makes those who are tempted, fit to comfort others in the same distress. A Christian must himself be under the buffetings of Satan, before he can speak a word in due season to him who is weary. Paul was well-versed in temptations. "We are very familiar with his evil schemes" (2 Cor. 2:11). Thus he was able to acquaint others with Satan's cursed wiles (1 Cor. 10:13). A man who has ridden over a place where there are bogs and quicksands—is the fittest to guide others through that dangerous way. He who has felt the claws of Satan, the roaring lion, and has lain bleeding under those wounds—is the fittest man to deal with one who is tempted. None can better discover Satan's subtle devices—than those who have been long in the fencing school of temptation.

(6.) Temptations work for good—as they stir up fatherly compassion in God to those who are tempted. The child who is sick and bruised—is most looked after. When a saint lies under the bruising of temptations, Christ prays, and God the Father pities. When Satan puts the soul into a fever, God comes with a cordial; which made Luther say, that "temptations are Christ's embraces," because He then most sweetly manifests Himself to the soul.

(7.) Temptations work for good—as they make the saints long more for heaven. There they shall be out of gunshot; heaven is a place of rest, no bullets of temptation fly there. The eagle which soars aloft in the air, and sits upon high trees—is not troubled with the stinging of the serpent. Just so, when believers are ascended to heaven, they shall not be molested by the old serpent, the devil. In this life, when one temptation is over, another comes. This makes God's people wish for death—to call them off the battlefield where the bullets fly so quick—and to receive a victorious crown, where neither the drum nor cannon—but the harp and violin, shall be eternally sounding.

(8.) Temptations work for good—as they engage the strength of Christ. Christ is our Friend, and when we are tempted, He sets all His power working for us. "Since He Himself has gone through suffering and temptation, He is able to help us when we are being tempted" (Heb. 2:18). If a poor soul was to fight alone with the Goliath of hell, he would be sure to be vanquished! But Jesus Christ brings in His auxiliary forces—He gives fresh supplies of grace. "We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!" (Romans 7:37). Thus the evil of temptation is overruled for our good.

Question. But sometimes Satan foils a child of God. How does this work for good?

Answer. I grant that, through the suspension of divine grace, and the fury of a temptation—a saint may be overcome; yet this foiling by a temptation shall be overruled for good. By this foil, God makes way for the augmentation of grace. Peter was tempted to self-confidence; he presumed upon his own strength; and Christ let him fall. But this wrought for his good—it cost him many a tear. "He went out, and wept bitterly" (Matt. 26:75). And now he grows less self-reliant. He dared not say he loved Christ more than the other apostles. "Do you love me more than these?" (John 21:15). He dared not say so—his fall into sin broke the neck of his pride!

The foiling by a temptation causes more circumspection and watchfulness in a child of God. Though Satan did before decoy him into sin—yet for the future he will be the more cautious. He will beware of coming within the lion's chain any more! He is now more vigilant and fearful of the occasions of sin. He never goes out without his spiritual armor—and he girds on his armor by prayer. He knows he walks on slippery ground, therefore he looks wisely to his steps. He keeps close sentinel in his soul, and when he spies the devil coming—he grasps his spiritual weapons, and displays the shield of faith (Eph. 6:16).
This is all the hurt the devil does when he foils a saint by temptation—he cures him of his careless neglect; he makes him watch and pray more. When wild beasts get over the hedge and damage the grain—a man will make his fence the stronger. Just so, when the devil gets over the hedge by a temptation, a Christian will be sure to mend his fence; he will become more fearful of sin, and careful of duty. Thus the being worsted by temptation, works for good.

Objection. But if being foiled works for good, this may make Christians careless whether they are overcome by temptations or not.

Answer. There is a great difference between falling into a temptation, and running into a temptation. The falling into a temptation shall work for good—not the running into it. He who falls into a river is fit for help and pity—but he who desperately runs into it, is guilty of his own death. It is madness running into a lion's den! He who runs himself into a temptation is like king Saul—who fell upon his own sword.

From all that has been said, see how God disappoints the old serpent—by making his temptations turn to the good of His people. Luther once said, "There are three things which make a godly man—prayer, meditation, and temptation." The wind of temptation is a contrary wind to that of the Spirit; but God makes use of this cross wind, to blow the saints to heaven!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Faith Of A Child

Matthew 18:3 "I assure you," He said, "unless you are converted and become like a children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

In this verse Jesus characterizes saving faith as faith that is simple, trusting, helplessly dependent, and that acknowledges that one has no resources of his own, but it utterly and totally dependent upon God. Jesus makes His point by using a child as His illustration. So what is it about children that illustrates this kind of faith?

First, a child does not worry about where their food is going to come from, they don't worry about if they will have a place to sleep, they don't think about what they are going to wear. They know that their father will provide all of these things for them, and they never even think to doubt that. Children rely on their father for their very existence; they are not out looking for a job and trying to scrape up money to buy the things they need, they have the faith that everything they need will be provided when they need it. And it is not even a conscience thought, children trust their fathers blindly. This is how our Heavenly Father wants us to trust Him

Jesus goes on to say in the next verse that we are to humble ourselves like children, which brings us to the second thing that I think Jesus was telling us here. Jesus says that we are to humble ourselves and be like a child, but a child does not need to humble themselves - they simply are humble. I think what Jesus is telling us here is that humility should be such a part of who we are that it is not a conscious thought. Children don't worry about who is the greatest; to them it's their dad.

Spend some time today praising God because He is Your Father. Ask Him to show you any area that You are not trusting Him like a child. Ask Him to remove anything that causes you to worry. Thank Him for the care He takes of you. Just take some time today to love your Heavenly Father like a child loves their earthly father, not because of what you will get for doing so; just because you love Him

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Gospel?

For those of you who may still think that Joel Osteen is preaching the Gospel here is a clip contrasting the teaching of Paul Washer with the teaching of Mr. Osteen. We desperately need to fall on our faces before the throne of God and repent for what we have allowed to happen to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this country.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Deny Yourself, Take Up A Cross, And Follow Jesus

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

"This passage sets forth the heart of Christian discipleship and it strikes a death blow to the self-centered false gospels that are so popular in contemporary Christianity." So says John MacArthur of this verse. Jesus is telling His disciples here that a true Christian, one who is truly born again, is one who denies self, takes up a cross, and follows Him. Lets take a look at each of these and see if we can discover what Jesus is saying to us today.

First He says that to be a disciple of His we must deny ourself. The perfect example of self denial is Jesus Himself; in the garden the night He was betrayed Jesus prayed "Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will." To deny yourself means that you are now submitting to the will of God in everything - even when it hurts, even when you get ridiculed, even if it means that you loose your friends, your family, your job, your possessions. To be a disciple of Christ Jesus has to be the most important thing in your life.

Second Jesus says that we must take up our cross. The cross was an instrument of death; Jesus was saying that His disciples are those who die to themselves. To be a follower of Christ we must no longer live for our own interests and desires, but we must do what He wills. Galatians 2:20 tells us that as a follower of Christ we have been crucified with Him, and it is no longer us who live but Christ who lives in us.

And the last thing Jesus says is that we are to follow Him. This does not mean that we can say a prayer, or walk an isle, or sign a card and be a Christian. Being a follower of Jesus Christ means that we learn what His will is and we do it. We can not just make an intellectual ascent to the facts about Jesus and say we are a Christian; Jesus set the bar a lot higher than that. We must follow Him. There is an old saying that says becoming a Christian is free, but being a Christian will cost you everything; That is exactly what this verse is telling us..

Spend a few minutes today thinking about what it means to deny yourself, take up your cross, and then follow Jesus.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Are You A Berean?

Matthew 16:12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the yeast in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

How many times have you been told to beware of the teaching that comes out of our pulpits? I would guess not many, but this is exactly what Jesus was telling the disciples in this passage. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the religious leaders of their day. They were the ones who interpreted the Scriptures and taught the people; they were the ones in the synagogues and temple telling their congregations how they should live; they were the ones that the people of Jesus day looked to for an example of godliness. But Jesus here tells His disciples that they are to be aware of the teachings of these men.

This New Testament is full of passages that tell us that we are to be aware of what we are being taught. For example Jesus said in earlier in Matthew that there are false prophets that come in among us disguised as sheep, but they are really ravenous wolves who will destroy us (Matthew 7:15). Peter also tells us that false prophets and false teachers will appear and rise up among us, that they will bring in destructive heresies, and that many will follow their ways (2 Peter 2:1-2).With all of these, and many more, warnings we had better be aware of who is teaching us and what we are allowing them to teach.

But how, you ask, do we do this? In Acts 17:11 we are given the answer; this verse says "The people here were more open minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." This verse is talking about the people of Berea; they are praised because they not only received the message with eagerness, they then went home and searched the Scriptures to make sure what they were being taught agreed with what was written. We could eliminate a lot of false teaching in our churches today if the people in the congregation would not blindly accept everything they are being taught, but would listen to what is being said and then search the Bible for themselves to see if what they are hearing is true.

I encourage you to be a Berean; open your bible and make sure what you are being taught agrees with what you see there. I don't care if it is your paster, a preacher on the radio or TV, or even me. If what you hear doesn't agree with what the Bible says it is false teaching and you need to run from it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Give Us A Sign

Matthew 16:2-4 He answered them: "When evening comes you say, 'It will be good weather because the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.' You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can't read the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation wants a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign on Jonah." Then He left them and went away.

Once again we see the Pharisees trying to test and trap Jesus. This time they tell Him that they want to see a sign from heaven, and the verses above give us the answer that Jesus gave to these men. He told them that they were able to predict the weather because of the appearance of the sky, but that they were clueless about the plan of God. These were the teachers of Israel, and they were completely missing what God had been promising them for 2000 years. Jesus called them an evil and adulterous generation and said the only sign they would receive was the sign of Jonah.

What they were doing by asking for a sign from heaven was discrediting His miracles and His ministry. So Jesus told them there would be the sign of Jonah, and no other (because they had already missed all of the other "signs). So what is the sign of Jonah? Jesus was telling them two things here: first, and most obvious, this is a reference to His death and resurrection. In Matthew 12:40 Jesus says that just like Jonah was in the belly of the sea monster for three days, so would He be in the heart of the earth. The second, and not quite as obvious aspect to this sign was the fact that because of their rejection of Jesus the gospel would go to the gentiles just as Jonah had done by taking the message of God to the Ninivites.

But what does any of this have to do with us today? I'm glad you asked. How many times do we read God's word and doubt what it says? How many times do we fail to recognize the hand of God in the situations of our lives? How many times do we just ignore what we know to be true instead of acting on faith and trusting God to do what He said He would do? In a lot of ways we are just like the Pharisees of Jesus' day. We are more concerned with our particular denomination than we are with a personal relationship with Him. Don't get so caught up in the things of this world that you miss the most important thing, Jesus.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Letter From Hell

Every Christian needs to see this video.

Now, go share your faith!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Our Deceitful Hearts

Matthew 15:18-20 "But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile a man."

The Pharisees have once again confronted Jesus. This time they are accusing His disciples of not keeping their traditions. In the minds of the Pharisees their traditions were superior to the Scriptures because they were the only reliable interruption of them. But Jesus points out that their traditions were actually contrary to God's law. In other words they had been so zealous for the law itself that they had missed the most important element; the law was given to draw them to God. They had embraced the law but not the God who gave it. Are we guilty of the same thing today? Do we place the teachings of our particular denomination above what the Bible says? Do we even question what our church is teaching us and compare it to the Scripture to make sure they agree?

Using this as an illustration Jesus shows us that what we put into our mouths is not what defiles us, and that not washing your hands before you eat is not what causes one to sin. He tells us that what we eat just passes through our body, but we need to be concerned with what is in our heart because that is what defiles us. Jesus has made this point before when He told us that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). Here He is telling us that the things that come out of the heart of man are evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. This list is not all inclusive, but He has made His point.

Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that "The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and desperately sick..." This is why we cannot clean ourselves up to please God; there is nothing good in us. We are desperately sick. In order to please God we need to have a new heart, and that is exactly what God promises to those who put their faith in Jesus. In Ezekiel 36:26 God says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." This is exactly what we need, because what is inside of us is defiled and no matter what we do we will never be able to please God on our own. That is why Jesus came.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Importance Of Time Alone With God

Matthew 14:23 After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray, When evening came He was there alone.

How many times do we see this picture in the gospels; Jesus going off by Himself to pray? This was where Jesus connected with His Father, this is how He re-energized for the mission He was on. But that is not all that was happening here. Jesus had just miraculously fed five thousand men, plus women and children. After they had eaten, He dismissed the crowds and He dismissed the disciples; the text tells us that "He made the disciples get into a boat" which suggests that they didn't want to leave Him. If we look at the parallel passage in John chapter six we see that the reason they were all sent away was because they (the crowds) were about to come and take Him by force and make Him their king (John 6:15). The fact that He also sent the disciples away may indicate that they were also thinking that this would have been a good opportunity for Jesus to assert His authority and set up His earthly kingdom.

We see in Luke's account of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness that "when the devil had ended every temptation he departed Him until an opportune time." (Luke 4:13 ESV). This could very well have been one of those opportune times in Jesus' life. This temptation would have been very much like the third temptation in the wilderness, where the devil offered Him all of the kingdoms of the world, because here was a crowd of probably up to 25 thousand people all wanting to make Him king. But by becoming king now He would have had to bypass the cross. We don't know for sure what was going through His mind at this time, but we can take away from this the example that Jesus set for us in the face of temptation. The text tells us that "He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray."

We all face numerous temptations every day, and each one of them is an opportunity to resist and obey God. We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that with every temptation God will provide us a way of escape. If we choose not to take that way we end up in sin, but that doesn't mean the way wasn't there; it just means that we either failed to see it, or failed to take it. We need to make it a habit to get alone with God to pray, especially when we are in the face of temptation. Just like Jesus did.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Kingdom Is Like A Treasure

Matthew 13:44-46 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.

What are these verses teaching us about the kingdom of heaven? The traditional teaching is that Jesus is telling us that the kingdom of heaven is so precious and valuable that when one finds it nothing else matters, and that person will sell all they possess in order to gain the one thing that is most valuable. But can we buy our salvation? Or do we seek Christ? The Bible is clear that we cannot purchase our salvation, and that it is Christ who is seeking after us, so what are these verses teaching us then?

Warren Wiersbe tells us that the treasure could represent the nation of Israel and the field could represent the world. He says, "[Israel] was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation."

Dr Wiersbe goes on to say that the pearl then could represent the church. Just as a pearl grows in secret, so it is with the church. The Holy Spirit convicts each of us individually, and we all come to Christ alone. In a very real sense the church grows and matures in secret as the Holy Spirit moves and works in the lives of the individuals who make it up. Another way that the church is like a pearl is that a pearl is an organism of unity. He adds, "Unlike most other gems, the pearl is a unity—it cannot be carved like a diamond or emerald...A pearl grows gradually, and the church grows gradually as the Spirit convicts and converts sinners. No one can see the making of the pearl, for it is hidden in the shell of the oyster under the waters. No one can see the growth of His church in the world." So here again he is giving us an alternate interpretation for this parable.

I am not saying that the traditional teaching of these parables is wrong. I am not saying that we should not give up everything for the kingdom of heaven. I am not even saying that the interpretation of Dr. Wiersbe is correct. All I am saying is that maybe we need to spend a little more time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to teach us the meaning of His word and not always rely on the traditional interpretations of men just because that is what has always been taught.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Puritans (Part 2) - The End of the Wicked

Have you ever been discouraged by the seemingly easy lives of those who are not at all concerned about walking with God? Have you ever struggled as you tried to remain godly while watching those who are not prosper? Have you ever wondered if holiness is really worth the effort? I think these are the exact questions that Asaph, one of the Psalm writers, was struggling with when he penned the 73rd Psalm.

Asaph wrote, in Psalm 73:2-3, " feet came close to stumbling, my steps almost slipped... as I saw the prosperity of the wicked." By the time he gets to verse 12 we can really see his frustration, in verses 12 & 13 he writes that the wicked are "always at ease" and "increased in wealth," then he adds, "Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure..."

But is it in vain that we pursue holiness? a few days ago I mentioned that I had been reading some of the Puritans' writings and I came across this one the other day by Thomas Watson addressing these very issues; here is what he had to say:

The children of God have little cause to envy the prosperity of the wicked. They may have all they can desire; nay, they may have "more than heart can wish." Psalm 73:7. They steep themselves in pleasure! "They sing to the music of tambourine and harp; they make merry to the sound of the flute." Job 21:12. The wicked are high--when God's people are low in the world.

The goats scramble up the mountains of prosperity; when Christ's sheep are below in the valley of tears! The wicked are clothed in purple; while the godly are in sackcloth. The prosperity of the wicked is a great stumbling block. But there is no cause of envy them, if we consider two things:

  • First--that this is all they have! "Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things"--you had all your heaven here.
  • Secondly--that God has laid up better things for His children. He has prepared a kingdom of glory for them! They shall have the beatific vision; they shall be crowned with the pleasures of paradise forever!

Oh, then do not envy the fleeting prosperity of the wicked! The wicked go through a pleasant way--to execution! The godly go through a foul way--to coronation!

See how happy all the saints are at death! They go to a kingdom! They shall see God's face, which shines ten thousand times brighter than the sun in its meridian glory. The godly at death shall be installed into their honor, and have the royal crown set upon their head. They have in the kingdom of heaven--the quintessence of all delights. They shall lie in Christ's bosom, that bed of spices.

There is such a pleasant variety in the happiness of heaven, that after millions of years it will be as fresh and desirable as the first hour's enjoyment! In the kingdom of heaven, the saints are crowned with all those perfections which they are capable of. The desires of the glorified saints are infinitely
satisfied; there is nothing absent which they could wish might be enjoyed; there is nothing present which they could wish might be removed.

In the kingdom of heaven there is . . .
  • Knowledge without ignorance,
  • Holiness without sin,
  • Beauty without blemish,
  • Strength without weakness,
  • Light without darkness,
  • Riches without poverty,
  • Ease without pain,
  • Liberty without restraint,
  • Rest without labor,
  • Joy without sorrow,
  • Love without hatred,
  • Plenty without surfeit,
  • Honor without disgrace,
  • Health without sickness,
  • Peace without discord,
  • Contentment without cessation,
  • Glory in its highest elevation!

Oh, the happiness of those who die in the Lord! They go into this blessed kingdom!
Thomas Watson

This is the same conclusion that Asaph came to; in verses 16 and 17 he wrote, "When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end." So the next time you get discouraged by the "prosperity of the wicked" spend some alone with God, come into His sanctuary, and let Him remind you, through His word, what you have to look forward to, and what is the end of the wicked.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Eternal Security Of The Believer

The Security of the Believer is a highly debated issue in the Church today; there are those who teach that it is possible for a person who has experienced that forgiveness of God to then have it taken away, and there are others who say that once a person has come to Christ it doesn’t matter how they live, their salvation is secure. What I would like to do here is to show you, from Scripture, why I believe that a Person who has genuinely repented from their sin and trusted Jesus as their only hope of salvation is eternally secure in that salvation.

In order to do this I am going to show you a series of promises of God that would be nullified if salvation could be lost. But before I do that I want to make it clear that just because a person has prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, signed a card, raised their hand, or asked Jesus into their heart, there is no guarantee that they are a redeemed child of God. The Bible teaches that for genuine salvation to occur a person must repent of their sin (see Luke 13:3, 5) and turn to Jesus (see Acts 4:12); if either of these two things has not happened salvation has not occurred.

Now, let’s take a look at several promises of God that would be nullified if salvation, could be lost.

If my salvation can be lost:

1. God is not able to perform what He promised.
and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
Romans 4:21
2. God is not able to present me blameless.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
3. God did not predestine me unto the adoption as a child.
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Ephesians 1:5
4. There is condemnation for me even though I am in Christ Jesus.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1
5. The Holy Spirit will take back His deposit.
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14
6. The Holy Spirit did not seal me.
who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
2 Corinthians 1:22
7. Jesus will leave and forsake me.
for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
Hebrews 13:5b
8. Jesus is not able to keep me from falling.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,
Jude 24
9. He will not preserve me forever.
For the Lord loves justice And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
Psalm 37:28
10. God did not cleanse me from all unrighteousness.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
11. God’s foundation is not sure.
12. God does not know those who are His
Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,”
2 Timothy 2:19a
13. Jesus will cast me out.
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”
John 6:37
14. Jesus did not perfect me.
For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Hebrews 10:14
15. God will not complete the work He began in me.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6
16. My life is not hide with Christ in God.
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:3
17. I have not passed from death unto life.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
John 5:24
18. God is not able to keep that which I have committed to Him.
For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
2 Timothy 1:12
19. I am not at peace with God.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 5:1
20. I can be plucked out of God’s hand.
and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
John 10:28-29
21. I can be separated from the love of God.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39
22. God’s righteousness is not everlasting.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
Psalm 119:142a
23. God’s love is not everlasting.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”
Jeremiah 31:3b
24. God did not keep His promise.
In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
Hebrews 6:17-18
25. God is a liar.
Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
Titus 1:1-2

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Parable Of The Wheat And The Tares

Matthew 13:24-30 He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ “ ‘An enemy did this!’ he told them. “ ‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him. “ ‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn. ’ ”

This passage is known as the Parable of the wheat and the weeds (or tares). Remember that in a parable Jesus is using common everyday things as an illustration of a spiritual truth. Here He said that the kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed wheat seeds in his field, but his enemy came and sowed weeds there also. The weed that is referred to here is a tare which is also known as darnel wheat . Darnel wheat is a weed that looks like wheat; it has the same kind of stalk, it is the same color, but it doesn't produce any fruit. Jesus is telling us that in the kingdom of heaven there will be those who appear to be genuine wheat that came from good seed, but at the end of the day they don't produce any fruit. They are just weeds and they will be thrown into the fire and burned.

Jesus explains this parable to His disciples (and to us) in verses 36-43. Here He tells us that He is the one who sows the seed, and the world is the field. He tells us that the good seed are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the devil. He tells us that the harvest is the end of the age and that when the reapers gather the wheat they will separate the good from the bad and all those who practice sin will be thrown into the fire and burned, but those who are righteous will shine like the sun in the Fathers kingdom.

So what is this teaching us? One thing it teaches us is that Satan cannot uproot the true Christians, so he plants false Christians in the church in order to try and choke them out. Unlike the parable of the soils where the seed represented the word of God, here the seed represents people. Good seed represents those who have chosen to follow Christ, and the bad seed those who follow sin. Jesus sows His children in the world so that they can bear fruit, but satan also sows his children in the world to stop them. Jesus is telling us that we need to be aware that not all Christians are what they appear to be, some are tares. Jesus is warning us that they are among us, but remember back to Matthew chapter seven - Jesus told us that we can recognize them by their fruit (Matthew 7:20).

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Puritans (Part 1)

Over the past few weeks I have very much been enjoying the writings of some of the Puritans and thought that it might be good to share some of them here from time to time. I hope they bless and convict you the way that have been blessing and convicting me…

This short article is entitled "It Is Utterly Impossible" and was written in 1852 by Octavius Winslow

It Is Utterly Impossible

It has been the distinctive aim, and the sincere desire of my ministry--to make known and to endear the Savior to your hearts.

Oh, how worthy is He . . .

  • Of your most exalted conceptions,
  • Of your most implicit confidence,
  • Of your most self-denying service,
  • Of your most fervent love!

When He could give you no more--and the fathomless depths of His love, and the boundless resources of His grace, would not be satisfied by giving you less...

He gave you Himself!

  • Robed in your nature,
  • Laden with your curse,
  • Oppressed with your sorrows,
  • Wounded for your transgressions,
  • And slain for your sins...

He gave His entire self for you!

His redeeming work now finished--He is perpetually engaged in meting out blessings to His people, from the exhaustless treasures of His love!

  • He constantly woos your affection
  • Invites your grief

And bids you repair with your daily trials to His sympathy, and with your hourly guilt to His blood. You cannot in your drafts upon Christ's fullness, be too covetous; nor in your expectations of supply, be too extravagant! You may fail, as, alas! the most of us do, in making too little of Christ--but you cannot fail, in making too much of Him!

It is utterly impossible to know Christ, and not become inspired with a desire . . .

  • To love Him supremely,
  • To serve Him devotedly.
  • To resemble Him closely,
  • To glorify Him faithfully here,
  • And to enjoy Him fully hereafter!

Octavius Winslow

Spend some time today meditating on these truths, and thank God for the belssings He has given us in Christ. For some additional study read Ephesians chapter one.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

To Those Who Have, Even More Will Be Given

Matthew 13:12 For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

Jesus said that whoever has will receive more and whoever does not will loose even what he has. This seems like a pretty important teaching, so we would do well to understand what Jesus was saying. In the context of this passage Jesus has just finished telling a parable and His disciples have come to Him and they ask Him why He speaks in parables. He tells them that they have been given the secrets of the kingdom, but these mysteries have been withheld from the crowds. He then tells them that whoever has will be given more than enough, but whoever does not will even loose what they do have.

William MacDonald writes in The Believers Bible Commentary, "The disciples had faith in the Lord Jesus; therefore, they would be given the capacity for more. They had accepted the light; therefore, they would receive more light. The Jewish nation, on the other hand, had rejected the Light of the world; therefore they were not only prevented from receiving more light, they would lose what little light they had. Light rejected is light denied."

We can see this truth lived out by the Pharisees of Jesus day, and the nation of Israel as a whole. They were given the oracles of God (Romans 3:2), they were the God's chosen people, but when their Messiah came, they refused to believe and they rejected Him. As a result they were hardened and the gospel was taken to the gentiles (Romans 11:25).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee says that "this is His reason for speaking in parables. Those who don't want to hear will not under stand them." He goes on to say, " The Lord drew His parables from commonplace things, things that were at the fingertips of the people in that day. He gave them great spiritual truths illustrated by things they knew and could see.." But if they refused to "hear" they would not understand.

The ability to understand spiritual truth is a gift from God, don't ignore it. Apply what He teaches you and even more will be given to you. Jesus promises an abundance to those who do!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Are You In The Family?

Matthew 12: 47-48 Someone told Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to You.” But He replied to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”

What an odd question for someone to ask. Do you think that Jesus didn't know who His family was? That is not even a possibility, so the question that Jesus is asking here must have some deeper meaning. But what is it? Well, if we read on we will see that Jesus actually explains what He was saying in the following verses. In verse 49 Jesus gestures to His disciples and says, "Behold, My mother and My brothers!" Was Jesus saying that His earthly family had no meaning to Him? Not at all. What He was doing here was making the point that His spiritual family had a higher place in His life than His physical family did.

Jesus continues in verse 50 by saying, "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother." So not only did Jesus say that it was His disciples who were His family, but He also included in that list each and every one of us who do the will of His Father. If you want to be included as a brother or sister of Jesus He tells us how; just do the will of His Father. But this is not something that we con do in our own power; we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit which we get by being in a relationship with Him.

Warren Wiersbe points out here that the word Jesus uses in verse 50, the word "whoever", is the same word He used back in Matthew 11:28-30 when He gave the invitation that whoever was weary and burdened could come to Him and He would give them rest. The invitation here is the same; whoever wants to be in Jesus family just has to come. John MacArthur writes here that "The arrival of Jesus’ family gave Him the perfect opportunity to give a graphic illustration of the need for personal relationship to Him." Physical relationship is of no importance in the kingdom of heaven; no one gets in on the basis of human position or birth. There are no grandchildren in Heaven; we are a child of God, or we are not included. Jesus wants to have a relationship with you and He invites you to come, so repent of you sins and put your faith in Him. Then you too can be called the family of Jesus.