Thursday, September 25, 2008

Choose Life

This is not a political blog, and I am not posting this to be political in any way. My purpose here is to show just what is happening in the world we live in and what is at stake in the fight against abortion.

For your formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mothers womb
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
The days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16

Do your part to help stop the killing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Chains Are Gone!

Have you ever stopped to thinks what it means that Jesus, through His death on the cross, has not only saved us, but has also removed the chains that bound us to sin and death? This song, sung by Chris Tomlin, reminds us that in Christ our chains are gone, and we've been set free. And it is all because of God's amazing grace.

Take some time out today to thank God for His amazing grace and to worship Him becasue He alone is worthy of our worship and praise.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Videos From The ESV Study Bible Team

First up is a full introduction to the ESV Study Bible.

And next Justin Peters interviews Wayne Grudem, J.I. Packer, and Lane Dennis, some of those responsible for the content of the ESV Study Bible.

Less than a month to go!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Nature of True Repentance - Part 1

I have been reading a book by Thomas Watson titled The Doctrine of Repentance. Thomas Watson was a Puritan Pastor who lived from 1620 to 1686 and this book was first published in 1668. In his introduction to the book Thomas Watson writes:
The two great graces essential to a saint in this life are faith and repentance. These are the two wings by which he flies to heaven.
We all know what Faith is, but I think we are sometimes confused today as to what true Biblical Repentance is, so Thomas Watson starts by saying that in order to understand true repentance one must first understand what repentance is not, he writes:
There are several deceits of repentance which might occasion that saying Augustine that 'repentance damns many.' He meant a false repentance; a person may delude himself with counterfeit repentance.
So what does counterfeit or false repentance look like? We are given three examples, they are:
1. The first deceit of repentance is legal terror
By this he means that just seeing that you are a sinner and then feeling guilt over that sin is not true repentance; he writes:
Do not be deceived: this is not repentance. Ahab and Judas had some trouble of mind. It is one thing tho be a terrified sinner and another to be a repentant sinner. Sense of guilt is enough to breed terror. Infusion of grace breeds repentance. If pain and trouble were sufficient to repentance, then the damned in hell should be the most penitent, for they are most in anguish. Repentance depends upon a change of heart.
The next point then is:
2. Another deceit about repentance is resolution against sin
Here he is talking about people who make a vow to not do some certain act because of the consequences that arise from its practice and not because they actually see the act as a sin against God. Here he gives us two possibilities for this attitude; he writes:
Resolutions against sin may arise:

(1) From present extremity; not because sin is sinful, but because it is painful.
(2) From fear of future evil, and apprehension of death and hell
In both of these examples we see that the motivation for resolving to not continue in a sin is not that God is Holy, nor that He has commanded against it, but that its practice brings personal discomfort. The problem with this is that once the pain and fear subside the sin will return; Watson writes:
What will not a sinner do, what vows will he not make, when he knows he must die and stand before the judgment-seat? Self-love raises a sick bed vow, and love of sin will prevail against it. Trust not to a passionate resolution; it is raised in a storm and will die in a calm.
His final point then is this:
3. The third deceit about repentance is the leaving of many sinful ways

In this third point Thomas Watson is not saying that leaving sin is not important; what he is saying, however, is that one can leave a sin and think that repentance has occurred but all the while still be holding on to another sin. When true repentance occurs all sin will be forsaken - nothing will be held back. Here Watson makes three sub-points indicating how this can occur; they are:
  1. A man may part with some sins and keep others...
  2. An old sin may be left in order to entertain a new...
  3. A sin may be left [because]...a man sees that though such a sin may be for his pleasure, yet it is not for his interest
I found this point to be the most alarming and the most convicting personally. How many times have I looked at some sin and thought that I have no interest in that sin , I must be OK, and yet still overlooked a sin remaining in my own life. And there is no greater sin in any of our lives than the sin of pride - myself included.

Thomas Watson then concludes this chapter with these words:
True leaving of sin is when the acts of sin cease from the infusion of a principle of grace, as the air ceases to be dark from the infusion of light.
In other words, repentance can only occur in one's life when, through the grace and mercy of God, regeneration has occurred; it is only when one is born again that repentance can take place.

I know that there is much debate today as to whether a person is regenerated first and repentance results, or is repentance is first resulting in regeneration. I personally believe that regeneration is first, because Ephesians 2 clearly states that before regeneration we are dead in our trespasses and sins:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
Ephesians 2:1-5
Therefore, I do not believe that apart from the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives we have the ability to repent. However, one who has not repented cannot then claim to have been regenerated. Regeneration will always lead to repentance and repentance to faith. And if either of these elements is missing one can be assured that regeneration has not yet occurred.

That's it for today, next time we will look at what true, Biblical repentance looks like as we continue to work our way through Thomas Watson's book The Doctrine of Repentance.

Friday, September 12, 2008


This just may be the only time you will ever see me recommend a movie here at The Christian Journey, but from what I have seen so far this one is going to be a winner (at least from a Christian perspective). I have already been reading and hearing stories of people being saved and the movie hasn't even been released yet!

Here are a few things that you can do:

Take a few minutes to watch the Trailer:

Make plans to attend on opening weekend (September 26,2008) so we can show Hollywood that we will support Christian movies. And since you are attending anyway, bring some of your unsaved family and friends with you!

Then finally, take some time to pray that God would use this movie to draw people to Jesus.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Do You Believe

If you have spent any time here reading what I have written and posted over the past year you will know that I really like the Puritans and their writings, and that one of my favorite Puritans is Bishop J.C. Ryle. This morning I was reading one of Bishop Ryle's sermons, which he entitled Do You Believe. In this sermon he took as his text that famous verse, John 3:16 which says that those who believe will not perish - but have everlasting life.

Bishop Ryle made some good points here, and that this is something that we all need to take the time to think about, so I I thought it would be a good idea to post some excerpts from the sermon. I encourage you to prayerfully read through this and ask yourself the question, Do I Believe?
God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish—but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

Look at the well-known text which heads this page. Its words are probably familiar to your ears. You have very likely heard them, or read them, or quoted them, a hundred times. But have you ever considered what a vast amount of divinity this text contains? No wonder that Luther called it "the Bible in miniature!" And have you ever considered what an immensely solemn question arises out of this text? The Lord Jesus says, "Whoever believes shall not perish." Now, reader, DO YOU BELIEVE?

Questions about religion are seldom popular. They frighten people. They oblige them to look within and to think. The insolvent tradesman does not like his books to be searched. The faithless steward does not like his accounts to be examined. And the unconverted professing Christian does not like to be asked home-questions about his soul.

But questions about religion are very useful. The Lord Jesus Christ asked many questions during His ministry on earth. The servant of Christ ought not to be ashamed to do likewise. Questions about things necessary to salvation—questions which probe the conscience, and bring men face to face with God—such questions often bring life and health to souls. I know few questions more important than the one before you today. DO YOU BELIEVE?

Reader, the question before you is no easy one to answer. Think not to thrust it aside by the off-hand answer, "Of course I believe." I tell you this day, that true belief is no such "matter of course" as you suppose. I tell you that myriads of Protestants and Roman Catholics are constantly saying on Sundays, "I believe," who know nothing whatever of believing. They cannot explain what they mean. They neither know what, nor in whom, they believe. They can give no account of their faith. Reader, a belief of this kind is utterly useless. It can neither satisfy, nor sanctify, nor save.

I invite you in all affection, to consider the question which heads this tract. I ask you to give me your attention while I try to place it before you in its full proportions. In order to see clearly the importance of "believing," you should ponder well the words of Christ to which I have already referred. It is by the unfolding of these words, that I shall hope to make you feel the weight of the question, "Do you believe?"
That is the question, and Bishop Ryle gives us a list of seven things that we can look at to determine if we really do believe; he writes:
1. He who truly believes in Christ—has inward PEACE and HOPE. It is written, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." "We which have believed do enter into rest" (Romans 5:1; Heb. 4:3). The believer's sins are pardoned, and his iniquities taken away. His conscience is no longer burdened with the load of unpardoned transgressions. He is reconciled to God, and is one of His friends. He can look forward to death, judgment, and eternity—without fear. The sting of death is taken away.

2. He who truly believes in Christ—has a NEW HEART. It is written, "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature—old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new." "To as many as received Christ, He gave power to become sons of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man—but of God." "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ—is born of God" (2 Cor. 5:17; John 1:12, 18; 1 John 5:1.) A believer has no longer the same nature with which he was born. He is changed, renewed, and transformed after the image of his Lord and Savior. He who minds first the things of the flesh—has no saving faith. True faith, and spiritual regeneration, are inseparable companions. An unconverted person is not a genuine believer!

3. He who truly believes in Christ—is a HOLY person in heart and life. It is written that God "purifies the heart by faith," and that Christians are "sanctified by faith." "Whoever has this hope in him, purifies himself." (Acts 15:9; 26:18; 1 John 3:3.). A believer loves what God loves, and hates what God hates. His heart's desire is to walk in the way of God's commandments, and to abstain from all manner of evil. His wish is to follow after the things which are just, and pure, and honest, and lovely, and of good report, and to cleanse himself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. He falls far short of his aim, in many things. He finds his daily life a constant fight with indwelling corruption. But he fights on, and resolutely refuses to serve sin. Where there is no holiness, we may be sure there is no saving faith! An unholy man is not a genuine believer!

4. He who truly believes in Christ—works godly WORKS. It is written, that "faith works by love" (Gal. 5:6). True belief will never make a man idle, or allow him to sit still, contented with his own religion. It will stir him to do acts of love, kindness, and charity, according as he sees opportunity. It will constrain him to walk in the steps of his Master, who "went about doing good." In one way or another, it will make him work. The works that he does may attract no notice from the world. They may seem trifling and insignificant to many people. But they are not forgotten by Him who notices a cup of cold water given for His sake. Where there is no working love—there is no faith. A lazy, selfish professing Christian, has no right to regard himself as a genuine believer!

5. He who truly believes in Christ—overcomes the WORLD. It is written, that "whoever is born of God overcomes the world—and this is the victory which overcomes the world—even our faith" (1 John 5:4). A true believer is not ruled by the world's standard of right or wrong, of truth or error. He is independent of the world's opinion. He cares little for the world's praise. He is not moved by the world's censure. He does not seek for the world's pleasures. He is not ambitious of the world's rewards. He looks at things unseen. He sees an invisible Savior, a coming judgment, a crown of glory which never fades away. The sight of these objects, makes him think comparatively little of this present world. Where the world reigns in the heart, there is no genuine faith. A man who is habitually conformed to the world, has no title to the name of a true believer!

6. He who truly believes in Christ—has an inward TESTIMONY of his belief. It is written, that "he who believes on the Son of God, has the witness in himself" (1 John 5:10). The mark before us requires very delicate handling. The witness of the Spirit is unquestionably a very difficult subject. But I cannot shrink from declaring my own firm persuasion, that a true believer always has inward feelings peculiar to himself—feelings which are inseparably connected with his faith, and flow from it—feelings of which unbelievers know nothing at all. He has the spirit of adoption, by which he regards God as a reconciled Father, and looks up to Him without fear. He has the testimony of his conscience, sprinkled with Christ's blood, that, weak as he is, he rests on Christ. He has hopes, joys, fears, sorrows, consolations, expectations, of which he knew nothing before he believed. He has internal evidences which the world cannot understand—but which are better to him than all the books of evidence in existence. Feelings are, no doubt, very deceitful. But where there are no inward pious feelings—there is no faith. A man who knows nothing of an inward, spiritual, experimental religion, is not yet a genuine believer!

7. Last—but not least, He who truly believes in Christ—has a special regard in all his religion—to the person of CHRIST Himself. It is written, "Unto you that believe Christ is precious" (1 Peter 2:7). That text deserves especial notice. It does not say "Christianity" is precious, or the "Gospel" is precious, or "salvation" is precious—but Christ Himself. A true believer's religion, does not consist in mere intellectual assent to a certain set of propositions and doctrines. It is not a mere cold belief of a certain set of truths and facts concerning Christ. It consists in union, communion, and fellowship with an actual living Person, even Jesus the Son of God. It is a life of faith in Jesus, confidence in Jesus, leaning on Jesus, drawing out of the fullness of Jesus, speaking to Jesus, working for Jesus, loving Jesus, and looking for Jesus to come again. Such life may sound like enthusiasm to many. But where there is true faith, Christ will always be known and realized, as an actual living personal Friend. He who knows nothing of Christ as his own Priest, Physician, and Redeemer, knows nothing yet of genuine believing!
With this list we see that belief is not merely an intellectual endeavor; real genuine belief in Christ - the kind of belief that saves from the wrath of God - must include conversion. A believer is not one who just says that they have a belief in God, or even a belief in Jesus. A believer (in the John 3:16 sense of the word) is one who has a desire for holiness and a hatred for sin. And a true believer is one who views Christ as precious, because they realize that apart from His atoning death on their behalf they are under the wrath of God, destined for eternity in hell and fully deserving of that end.

Bishop Ryle then writes:
Reader, I place these seven marks of believing before you, and I ask you to consider them well. I do not say, that all believers have them equally. I do not say, that no one will be saved, who cannot discover all these marks in himself. I concede, freely, that many believers are so weak in faith, that they go doubting all their days, and make others doubt about them too. I simply say, that these are the marks to which a man should first direct his attention, if he would answer the mighty question, Do you believe?
I too, ask you this question, but I also ask it of myself. And what if these seven marks are missing in your life? Bishop Ryle continues:
Where the seven marks, of which I have just been speaking, are utterly lacking, I dare not tell a man that he is a true believer. He may be called a Christian, and attend a Christian church. He may have been baptized with Christian baptism, and be a member of a Christian church. But if he knows nothing of peace with God, conversion of heart, newness of life, victory over the world, I dare not pronounce him a believer. He is yet dead in trespasses and sins. Except he awakes to newness of life, he will perish everlastingly.

Show me a man who has about him the seven marks which I have described, and I feel a strong confidence about the state of his soul. He may be poor and needy in this world—but he is rich in the sight of God. He may be despised and sneered at by man—but he is honorable in the sight of the King of kings. He is traveling towards heaven! He has a mansion ready for him in the Father's house. He is cared for by Christ, while on earth. He will be owned by Christ before assembled worlds, in the life which is to come.
Do these seven marks describe you? What are you doing about it if they don't? Bishop Ryle then concludes by asking the question again:
Do you believe?

DO YOU BELIEVE? I think it impossible to overrate the immense importance of the question before you. Life or death, heaven or hell, blessing or cursing—all hinge and turn upon it. He who believes on Christ—is not condemned. He who believes not—shall be damned. If you believe—you are pardoned, justified, accepted in God's sight, and have a title to everlasting life. If you do not believe—you are perishing daily. Your sins are all upon your head, sinking you down to perdition. Every hour you are so much nearer to hell.

DO YOU BELIEVE? It matters nothing what others are doing. The question concerns yourself. The folly of other men is no excuse for yours. The loss of heaven will not be less bitter, because you lose it in company. Look at home. Think of your own soul.

DO YOU BELIEVE? It is no answer to say, that "you sometimes hope Christ died for you." The Scriptures never tell us to spend our time in doubts and hesitation on that point. We never read of a single case of one who stood still on that ground. Salvation is never made to turn on the question, whether Christ died for a man or not. The turning-point is always set before us as believing.

DO YOU BELIEVE? This is the point to which all must come at last, if they would be saved. It will signify little, when we hang on the brink of the grave, what we have professed, and to what denomination we have belonged. All this will sink into nothing, in comparison with the question of this tract. All will be useless, if we have not believed.

DO YOU BELIEVE? This is the common mark of all saved souls. Episcopalians or Presbyterians, Baptists or Independents, Methodists or Plymouth Brethren, Churchmen or Dissenters, all meet on this common ground, if they are true men. On other matters they are often hopelessly disagreed. But in living by faith on Jesus Christ, they are all one.

DO YOU BELIEVE? What reason can you give for unbelief, that will bear examination? Life is short and uncertain. Death is sure. Judgment is inevitable. Sin is exceeding sinful. Hell is a dreadful reality. Christ alone can save you. There is no other name given under heaven, whereby you can be saved. If not saved, the blame will be on your own head. You will not believe! You will not come to Christ, that He may give you life!

Reader, take warning this day. You must either believe on Christ, or perish everlastingly. Rest not until you can give a satisfactory answer to the question before you. Never be satisfied, until you can say, By the grace of God I do believe!
I hope you found this sermon to be a blessing as I did, and if you would like to read the sermon in its entirety you can find it here: Do You Believe, J.C. Ryle

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Tribute To My Grandfather

On August 31, 2008 my Grandfather went home to be with the Lord.

Preston A. "Dutch" May was born December 5, 1915 as the only child of Daniel and Fannie May. His father left the family before he was a year old so he grew up in a single parent home where his mother worked as a domestic servant for a somewhat wealthy family. By the time he turned 15 the country was moving into the Great Depression and his mother's employers could no longer afford to pay for her services. As a result my grandfather was required to help support the family so he would travel to wherever there was work to be found, but always returning to the North East Ohio area where his mother lived.

On one of these return trips to Ohio he met and fell in love with a local girl named Verda Morris. They were married on October 6, 1940, and spent the next 67 years together. In my whole life I don't remember ever seeing one of them without the other one near by.

During WWII my grandfather enlisted in the Army and spent 2 years serving his country in the South Pacific. He was a very patriotic man and he loved his country deeply. After the war he was employed as a machinist, and he retired in 1981 after 30 years in this profession.

Not being one to just sit around, after his retirement my grandfather began a second career selling advertising; this was a job that allowed him to set his own hours, but more importantly it was something that my grandparents could do together. I am not exactly sure when they retired from this second career, but they were still doing this well after I was grown and had moved away from home.

Growing up, Sunday afternoon trips to my grandparents' house was a common occurrence. And if we didn't go there, it was a good bet that they would be coming to see us. We didn't see each other every weekend, but we saw them on more weekends than not.

The thing that I will always remember about my grandfather is that I never saw him in a bad mood. I'm sure that he had them, but I never saw one (unless you count that night that my sister and I stayed overnight at his house and wouldn't go to sleep - I guess he didn't like to be awakened by 2 noisy kids when he had to work in the morning). I'll also remember how he was always interested in everything I did, and when I became an adult and began my own career he couldn't have been more proud of what I was able to achieve.

Finally, I'll always remember the example that he set for me, an example of hard work, faithfulness to his family, and love for his God. He left some pretty big shoes to fill, and I will miss him greatly. But I know where he is, he is in Heaven with his Lord and he wouldn't come back here if he could. So I will remember all of the good times we had and look forward to the day when I will see him again in that place where there will be no more sin and no more sickness and no more death.

And as I close this tribute to my grandfather I would like to quote one of his favorite passages of Scripture (the one that he chose to be read at his memorial service) in the hope that you will rejoice with me in the salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. And if you don't know Jesus it is my prayer, as I am sure that it was my grandfather's as well, that today as you read these verses you will come to know that Savior that he loved.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
John 3:3-21(KJV)

So with that I say good bye grandpa - I'll see you soon.