Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Restless Bed

Here is an excerpt from James Smith’s Food for Hungry Souls. This was sent out by Grace Gems last week and is worth taking the time to read and then meditate on what he said.

[I have added some comments throughout]

The Restless Bed
  • What is sown now--will be reaped in eternity.
  • Eternal life is the free gift of a gracious God.
  • Eternal punishment is the just wages of eternal sin.
  • We deserve Hell now [this is an important point that we would all do well to remember]--but we may escape it by fleeing to Jesus.
  •  If we refuse to do so--then we can only expect to reap the fruit of our folly. 
  • Heaven is the gift of God's grace--but Hell is the wages of sin. [see Romans 6:23]
  • Every sinner makes his own Hell. In this light, let us look at the words of the Psalmist:

"If I make my bed in Hell." Psalm 139:8

WHAT is Hell?
  • Hell is the prison--in which the prisoners of God's justice are confined.
  • Hell is where punishment is inflicted on all who die at enmity with God.
  • Hell is the place where Satan acts the part of the chief tormentor.
  • Hell is the place where conscience, armed with terrible power, torments the guilty soul.
  • Hell is the place where reflection, aided by a strong and tenacious memory, afflicts without mercy or cessation.
  • Hell is the place where God frowns justly and eternally on the naked soul.
  • Hell is the place where everything calculated to . . .satiate with terror, fill with agony, and
    torture with pain, exist.
  • While everything calculated to inspire hope, give pleasure, or impart relief--is excluded forever.
WHO is in Hell?
  • Satan and his demons--all those foul, wicked, and degraded spirits--who are filled with envy, malice, and enmity against God and man.
  • All unrepentant sinners--of all classes, creeds, places, and periods.
  • All who have . . .stained the world with their crimes, afflicted others with their cruelties, and degraded themselves by their vices.
  • All the lowest, vilest, and basest of the human race!
  • God is there too, in his glorious majesty, almighty power, impartial justice, and awesome holiness! O how it will aggravate the sufferings of the lost--to have God's eye always fixed upon them, and the justice, holiness, and majesty of God ever shining before them!
[This is a point we often overlook; I have heard many people say that Hell will be Hell because God is not there, but I contend that Hell is Hell because God is there, and those in Hell will face His holiness and justice and wrath against sin, in their fullness, without the shield of Jesus Christ, for all eternity – that is what makes Hell Hell]

WHAT is in Hell?
  • Justice with its flaming sword--is there.
  • Memory stored with the whole history of one’s life--is there.
  • The worm that gnaws the vitals of the soul, but never dies--is there.
  • The fire that cannot be quenched, which tortures but never destroys our nature--is there.
  • But there is no Bible there.
  • There is no gospel with its joyful sound.
  • There is no gentle, loving Savior.
  • There is no loving friend or dear relation.
  • There is nothing to lessen or alleviate suffering!
  • Hell concentrates in itself, all the elements of misery, degradation, wretchedness and woe!

THE REST. "My bed." "If I make my bed in Hell."
  • Rest in Hell? A bed in Hell? What kind of a bed could that be?
  • A bed composed of the thorns of bitter reflection.
  • A bed made up of the terrible inflictions of incensed justice.
  • A bed embracing . . .the horrors of a guilty conscience, the blackness and darkness of despair, the ceaseless outpouring of the vials of the wrath of God!
  • This bed is . . .ever heaving--like the restless ocean; ever sinking--like a millstone, in the bottomless depths; ever burning--like a lake of liquid brimstone; and ever inflicting torments--beyond description or conception.
  • "MY bed"--the bed I procured by a life of sin.
  • "MY bed"--the bed I deserve for rejecting the Savior, and neglecting the great salvation.
  • "MY bed"--the bed awarded me by a just and holy God.
  • My OWN bed--the only bed I can claim; the only bed I can expect; that bed for which I labored; and which is the righteous wages of my sin.
  • My OWN bed--the only bed I shall have forever!
  • My OWN bed--on which there can be no rest day nor night. Ever wakeful, ever weary, ever cursing and condemning myself--here on my infernal bed--I am doomed, and justly doomed to lie forever!

THE EMPLOYMENT. "If I make my bed in Hell."
Every man makes his own bed, and on the bed he makes for himself--he must forever lie.
What are sinners on earth doing? Making their bed in Hell!
  • Drunkard--you are making your bed in Hell, and a terrible bed it will be!
  • Dishonest man, by your tricks in trade, and various dishonest practices--you are making your bed in Hell, and an awful bed it will be!
  • Liar, by your falsehoods and deception--you are making your bed in Hell--and a liar's bed will burn with brimstone and with fire!
  • Profane swearer--you also are preparing for yourself, a dreadful couch!
  • Promiscuous man--the lusts you indulge now, will entwine about your soul like serpents, and sting and poison you, on your bed in Hell forever!
  • Hypocrite, pretending to be religious, when you know that you are not--I suppose few will have a more racking or torturing bed to lie on forever--than you will!
  • Careless sinner--you are making your bed in Hell, and you will perhaps repent of it when it is too late.
  • Trifling professor, worldly-minded church member--you too are making your bed in Hell, and it is to be feared that many will go from the church of God on earth--to be tormented forever on a bed in Hell!
There is a Hell--an eternal Hell. Justice provided it originally for the devil and his demons--but there is room in it for rebellious men, and if they die impenitent--they will be forever doomed to it! No one will have a place in Hell, who does not richly merit and deserve it. Hell is just wages--for present sinful work. "The wages of sin is death"--eternal death. O terrible thought, to be working so hard on earth--only to receive the wages of eternal punishment in Hell!

"If I make my bed in Hell."
  • Young man--what if you should make your bed in Hell? It will be your own act and deed.
  • Young woman--what if you should make your bed in Hell? And you may--for the dance, the ball-room, pride of dress, and neglect of God, without any grosser vices--will be sufficient to prepare for you a bed in Hell!
  • Aged man--what if you should make your bed in Hell? What a dreadful close--to a long and trying life on earth.
  • Aged woman--is it possible that you should make your bed in Hell? It is--and more than possible!
  • Religious man--what if you should make your bed in Hell? What if after all your prayers, sacraments, and contributions to religious societies--your bed should be in Hell! And it will--if you are not found in Christ!
It does not matter--whether young or old, whether professor or profane--unless you are washed in the blood of Jesus;unless you are sanctified by the Spirit of God; unless you are reconciled to God by the death of His Son--you will certainly make your bed in Hell.

Look well to it, then, I beseech you--that you have saving faith in Christ, and that you are regenerated by the Holy Spirit--for without true holiness, no one can see the Lord. [see Hebrews 12:14] Without holiness--you will certainly make your bed in Hell!
~James Smith

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Does Man Have Free Will?

Here is a really good video that answers the question above from a Biblical perspective.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No Man Ever Thought Too Much Of Christ

Let us embrace this truth reverently, and cling to it firmly. Christ is He who has the keys of death and hell. Christ is the anointed Priest, who alone can absolve sinners. Christ is the fountain of living waters, in whom alone we can be cleansed. Christ is the Prince and Savior, who alone can give repentance and remission of sins. In Him all fullness dwells. He is the way, the door, the light, the life, the Shepherd, the altar of refuge. He that has the Son has life--and he that has not the Son has not life. May we all strive to understand this. No doubt men may easily think too little of God the Father, and God the Spirit, but no man ever thought too much of Christ.

J.C. Ryle
Expository Thoughts on the Gospels Vol 1: Matthew & Mark pg.409

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Heaven & Hell

What really happened on the cross, and what does that mean to you? Pastor R.W. Glenn answers those questions in this sermon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

J.C. Ryle On The Eternality Of Hell

As I was reading this morning I found this by J.C. Ryle talking about Hell being eternal. This is something that we all should think about daily, because we all know many people who do not know Jesus Christ and if they die in this state, this is their end.

Jesus said:
"The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to the man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."
Matthew 26:24
Of this verse J.C. Rule wrote:

Let us learn... from [this] verse, the hopeless condition of all who die unconverted. The words of our Lord on this subject are peculiarly solemn. He says of Judas, "It would have been better for that man, if he had not been born." This saying admits of only one interpretation. It teaches plainly, that it is better never to live at all, than to live without faith, and to die without grace. To die in this state is to be ruined forever more. It is a fall from which there is no rising. It is a loss which is utterly irretrievable. There is no change in hell. The gulf between hell and heaven is one that no man can pass. This saying could never have been used, if there was any truth in the doctrine of 'universal salvation'. If it really was true that all would sooner or later reach heaven, and hell sooner or later be emptied of inhabitants, it never could be said that it would have been "good for a man not to have been born." Hell itself would lose its terrors, if it had an end. Hell itself would be endurable, if after millions of ages there was a HOPE of freedom and of heaven. But universal salvation will find no foot-hold in Scripture. The teaching of the word of God is plain and express on the subject. There is a worm that never dies, and a fire that is not quenched (Mark 9:44.) "Except a man be born again," he will wish one day he had never been born at all. "Better," says Burkitt, "have no being, than not have a being in Christ."

Let us grasp this truth firmly, and not let it go. There are always people who dislike the reality and eternity of hell. We live in a day when a morbid charity induces many to exaggerate God's mercy, at the expense of His justice, and when false teachers are daring to talk of a "love of God, lower even than hell." Let us resist such teaching with a holy jealousy, and abide by the doctrine of Holy Scripture. Let us not be ashamed to walk in the old paths, and to believe that there is an eternal God, an eternal heaven, and an eternal hell. Once depart from this belief, and we admit the thin edge of the wedge of skepticism, and may at last deny any doctrine of the Gospel. We may rest assured that there is no firm standing ground between a belief in the eternity of hell, and downright infidelity.

J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels Vol 1: Matthew & Mark pg. 354

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Is Reformed Theology?

I have just finished listening to one of the best sermon series I have ever heard on the subject of Reformed Theology. This is not by any means an exhaustive series on the subject, but Pastor Brian Borgman gives a pretty thorough overview and I highly recommend this.

If you have any questions dealing with election, or predestination, or foreknowledge, or the free will of man this would be a good place to start. So get your Bible, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and spend a few evenings working your way through this series; you won't regret it.

And as always, feel free to leave your comments; who knows, we may even get Pastor Borgman to respond.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

No One Knows That Day And Hour

This morning I was reading Matthew 24 which includes the following verses:
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 24:36-51

Here are some thought on this passage from the pen of J.C. Ryle:

The... thing that demands our attention, is the dreadful separation that will take place when the Lord Jesus comes again. We read twice over, that "one shall be taken and the other left."

The godly and the ungodly, at present, are all mingled together. In the congregation and in the place of worship--in the city and in the field--the children of God and the children of the world are all side by side. But it shall not be so always. In the day of our Lord's return, there shall at length be a complete division. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye; at the last trumpet, each party shall be separated from the other forever more. Wives shall be separated from husbands--parents from children--brothers from sisters--masters from servants--preachers from hearers. There shall be no time for parting words, or a change of mind, when the Lord appears. All shall be taken as they are, and reap according as they have sown. Believers shall be caught up to glory, honor, and eternal life. Unbelievers shall be left behind to shame and everlasting contempt. Blessed and happy are they who are of one heart in following Christ! Their union alone shall never be broken. It shall last for evermore. Who can describe the happiness of those who are taken, when the Lord returns? Who can imagine the misery of those who are left behind? May we think on these things and consider our ways...

[We also see that] True Christians ought to live like watchmen. The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. They should strive to be always on their guard. They should behave like the sentinel of an army in an enemy's land.

They should resolve by God's grace not to sleep at their post. That text of Paul deserves many a thought--"let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us watch and be sober." (1 Thess. 5:6.)

True Christians ought to live like good servants, whose master is not at home. They should strive to be always ready for their master's return. They should never give way to the feeling, "my Lord is delaying his coming." They should seek to keep their hearts in such a frame, that whenever Christ appears, they may at once give Him a warm and loving reception. There is a vast depth in that saying, "Blessed is that servant whom his master finds doing so when he comes." We may well doubt whether we are true believers in Jesus, if we are not ready at any time to have our faith changed into sight.
Expository Thoughts on the Gospels Vol 1 Matthew and Mark pg 327-329

It is my prayer that you will take a few minutes today and think about what Jesus said in these few verses.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Poor Creature Went On Eating The Cheese!

Here is a quote by the great preacher Charles Spurgeon that was sent out the other morning by the folks at Grace Gems:

"A mouse was caught by its tail in a trap the other day--and the poor creature went on eating the cheese!

"Many people are dong the same. They know that they are guilty before God, and they dread their punishment--but they go on nibbling at their beloved sins!

'Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows!' Galatians 6:7"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Depth Of The Gospel

Here is another must hear sermon series by Paul Washer:

Here is the excerpt from John Flavel that he reads in part two:
Father. My son, here is a company of poor miserable souls, that have utterly undone themselves, and now lie open to my justice! Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them: What shall be done for these souls And thus Christ returns.

Son. O my Father, such is my love to, and pity for them, that rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be responsible for them as their Surety; bring in all your bills, that I may see what they owe you; Lord, bring them all in, that there may be no after-reckonings with them; at my hand shall you require it. I will rather choose to suffer your wrath than they should suffer it: upon me, my Father, upon me be all their debt.

Father. But, my Son, if you undertake for them, you must reckon to pay the last mite, expect no abatements; if I spare them, I will not spare you.
Son. Content, Father, let it be so; charge it all upon me, I am able to discharge it: and though it prove a kind of undoing to me, though it impoverish all my riches, empty all my treasures, (for so indeed it did, 2 Cor. 8:9. "Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor") yet I am content to undertake it. Blush, ungrateful believers, O let shame cover your faces; judge in yourselves now, has Christ deserved that you should stand with him for trifles, that you should shrink at a few petty difficulties, and complain, this is hard, and that is harsh? O if you knew the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in this his wonderful condescension for you, you could not do it.
And if you want to read the entire book on line it is available here: The Fountain of Life by John Flavel

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Atoning Death Of Christ

As I was reading this morning I came across another quote by J.C, Ryle on the Atonement; this time from Matthew 20:28. In this verse Jesus makes the statement, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Of this statement Bishop Ryle wrote:

Christ's death was an atonement for sin. What says the Scripture? "The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many."

This is the mightiest truth in the Bible. Let us take care that we grasp it firmly, and never let it go. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not die merely as a martyr, or as a splendid example of self-sacrifice and self-denial. Those who can see no more than that in His death, fall infinitely short of the truth. They lose sight of the very foundation-stone of Christianity, and miss the whole comfort of the Gospel. Christ died as a sacrifice for man's sin. He died to make reconciliation for man's iniquity. He died to purge our sins by the offering of Himself. He died to redeem us from the curse which we all deserved, and to make satisfaction to the justice of God, which must otherwise have condemned us. Never let us forget this!

We are all by nature debtors. We owe to our holy Maker ten thousand talents, and are not able to pay. We cannot atone for our own transgressions, for we are weak and frail, and only adding to our debts every day. But, blessed be God! What we could not do, Christ came into the world to do for us. What we could not pay, He undertook to pay for us. To pay it He died for us upon the cross. "He offered himself to God." (Heb. 9:14.) "He suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." (1 Peter 3:18.) Once more, never let us forget this!
Expository Thoughts On The Gospels, Vol 1, Pg 258

We need to keep this in mind; this is the Gospel! Jesus came into the world to give His life as a ransom. He paid to God the debt we could not pay. His death was not to give us an example, it was to pay our debt; He was our sin offering, our propitiation.

Spend a few minutes today thanking Him for the price He paid so your sin could be forgiven.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Child Is In The Well!

Here is an article from James Smith that was posted yesterday by Grace Gems:
A Child is in the Well!
by James Smith, 1860

My brother sometimes sends me a subject for my pen, and a letter just received from him contains the following account:

"A child is in the well! A child is in the well!" It is now more than fifty years since I heard that cry. It was a terrible scream, and it is as fresh in my memory, as when it was first uttered by that affrighted woman. A boy had been sent by his mother to the well to draw water, and had taken his little brother with him, and while he was engaged in drawing it, the child unperceived by him--was looking down into the well, and fell in! The wonder was that he was not killed in the descent, by striking against the large iron bucket. The excitement was great. The neighborhood was aroused, and all were filled with alarm, as the well was unusually deep. But it happened that a young woman came for water at the very moment, and in her fright she dashed her pitcher to pieces, and screamed out, "A child is in the well! A CHILD IS IN THE WELL!"
This piercing cry reached the ear, and entered the heart of a laboring man, who was at his dinner nearby. He flew to the rescue, and without stopping to consider his danger--descended by the chain, just in time to catch the child, as it was sinking under the water for the third time!

Now all were at work to get the man and the child up in safety, ropes and ladders were procured, and success crowned the efforts of the kind-hearted neighbors. The child was put into the arms of its distracted mother, and the poor man was praised for his kindness and courage.

But who shall say how much depended upon that cry--that tearful scream of a woman, "A child is in the well?" The child's life hung upon that cry. Another minute--and the child would have certainly drowned! But,

            "Not a single shaft can hit, until the God of love sees fit!"

The cry of that affrighted woman aroused the man, the man fled to the rescue, the child was saved from drowning--but the hand of God was not seen or acknowledged, until years rolled on! For more than thirty years, that child has been a preacher of the gospel, and has written many useful works. He has been the instrument in the hand of a wonder-working God, of rescuing many poor ungodly sinners from a far deeper well. Through that child, thousands have heard of the name and fame of Jesus, and those thousands have in some way been useful to others, and thus the effect will be felt to the end of time. How much depended on, and resulted from, that scream, "A child is in the well!"

"God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform!"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The above account of my own preservation when but a child, is sent to me as a subject for my pen--but what can I add to it? My heart as swelled with thankful emotions, and my eyes have been moistened with tears of gratitude, while I have been copying it, and I have been ready to exclaim with Leah, "Now will I praise the Lord!" and with David, "I will sing of God's mercy!" 

I cannot but admire the wonderful working of divine providence--how perfectly everything is arranged and adjusted. How well all is timed. I do not wonder the godly say that "we are immortal until our work is done," for new proofs of this are constantly arising. Where is the Christian, the laborer in God's vineyard, who cannot find an illustration of this fact in his own experience? I can find more than one in mine.

Some may perhaps reflect upon me for publishing my brother's narrative, and think me deficient in modesty; but I am not a young man now, nor am I so much affected by what my fellow-men say, or write of me--as I once was. If God, either as the God of providence, or grace, can be glorified, by anything I write or publish--it is enough! And surely no Christian can read the above with an unprejudiced mind, without glorifying God. 

How near was I to death--yet God intended me to live. How imminent was the danger--and how simple and suitable were the means of preservation. How wondrously God wrought--and yet no one present then, appeared to see his hand, or acknowledge his intervention. 

How much often depends upon a trifling action. Take away one link--and the chain falls to pieces. Not one of the above circumstances could have been omitted--or my life would surely have been lost!

The woman must come at the exact moment; alarmed, she must scream at the top of her voice;
the laborer must be eating his meal at home nearby; in his fright, he must do, what if he had waited to reflect, he would have feared to attempt!

But the hand of God was in the whole. "He performs the thing that is appointed for me, and many such things are with him."

What effect should the bringing of this circumstance before my mind at this time, have upon me? I trust it has made me feel grateful, and has led me anew to praise my God, for his wonderful works to men. But this is not enough. I would anew in the most solemn manner dedicate myself--my life so wondrously preserved, with all my powers, talents, and opportunities, to the Lord, and to his glory. 

Often have I surrendered myself to my God, and consecrated myself to his glory and praise, and I do so with all my heart and soul, again this morning.
For the Lord--I desire to live; 
  • To promote his cause--I desire to labor  
  • To bring sinners to Jesus, and to comfort and to edify his people--I desire to make the one grand object of my life.
As the especial care of his providence, as well as the subject of his sovereign and distinguishing grace--I desire to be his, wholly his, only his, and his forever!

Lord, take me anew into your hands, and make me more and more like your beloved Son; not only so--but as you have used me for the good of others, and the glory of your great name--use me yet more extensively, and glorify yourself by me, ten thousand times more than you ever have done yet!

My one undying desire of my soul, is that Christ may be magnified in me, and be glorified by me, both in life and in death. Many years ago, this desire was kindled at the cross, by a sense of the infinite love of Jesus, and nothing has ever been able to extinguish it yet, nor do I believe that anything ever will.

Reader, can you look back upon any hairbreadth escape from death? Can you look back upon a deliverance, not from a well of water--but from the pit of destruction? Can you say with David, "Great is your mercy toward me, for you have delivered my soul from the lowest Hell!" What would deliverance from death be--if we are not delivered from Hell? Of what value would a few years on earth be--if spent in sin, if filled up with worldly pleasure--if the end should be a place in Hell forever?

Blessed be God, he not only saved my life, and delivered me from an early death; but he saved my soul, and condescended to employ me in his vineyard.

Beloved, life without God's favor--life without a saving interest in Christ--life unless it is spent in God's service--is not worthy the name of life. To live, is to have the life of God in the soul! To live, is to have Christ formed in the heart! To live, is to be inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and to be consecrated to God's glory and praise! O to live as Jesus lived! To keep the same end in view, to walk by the same rule, and to do the works he did!
  • For this, we were redeemed by his blood
  • For this, we were called by his grace
  • For this, our lives are preserved in the present world, and 
  • For this, his fullness is thrown open to us, and we are invited to make use of his grace.
Holy Spirit, lead us to make more use of Christ, to enjoy closer communion with Christ, and to live, walk, work, and talk, more entirely for the glory of Christ!

Blessed Jesus, accept of us as your own property, fill us with your own sweet Spirit, stamp your lovely image upon us, and use us to exalt your dear name, spread your well deserved fame, and extend your glorious cause!

Father of mercies, God of all grace, receive our praises for your wondrous love, sovereign grace, and special providence! Help us to praise you here on earth, and then take us to praise and bless you eternally in Heaven!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pastors Telling Lies

This is a very thought provoking lecture on lying; highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Zeal Without Knowledge

Another good sermon in Voddie Bauchman's series in Romans, this time covering Romans 10:1-4

Friday, April 29, 2011

J.C. Ryle On The Atoning Death Of Christ

"The truth is, that our Lord would have us regard the crucifixion as the central truth of Christianity. Right views of His vicarious death, and the benefits resulting from it, lie at the foundation of [Christianity]. Never forget this. On matters of church government, and the form of worship, men may differ from us, and yet reach heaven in safety. On the matter of Christ's atoning death, as the way of peace, truth is only one. If we are wrong here we are ruined forever. Error on may points is only a skin disease. Error about Christ's death is a disease at the heart. Let nothing move us from this ground. The sum of all our hopes must be, that 'Christ has died for us' (1Thessalonians 5:10). Give up that doctrine, and we have no solid hope at all."
Expository Thoughts On The Gospels, Vol 1, Pg 200-201

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What Is The Gospel?

Here is the next sermon in Voddie Baucham's series on Romans, this time covering verses 30-33 of chapter 9.

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Romans 9:30-33

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are You A Christian?

From Grace Gems today:

Are you a Christian?

This is a very important inquiry, because many profess to be so--who are not so in reality. And yet no one can be saved--unless he is a Christian.

If anyone is in Christ--he is a new creature:
he is convinced of sin--and mourns over it;
he hates sin--and departs from it;
he reads the Word of God--and loves it;
he hears the gospel of Christ--and believes it.

He becomes a disciple of Christ, . . .
learning His doctrines,
trusting His promises,
and doing His will.

He receives the Spirit of Christ, which is a spirit of meekness, love, and holiness.

He would rather suffer for Christ--than sin against Christ! He . . .
loves the person of Christ,
imitates the example of Christ, and
observes the ordinances of Christ.

He commits his soul into the hands of Jesus . . .
to be pardoned through His blood,
to be justified by His righteousness,
to be sanctified by His Spirit,
to be preserved by His power,
to be used for His glory, and
to be presented faultless by Him to the Father at last.

He looks for the second coming of Christ with joy--because then he will be like Him, for he will see Him as He is!

Such is a Christian, according to the New Testament.

Reader, are you a Christian?

Can you live without prayer?

Can you be happy without Christ?

Can you neglect or despise the Word of God?

If so--then you are not a Christian!

Every Christian finds . . .
prayer to be the breath of his soul,
Christ to be the food of his soul,
the Bible to be the comfort of his soul, and
the Lord's people to be the beloved companions of his soul.

Examine yourself, for thousands bear the Christian name--who know nothing of Christian experience. Multitudes live and die under a delusion--and will say to Jesus at last, "Lord, Lord, we were Christians!" Then He will say unto them, "I never knew you! Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!" This will be dreadful--most dreadful!
James Smith
Good Seed For The Lord's Field (1856)
Take some time today to prayerfully consider what was written here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Resurrection Day

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
Luke 24:1-7

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Demons In Disguise

Here is something a little different; in these podcasts Pastor Trevor Hammack looks at the Urban Legend of Black Eyed Kids (BEK's) from a Biblical perspective. This is not the kind of thing that I would normally post here, but I really like Pastor Hammack and I found this series fascinating. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are

Here is the followup to the last sermon I posted; this is Voddie Baucham preaching on Romans 9:19-29.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Word Of God Has Not Failed

Here is a great sermon from Voddie Baucham on Romans 9:6-13 that asks, and answers the question, has the word of God failed in regard to the nation of Israel?

A Warning Against Unbelief

As I was reading  this morning I found this quote by J.C. Ryle and thought was worth sharing. The passage that I was reading was Matthew 13:51-58, which says:
“Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
Matthew 13:51-58

Notice that in this last verse Jesus talks about the unbelief of those who lived in His home town, and that He said it was because of their unbelief that He did not perform many mighty works there. Of this verse Ryle wrote:
The last thing which we ought to notice in these verses is the ruinous nature of unbelief. The chapter ends with the fearful words, "He didn't do many miraculous works there, because of their unbelief."

 Behold in this single word the secret of the everlasting ruin of multitudes of souls! They perish forever, because they will not believe. There is nothing beside in earth or heaven that prevents their salvation. Their sins, however many, might all be forgiven. The Father's love is ready to receive them. The blood of Christ is ready to cleanse them. The power of the Spirit is ready to renew them. But a great barrier interposes - they will not believe. "You will not come unto me," says Jesus, "that you might have life." (John 5:40.)

May we all be on our guard against this accursed sin. It is the old root-sin, which caused the fall of man. Cut down in the true child of God by the power of the Spirit, it is ever ready to bud and sprout again. There are three great enemies against which God's children should daily pray - pride, worldliness, and unbelief. Of these three, none is greater than unbelief.

J.C. Ryle
Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume 1 (2007 Baker Books Reprint) Pg. 157

How often do we actually think about unbelief being an issue in our lives? But just as we need to fight against pride and worldliness in our lives, we need to also be fighting against unbelief. The truth is that every time we sin - every time - there is an element of unbelief present; what we are saying, in essence, when we sin is "God, I don't believe what You said about ________."

Remember, Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23). And I don't know about you, but I think if God tells us something 4 times it must be important.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Even More On Charles Finney

Here is an article written by Dr. Michael Horton of the White Horse Inn on the theology of Charles Finney, a man who had great influence on the Christianity of today; but was what he taught Biblical? I'll let you read the article and you can decide for yourself:

The Disturbing Legacy of Charles Finney
by Dr. Michael Horton

Jerry Falwell calls him "one of my heroes and a hero to many evangelicals, including Billy Graham." I recall wandering through the Billy Graham Center some years ago, observing the place of honor given to Charles Finney in the evangelical tradition, reinforced by the first class in theology I had at a Christian college, where Finney’s work was required reading. The New York revivalist was the oft-quoted and celebrated champion of the Christian singer Keith Green and the Youth With A Mission organization. He is particularly esteemed among the leaders of the Christian Right and the Christian Left, by both Jerry Falwell and Jim Wallis (Sojourners’ magazine), and his imprint can be seen in movements that appear to be diverse, but in reality are merely heirs to Finney’s legacy. From the Vineyard movement and the Church Growth Movement to the political and social crusades, televangelism, and the Promise Keepers movement, as a former Wheaton College president rather glowingly cheered, "Finney, lives on!"

That is because Finney’s moralistic impulse envisioned a church that was in large measure an agency of personal and social reform rather than the institution in which the means of grace, Word and Sacrament, are made available to believers who then take the Gospel to the world. In the nineteenth century, the evangelical movement became increasingly identified with political causes-from abolition of slavery and child labor legislation to women’s rights and the prohibition of alcohol. In a desperate effort at regaining this institutional power and the glory of "Christian America" (a vision that is always powerful in the imagination, but, after the disintegration of Puritan New England, elusive), the turn-of-the century Protestant establishment launched moral campaigns to "Americanize" immigrants, enforce moral instruction and "character education." Evangelists pitched their American gospel in terms of its practical usefulness to the individual and the nation.

That is why Finney is so popular. He is the tallest marker in the shift from Reformation orthodoxy, evident in the Great Awakening (under Edwards and Whitefield) to Arminian (indeed, even Pelagian) revivalism. Evident from the Second Great Awakening to the present. To demonstrate the debt of modern evangelicalism to Finney, we must first notice his theological departures. From these departures, Finney became the father of the antecedents to some of today’s greatest challenges within evangelical churches, namely, the church growth movement, Pentecostalism and political revivalism.

Who is Finney?

Reacting against the pervasive Calvinism of the Great Awakening, the successors of that great movement of God’s Spirit turned from God to humans, from the preaching of objective content (namely, Christ and him crucified) to the emphasis on getting a person to "make a decision."

Charles Finney (1792-1875) ministered in the wake of the "Second Awakening," as it has been called. A Presbyterian layover, Finney one day experienced "a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost" which "like a wave of electricity going through and through me ... seemed to come in waves of liquid love." The next morning, he informed his first client of the day, "I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause and I cannot plead yours. "Refusing to attend Princeton Seminary (or any seminary, for that matter). Finney began conducting revivals in upstate New York. One of his most popular sermons was "Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts."

Finney’s one question for any given teaching was, "Is it fit to convert sinners with?" One result of Finney’s revivalism was the division of Presbyterians in Philadelphia and New York into Arminian and Calvinistic factions. His "New Measures" included the "anxious bench" (precursor to today’s altar call), emotional tactics that led to fainting and weeping, and other "excitements," as Finney and his followers called them.

Finney’s Theology?

One need go no further than the table of contents of his Systematic Theology to learn that Finney’s entire theology revolved around human morality. Chapters one through five are on moral government, obligation, and the unity of moral action; chapters six and seven are "Obedience Entire," as chapters eight through fourteen discuss attributes of love, selfishness, and virtues and vice in general. Not until the twenty-first chapter does one read anything that is especially Christian in its interest, on the atonement. This is followed by a discussion of regeneration, repentance, and faith. There is one chapter on justification followed by six on sanctification. In other words, Finney did not really write a Systematic Theology, but a collection of essays on ethics.

But that is not to say that Finney’s Systematic Theology does not contain some significant statements of theology.

First, in answer to the question, "Does a Christian cease to be a Christian, whenever he commits a sin?", Finney answers:
 "Whenever he sins, he must, for the time being, cease to be holy. This is self-evident. Whenever he sins, he must be condemned; he must incur the penalty of the law of God ... If it be said that the precept is still binding upon him, but that with respect to the Christian, the penalty is forever set aside, or abrogated, I reply, that to abrogate the penalty is to repeal the precept, for a precept without penalty is no law. It is only counsel or advice. The Christian, therefore, is justified no longer than he obeys, and must be condemned when he disobeys or Antinomianism is true ... In these respects, then, the sinning Christian and the unconverted sinner are upon precisely the same ground (p. 46)."
 Finney believed that God demanded absolute perfection, but instead of that leading him to seek his perfect righteousness in Christ, he concluded that "... full present obedience is a condition of justification. But again, to the question, can man be justified while sin remains in him? Surely he cannot, either upon legal or gospel principles, unless the law be repealed ... But can he be pardoned and accepted, and justified, in the gospel sense, while sin, any degree of sin, remains in him? Certainly not" (p. 57).

Finney declares of the Reformation’s formula simul justus et peccator or "simultaneously justified and sinful," "This error has slain more souls, I fear, than all the Universalism that ever cursed the world." For, "Whenever a Christian sins he comes under condemnation, and must repent and do his first works, or be lost" (p.60).

Finney’s doctrine of justification rests upon a denial of the doctrine of original sin. Held by both Roman Catholics and Protestants, this biblical teaching insists that we are all born into this world inheriting Adam’s guilt and corruption. We are, therefore, in bondage to a sinful nature. As someone has said, "We sin because we’re sinners": the condition of sin determines the acts of sin, rather than vice versa. But Finney followed Pelagius, the fifth-century heretic, who was condemned by more church councils than any other person in church history, in denying this doctrine.

Finney believed that human beings were capable of choosing whether they would be corrupt by nature or redeemed, referring to original sin as an "anti-scriptural and nonsensical dogma" (p.179). In clear terms, Finney denied the notion that human beings possess a sinful nature (ibid.). Therefore, if Adam leads us into sin, not by our inheriting his guilt and corruption, but by following his poor example, this leads logically to the view of Christ, the Second Adam, as saving by example. This is precisely where Finney takes it, in his explanation of the atonement.

The first thing we must note about the atonement, Finney says, is that Christ could not have died for anyone else’s sins than his own. His obedience to the law and his perfect righteousness were sufficient to save him, but could not legally be accepted on behalf of others. That Finney’s whole theology is driven by a passion for moral improvement is seen on this very point: "If he [Christ] had obeyed the Law as our substitute, then why should our own return to personal obedience be insisted upon as a sine qua non of our salvation" (p.206)? In other words, why would God insist that we save ourselves by our own obedience if Christ’s work was sufficient? The reader should recall the words of St. Paul in this regard, "I do not nullify the grace of God’, for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing." It would seem that Finney’s reply is one of agreement. The difference is, he has no difficulty believing both of those premises.

That is not entirely fair, of course, because Finney did believe that Christ died for something—not for someone, but for something. In other words, he died for a purpose, but not for people. The purpose of that death was to reassert God’s moral government and to lead us to eternal life by example, as Adam’s example excited us to sin. Why did Christ die? God knew that "The atonement would present to creatures the highest possible motives to virtue. Example is the highest moral influence that can be exerted ... If the benevolence manifested in the atonement does not subdue the selfishness of sinners, their case is hopeless" (p.209). Therefore, we are not helpless sinners who need to,’ be redeemed, but wayward sinners who need a demonstration of selflessness so moving that we will be excited to leave off selfishness. Not only did Finney believe that the "moral influence" theory of the atonement was the chief way of understanding the cross; he explicitly denied the substitutionary atonement, which "assumes that the atonement was a literal payment of a debt, which we have seen does not consist with the nature of the atonement ... It is true, that the atonement, of itself, does not secure the salvation of any one" (p.217). 
Then there is the matter of applying redemption. Throwing off Reformation orthodoxy, Finney argued strenuously against the belief that the new birth is a divine gift, insisting that "regeneration consists in the sinner changing his ultimate choice, intention, preference; or in changing from selfishness to love or benevolence," as moved by the moral influence of Christ’s moving example (p.224). "Original sin, physical regeneration, and all their kindred and resulting dogmas, are alike subversive of the gospel, and repulsive to the human intelligence" (p.236).

Having nothing to do with original sin, a substitutionary atonement, and the supernatural character of the new birth, Finney proceeds to attack "the article by which the church stands or falls"— justification by grace alone through faith alone.

Distorting the Cardinal Doctrine of Justification

The Reformers insisted, on the basis of clear biblical texts, that justification (in the Greek, "to declare righteous," rather than "to make righteous") was a forensic (i.e., legal) verdict. In other words, whereas Rome maintained that justification was a process of making a bad person better, the Reformers argued that it was a declaration or pronouncement that had someone else’s righteousness (i.e., Christ’s) as its basis. Therefore, it was a perfect, once and-for-all verdict of right standing.

This declaration was to be pronounced at the beginning of the Christian life, not in the middle or at the end. The key words in the evangelical doctrine are "forensic" (legal) and "imputation" (crediting one’s account, as opposed to the idea of "infusion" of a righteousness within a person’s soul). Knowing all of this, Finney declares,
 "But for sinners to be forensically pronounced just, is impossible and absurd... As we shall see, there are many conditions, while there is but one ground, of the justification of sinners ... As has already been said, there can be no justification in a legal or forensic sense, but upon the ground of universal, perfect, and uninterrupted obedience to law. This is of course denied by those who hold that gospel justification, or the justification of penitent sinners, is of the nature of a forensic or judicial justification. They hold to the legal maxim that what a man does by another he does by himself, and therefore the law regards Christ’s obedience as ours, on the ground that he obeyed for us."  
To this, Finney replies: "The doctrine of imputed righteousness, or that Christ’s obedience to the law was accounted as our obedience, is founded on a most false and nonsensical assumption." After all, Christ’s righteousness "could do no more than justify himself. It can never be imputed to us ... it was naturally impossible, then, for him to obey in our behalf " This "representing of the atonement as the ground of the sinner’s justification has been a sad occasion of stumbling to many" (pp.320-2).

The view that faith is the sole condition of justification is "the antinomian view," Finney asserts. "We shall see that perseverance in obedience to the end of life is also a condition of justification. Some theologians have made justification a condition of sanctification, instead of making sanctification a condition of justification. But this we shall see is an erroneous view of the subject." (pp.326-7).

Finney Today

As the noted Princeton theologian B. B. Warfield pointed out so eloquently, there are throughout history only two religions: heathenism, of which Pelagianism is a religious expression, and a supernatural redemption.

With Warfield and those who so seriously warned their brothers and sisters of these errors among Finney and his successors, we too must come to terms with the wildly heterodox strain in American Protestantism. With roots in Finney’s revivalism, perhaps evangelical and liberal Protestantism are not that far apart after all. His "New Measures," like today’s Church Growth Movement, made human choices and emotions the center of the church’s ministry, ridiculed theology, and replaced the preaching of Christ with the preaching of conversion.

It is upon Finney’s naturalistic moralism that the Christian political and social crusades build their faith in humanity and its resources in self-salvation. Sounding not a little like a deist, Finney declared, "There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else. When mankind becomes truly religious, they are not enabled to put forth exertions which they were unable before to put forth. They only exert powers which they had before, in a different way, and use them for the glory of God." As the new birth is a natural phenomenon for Finney, so too a revival: "A revival is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means—as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means."

The belief that the new birth and revival depend necessarily on divine activity is pernicious. "No doctrine," he says, "is more dangerous than this to the prosperity of the Church, and nothing more absurd" (Revivals of Religion [Revell], pp.4-5).

When the leaders of the Church Growth Movement claim that theology gets in the way of growth and insist that it does not matter what a particular church believes: growth is a matter of following the proper principles, they are displaying their debt to Finney.

When leaders of the Vineyard movement praise this sub-Christian enterprise and the barking, roaring, screaming, laughing, and other strange phenomena on the basis that "it works" and one must judge its truth by its fruit, they are following Finney as well as the father of American pragmatism, William James, who declared that truth must be judged on the basis of "its cash-value in experiential terms."

Thus, in Finney’s theology, God is not sovereign, man is not a sinner by nature, the atonement is not a true payment for sin, justification by imputation is insulting to reason and morality, the new birth is simply the effect of successful techniques, and revival is a natural result of clever campaigns. In his fresh introduction to the bicentennial edition of Finney’s Systematic Theology, Harry Conn commends Finney’s pragmatism: "Many servants of our Lord should be diligently searching for a gospel that ‘works’, and I am happy to state they can find it in this volume."

As Whitney R. Cross has carefully documented, the stretch of territory in which Finney’s revivals were most frequent was also the cradle of the perfectionistic cults that plagued that century. A gospel that "works" for zealous perfectionists one moment merely creates tomorrow’s disillusioned and spent supersaints. Needless to say, Finney’s message is radically different from the evangelical faith, as is the basic orientation of the movements we see around us today that bear his imprint such as: revivalism (or its modern label. the Church Growth Movement), or Pentecostal perfectionism and emotionalism, or political triumphalism based on the ideal of "Christian America," or the anti-intellectual, and antidoctrinal tendencies of many American evangelicals and fundamentalists.

Not only did the revivalist abandon the doctrine of justification, making him a renegade against evangelical Christianity; he repudiated doctrines, such as original sin and the substitutionary atonement, that have been embraced by Roman Catholics and Protestants alike. Therefore, Finney is not merely an Arminian’, but a Pelagian. He is not only an enemy of evangelical Protestantism, but of historic Christianity of the broadest sort.

Of one thing Finney was absolutely correct: The Gospel held by the Reformers whom he attacked directly, and indeed held by the whole company of evangelicals, is "another gospel" in distinction from the one proclaimed by Charles Finney. The question of our moment is, With which gospel will we side?

(Reprinted from Modern Reformation)
Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are from Charles G. Finney, Finney’s Systematic Theology (Bethany, 1976).