A.W.Tozer – In Everything by Prayer

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1 Phillipians 4:6

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

This is the key to the treasure house of  God.

Reclame

Charles Spurgeon Sermon – Special Thanksgiving to the Father (audio video and transcript)

spurgeonCharles Haddon (C.H.) Spurgeon (June 19, 1834 January 31, 1892) was a British Reformed Baptist preacher who remains highly influential among Christians of different denominations, among whom he is still known as the „Prince of Preachers.” In his lifetime, Spurgeon preached to around 10,000,000 people, often up to 10 times a week at different places. His sermons have been translated into many languages. Spurgeon was the pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London for 38 years. In 1857, he started a charity organization called Spurgeon’s which now works globally. He also founded Spurgeon’s College, which was named after him after his death.

Spurgeon was a prolific author of many types of works including sermons, an autobiography, a commentary, books on prayer, a devotional, a magazine, and more. Many sermons were transcribed as he spoke and were translated into many languages during his lifetime. Arguably, no other author, Christian or otherwise, has more material in print than C.H. Spurgeon.

Special Thanksgiving to the Father

This message was preached on February 15, 1860. The sermon is prefaced by a letter, which Mr. Spurgeon wrote in June of that same year, as he was on the continent. This is the letter:

MY DEAR BRETHREN,
    I have journeyed happily to the borders of Switzerland, and already feel that the removing of the yoke from the shoulder is one of the readiest means of restoring the metal powers. Much of Popish superstition and idolatry has passed under my observation, and if nothing else could make me a Protestant, what I have seen would do so. One thing I have learned anew, which I would have all my brethren learn, the power of a personal Christ. We Protestants are too apt to make doctrine everything, and the person of Christ is not held in sufficient remembrance; with the Roman Catholic doctrine is nothing, but the person is ever kept in view. The evil is, that the image of Christ before the eye of the Papist is carnal and not spiritual; but could we always keep o’er Lord before our eyes, his spiritual sense, we should be better men than any set of doctrines can ever make us. The Lord give to us to abide in him and so to bring forth much fruit.

Baden-Baden, June 15th, 1860                     C. H. Spurgeon

You can read the sermon, from Spurgeon.org below this video, or you can listen to the sermon being read here, on this VIDEO by Christian Praise and Worship in Songs, Sermons, and Audio Books

There is also a video playlist of Spurgeon sermons available here –
Charles Spurgeon Sermons Playlist 2: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=…

A Sermon(No. 319)
Delivered on Sabbath Evening, January 15th, 1860, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

„Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.”—Colossians 1:12, 13.

THIS PASSAGE IS A MINE of riches. I can anticipate the difficulty in preaching and the regret in concluding we shall experience this evening because we are not able to dig out all the gold which lies in this precious vein. We lack the power to grasp and the time to expatiate upon that volume of truths which is here condensed into a few short sentences.
    We are exhorted to „give thanks unto the Father.” This counsel is at once needful and salutary. I think, my brethren, we scarcely need to be told to give thanks unto the Son. The remembrance of that bleeding body hanging upon the cross is ever present to our faith. The nails and the spear, his griefs, the anguish of his soul, and his sweat of agony, make ouch tender touching appeals to our gratitude—these will prevent us always from ceasing our songs, and sometimes fire our hearts with rekindling rapture in praise of the man Christ Jesus. Yes we will bless thee, dearest Lord; our souls are all on fire. As we survey the, wondrous cross, we cannot but shout—

„O for this love let rocks and hills
Their lasting silence break,
And all harmonious human tongues
The Savior’s praises speak.”

It is in a degree very much the same with the Holy Spirit. I think we are compelled to feel every day our dependence upon his constant influence. He abides with us as a present and personal Comforter and Counsellor. We, therefore, do praise the Spirit of Grace, who hath made our heart his temple, and who works in us all that is gracious, virtuous, and well-pleasing in the sight of God. If there be any one Person in the Trinity whom we are more apt to forget than another in our praises, it is God the Father. In fact there are some who even get a wrong idea of Him, a slanderous idea of that God whose name is LOVE. They imagine that love dwelt in Christ, rather than in the Father, and that our salvation is rather due to the Son and the Holy Spirit, than to our Father God. Let us not be of the number of the ignorant, but let us receive this truth. We are as much indebted to the Father as to any other Person of the Sacred Three. He as much and as truly loves us as any of the adorable Three Persons. He is as truly worthy of our highest praise as either the Son or the Holy Spirit.
    A remarkable fact, which we should always bear in mind, is this:—in the Holy Scriptures most of the operations which are set down as being the works of the Spirit, are in other Scriptures ascribed to God the Father. Do we say it is God the Spirit that quickens the sinner who is dead in sin? it is true; but you will find in another passage it is said „The Father quickeneth whom he will.” Do we say that the Spirit is the sanctifier, and that the sanctification of the soul is wrought by the Holy Ghost? You will find a passage in the opening of the Epistle of St. Jude, in which it is said, „Sanctified by God the Father.” Now, how are we to account for this? I think it may be explained thus. God the Spirit cometh from God the Father, and therefore whatever acts are performed by the Spirit are truly done by the Father, because he sendeth forth the Spirit. And again, the Spirit is often the instrument—though I say not this in any way to derogate from his glory—he is often the instrument with which the Father works. It is the Father who says to the dry bones, live; it is the Spirit who, going forth with the divine word, makes them live. The quickening is due as much to the word as to the influence that went with the word; and as the word came with all the bounty of free grace and goodwill from the Father, the quickening is due to him. It is true that the seal on our hearts is the Holy Spirit, he is the seal, hut it is the Eternal Father’s hand that stamps the seal; the Father communicates the Spirit to seal our adoption. The works of the Spirit are, many of them, I repeat it again, attributed to the Father, because he worketh in, through, and by the Spirit.
    The works of the Son of God, I ought to observe are every one of them in intimate connection with the Father. If the Son comes into the world, it is because the Father sends him; if the Son calls his people, it is because his Father gave this people into his hands. If the Son redeems the chosen race, is not the Son himself the Father’s gift, and doth not God send his Son into the world that we may live through him? So that the Father, the great Ancient of Days, is ever to be extolled; and we must never omit the full homage of our hearts to him when we sing that sacred doxology,

„Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

    In order to excite your gratitude to God the Father to-night, I propose to dilate a little upon this passage, as God the Holy Spirit shall enable me. If you will look at the text, you will see two blessings in it. The first has regard to the future; it is a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. The second blessing, which must go with the first, for indeed it is the cause of the first, the effective cause, has relation to the past. Here we read of our deliverance from the power of darkness. Let us meditate a little upon each of these blessings, and then, in the third place, I will endeavor to show the relation which exists between the two.
    I. The first blessing introduced to our notice is this—”God the Father has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” It is a PRESENT BLESSING. Not a mercy laid up for us in the covenant, which we have not yet received, but it is a blessing which every true believer already has in his hand. Those mercies in the covenant of which we have the earnest now while we wait for the full possession, are just as rich, and just as certain as those which have been already with abundant lovingkindness bestowed on us, but still they are not so precious in our enjoyment. The mercy we have in store, and in hand is after all, the main source of our present comfort. And oh what a blessing this! „Made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.” The true believer is fit for heaven; he is meet to be a partaker of the inheritance—and that now, at this very moment. What does this mean? Does it mean that the believer is perfect; that he is free from sin? No, my brethren, where shall you ever find such perfection in this world? If no man can be a believer but the perfect man, then what has the perfect man to believe? Could he not walk by sight? When he is perfect, he may cease to be a believer. No, brethren, it is not such perfection that is meant although perfection is implied, and assuredly will be given as the result. Far less does this mean that we have a right to eternal life from any doings of our own. We have a fitness for eternal life, a meetness for it, but we have no desert of it. We deserve nothing of God even now, in ourselves. but his eternal wrath and his infinite displeasure. What, then, does It mean? Why, it means just this: we are so far meet that we are accepted in the Beloved, adopted into the family, and fitted by divine approbation to dwell with the saints in light There is a woman chosen to be a bride; she is fitted to be married, fitted to enter into the honorable state and condition of matrimony; but at present she has not on the bridal garment, she is not like the bride adorned for her husband. You do not see her yet robed in her elegant attire, with her ornaments upon her, but you know she is fitted to be a bride, she is received and welcomed as such in the family of her destination. So Christ has chosen his Church to be married to him; she has not yet put on her bridal garment, beautiful array in which she shall stand before the father’s throne, but notwithstanding, there is such a fitness in her to be the bride of Christ, when she shall have bathed herself for a little while, and lain for a little while in the bed of spices—there is such a fitness in her character, such a grace given adaptation in her to become the royal bride of her glorious Lord, and to become a partaker of the enjoyments of bliss—that it may be said of the church as a whole, and of every member of it, that they are „meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.”
    The Greek word, moreover, bears some such meaning as this though I cannot give the exact idiom, it is always difficult when a word is not used often. This word is only used twice that I am aware of, in the New Testament. The word may be employed for „suitable,” or, I think, „sufficient” „He hath made us meet”—sufficient—”to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” But I cannot give my idea without borrowing another figure. When a child is born, it is at once endowed with all the faculties of humanity. If those powers are awanting at first, they will not come afterwards. It has eyes, it has hands, it has feet, and all its physical organs. These of course are as it were in embryo. The senses though perfect at first, must be gradually developed, and the understanding gradually matured. It can see but little, it cannot discern distances. it can hear, but it cannot hear distinctly enough at first to know from what direction the sound comes; but you never find a new leg, a new arm, a new eye, or a new ear growing on that child. Each of these powers will expand and enlarge, but still there is the whole man there at first, and the child is sufficient for a man. Let but God in his infinite providence cause it to feed, and give it strength and increase, it has sufficient for manhood. It does not want either arm or leg, nose or ear. you cannot make it grow a new member; nor does it require a near member either; all are there. In like manner, the moment a man is regenerated, there is every faculty in his new creation that there shall be, even when he gets to heaven. It only needs to be developed and brought out: he will not have a new power, he will not have a new grace, he will have those which he had before, developed and brought out. Just as we are told by the careful observer, that in the acorn there is in embryo every root and every bough and every leaf of the future tree, which only requires to be developed and brought out in their fullness. So, in the true believer, there is a sufficiency or meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. All that he requires is, not that a new thing should be implanted, but that that which God has put there in the moment of regeneration, shall be cherished and nurtured, and made to grow and increase, till it comes unto perfection and he enters into „the inheritance of the saints in light.” This is, as near as I can give it to you, the exact meaning and literal interpretation of the text, as I understand it.
    But you may say to me, „In what sense is this meetness or fitness for eternal life the work of God the Father? Are we already made meet for heaven? How is this the rather’s work?” Look at the text a moment, and I will answer you in three ways.
    What is heaven? We read it is an inheritance. Who are fit for an inheritance? Sons. Who makes us sons? „Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” A son is fitted for an inheritance. The moment the son is born he is fitted to be an heir. All that is wanted is that he shall grow up and be capable of possession. But he is fit for an inheritance at first. If he were not a son he could not inherit as an heir. Now as soon as ever we become sons we are meet to inherit. There is in us an adaptation, a power and possibility for us to have an inheritance. This is the prerogative of the Father, to adopt us into his family, and to „beget us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” And do you not see, that as adoption is really the meetness for inheritance, it is the Father who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light?”
    Again, heaven is an inheritance; but whose inheritance is it? It is an inheritance of the saints. It is not an inheritance of sinners, but of saints—that is, of the holy ones—of those who have been made saints by being sanctified. Turn then, to the Epistle of Jude, and you will see at once who it is that sanctified. You will observe the moment you fix your eye upon the passage that it is God the Father. In the first verse you read, „Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father.” It is an inheritance for saints: and who are saints? The moment a man believes in Christ, he may know himself to have bean truly set apart in the covenant decree; and he finds consecration, if I may so speak, verified in his own experience, for he has now become „a new creature in Christ Jesus,” separated from the rest of the world, and then it is manifest and made known that God has taken him to be his son for ever. The meetness which I must have, in order to enjoy the inheritance of the saints in light, is my becoming a son. God hath made me and all believers sons, therefore we are meet for the inheritance; so then that meetness has come from the Father. How meetly therefore doth the Father claim our gratitude, our adoration and our love!
    You will however observe, it is not merely said that heaven is the inheritance of the saints, but that it is „the inheritance of the saints in light.” So the saints dwell in light—the light of knowledge, the light of purity, the light of joy, the light of love, pure ineffable love, the light of everything that is glorious and ennobling. There they dwell, and if I am to appear meet for that inheritance, what evidence must I have? I must have light shining into my own soul. But where can I get it? Do I not read that „every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and Cometh down”—yea verily, but from whom? From the Spirit? No—”from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” The preparation to enter into the inheritance in light is light. and light comes from the Father of lights; therefore, my meetness, if I have light in myself, is the work of the Father, and I must give him praise. Do you see then, that as there are three words used here—”the inheritance of the saints in light,” so we have a threefold meetness? We are adopted and made sons. God hath sanctified us and set us apart. And then, again, he hath put light into our hearts. All this, I say, is the work of the Father, and in this sense, we are „meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”
    A few general observations here. Brethren, I am persuaded that if an angel from heaven were to come to-night and single out any one believer from the crowd here assembled, there is not one believer that is unfit to be taken to heaven. You may not be ready to be taken to heaven now; that is to say, if I foresaw that you were going to live, I would tell you you were unfit to die, in a certain sense. But were you to die now in your pew, if you believe in Christ, you are fit for heaven. You have a meetness even now which would take you there at once, without being committed to purgatory for a season. You are even now fit to be „partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” You have but to gasp out your last breath and you shall be in heaven, and there shall not be one spirit in heaven more fit for heaven than you, nor one soul more adapted for the place than you are. You shall be just as fitted for its element as those who are nearest to the eternal throne.
    Ah! this makes the heirs of glory think much of God the Father. When we reflect, my brethren, upon our state by nature, and how fit we are to be fire-brands in the flames of hell—yet to think that we are this night, at this very moment if Jehovah willed it, fit to sweep the golden harps with joyful fingers, that this head is fit this very night to wear the everlasting crown, that these loins are fit to be girded with that fair white robe throughout eternity, I say, this makes us think gratefully of God the Father; this makes us clap our hands with joy, and say, „thanks be unto God the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Do ye not remember the penitent thief? It was but a few minutes before that he had been cursing Christ. I doubt not that he had joined with the other, for it is said, „They that were crucified with him reviled him.” Not one, but both; they did it. And then a gleam of supernatural glory lit up the face of Christ, and the thief saw and believed. And Jesus said unto him, „Verily I say unto thee, this day,” though the sun is setting, „this day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” No long preparation required, no sweltering in purifying fires. And so shall it be with us. We may have been in Christ Jesus to our own knowledge but three weeks, or we may have been in him for ten years, or threescore years and ten—the date of our conversion makes no difference in our meetness for heaven, in a certain sense. True indeed the older we grow the more grace we have tasted, the riper we are becoming, and the fitter to be housed in heaven; but that is in another sense of the word,—the Spirit’s meetness which he gives. But with regard to that meetness which the Father gives, I repeat, the blade of corn, the blade of gracious wheat that has just appeared above the surface of conviction, is as fit to be carried up to heaven as the full-grown corn in the ear. The sanctification wherewith we are sanctified by God the Father is not progressive, it Is complete at once, we are now adapted for heaven, now fitted for it, and we shall enter into the joy of our Lord.
    Into this subject I might have entered more fully; but I have not time. I am sure I have left some knots untied, and you must untie them if you can yourselves; and let me recommend you to untie them on your knees—the mysteries of the kingdom of God are studied much the best when you are in prayer.
    II. The second mercy is A MERCY THAT LOOKS BACK. We sometimes prefer the mercies that look forward, because they unfold such a bright prospect.

„Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood.”

But here is a mercy that looks backward; turns its back, as it were, on the heaven of our anticipation, and looks back on the gloomy past, and the dangers from which we have escaped. Let us read the account of it—”Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” This verse is an explanation of the preceding, as we shall have to show in a few minutes. But just now let us survey this mercy by itself. Ah! my brethren, what a description have we here of what matter of men we used to be. We were under „the power of darkness.” Since I have been musing on this text, I have turned these words over and over in my mind—”the power of darkness!” It seems to me one of the most awful expressions that man ever attempted to expound. I think I could deliver a discourse from it, if God the Spirit helped me, which might make every bone in your body shake. „The power of darkness!” We all know that there is a moral darkness which exercises its awful spell over the mind of the sinner. Where God is unacknowledged the mind is void of judgment. Where God is unworshipped the heart of man becomes a ruin. The chambers of that dilapidated heart are haunted by ghostly fears and degraded superstitions. The dark places of that reprobate mind are tenanted by vile lusts and noxious passions, like vermin and reptiles, from which in open daylight we turn with disgust. And even natural darkness is tremendous. In the solitary confinement which is practiced in some of our penitentiaries the very worst results would be produced if the treatment were prolonged. If one of you were to be taken to-night and led into some dark cavern, and left there, I can imagine that for a moment, not knowing your fate, you might feel a child-like kind of interest about it;—there might be, perhaps, a laugh as you found yourselves in the dark; there might for the moment, from the novelty of the position, be some kind of curiosity excited. There might, perhaps, be a flush of silly joy. In a little time you might endeavor to compose yourself to sleep; possibly you night sleep; but if you should awake, and still find yourself down deep in the bowels of earth, where never a ray of sun or candle light could reach you; do you know the next feeling that would come over you? It would be a kind of idiotic thoughtlessness. You would find it impossible to control your desperate imagination. You heart would say, „O God I am alone, alone, alone, in this dark place.” How would you cast your eyeballs all around, and never catching a gleam of light, your mind would begin to fail. Your next stage would be one of increasing terror. You would fancy that you saw something, and then you would cry, „Ah! I would I could see something, were it foe or fiend!” You would feel the dark sides of your dungeon. You would begin to „scribble on the walls,” like David before king Achish. Agitation would cease hold upon you, and it you were kept there much longer, delirium and death would be the consequence. We have heard of many who have been taken from the penitentiary to the lunatic asylum; and the lunacy is produced partly by the solitary confinement, and partly by the darkness in which they are placed. In a report lately written by the Chaplain of Newgate, there are some striking reflections upon the influence of darkness in a way of discipline. Its first effect is to shut the culprit up to his own reflections, and make him realize his true position in the iron grasp of the outraged law. Methinks the man that has defied his keepers, and come in there cursing and swearing, when he has found himself alone in darkness, where he cannot even hear the rattling of carriages along the streets, and can see no light whatever, is presently cowed; he gives in, he grows tame. „The power of darkness” literally is something awful. If I had time, I would enlarge upon this subject. We cannot properly describe what „the power of darkness” is, even in this world. The sinner is plunged into the darkness of his sins, and he sees nothing, he knows nothing. Let him remain there a little longer, and that joy of curiosity, that hectic joy which he now has in the path of sin, will die away, and there will come over him a spirit of slumber. Sin will make him drowsy, so that he will not hear the voice of the ministry, crying to him to escape for his life. Let him continue in it, and it will by-and-bye make him spiritually an idiot. He will become so in sin, that common reason will be lost on him. All the arguments that a sensible man will receive, will be only wasted on him. Let him go on, and he will proceed from bad to worse, till he acquires the raving mania of a desperado in sin; and let death step in, and the darkness will have produced its full effect; he will come into the delirious madness of hell. Ah! it needs but the power of sin to make a man more truly hideous than human thought can realize, or language paint. Oh „the power of darkness!”
    Now, my brethren, all of us were under this power once. It is but a few months—a few weeks with some of you—since you were under the power of darkness and of sin. Some of you had only got as far as the curiosity of it; others had got as far as the sleepiness of it; a good many of you had got as far as the apathy of it; and I do not know but some of you had got almost to the terror of it. You had so cursed and swore; so yelled ye out your blasphemies, that you seemed to be ripening for hell; but, praised and blessed be the name of the Father, he has „translated you from the power of darkness, into the kingdom of his dear Son.”
    Having thus explained this term, „the power of darkness,” to show you what you were, let us take the next word, „and hath translated us.” Whet a angular word this—”translated”—is. I dare say you think it means the process by which a word is interpreted, when the sense is retained, while the expression is rendered in another language. That is one meaning of the word „translation,” but it is not the meaning here. The word is used by Josephus in this sense—the taking away of a people who have been dwelling in a certain country, and planting them in another place. This is called a translation. We sometimes hear of a bishop being translated or removed from one see to another. Now, if you want to have the idea explained, give me your attention while I bring out an amazing instance of a great translation. The children of Israel were in Egypt under taskmasters that oppressed them very sorely, and brought them into iron bondage. What did God do for these people? There were two millions of them. He did not temper the tyranny of the tyrant; he did not influence his mind, to give them a little more liberty; but he translated his people; he took the whole two millions bodily, with a high hand and outstretched arm, and led them through the wilderness, and translated them into the kingdom of Canaan; and there they were settled. What an achievement was that, when, with their flocks and their herds, and their little ones, the whole host of Israel went out of Egypt, crossed the Jordan, and came into Canaan! My dear brethren, the whole of it was not equal to the achievement of God’s powerful grace, when he! brings one poor sinner out of the region of sin into the kingdom of holiness and peace. It was easier for God to bring Israel out of Egypt, to split the Red Sea, to make a highway through the pathless wilderness, to drop manna from heaven, to send the whirlwind to drive out the kings; it was easier for Omnipotence to do all this, than to translate a man from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son. This is the grandest achievement of Omnipotence. The sustenance of the whole universe, I do believe, is even less than this—the changing of a bad heart, the subduing of an iron will. But thanks be unto the Father, he has done all that for you and for me. He has brought us out of darkness, he has translated us, taken up the old tree that has struck its roots never so deep—taken it up, blessed be God, roots and all, and planted it in a goodly soil. He had to cut the top off, it is true—the high branches of our pride; but the tree has grown better in the near soil than it ever did before. Who ever heard of moving so huge a plant as a man who has grown fifty years old in sin? Oh! what wonders hath our Father done for us I He has taken the wild leopard of the wood, tamed it into a lamb, and purged away its spots. He has regenerated the poor Ethiopian—oh, how black are were by nature—our blackness was more than skin deep; it went to the center of our hearts; but, blessed be his name, he hath washed us white, and is still carrying on the divine operation, and he will yet completely deliver us from every taint of sin, and will finally bring us into the kingdom of his dear son. Here, then, in the second mercy, we discern from what we were delivered, and how we were delivered—God the Father hath „translated” us.
    But where are we now? Into what place is the believer brought, when he is brought out of the power of darkness? He is brought into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Into what other kingdom would the Christian desire to be brought? Brethren. a republic may sound very well in theory, but in spiritual matters, the last thing we want is a republic. We want a kingdom. I love to have Christ an absolute monarch in the heart. I do not want to have a doubt about it. I want to give up all my liberty to him. for I feel that I never shall be free till my self-control is all gone; that I shall never have my will truly free till it is bound in the golden fetters of his sweet love. We are brought into a kingdom—he is Lord and Sovereign, and he has made us „kings and priests unto our God,” and we shall reign with him. The proof that we are in this kingdom must consist in our obedience to our King. Here, perhaps, we may raise many causes and questions, but surely we can say after all, though we have offended our King many times, yet our heart is loyal to him. „Oh, thou precious Jesus! we would obey thee, and yield submission to every one of thy laws, our sins are not wilful and beloved sins, but though we fall we can truly say, that we would be holy as thou art holy, our heart is true towards thy statutes; Lord, help us to run in the way of thy commandments.”
    So, you see, this mercy which God the Father hath given to us, this second of these present mercies, is, that he hath „translated us out of the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son.” This is the Father’s work. Shall we not love God the Father from this day forth? Will we not give him thanks, and sing our hymns to him, and exalt and triumph in his great name?
    III. Upon the third point, I shall be as brief as possible; it is to SHOW THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TWO VERSES.
    When I get a passage of Scripture to meditate upon, I like, if I can, to see its drift, then I like to examine its various parts, and see if I can understand each separate clause; and then I want to go back again, and see what one clause has to do with another. I looked and looked again at this text, and wondered what connection there could be between the two verses. „Giving thanks unto God the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Well, that is right enough; we can see how this is the work of God the Father, to make us meet to go to heaven. But has the next verse, the 13th, anything to do with our meetness?—”Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” Well, I looked it over and I said I will read it in this way. I see the 12th verse tells me that the inheritance of heaven is the inheritance of light. Is heaven light? Then I can see my meetness for it as described in the 13th verse.—He hath delivered me from the power of darkness. Is not that the same thing? If I am delivered from the power of darkness, is not that being made meet to dwell in light? If I am now brought out of darkness into light, and am walking in the light, is not that the very meetness which is spoken of in the verse before? Then I read again. It says they are saints. Well, the saints are a people that obey the Son. Here is my meetness then in the 13th verse, where it says „He hath translated me from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son.” So that I not only have the light, but the sonship too, for I am in „the kingdom of his dear Son.” But how about the inheritance? Is there anything about that in the 13th verse? It is an inheritance; shall I find anything about a meetness for it there? Yes, I find that I am in the kingdom of his dear Son. How came Christ to have a kingdom? Why, by inheritance. Then it seems I am in his inheritance; and if I am in his inheritance here, then I am meet to be in it above, for I am in it already. I am even now part of it and partner of it, since I am in the kingdom which he inherits from his Father, and therefore there is the meetness.
    I do not know whether I have put this plainly enough before you. If you will be kind enough to look at your Bible, I will just recapitulate. You see, heaven is a place of light; when we are brought out of darkness, that, of course, is the meetness for light. It is a place for sons; when we are brought into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, we are of course made sons, so that there is the meetness for it. It is an inheritance; and when we are brought into the inherited kingdom of God’s dear Son, we enjoy the inheritance now, and consequently are fitted to enjoy it for ever.
    Having thus shown the connection between these verses, I propose now to close with a few general observations. I like so to expound the Scripture, that we can draw some practical inferences from it. Of course the first inference is this: let us from this night forward never omit God the Father in our praises. I think I have said this already six times over in the sermon. Why I am repeating it so often, is that we may never forget it. Martin Luther said he preached upon justification by faith every day in the week and then the people would not understand. There are some truths, I believe, that need to be said over and over again, either because our silly hearse will not receive, or our treacherous memories will not hold them. Sing, I beseech you, habitually, the praises of the Father in heaven, as you do the praises of the Son hanging upon the cross. Love as truly God, the ever-living God, as you love Jesus the God-man, the Savior who once died for you. That is the great inference.
    Yet another inference arises. Brothers and sisters, are you conscious to-night that you are not now what you once were? Are you sure that the power of darkness does not now rest upon you, that you love divine knowledge, that you are panting after heavenly joys? Are you sure that you have been „translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son?” Then never be troubled about thoughts of death, because, come death whenever it may, you are meet to be a „partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Let no thought distress you about death’s coming to you at an unseasonable hour. Should it come to-morrow should it come now, if your faith is fixed on nothing less than Jesu’s blood and righteousness, you shall see the face of God with acceptance. I have that consciousness in my soul, by the witness of the Holy Spirit, of my adoption into the family of God, that I feel that though I should never preach again, but should lay down my body and my charge together, ere I should reach my home, and rest in my bed, „I know that my Redeemer liveth,” and more, that I should be a „partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.” It is not always that one feels that but I would have you never rest satisfied till you do, till you know your meetness, till you are conscious of it; until, moreover, you are panting to be gone, because you feel that you have powers which never can be satisfied short-of heaven—powers which heaven only can employ.
    One more reflection lingers behind. There are some of you here that cannot be thought by the utmost charity of judgment, to be „meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.” Ah! if a wicked man should go to heaven without being converted, heaven would be no heaven to him. Heaven is not adapted for sinners; it is not a place for them. If you were to take a Hottentot who has long dwelt at the equator up to where the Esquimaux are dwelling, and tell him that you would show him the aurora, and all the glories of the North Pole, the poor wretch could not appreciate them; he would say, „It is not the element for me; it is not the place where I could rest happy! And if you were to take, on the other hand, some dwarfish dweller in the north, down to the region where trees grow to a stupendous height, and where the spices give their balmy odours to the gale, and bid him live there under the torrid zone, he could enjoy nothing; he would say, „This is not the place for me, because it is not adapted to my nature.” Or if you were to take the vulture, that has never fed on anything but carrion, and put it into the noblest dwelling you could make for it, and feed it with the daintiest meals, it would not be happy because it is not food that is adapted for it. And you, sinner, you are nothing but a carrion vulture; nothing makes you happy but sin, you do not want too much psalm singing, do you? Sunday is a dull day to you; you like to get it over, you do not care about your Bible; you would as soon there should be no Bible at all, You find that going to a meeting-house or a church is very dull work indeed. Oh then you will not be troubled with that in eternity; do not agitate yourself. If you love not God, and die as you are, you shall go to your own company, you shall go to your jolly mates, you shall go to your good fellows; those who have been your mates on earth shall be your mates for ever; but you shall go to the Prince of those good fellows, unless you repent and be converted. Where God is you cannot come. It is not an element suited to you. As well place a bird at the bottom of the sea, or a fish in the air, as place an ungodly sinner in heaven. What is to be done then? You must have a new nature. I pray God to give it to you. Remember if now you feel your need of a Savior, that is the beginning of the new nature. „Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ;” cast yourselves simply on him, trust in nothing but his blood, and then the new nature shall be expanded, and you shall be made meet by the Holy Spirit’s operations to be a „partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.” There is many a man who has come into this house of prayer, many a man is now present, who has come in here a rollicking fellow, fearing neither God nor devil. Many a man has come from the ale house up to this place. If he had died then, where would his soul have been? But the Lord that very night met him, There are trophies of that grace present here to-night. You can say, „Thanks be to the Father, who hath brought us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” And if God has done that for some, why cannot he do it for others? Why need you despair, O poor sinner? If thou art here to-night, the worst sinner out of hell, remember, the gate of mercy stands wide open, and Jesus bids thee come, Conscious of thy guilt, flee, flee to him. Look to his cross, and thou shalt find pardon in his veins, and life in his death.

God meant it for Good / Sermon – Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson

VIDEO by Christian Praise and Worship in Songs, Sermons, and Audio Books

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Jonathan Edwards Sermon – Persons Ought Not to Rest Ignorant and Unresolved About Their Own State

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Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

2 Corinthians 13:5; Jeremiah 6:30

Know ye not your own selves? Persons ought not to rest ignorant  and unresolved about their own state, whether they are real Christians or not.

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There were in the Church of Corinth some that were adversaries to Paul and his doctrine, certain false teachers that labored to seduce the Christian Corinthians, and to that end, industriously cast reproach and calumnies on the apostle Paul. They seem to have charged his with lateness and not coming to them according to his promise, with contemptibleness, in his person, that however his letters seemed weighty and powerful, yet his bodily presence was mean in his speech and contemptible. By these, and other such means, they endeavored to draw away the Corinthians from the doctrine that the apostle had taught them. And the Corinthians, so much gave ear to them, some of them at least, that things necessitated for the apostle to not only vindicate his own name and reputation, but to declare what God had done for him and by him, but also to threaten them with using that power that Christ had given him, against offenders, as in the forgoing verses of this chapter.

And because there were such evils amongst them, this occasioned the apostle, in the verse of the text, to be putting them upon examining themselves and trying their own state, whether they are real Christians or not. In the verse, may be observed:

  1. What is the thing to be judged of, namely, whether they were in the faith, or whether Christ was in them. Though all made a profession of Christ and of the faith, the words imply that a man may make a profession of the Christian faith and not be in the faith. And that a man may profess to be a follower of Christ and, yet, not have Christ dwelling in him.
  2. The means to be used in order to judge, namely, examining and proving themselves.
  3. The arguments or motives the apostle makes use of to stir them to it, which are two: Number 1 – The absurdity of being ignorant of themselves: „Know ye not your own selves?” If they did not know whether they were in the faith or not, whether Christ was in them, or not, it was their own salvation that they were ignorant of. For a man not to be acquainted with others that he seldom sees and has but little opportunity to converse with was no wonder. And if he did not know some of his neighbors and relatives, that was not so much to be wondered at. But for a man to be a stranger to his own self, there’s a great absurdity  in it. And no man ought to rest in such ignorance.  Number 2 – The second motive the apostle uses is the great importance of knowing, because if Christ was not in them, they were reprobates.By reprobates, here, is not intended the same sense in which it is commonly used by … for those that are in cause eternal decree, reprobated  to eternal damnation. We can’t suppose that the apostle means that any man that  has not Christ now dwelling in them is decreed to eternal punishment. Christ is not in him now, yet, He may be in him afterwards. He may be converted before he dies. But, by reprobates is intended here the same as false professors. The word in the original signifies disapproved or rejected by the all seeing God. He sees and approves all professors of Christianity and some He approves as sincere and real Christians, and others He rejects and disapproves of as not being of the right sort. Every professor either stands approved or disapproved in the sight of God. They that are disapproved, the apostle calls reprobates. God deals with professors as a husbandman deals with his wheat and chaff, or wheat and tares. Both grow together, but one is separated. One is approved and the other rejected. Or, as a goldsmith does for the silver and the dross. The dross may glisten and look like silver, but the goldsmith tries it and finds it not true silver, and so rejects it. And this is called reprobate silver in Jeremiah 6:30 „Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them.

Doctrine: Persons ought not to rest ignorant  and unresolved about their own state, whether they are real Christians or not.

Reason #1 – It is not a thing impossible for a person to come to the knowledge of his own state.

Not only  conversion, as a thing attainable, but also the knowledge of it. The knowledge of one’s conversion, in some cases, may be obtained with difficulty. Many persons that are truly converted may be ignorant of their conversion. They may be in doubt about their condition and not be able for the present to resolve the case. No, not through the strictest examination that they’re capable of, by the rule of God’s word and by those signs  that are there given. But this is not because the knowledge of one’s conversion is in itself a thing unattainable, but because of weakness of grace or the prevalence of corruption, or the particular infirmity, or temptations, or error, or ignorance that attend that person. But the knowledge of our own state is a thing attainable. Wicked men may know that they have no grace and Godly men may come to know that they have grace. This is evident because we are directed in God’s word to use means to know as in the text. We’re directed to examine ourselves, whether  we be in the faith and approve ourselves. To this end, so that we may know our own selves.

But if the knowing of ourselves in this respect  were impossible, why does the apostle give us directions in order to it? And so, the apostle Peter directs people to endeavor for this: 2 Peter 1:10 – „Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” If a man could not know that Christ is in him, well then, the man is not to be blamed that he doesn’t know. And, why then does the apostle Paul blame the Corinthians for it, as he evidently does in these words of the text: „Know ye not your own selves?” Where is the absurdity of not knowing oneself, or what wonder is it if we don’t know our own selves, if this be a thing impossible?

And again, it is evident that this thing may be known because Scripture tells us how we may know in

  • 1 John 2:3 – „And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
  • 1 John 2:5 – „But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
  • 1 John 3;19 – „And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
  • 1 John 3:24 – „And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
  • 1 John 4:13 – „Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

Why does the apostle tell us so much, whereby we may know we are of the truth, if there be no such thing as knowing? Seems therefore, the knowledge of a person’s state is attainable. A person should not rest ignorant and unresolved  about their own state, whether they are real Christians or not.

Reason # 2 – Persons, as long as they remain unresolved about their condition, in many instances, can’t know what is proper for them to do or what work they have before them. (From the first 8 1/2 minutes of a 46 min sermon) 

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Spurgeon – God with us

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They shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.” Isaiah 7:14-15

In 1854, a young Charles Spurgeon preached his Christmas Eve sermon on Isaiah 7: 14-15. Using Spurgeon’s words from that sermon, an original score and a collection of animated paintings, this Christmas video illustrates the wonder of the ages, God with us.
READ the ENTIRE Sermon here – http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols19-21/chs1270.pdf VIDEO by Shift Worship

R.C.Sproul – The Virgin Birth – How important is it?

The Annunciation. Luke 1:31-33 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

How do you explain to someone, or to your children, the significance of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ and what importance do you attach to it?

R.C. Sproul states, „Who Jesus was, and is, has considerable influence on what it was He did.” Sproul says leaving a church should never be a small matter, and we should be careful not to go hopping around for churches. On the other hand, he says that there is a time, if and when in a church, the word of God is trampled under foot and the church denies a central truth of the Christian faith, then he states- not only ‘may‘ you leave- but, you ‘must’ leave.

The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is one such biblical truth that must not be denied, for, denying the virgin birth results in denying the deity of Jesus Christ.

Devotional from Ligonier.org

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (v. 14).  – Isaiah 7:14

Today we return to Isaiah 7:14, a passage we examined several weeks ago because Matthew cites it in the birth narrative of the Savior (1:23). Since Isaiah’s text has inspired so much controversy, we will look at its fulfillment again from a slightly different angle in order to understand it better.

That Jesus was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary has always been a defining tenet of Christianity. The virgin birth appears in every major creed and confession, and it sets our Lord apart from all of Israel’s prophets, indeed, from every person that has ever lived.

Yet when many church leaders began to embrace the naturalism increasingly prevalent at the beginning of the twentieth century, they repudiated the virgin birth as an essential truth. Even today some believe the virgin birth is impossible even if they accept other aspects of the Christian faith. However, as J. Gresham Machen wrote, picking and choosing which parts of Scripture to believe is the first step toward a wholesale rejection of orthodoxy. “The overwhelming majority of those who reject the virgin birth reject also the whole supernatural content of the New Testament, and make of the ‘resurrection’ just what the word ‘resurrection’ most emphatically did not mean — a permanence of the influence of Jesus or a mere spiritual existence of Jesus beyond the grave” (Christianity and Liberalism, p. 108).

Our study of Isaiah 7:14 a few weeks ago demonstrated that the passage had been fulfilled in the time of Isaiah (with the birth of his son), yet it was realized in a greater way in the birth of Jesus, God’s Son. Jesus is thus a sign that God will bless all those who follow Him and curse all those who reject His way. And clearly, the New Testament teaches that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary, who at the time of conception had not yet known a man sexually (Luke 1:34). To reject the virgin birth is to reject God’s testimony and incur His curse.

The virgin birth is essential to the Christian faith. It clearly reveals Jesus as the Son of David to whom the prophets looked as the king of God’s supernatural kingdom (Ps. 110; Dan. 7:13–14).

Coram Deo

It is important for all of us to grasp and embrace the core doctrines of Christianity. Otherwise, we will be unable to defend the truth delivered to the saints of God (Jude 3). Take some time today to review one of the main summaries of Christian truth such as the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. Determine which parts of the creeds you can explain well and study the Bible’s teaching on those parts to which you have not devoted much attention.

 

Leonard Ravenhill – Today’s Sleeping Giant: The Church

Church For Sale

Solemnly and slowly, with his index finger extended, Napoleon Bonaparte outlined a great stretch of country on a map of the world. „There,” he growled, „is a sleeping giant. Let him sleep! If he wakes, he will shake the world.” That sleeping giant was China. Today, Bonaparte’s prophecy of some one hundred and fifty years ago makes sense.

Today Lucifer is probably surveying the church just as Bonaparte did China. One can almost behold the fear in his eyes as he thinks of the Church’s unmeasured potential and growls, „Let the Church sleep! If she wakes, she will shake the world.” Is not the Church the sleeping giant of today?

Some years ago the newspaper headlines carried the story of a young Chinese student who „flunked” his exams here in America. So humiliated was he and so withered by anticipated scorn that for three years the youth hid in the belfry of a church and became skin and bones. Because of his shame, he froze in winter and blistered in summer under that church’s thin roof. As today’s Church of Jesus Christ thinks about the day of reckoning that is surely coming, oh that a holy fear would come upon her (even if it drives her to extremes) in order to arouse her from her present paralysis!

james-tissot-samson-pulls-down-the-pillarsPhoto credit James Tissot’s Samson (wikipedia)

Consider Samson’s fall. He didn’t get drunk; he didn’t commit murder; he didn’t steal. Samson fell simply because he succumbed to the natural, and fell asleep.

That one small act put him into captivity,
made a false god popular,
and scattered the forces of the true and living God.

If even yet you feel a hangover of the old interpretation that the Samson of the Bible is a distant relative of Hercules or Atlas (famed in mythology for carrying the world on his back), then think again. Samson was no human monstrosity. He was no super-edition of a Goliath. If Samson had been a colossus, then why did Delilah ask the question, „Wherein lieth thy great strength?”

Let the final word be from the Word of God itself, for in telling the story of men mighty in faith, the writer to the Hebrews says: Time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson,… who through faith … stopped the mouths of lions” (Heb. 11:32-33). Only two men in Scripture stopped the mouths of lions–Daniel and Samson. But no giant could single-handedly, as Samson, „put to flight the armies of the aliens,” or toy with opposing armies.

Here, Samson slays a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass;
there, he kills another thirty men.
Here, he takes the gates of Gaza for a ride;
there, he tears a lion like paper.

To add insult to injury, the Spirit’s comment is „he had nothing in his hand.”

Note well, yea, read for yourself the whole story of the secret of this mighty exploiter, this more-than-conquering believer: „The Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon him. ” Everything in the story adds up to this staggering fact:Supernatural power was upon Samson.

Now turn back ten chapters in this wonder book of Judges and have a little peep into the life of Gideon. Surely as a boy, Gideon had heard from his father the hair-raising stories of a mighty Deity. In Judges 6, Gideon is older, and while threshing corn, is fearing an attack of the Midianites. For seven years, the once liberated slaves of Pharaoh had again become captives. Dens and caves were their homes. No longer were they able to sing the Lord’s song.

It must have sounded like a fairy tale when that angel appeared to Gideon and informed him, „God is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.” Yet he shot back the answer, „If God be with us, where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of?” This answer makes clear that Gideon was expecting some supernatural evidence. To him, the seal of the Lord’s presence would be something that could not be rationalized.

leonard ravenhillAlas that today there is more evidence of religious sensation before our eyes than evidence of spiritual regeneration and supernatural phenomenon! Not many Christians today can forget the fact that the devil goeth about as a roaring lion, but we seem to have lost sight of the fact that the Lion of the tribe of Judah has defeated the roaring lion of hell, and therefore every anointed Samson or Gideon or church can also slay the lion of hell. Though wicked men are doing wickedly, God’s promise to us is that „the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32).

This much is sure:

  • If we could merit revival by fasting, there would be many martyred by starving.
  • If we could organize revival, we would pool our thinking to outwit the powers of darkness.
  • If we could buy this elusive revival with the mammon of unrighteousness, we could get a score of what we call Christian millionaires to underwrite the thing for us.
  • If we could blast the devil from this present world, we would pledge the politicians for an atom bomb.

God pity us that after years of writing, using mountains of paper and rivers of ink, exhausting flashy terminology about the biggest revival meetings in history, we are still faced with gross corruption in every nation, as well as with the most prayerless church age since Pentecost.

This is a plea for the return of the supernatural; but I must also give this a word of explanation. For a decade, all over this land there has been a ministry of the miraculous (more or less), and thank God for all who honor Him and remain faithful. But having said that, here is a plea for sane thinking and a spiritual evaluation of the evangelistic field. To a large degree, have we not substituted seeing for hearing? In Acts, Philip the evangelist could have transferred the Ethiopian eunuch to a city seething with revival fever where the eunuch could have seen „the lame leap like an hart and the tongue of the dumb sing.” Instead, he pitched right into the Word of the living God, and beginning at the same Scripture preached unto him Jesus. We need the miraculous but we also need Christ-centered teaching. Our crucified, exalted Christ must have preeminence over all other slants of truth, for while the Church is languishing, the world is perishing. „Awake, awake, put on strength, 0 arm of the Lord…” (Isaiah 51:9)

Again let me say, Samson’s size was not the secret of his strength. The fact that he was the same size after he backslid negates the idea that he was a giant. His only external peculiarity was his long locks, uncut because he was a Nazarite. Nor had his long hair in itself any abnormal power. Samson’s secret was obedience. As long as Samson trod the straight and narrow path of obedience, he was invincible.

Let us remember, too, that Samson, who began in the Spirit, fell into the flesh, and so had a prison term to bring him to his senses. Finally, by one last mighty miracle, he finished in the Spirit. Backslider, this is a word for your recovery, for God can restore the years that the cankerworm and the caterpillar have eaten. He who is able delights in mercy.

Samson’s final act of power was the crowning achievement of a spectacular lifes work. After he had slipped out from under the harness of obedience, he was forced into separation from the world in a prison. Once an army trembled at his very sight; later a single boy came to lead the blinded Samson into the temple of Dragon, the fish-god. How the mighty had fallen! Yet now, God took this „weak thing” into a temple full of lords of the Philistines and set him between the pillars. „Samson took hold of the pillars … the one with his right hand and the other with his left … and he bowed himself with all His might” (judges 16:29-30) Holy jealousy gripped him. Mighty as he had been in other things, Samson now proved mightiest in prayer: „Lord, strengthen me … this once!’ (vs. 28) Would to God that every professed believer in the whole of Christendom would borrow this prayer and mean it. Then with dramatic conclusion, Samson sealed the doom of many more of the enemies of God in his dying than in his living.

Is this the dying hour of this dispensation? Many say it is. Some Christians have already hung their harps on the willows, and yet others seem to delight in speaking of the Church’s present lapse as a proof of divine inspiration. But I myself believe that if the Church will only obey the conditions, she can have a revival any time she wants it. The problem of the Church is the problem in the garden of Gethsemane-sleep! For while men sleep, the enemy, sows his seed through his cults. Lest men sleep the sleep of eternal death, 0h arm of the Lord, 0h Church of the living God, awake!

If the church is going to attain to her potential in this last hour, it is apparent that we are going to have to dust off an old word that many of us have forgotten is in the English language – DISCIPLINE! To some, this word discipline will have a monastic flavor, for it smells of the Middle Ages or throws onto the screen of the mind a picture of an unwashed hermit or a hollow-eyed anchorite. Be not deceived. Every smart „top brass military expert has arrived therebecause he wore the harness of discipline. Leonard Bernstein in his music-talks holds his baton like a magic wand over mesmerized million because of discipline. This brings to mind the words of the poet:

The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward through the night!

If any man wants to write a bestseller, let him attempt a book on How to be a Saint in Six Easy Lessons. Such a writer would be fishing with bait that this generation of believers wants; but I, for one, would not swallow it.

In a brilliant sermon called „Discipleship,” G. Campbell Morgan says, „Jesus Christ could speak to the sorrow-burdened heart of humanity words so full of mother-love and father-love as to make men crowd and press round Him. On the other hand, He could suddenly speak words that flashed and scorched and burned until men drew back in astonishment.” Bracketed in the last group would be these two commands: „Take my yoke upon you” and „My disciple, take up your cross and follow me.” Both of these words imply discipline.

When we sing in a sunlit church „Oh to be like Thee; Oh to be like Thee,” we get weepy and feel an emotional lift. But permit this simple challenge:

  • Do we really mean ‘Oh to be like Thee’ – like the Christ of God, who was a man of discipline?
  • Do we really mean ‘Oh to be like Thee’ – fasting alone in the desert?
  • Do we mean Oh to be like Thee’ to touch the depths of prayer that make us cry, ‘All Thy billows are gone over me.’
  • Do we mean ‘Oh to be like Thee’ – to become habituates of the fastness of the prayer chamber?
  • Do we mean ‘Oh to be like Thee’ – in a will like His, for He said,

„I always do the will of my Father.” Is that not discipline?

The religious sentimentalist who sings „Just a closer walk with Thee” but walks close to the ungodly and sits with the blasphemers, is not taken seriously in either heaven or hell. Be very sure, friend, that this vile world is not „a friend to grace to help on to God.” We need to pray the Father to put some blood into this „water” that runs through our veins. Our Simon-like natures need the Upper Room fire to clean us out and the discipline of the Spirit to shape us into soldiers.

Twenty-five years of discipline in a crows nest of an office up behind his church in Chicago brought about a Dr. A. W. Tozer, who produced a book, The Pursuit of God. This in turn produced on the ocean of spiritual teaching waves that lap their way to the ends of the earth.

After I spoke at a session in the Bible School of Wales, Mrs. Rees Howells called me for a private talk. We stood on the veranda of her home overlooking beautiful Swansea Bay I can see her finger upheld as she said, „Many talk of my husband’s buying this place with a shilling (fourteen cents) in his pocket. What they forget is that he prayed twelve hours a day for eleven months to know the mind of God.” Brethren, that’s discipline!

Today, immediately when one gets out of step with a nearby Christian, he is considered a legalist. Just remember, in „that great day of Judgment” when we must an stand before His throne, no man will be ashamed he was dubbed over-spiritual, though many will weep, groan, and „suffer loss” because of lack of discipline. Discipline is a harness by which we enable the Spirit to get the best out of our frail humanity. The Apostle Paul was a disciplinarian like his Master:

  • He disciplined his body: „I keep my body under.”He disciplined himself to loneliness: „All men forsook me.”
  • He disciplined himself to scorn: „We are fools for Christ’s sake.”
  • He disciplined himself to poverty: „We suffered need.”
  • He disciplined himself to rejection: „We are despised.”
  • He disciplined himself to death: „I die daily.”
  • He disciplined himself to suffering: „Persecuted, but not forsaken.”

May this be our prayer, „Oh Lord, I bow my neck to Thy yoke!”

Since the hour Adam first rose to his feet, man has not stood, as today, between such potential and such peril. America is still the richest nation in the world. It is a mighty crucible into which refugees of almost all modern nations are poured. It has far more Bible schools than any other nation. In these Bible schools is dedicated manpower. Here, too, is wealth to get this manpower to the ends of the earth, and here is linguistic ability unmatched in the annals of time.

Even the gathering at Pentecost had not the potential, humanly speaking, that this vast nation has. Do you wonder, then, that from every angle, hell has America under cross fire? This mighty land is cursed with blessings . I fear that unless she awakens, repents, and puts on the whole armor, of God, she will be blessed with cursings. Already other nations are in the slavery of oppression. Can America and Britain long remain free? Unless we are to have the war of wars that will usher us into the night Of nights and the judgment of judgments, we must have the revival of revivals. Pale, pathetic, palliating preaching must be driven from the church like the idols it promotes. It is time for the church to cry again, „Where is the God of Elijah?”

Ambrose Fleming called the resurrection of Jesus Christ „the best attested fact in history” Yet at Easter time, vain effort is made to rationalize the stupendous event of the Resurrection in order to try to save face before pseudo-intellectualism, which boggles at the fact that the Lord of glory died and rose again, triumphant over death, over hell, and over the grave. Who, then, can dispute the following biting statements of Murdo MacDonald in his book, The Vitality of Faith: „Ever since the Renaissance, men have been trying to water down the Christian creed. Give us a religion purged of everything that defies logic, a religion stripped of the supernatural and emptied of miracle, a religion that is smooth and palatable and rationally acceptable-this has been the popular cry” Surely the church, weak in heart and courage, has gone out of the way to oblige.

The doom of this decaying civilization is spelled out in our crowded divorce courts, our all-time high of alcoholics and drug addicts, the number of illegitimate births or the number of abortions. A Gallup poll shows that these days most people accept lying as part of everyday business. Virtue is scorned.

Truth lies fallen in the street!

Somewhere in the archives of the British Admiralty at Whitehall, London, they have the record of a fine piece of maritime strategy. Ships of five nations were anchored in a bay in the South Pacific. A fierce storm was gathering offshore. The British captain decided to run, not away from the storm but into it. Everything available was battened down. Out crashed the ship into the boiling seas-pitching, tossing, rolling, and shuddering. Indeed, she did everything but go down. A couple of days later, buffeted but not broken, she returned to the port to find the ships of the other nations piled up on the beach.

The storm of the ages is about to break. Let the church call its crew to a new dedication. Remembering that Christ is at the helm, and with Christ’s Crest as our ensign, let us run into the storm. After the storm, we, too, shall return-to see upon the shores of time the battered, piled, wrecked, hell-inspired ideologies of the hour.

Copyright (C) 1996 by Leonard Ravenhill, Lindale Texas – http://www.ravenhill.org

David Platt – The Cross and Christian Sexuality (Part 2 of 2)

Photo credit uhbcignite.wordpress.com

See PART 1 here

You can print out and follow along with the sermon notes here (4 pages) – www.radical.net/files/2650/MN_130630_c.pdf See VIDEO link at the bottom of this post (You will have to click on picture).

Text: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 – Sexual Immorality

  • The central exhortation in the text is „Flee from sexual immorality.” Don’t reason with sexual immorality, don’t rationalize it, flee from it as fast as you can. Last week we talked about what sexual immorality is.
  • The biblical clarification is- when the Bible says to flee sexual immorality, the Bible is saying to flee any and all sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.
  • The term porneia (used) is any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman. That includes any and all fornication, prostitution, pornography, adultery, homosexual activity, any and all sexual thinking, desiring, looking, touching, speaking, acting outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. All of these things are sin, and we are to run from them. Quoting Kevin DeYoung: „The simplest way to understand porneia is to think about things that would make you furious and heartbroken if you found out someone was doing them with your husband or your wife.” So, if you think sexual immorality, think any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman. That’s the key. This is not at all to say that sex is bad. But, that sex is good within the boundaries that God has designed for sex.
  • You had Corinthians then, saying just like Americans today, „Well, it’s 2 consenting adults, what’s the problem? This is what my body was made for. I was created this way. Just because I eat when I’m hungry, I do this because of my biology. And who are you to say this is sin? And what makes it sin? It’s just who I am.” And Paul says, „No, it’s not who you are. Your body is not just about biology. Your body is much more valuable than that. Your body has been created and designed by God for your good, and for His glory. And so it’s wise to listen about what God says about your body.” God says it as clearly as it’s possible to say: Sex is for marriage between a man and a woman, and any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sin, it’s sexual immorality and we should flee it. (These are notes from the introduction, first 7 minutes).

In Part 2 – the topics of pornography and masturbation are preached on. Platt gives a list of clear biblical prohibitons in Scripture (17th min).

  1. No sex outside of marriage. OT says it, Jesus says it, NT reiterates it. Having sex with your spouse is the sign that you are in covenant with this person. Having sex outside of marriage makes a mockery out of that covenant.
  2. No sexual worship. Sex is good, but sex is not God. Throughout the history of God’s people, Deuteronomy 23, Exodus 32, 1 Corinthians 10, we see God’s people fall into the trap of worshipping sex. It’s happening today as part of our culture. I’m convinced this is what’s at the root of so much that’s going on in our culture right now. People thinking, „If only I had sexual freedom this way or that way, then I will be happy.” But, this too is a false God, it’s a broken cistern that does not hold water. So, let’s be there when they see that the broken cistern does not hold water, and say, „There is one who satisfies. And satisfaction is not found in this gift (sex), but it’s found in the giver of the gift. Sex is good, but it’s not God.”
  3. No sexual prostitution or violence. Scripture speaks clearly against all forms of violence, including sadism, masochism, any kind of spousal abuse. God has not designed sex to be hurtful. He has designed the marriage relationship to mirror that between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5) which sacrifices for one another’s good.
  4. No homosexual activity. You have deny Scripture altogether to miss this. (Platt speaks on this subject more in the first video- see here) It is impossible to biblically justify homosexual activity.
  5. No sex with animals, relatives, or children.
  6. No sexual lust- having wrong sexual desires for others. Jesus is clear in Matthew 5 „Everyone that looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. It is wrong for you to think about, entertain the thought of, or desire in any way, sex with someone who is not your wife or your husband. That’s lust.
  7. No sexual immodesty – provoking wrong sexual desire in others. This is huge. Men and women across this room, it is wrong for you to provoke sexual desire in someone else who is not your wife or your husband. Romans 14:21 „Don’t cause your brother to stumble.” Specifically speaking to women, 1 Timothy 2:9-10 „Women should adorn themselves with respectable apparel, with modesty and self control, with what is proper for women who profess godliness with good works.” In other words, women dress modestly, not in a way that draws attention to yourself sexually. This is so huge. Let’s just be honest. In our culture, we are extremely loose when it comes to what women wear- skin tight clothes, low necklines, short dresses, short skirts, short shorts, it goes on… it’s the norm among us and it falls dreadfully short of God’s standards for us. And I say this in general, but even when it comes to the gathering of the church, the Bible says to the women of the church, and with all due respect, even to sisters in this room right now: The way some of you are dressing around your brothers are at best, a distraction from honoring God, and at worst, an attempt- whether you realize it or not, to seduce men in this church into sin. The Bible says, „Don’t do it.” For the sake of your brothers, for the sake of your body: Dress modestly. And don’t miss what 1 Timothy is saying there. It’s not saying, „Don’t adorn yourself with anything.” But don’t adorn yourself with physical immodesty that draws attention to you. But adorn yourself with good works that draw attention to God. I urge you church: No sexual immodesty, for your good, for our good, ultimately for God’s glory, to whom we want to point attention. They have lowered the standards in the culture around us and the church thinks: As long as we’re above that we’re okay.” Don’t buy it.
  8. No sexual allurement- including inappropriate emotional attachment outside of marriage. Now the Scriptures that I’ve listed here are particular to a woman alluring a man, but this could go either way, and often goes both ways. Emotional attachment is often the gateway for many people into a sexual affair. You remember those feelings when you were first attracted to someone. You thought about that person all the time. You looked forward to every interaction with that person, even if it was something small, you just wanted to be around them. You were emotionally attached to them. But then, after time goes on, years of marriage, years even and the shine off the romance begins to fade as you watch them brush their teeth on a daily basis. And the reality is that no man, no woman can consistently measure up to that sweaty palms, butterfly feelings that you once got. And so, another man, or another woman can come along, and he or she can start to make you feel like your wife or your husband once made you feel. And so you find yourself thinking about that other person, beginning to look forward to interaction with that other person. And slowly, you start to think about and turn to that other person in the way that you are supposed to think about and turn to your husband or your wife. And you rationalize it, thinking, „This isn’t an emotional attachment, it’s just enjoying time with someone else? What’s so wrong with that?” And maybe it’s the sort of thing your soul is starving for because you’re not getting it in marriage. And so, you think it’s not physical and so it’s not harmful and the reality is that the more you become attached in your thoughts and your emotions, the more you will find yourself wanting to attach to that person physically. You read both Provers 5 and Proverbs 7 and you see an emotional attachment that eventually leads to a physical relationship. I just want you to listen to how the author describes it. In this case, it’s a woman luring a man emotionally: „With much seductive speech she persuades him. With her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter. As a stag is caught fast as an arrow pierces its liver. As a bird rushes into a snare. He does not know that it will cost him his life. Oh sons, listen to me and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways. Do not stray unto her paths, for many a victim has she lain low and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.” And this can go both ways (a man can also sexually allure). No sexual allurement. Don’t allow yourself to be sexually allured. This is happening. I know this is happening in people’s hearts and minds all across this room tonight. It’s happening. Don’t do it! You’re like an ox going to the slaughter.
  9. No sexual looking or touching outside of marriage. Job 31 „I made a covenant with my eyes..” Great picture, making a covenant with your eyes not to look at another woman. So, don’t look at someone else sexually who is not your husband or your wife. And this is not just lusting, this can involve taking advantage of another person, when you are able to see something in private that you should not see. That’s exactly what happened with Ham and Noah in Genesis 9. And then it pertains to what you touch. The Bible prohibits touching in any way that you would not normally touch your friend or neighbor, in any way that is sexual in nature.
  10. No entertaining ourselves with or joking around about sex outside of marriage. This is huge. Ephesians 5:3 „Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” It goes on to say that it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. The reason this is so huge is that in our culture, even as Christians, even for those who say, „Okay, I am not gonna indulge myself sexually in these ways,” so many of us are entertaining ourselves with those who do indulge themselves sexually in these ways. You say, „What do you mean?” Well, you think about the books we read, the music we listen to, the movies we pay to watch, the TV shows we turn on, how many of them make light of or even exalt sexual immorality? Movie after movie, song after song, so many songs we listen to and we sing by heart that are talking about sexual activity outside of marriage. Book after book, bestsellers like the 50 shades of gray, and countless other subtle versions of the same thing, that are filling leisure reading among Christians. We read these things, we listen to these things, we watch these things and it is as if we say to the world, „We’re not gonna do the things you do, but, we’ll gladly pay money to read about, to listen, and watch you doing them in front of us.” Ephesians 5:3 says, „It must not be named among you. It’s shameful to even speak the things they do in secret. Don’t miss this: God’s standard doesn’t just start with us avoiding these sins, but with us not entertaining ourselves with others’ sins. Now, I am not presuming here that just to talk about sexual immorality is sin, that would make this whole sermon a sin. But, the key is we’re not talking about sexual immorality in a way that views it as good, but as something that we are to avoid. And so much of what we’re exposing our eyes and our minds to, and so much of what we’re exposing our kids’ eyes and kids’ minds to  is dulling our spiritual senses to the point where we see sexual immorality  as not that bad- in the end, kind of entertaining to us, when it should not be. We should grieve over it an run from it. God’s word prohibits entertaining ourselves with jokes or books, or movies about sex outside of marriage. (34:00)

When you look back at all these prohibitions it’s because God forbids sexual activity outside of marriage. God has designed sexual activity for marriage. Sex is not bad, sex is good within the boundaries that God designed it for.  It is at this point that people start talking about gray areas, and there’s tons we can dive into, but there are 3 common practical questions here I want to delve into when we talk about sexual immorality. Questions like:

How far is too far between a single man and a single woman? 

And it’s questions like these when we start looking for specific Bible verses and when we don’t find one, we conclude: I guess I’m just gonna have to figure this one out on my own. And that’s exactly what we’ve done with this question in the church, in a way I’m convinced has been disastrous for teenagers and men and women all across the church. I would even go so far as to say that a lack of an objective biblical answer to this question has been disastrous in my life. So I wanna be completely honest with you in this question. Before I got married, particularly in high school and college, I had I don’t know how many conversations with friends and church leaders about this question.  And I cannot ever remember hearing a well reasoned objective biblical answer to this question. Instead, what I heard over and over again to something like this, people would say: Clearly no sex outside of marriage, the Bible prohibits that, but after that the Bible doesn’t give specifics. So you need to pray and set some boundaries, basically build your own list of sexual standards that you’re gonna live by. So I and my christian buddies would sit around and talk about what those standards should be. We all came up with different answers, some guys said kissing was okay, some guys said- as long as clothes stay on it’s okay, in reality, the guy with the lowest standards would usually win out in the discussion. You put together a bunch of guys who are sexual sinners, what else are you going to expect? And so, this is an area where I struggled. I struggled to set boundaries, and I struggled to keep boundaries, and I  found myself in this dangerous gray area that led to all sorts of confusion and guilt and failure. By God’s grace, Heather and I have never had sex with each other or with anyone else before we got married, but that did not mean that we glorified God with our bodies. And I share all that, to say that I remember well what this struggle was like. And I want to say tonight, what I wish somebody had said to me, or maybe they said and I just wasn’t listening. I want to show you what is a biblical objective answer to this question. And I am going to warn you that many of you will think that it’s extreme, restrictive and many of you will be likely to say, „Well, that’s easy for you to say since you’re married now. But, I’m saying it from out of a heart of hurt from past sin, out of a desire for our good, and ultimately out of a desire for what Scripture teaches.

I am indebted here to a good book on this issue ‘Sex, Dating, and Relationship’, by Pastors Gerald Hiestand and Jay Thomas. They observed 42% of single evangelicals- so single evangelicals, Bible believing Christians between the ages of 18 and 29 are currently in a sexual relationship. 22% have had sex in the past year, and an additional 10% have had sex at least once.  Assuming the accuracy of that data, that means only 20% of young Bible believing christians have remained abstinent. They continue on saying the pastoral community must shoulder much of the blame here. Simply put, we pastors are not quite  certain how to counsel single and teens on appropriate sexual boundaries. We either offer subjective biblical standards, like the Bible says, „Be pure,” which can be massaged around like a waxed nose. Or, objective opinion: Keep it above the neck- which lacks any real authority. Singles need an objective Biblical standard of premarital sexual ethics and we pastors are the ones responsible for providing it. So I want to provide it.

The Bible gives us 3 God ordained categories for relationships between men and women. When you look at relationships in the Bible, there are only 3. And all 3 categories have God given standards for sexual activity in them.

  1. First you have the neighbor relationship: sexual activity prohibited.We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and in that relationship that we see all over Scripture, sexual relationship is prohibited. The Bible says: If you have a strong sexual desire, then get married. The Bible doesn’t say experiment with your neighbor and then decide whether or not you’re gonna get married.
  2. Then there’s the family relationship; sexual activity prohibited.
  3. The third God ordained category is the marriage relationship between a man and a woman, and there sexual activity is commanded. The Bible commands a man and a woman to be together because that is sexual union, as a sign of the covenant relationship that they have before God. So it’s commanded there.

Now, you put all that together and you realize: God, in His word, has no category for 2 people who aren’t married, but kinda, sorta, in some ways act like they are, particularly sexually. That is not a God ordained category of relationship. There is not one place in this entire book (Bible) where we are ever encouraged to engage in any sexual activity outside of the marriage relationship. Instead, we are discouraged. Remember porneia- meaning sexual immorality, sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman. I would be furious if anyone hugged, or touched my wife in a sexual way, yet many guys don’t have a problem doing any or all of those things with a woman who is not their wife. Which leads me to ask the question: Would it be acceptable for me, as a married man to kiss a woman who is not my wife, to do these things to a woman who is not my wife? And you say, „Of course not.” But, the reality is guys, any single woman that you’re talking with, statistically is going to be somebody’s wife. So, why should you be doing these things with somebody else’s wife? You say, „Well, she might be my wife, she’s gonna be my wife…” and the Bible says: Well, then make her your wife and then kiss her all you want. But aside from that, 1 Corinthians 7 „It is not good for man to have sexual activity with a woman. She is your neighbor and sexual activity is prohibited with your neighbor.

And then you take this a step further, because Scripture takes it further. 1 Timothy 2 Paul tells Timothy to treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, in all purity. So follow this, the Bible ties pure treatment of the opposite sex with the picture of the family relationship. So in singleness, single men and women, what does purity looks like with your brother or your sister? There you have it, a standard for purity in your relationship with a single woman in Christ. Absolutely nothing sexual. Why not? Because she’s my sister, and certainly your sister in ChristOr single women, your brother in Christ deserves all the greater purity in Christ than even your own family member does.

So I want to encourage you single men and single women in this room, based on the 3 God ordained relationships in the Bible, I want to encourage you not to do anything sexually with another person who is not your husband or your wife. Looking for a guideline? Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do with your brother or your sister, because any and all sexual activity is for marriage. Regardless whether you are single or married, flee all sexual activity outside of marriage. (46:00) At the 47th minute David Platt talks about masturbation. There are 24 minutes left from this message.

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The kind of preaching that encourages you to sin

This post by Jared C. Wilson, over at the Gospel Coalition is meant to be read by pastors/preachers. But, I always like to read articles like this from the listener’s perspective- myself. So, please read on, even if you are not a preacher/pastor. I have included each of Jared’s points, but you will have to click on the post to see the explanation for each one:

  1. Preaching even a “positive” practical message with no gospel-centrality amounts to preaching the law.
  2. The message of the law unaccompanied by and untethered from the central message of the gospel condemns us.
  3. Therefore, a steady dose of gospel-deficient practical preaching doesn’t make Christians more empowered, more effective, but more discouraged, less empowered.
  4. The Bible goes further to suggest, actually, that without the gospel of Christ’s finished work, the preaching of the law of works serves to exacerbate disobedience.
  5.  The law brings death
  6. The preaching of Christless, gospel-deficient practical sermons increases self-righteousness.

Read the entire article over at the Gospel Coalition (Photo credit thegospelcoalition.org)

God is the sovereign ruler over everything that happens both good and bad – Bruce Ware

Photo credit sweetepistles.hubpages.com

It is so clear, God has control over what happens, over these nations of the world and the choices that people make, so that His will is accomplished. This is one of the areas that Christian people struggle with most deeply, when they come to these difficult teachings of Scripture. And I understand that because I struggled with them for many, many years and I understand your struggle as well. What ultimately brought me to accept this is  simply the conviction: This is the teaching of the Bible. And if I think I know better, good grief, what does that say about me? So, are you willing to accept God on the basis of what God says about Himself?

Isaiah 45:6b-7
I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

So, indeed, God has complete control over everything good. Oh my, we love that teaching. It is true and it is glorious. James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Indeed, God does control every good thing that happens.

But, this text and many other texts in the Bible also indicate He has equal control over everything bad that takes place. Indeed, He is the one ultimately who has the say so, as it were, of whether these bad things happen, and to whom, and in what manner, and the like. God is the one who ordains not only the good, but the bad as well.

There are a couple of things we have to bear in mind here. Even though God exercises complete control over both good and evil, God is good, and in no respect is He evil. My goodness, how important it is for us to affirm that. God is not yin-yang, as the god of Shintuism is. God is not light and darkness. God is good and not evil. 1 John 1:5 –  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. God is light, not darkness, God is good, not evil. Which brings me to my second point: Because God is good, He is light, then His control of evil would be for what purpose? For good purposes, that He will bring about only through the evil things that take place.

The supreme example of this in the Bible is the cross of Christ. It is so clear. Think for example to a statement by Peter in Acts 2:23 – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. Question: How would you answer the question- How did Jesus get put on that cross? How did this happen? What’s the biblical answer to that question. Well, it’s complex, isn’t it? Don’t you have to say two things, not just one. You have to say, „God put Him there.” Delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Right? Was Jesus there on the cross because God put Him there? Absolutely. This was the Father’s design, to send His Son, by whom we would be redeemed of our sin. This was the design of the Father, that His Son would be crucified for our sin.

But, is that the only answer you give? How did Christ get there on that cross? You also have to say, „Wicked men put Him there.” Delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to the cross by the hands of Godless men and put Him to death. So you realize that the answer to that question involves two answers: God did it, men did it, wicked men did it. Now, get this further. God, in doing that is praiseworthy, men who did this are blameworthy, are Godless men, wicked men and they are culpable for what they did.

One more thing I’d like you to see. You’ve got this dual agency here: God did it, men did it. The next question is this: Is one of those 2 agencies ultimate? Does one have priority over the other? Yes, indeed.  delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. Clearly, God’s agency is ultimate, so that they carried out what He designed they do, and yet, they bear full responsibility for the evil that they committed. That’s one example of many examples in the Bible, where you realize God exerts control over evil that takes place, but our confidence is this. Because God is the one who controls it… Let me stop there. What if He weren’t the one who controlled it? What are the other options that we have? Satan, demons, evil people, forces of nature that are outside the control of God? Honestly, if that’s the case, stay home, stay in your bed and hope for the best, because, wow, what a scary world this would be if God is not the one in control of the evil that takes place. But, because He is in control and He is good, His ways are right, He is just in all that He does, we can have strength of confidence and hope that God’s purposes will not fail. Even though we read the paper, even though we see horrible things happening, we know God is in control and His purposes will be fulfilled in the end.

VIDEO byMars Hill Church  Watch the full sermon here: http://jesus.to/1cTmYRw Check out the full Best Sermon Ever series here:http://marshill.com/bestsermonever

God is exclusively God, incomparably God, and through that deserves ultimate glory because he is the sovereign ruler over everything that happens in heaven and earth, including sovereign ruler over good and evil. Because God is good, he is light, then his control of evil would be for what purpose? For good purposes, that he will bring about only through the evil things that take place. The supreme example of this in the Bible is the cross of Christ.

This clip is excerpted from the sermon „The Incomparable Glory of God,” the second part of our sermon series Best Sermon Ever. It was preached by Dr. Bruce Ware out of Isaiah 40–45 at Mars Hill Downtown Bellevue and released on August 18.

God is the glorious Redeemer of his chosen people – Bruce Ware

My friends. I know that this is something that is highly objectionable in the culture in which we live. It’s an offense, out there in the culture to proclaim Jesus as the only way to be saved, but it’s true. And because it’s true, we cannot shy away from it. Goodness, their destinies are at stake, and our fidelity to God and Christ is at stake, in whether or not we are faithful to the Gospel message that Jesus is Savior of all who believe in Him.

Photo credit www.kammyskorner.com

God is exclusively God and incomparably God, and therefore deserves the highest glory because he is the glorious Redeemer of his chosen people. I want you to pause here with me and realize that this second point didn’t have to be in the Bible. Here’s what I mean by that: God created us, we’re dependent upon Him, we owe Him our allegiance, we owe Him our worship, we owe Him the adoration that He alone deserves. Because He is Creator, we owe that to Him. But, what did we do as His creatures? We rebelled against Him and went our own way. We committed tyranny against the Most High. And so, we brought upon ourselves the just condemnation of our Creator God, and He could have said, „That’s it!” and consigned us all to an eternity away from Him. Oh, yes,He could have. (Photo on right http://www.sbts.edu)

But, I am here to tell you something amazing, and that is that this Creator God, who looks down upon us now as sinners deserving judgment, designed a plan by which He could redeem us, save us from our sin, and bring us back to Himself, so that we could, with him, then again experience the fulness of joy we will only know because we are with the one who has it all. What did God do to accomplish this? Look with me at Isaiah again, chapter 52 and chapter 53. We’ll begin in Isaiah 52:7-10 and then read on in ch. 53:4-6.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice, together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Now, how did He bring about this saving work? Isaiah 53:4-6-

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

This is astonishing, amazing! That this God who is the Creator, who did not need the world that He created, now looks at this world that He created with its human population, sinful- all sinned against Him, turned away from Him, and in His compassion, devises a means by which we may be freed from our sin and brought back to Him. You see, that has to happen. Do you understand why that is the case? Because God is holy, and as the holy God that He is, He cannot have in His presence those who are sinful. And yet, He looks at us and we’re all in our sin. And He cannot have us with Him until sin is dealt with.

But, here’s the next problem. If He gives to us the task of getting rid of our own sin, it will never happen. There are no works we could do. There’s no amount of church going, or deeds that we can do that would rid us of the sin of our lives, that would qualify us to be in the presence of God. So what did God do? In His mercy He sent His Son, no less than His own Son to come and take on our human form and then bear our sin in His body, on the cross. That He might pay for that sin, and that we by faith, and faith alone, might be brought back to Him with sins forgiven, restored in fellowship to Him and enter into newness of life that will never ever end. What an incredible thing this God has done in giving His Son!

And, look at the ways in which it is expressed in Isaiah 53:4 „Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” but now, the second part of the verse- if you were there on that day, when Jesus was hung on the cross between two thieves at Ghetsemane, what would it look like to you when you’d see this beaten, bloodied man crucified on this cross? What would it look like to you? Isaiah 53:4b „yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” Here’s what it would look like: It would look like He is getting what He deserves. He is smitten of God and He is being judged of His own sin.

That’s what it looks like, but here’s the truth my friends. Verse 5 „But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; Do you see it? On the cross, He was not getting what He deserved, He was getting what we deserved. And He bore the sin of our lives, and the penalty of that sin, so that by faith we could be forgiven and be brought into newness of life and the fellowship of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit forever. It’s an amazing work that God has done for us in Christ. And, no other work of salvation is possible. That is, this is the only way to be saved. It is through what Christ has done for us.

My friends. I know that this is something that is highly objectionable in the culture in which we live. It’s an offense, out there in the culture to proclaim Jesus as the only way to be saved, but it’s true. And because it’s true, we cannot shy away from it. Goodness, their destinies are at stake, and our fidelity to God and Christ is at stake, in whether or not we are faithful to the Gospel message that Jesus is Savior of all who believe in Him. By the way, ask yourself this question: How many Saviors does a sinful world need? You just need one that works. Guess what? We’ve got one that works. And Jesus is that one Savior, whose death on the cross paid the penalty of the sins of the world, that anyone who believes might be brought into relationship with Him. So indeed, God as Redeemer of His people took upon Himself the cost of our salvation in His son and paid the penalty for it.

„The Incomparable Glory of God,”

God is exclusively God and incomparably God, and therefore deserves the highest glory because he is the glorious Redeemer of his chosen people. Creator God, who looks now upon us as sinners deserving judgment, designed a plan by which he could redeem us, save us from our sin, and bring us back to himself so that we could be with him. What an incredible thing this God has done in giving his Son.

This clip is excerpted from the sermon „The Incomparable Glory of God,” the second part of our sermon series Best Sermon Ever. It was preached by Dr. Bruce Ware out of Isaiah 40–45 at Mars Hill Downtown Bellevue and released on August 18.

VIDEO byMars Hill Church  Watch the full sermon here: http://jesus.to/1cTmYRw Check out the full Best Sermon Ever series here:http://marshill.com/bestsermonever

God deserves ultimate glory because he is the Creator – Bruce Ware (Essential Reading)

glory of GodPhoto credit unknown

God is exclusively God and incomparably God who deserves ultimate glory because he is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. God, as Creator, is independent of all that he has made, whereas we, his creatures, are dependent upon him for everything, and therefore we cannot take credit for anything we have.

Bruce Ware at Mars Hill Church Seattle last week:

Isaiah 46:5 To whom would you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me that we would be alike?

Isaiah 46:9-10 „Remember the former things long past, for I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, „My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.”

My, isn’t it clear that the God of the Bible wants us to know He alone is God and there is no one that is like Him. He alone is deserving of ultimate praise and honor and glory. Now, why is that the case? Why should we be a people who want with all of our hearts, to give to God the glory that alone belongs to Him? And there are many answers in the Bible, but, I picked 3 that I think are very central reasons for understanding the greatness of the glory of God, the exclusivity of His glory, that far surpasses any glory that we would give to anything else or anyone else. Three reasons in particular the Bible upholds.

lake-tekapo-new-zealand

God is exclusively God and incomparably God who deserves ultimate glory because:

1. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth

Isaiah 40:21-26

21Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.

My, what an amazing passage that highlights the supremacy of God, and puts an emphasis here on God as Creator. There are 2 things I’d like us to see in relation to God as Creator, that helps us understand why He alone deserves ultimate praise and honor and glory.

  1. God, as Creator, is then independent  of everything that He has made, while we, the creatures are dependent upon Him for everything. God’s independent of everything He has made: It’s so very clear, because God is eternal and existed prior to the universe, that the universe is not necessary for God to be God. He was God, just fine- thank you- before the universe. So when He creates the universe, that does not indicate that somehow God receives something He needs , because He didn’t need the universe to be God prior. In fact, God is self existent, nothing brings him into existence. He is His own basis for existing eternally, and He is self sufficient. That doctrine affirms of God that God possesses within Himself, intrinsically  and eternally everything that is qualitatively good and He does so in infinite measure. Anything that you thing that is qualitatively good, any perfection, any attribute we might think of, that is a good thing, things like righteousness and holiness, wisdom and knowledge, power and goodness, these are possessed within God intrinsically. Nobody gives anything to God that He doesn’t already possess, because He is the possessor of everything that is good. And He possesses it eternally. So, then, when He creates the world, this is not then a world that He needs. He doesn’t need the world He made. But, rather is creating a world that displays  in physical, visible form certain aspects of His own character. It is His wisdom, His knowledge, His power, His beauty put on display in creation in a physical, visible form. This is why the heavens declare the glory, not of the heavens, cause they don’t account for why they are there, rather the heavens declare the glory of God. Why? Because it’s God’s wisdom, God’s beauty, God’s power manifest in the created order. So, God does not depend on the creation He has made. He existed as God, fully, prior to creation, is independent of that created order…
  2. It is also then true, the other side of the coin is this: That the creature, we included in that,  are dependent upon Him for everything. The way Paul puts it in Acts 17:25 „God is not served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He himself gives to all people life, and breath, and all things.” Well, my goodness, if He gives all things to us, how much are we dependent upon Him for? All things! For life and breath, I mean, every breath you have taken just while sitting here, everyone, no exception, is a gift of God to you. He grants us breath by which we live. He grants us everything that we have. THEREFORE, WE CANNOT TAKE CREDIT FOR ANYTHING WE HAVE!

I oftentimes think that we have really missed the mark here in our evangelical subculture, in helping us understand the basis for our humility before God when we point only to the cross of Christ. And of course, it is right to point to the cross of Christ, as a basis for our humility, I mean what can we do to get rid of our own sin? And the answer is nothing. Christ must do that for us and therefore we are humbled before Him, accepting the gift that we could not make happen on our own. And that’s altogether true, but more fundamental than God as a Redeemer is God as Creator, where our very life and every quality that we have is given to us by our Creator. So Paul will ask the question, for example, in 1 Corinthians 4:7 „What do you have that you’ve not received?” It’s a rhetorical question, but what would the answer be- ‘What do you have that you have not received? Nothing’. In other words, anything and everything we have is giftWe’ve received it, we haven’t earned it, we don’t have any right to it. It’s been given to us. And so, Paul goes on to say, „So if you’ve received it, why do you boast as if you’ve not received it?” Exactly! Right?

So, humility before God is very important, dependence upon Him, understanding  He is the one that is the source of every good thing that there is. Everything that is qualitatively good is in God and in nowhere else. No place else. No one else. So, God alone deserves ultimate glory.

God deserves ultimate glory because he is the Creator

This clip is excerpted from the sermon „The Incomparable Glory of God,” the second part of our sermon series Best Sermon Ever. It was preached by Dr. Bruce Ware out of Isaiah 40–45 at Mars Hill Downtown Bellevue and released on August 18. VIDEO by Mars Hill Church Watch the full sermon here: http://jesus.to/1cTmYRw Check out the full Best Sermon Ever series here: http://marshill.com/bestsermonever

How can a sermon make the sin problem worse? A preacher explains

Peter Mead via http://sermoncentral.com Photo credit touchyaneighbor.com

Surely good preaching helps people live less sinful lives? Good preaching does, but not by moralizing. Simply pressuring people to clean up their act and perform more like good clean Christians is not gospel work. It is what Tim Keller refers to as turning younger brothers into older brothers. Cleaner, supposedly better and certainly more religious, but no more Christian than a fence post. Behavior modification is not the intention of the Bible. Independent pride promotion is the antithesis of Biblical intent.

So am I going against Scripture to argue against moralizing, especially when there is so much instruction there? I don’t think so. The Scripture assumes things to which we have grown blind. Knowing God brings life change, there are instructions relevant for those who are in communion with Him, but the process is never one of behavior modification first, internal realities second. And growth as a Christian is not a different set of rules; it continues to be by faith from first to last. So what does this mean?

In a nutshell, it means that we can’t simply be the older brother patrol out to instruct people toward a pseudo-godliness. When you preach an instructive section, be sure to put it in its full gospel context. Specifically, seek to answer the “why?” question. Why does that command make sense in light of the Bible’s teaching about God and sin and life? How you answer the why question will reveal your theology. That you ask the why question will reveal your awareness that instruction alone is never enough.

Read the entire article here- http://sermoncentral.com
Peter Mead is involved in church leadership at an independent Bible church in the UK.

David Wilkerson – How to Resurrect a Dead Church

dead church

VIDEO by sermonindex

David Platt – Heaven, Hell, & End Times (from Secret Church)

Platt David

Someone has uploaded this video file (only) from David Platt’s Secret Church message on the End Times. If more video should be uploaded from this event I will certainly post it on this blog promptly. Video length is 80 minutes. Message is from the Good Friday 2013 broadcast of Secret Church)

David Platt, in video:

In the middle of our busy lives, we desperately need to contemplate the eternal. So many things that we focus our lives on will not matter 10 years from now…. and this is where Scripture draws our attention to tonight. To what will matter 10 billion years from now. A W Tozer said, „Let no one apologize for the powerful emphasis Christianity lays upon the doctrine of the world to come. Right there lies its immense superiority to everything else within the whole sphere of human thought or experience. When Christ arose from death, and ascended into heaven, He established forever 3 important facts. Namely:

  1. That this world has been condemned to ultimate dissolution.
  2. That the human spirit persists beyond the grave, and
  3. That there is, indeed, a world to come.

The church is constantly being tempted to accept this world as her home, and sometimes she has listened to the blandishments of those who would woo her away and use her for their own ends. But, if she is wise, she will consider that she stands in the valley, between the mountain peaks of eternity past and eternity to come. The past is gone forever, and the present is passing as swift as the shadow in a sun dial of Ahaz. Even if the earth should continue a million years, not one of us could stay to enjoy it. We would do well to think of the long tomorrow.”

We need to listen with humility. The kind of things we’re contemplating tonight, we cannot afford to be wrong on. We don’t wanna live in a world of conjecture, when it comes to eternal realities, especially when we know what is certain. God’s word is the only foundation we can stand upon when we think about these things. Jesus said, „Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. What transcends this world? God’s word! So, tonight, let’s minimize the thoughts of man and magnify the truth of God. The purpose for al these quotes (from Tozer and from men and women of God) is purely to point us to the truth of God, to the word of God. From the first 6 1/2 minutes of the video. There are 74 more minutes remaining.

A few other points:

  • PEOPLE DO NOT GO TO HEAVEN AND COME BACK – All the books written about heaven are best sellers even though the buyers are evangelical born again Christians who should know that in Proverbs 30:4 it says: „Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
    Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!
     and in John 3:13 it says:  „No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man”.  ALL 4 accounts of heaven in Scripture  are visions, not journeys taken by dead people. These visions are rare: 4 biblical authors had visions about heaven and wrote what they saw: Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and John. All of them were prophetic experiences, not near death experiences. Not one person raised from the dead in the Old Testament, or the New Testament ever wrote down what he or she experienced in heaven, including Lazarus, who had a lot of time in the grave, for 4 days. Paul describes it as being caught up in heaven, but gives no details. He sums it up in 3 verses. These 4 authors agree in that their visions are all fixated on the glory of God, which defines heaven and illuminates everything there. They are overwhelmed, chagrined, petrified, and put to silence by the sheer majesty of God’s holiness. Notably missing from all the biblical accounts are the frivolous features and juvenille attractions that seem to dominate every account of heaven, currently on the best seller list. Why do we buy this stuff, when we have the word of God? Let’s minimize the thoughts of man; magnify, trust, let’s bank our lives and our understanding of the future on the truth of God. (11:00)

Secret Church – Session 13 Part 1from Dr. David Platt’s Heaven, Hell, & End Times from STBC Videos on Vimeo.

MORE David Platt Video SERMONS here

David Platt – on the different aspects of preaching at New Orleans Baptist Seminary

David Platt:

plattE.M. Bounds has had a formative impact… I recommend, anybody who is pastoring, preaching, to read ‘Power through Prayer’ and any number of things that he wrote. He said it best: As a preacher you preach as a dying man to a dying man. We need the life of Christ, to infuse us, in our preaching, and in a preaching event, in particular, as well as the preparation event leading up to that. There’s no question that there must be a primary focus on prayer in my own life, in my sermon preparation process, in the delivery process, everything…  So, when I think about personal, devotional life, I want my preaching to be the overflow of my communion with God.

And so, in my personal devotional life, in what I do, I spend time each morning reading through the Bible in a devotional way, through Robert McCheyne’s Bible Reading Plan (for those of you who are not familiar with that, it’s just 4 chapters a day- 2 in the OT, usually 2 in the NT) and just get different pictures in Scriptures, and so spend time reading and meditating on different portions of Scripture, just hearing from God.

So, I may be preaching on some passage in 1 Corinthians, we’re about to start a series in 1 Corinthians at Brook Hills, but, in the morning I’m spending time in Psalms, Exodus, and John, and Galatians. And so, in the process (I am) just being filled with the word, and that time in prayer- intentionally praying through different things that I’ve been praying through my life, my family, the church, the city where I live, the nations- All of that is gonna come to bear on that study, when I get into that 1 Corinthians text. And, the intimacy with God, the sensitivity to His voice, all of that is gonna have an effect on my heart, when I come to this text, to study it, to prepare a sermon, and then to preach it. And so, what I don’t want to do is preach lifeless sermons, that are disconnected from intimate communion with God. Even the prayerful meditation on the text on which I am teaching is probably the most important part of the sermon preparation process. Obviously, you’ve got to do the study to get to the truth of the text. But then, along the way, and as your seeing it, to really spend time in intentional, prayerful meditation on the truth of that text. Without that, we’re just giving information, as opposed to preaching out of the overflow of transformation for the sake of transformation in other people’s lives.

There’s a reason why Acts chapter 6 talks about devoting ourselves to the ministry of the word and to prayer. I know, in m own life, if I’m not careful, I can spend tons of time in the word, and devote myself to the word and the text in a way that is not commensurate with the time devoted to prayer. And so, I’ve got to keep that tension there, and give myself to both. (4:17)

Platt’s sermon preparation schedule

Monday, I’ll relax a bit with my wife and kids, but then I’ll dive. Since I am preaching through 1 Corinthians, I know what text I’m gonna be in, so I’ll read the text and start this process of prayerful meditation, „God, a week form now I’m gonna stand before a group of people, and I’m gonna say ‘this is what You said’. I wanna make sure I know what You said, so help me to understand it, help me to internalize this in my heart from the very beginning. Then, I’m gonna spend a lot of Monday doing exegetical work. I’d say, most of my Monday is spent doing exegetical work, where I’m walking through the text, using other resources, doing different things to do the exegesis.

Tuesday, I’ve got a meeting day, so I do a variety of things in the office, and then Wednesday morning, I’m gonna pick up that exegetical work. By Thursday, I’m spending intentional time during the day- and this is an ideal week, which is not always the case- but, on Thursday, now taking the exegetical work that I’ve done, and beginning to consider: How does this all come together? And so, I begin to form a sermon outline.

The truth of the text, I think is primary here. How do I communicate that? I divide that- I do an outline that I give to my folks. So, by Friday morning, I’ve got to turn that outline in, that our folks will have, as a sort of listening guide, that our folks will walk through the text. If not on Thursday, then sometime Friday or Saturday night, or sometime even Sunday morning, I’m writing a manuscript that I take with me- (of) every sermon. (from the first 6 minutes- 6 more minutes remaining)

nobtspublications

Reflections on pastoring three decades in a downtown church (upon John Piper’s retirement from Pastoring)

This message is from September 12, 2012, when a new pastor was chosen for Bethlehem Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota where John Piper pastored for three decades (33 years to be precise). This allowed for Pastor John Piper to retires as pastor, in order to pursue more projects (such as traveling and speaking engagements, and writing more books) There are two previous (milestone) messages before this one that you can watch at the following links: (photo via www.desiringgod.org)

  1. There is the message given on December 29th, 2012 on his last official day as Pastor. You can watch it here – Sorrowful Yet Always Rejoicing
  2. And there is the last service he attended and preached, Easter Sunday March 31,2013 at Bethlehem Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota before retiring as Pastor there You can watch that video here – Last sermon John Piper preached. You can watch it here – God Raised Your Great Shepherd from the Dead
  3. There is also this new book being offered by Desiring God, authored by John Piper – FREE Ebook – Doctrine Matters by John Piper – Ten Theological Trademarks from a Lifetime of Preaching
  4. And here is a short snippet video message given at Southern Baptist Seminary recently in which John Piper talks about his love for the Book (Bible) and the influence Jonathan Edwards has had on his life- John Piper – What will you do your last 2 days?

The following message is from September 12, 2012 and has just been posted recently.

John Piper:

English: The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in M...

When I came to Bethlehem, in summer of 1980, which is just a few blocks from here, the Metrodome was under construction, and the first game was in 1982. And so, I came when it was being built, and I will leave next year, when it is being disassembled, and I’ve been thinking about the implications of that. (This was preached 9/12/2012 and by now, John Piper has already preached there for the last time, with the exception of  future visits at Bethlehem church). But, mainly, I’m mentioning it because of the way I responded to that felt threat. Not only when the dome was being built, did it feel threatening to our church: traffic, parking, crowds Sunday. Will this work anymore, when the games are at 12:03 and everyone’s driving in? But, when that freeway, that big junction, 94 & 35, when that was being built, in the late 60’s, early 70’s, you can imagine what a devastation that felt like to a nice, peaceful community that went across these nice little homes everywhere, and they’re wiping them out by the dozens, moving some of them. And our church is 100 feet away.

And the thought, „Can we even begin to survive, how is it even possible, will anybody be able to get here? So, the point is, how does one respond to threats. Because the point is, if you live even near an urban center, change is what happens. And maybe in little, rural communities the demands are very different. But, when you’re in a city, it is just one very exciting or threatening change, or both, one after another. And so, here’s what I wrote: I printed out the September 14, 1982 article that I wrote for our newsletter, called- God threw His shoe on Edom, or, The Dome is Dead. And the text was Psalm 108:9 „Moab is my wash basin, upon Edom I cast my shoe.” And, I’ll read the first two paragraphs:

Picture Edom in rebellion, against Yahweh and His people. Picture them mustering thousands and thousands of warriors. Picture the iron chariots, the war horses snorting and stamping, the bulging muscles and brawn skin of the mighty men, the razor sharp swords, the awful  pointed spears, the shields, flashing in the sun. The unflinching countenance of seasoned soldiers. Picture a horde of fierce fighting men, thundering through the valley. Fearful, dreadful, fierce, and powerful.

When God sees them coming, He sits down. He will wash His feet. With 18,000 fighting warriors approaching, like a stampede of Texas longhorns, God sits down to wash His feet. And then, as one would flick a fly, he tosses His shoe on Edom and 18,000 soldiers fall. God never even looked. He scarcely heard the noise. The world sits stunned at the victory, and God sits with His feet in the water. (3:40)

And that’s what I tried to show our people. That’s what I have been trying to show them for 30 years. We have a massively strong God. He’s never confused. He’s never perplexed. He’s never nervous. He’s never without an answer. He’s never threatened. And so, what I’d like to take my few minutes to do is just mention five things about that God that marked my efforts in the city here. And, you will discover immediately that they are not urban specific. And that is part of who I am. It’s been the way I’ve led, but, they are transferable, and they’re basic. So, here are the five things (4:35):

  1. Submit, (I have tried to, and I am encouraging you to)Submit to all of Scripture, as your absolute authority and bring into being a people who do the same. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The testimonies of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, and the ordinances of the Lord are pure and righteous, altogether, more to be desired then gold, yeah, much fine gold.  Yeah, sweeter also than honey, and drippings from the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19) Brothers, it marks the God pleasing churches when there is an absolute commitment to His word. (5:48)
  2. Think through a coherent God centered theology and build a people who breathe that vision. Acts 20 „I do not count my life of any value, or as precious to myself. If only I might finish my course, and the ministry God has given me, to bear witness to the Gospel of the grace of God.” And then, he goes on, „And now, behold, I know, none of you whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom of God will see my face again. Therefore, I testify to you, I am innocent of the blood of you all. For, I did not shrink from telling you the whole counsel of God.” I am going to say that to my people. But, what’s that mean? ‘Whole counsel of God’, Paul said he did it. So it’s not impossible to do, for a human being. ‘Whole counsel of God’ can’t mean infinite. He did it. My take is that the whole counsel of God is that whole cluster of truths surrounding the core, the Gospel- Christ crucified, risen for sinners… Packer sums up the Gospel in Propitiation through Substitution. So, around that are clusters of doctrines. They are supportive and they’re explanatory, and they’re necessary to protect it and explain it, and to work it out, and that’s the whole counsel- it’s not every word in the Bible. I have not even preached one sermon in 33 years on the Song of Solomon. I’m ashamed of that, it’s a great love story. Is should have done that. But, I’m just illustrating, you pick and you choose, and you realize at the end of 33 years… oops. I shouldn’t have spent 8 years on Romans.But, you do the best you can. (photo below via www.gostandspeak.com)
  3. Preach the glories of that Good News, and all the truths that support it, and flow from it. I am underlining the word preach. Herald. I don’t mean teach, that’s great. I don’t mean share, and discuss, that’s great. I mean: HERALD- what a town crier does. Preach. So here’s the connection. All Scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, and correction, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God can be completely equipped for every good work. I solemnly testify, in the presence of God, and of Christ, who will appear to judge the living and the dead, by His appearing, and by His kingdom. PREACH THE WORD!!! That’s a weighty series of thoughts. And so, I’ve made that the bread and butter of the Bible theology preached. Because, frankly brothers, there are a lot of people today who don’t think preaching is uniquely used by God, but only one of many options. I believe that that word kerusso in 2 Timothy 4:2 means God has a special gift for His people, in the hour of worship over the word. And that, when a pastor full of the Holy Spirit, full of the word of God, heralds the glories of God in the Gospel, something unique happens. Other things are also essential. Small groups are also essential, education is essential, mission is essential. But, something unique happens, and I believe Bethlehem has thrived, flourished, maintained it’s unity through some really rocky times, because something happens in those moments, that, over and over again unite a people, in the presence of the living God, addressed by God almighty. So, I’m commanding it to you. You don’t have to have any particular personality to do this. If you have Jonathan Edwards on one side and Billy Sunday on the opposite side- they’re really different, and they both preached. Edwards, (with) one arm on a pillar and a manuscript in his hand, reading with blood earnestness, hardly a gesture. So, don’t write off preaching as a personality thing. (13:00)
  4. PiperMake prayer the visible engine of your life, and corporate prayer the visible engine of your church. So, have a place, and have a time for yourself. Spurgeon preached a sermon on a verse, that he called Robinson Crusoe’s verse. And the verse is „Offer to God a sacrifice of Thanksgiving, perform your vows to the most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you, and you will glorify Me.” So: (1) Call on Me (2) I will deliver you (3) you will glorify Me. That’s the pattern of life. (1) Call (2) Receive (3) Glorify. And if your people learn that rhythm: (1) Call every day. Call on Him, ask Him for everything. Talk to Him continually, cry out. We love to say at Bethlehem, „What shall we render to the Lord, for all His blessings to us? We will call upon the name of the Lord!!! What a deal! You wanna pay me back? Ask for more! Because I am strong, and I get glory by being wealthy to my poverty stricken people. So, prayer is such a gift. So, personally, have your place, have your time. Don’t let anything take you from it. Kneel every day. There’s no big trick in that. (It’s) just something happens when the body says, once a day, „This too Lord (my body), I’m going low Lord, before You with my body.” I’m just gonna say it that way, too. Fasting and feasting. Both are good, neither has any rules on how long, or how much. It’s a good thing. And then, one of the hardest things we face is building a praying church, and a corporate praying church. And, Bethlehem is no great model. We’ve just tried over and over again to put prayer all over the place, and then to encourage the staff to be at one of those, or two of those, or three of those. I have, probably for 20 years, been to 5 prayers a week. 30 minute prayer meetings. Sounds big, it’s not big, because 3 of those are before services. Show up early and pray with 5 or 20 people, before service, for 30 minutes. And then, Tuesday morning and Friday morning, those are my prayer times with people. And, it makes a huge difference to pray with people. And then, model it from the pulpit. People don’t know how to pray, they don’t know how to feel when they pray, they don’t know what to say. But, if they hear you pray every week like a broken hearted, needy sinner, counting on God, crying out to a Father who loves you, they’ll learn how to pray. They will. And God will do mighty things, in answer to prayer.
  5. Trust every day that God cares for you, and will work for your good. Humble yourselves (1 Peter 5)  under the mighty hand of God, that in a due season (not now), in a due season He may exalt you, casting (and I think the participle means that the casting is an expression of humility), casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. So, keeping your anxieties for yourself is pride. Humble yourself (by) casting your anxieties away, on Him. He’s got shoulders that can handle them, and He won’t be the least burdened by them. If you keep them, you’re proud. It is proud to be anxious. You look weak, and you look frightened, and you look like a puppy, and all nervous, and you’re not, you’re proud. Because you’re not saying, „Ok, You want them, here they are.” And you give them to the Lord. (16:00)

Photo Wikipedia – John Piper born January 11, 1946
Chattanooga, Tennessee,United States

I’m gonna close, and I’m gonna give examples of how God’s been faithful to me:

(1) The excorcism. After the 1st or 2nd year here, I got a call that, „We have a demon possessed girl in this room, we want you to come.” (Up to that time) I had never in my life encounter a demon possessed person. I called Bob Stellar, cause the Bible says, „Go out, two by two.” I believed that, and we went together, at about 10 o clock at night. We were there ‘til, probably 1 in the morning, and she was ‘a gorilla’ with a knife, a little pen knife. So I kept on my coat, because I thought she could stick the winter coat (it was winter), and it wouldn’t do too much damage. And she’s walking around just – (sticking the knife) at people. And these were young Bethel students, unbelievably anointed and fearless, because they just stood there, they wouldn’t let her out. They were standing at the door, not letting her out, and she had a knife. She sounded like a (makes gruffy sounds). To make a long, horrible story short, about 2 hours later she’s passed out on the floor. We sang over her for about half an hour. She screamed for Satan to not leave her, went unconscious on the floor, as far as I could tell. (I thought) Did we kill her? I’ve never experienced something like that before. This is what you get handed, right? And she woke up, her face looked totally different, voice totally different, She had knocked the Bible out of my hands half a dozen times, as I was trying to read the Bible. I handed her the Bible, and asked her to read all of Romans 8. She did. She was in church the next Sunday, on the second row, scared to death that she was going to go wild in the service. She was resoundingly converted. She was in the church 6 more months, broke her leg playing soccerI visited her in the hospital and had long talks about what was behind all this. And if I could tell you her story you would not believe what she had done. But, God comes to me, and I’m a zero educated person, when it comes to demon possession and deliverance. What did I have? MY BOOK!!!! I knew, I knew that  I didn’t have anything. But, right here is power. I just kept reading it, and reading it, and reading it. And then, we just sang it. We took the tune „Aleluia, Aleluia’, and we put new words- ‘Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord’, ‘He is coming, He is coming’… someone would throw in another Bible truth and she went absolutely berserk and was delivered. God was faithful.

(2) A prodigal. My son came home one night (I won’t tell you which one), 15 years old, and he was an hour later than I had told him, I had waited up for him, „I said, „What happened?” And he lied to me. I didn’t know it at the time. In the morning he was gone. So, my son ran away. This is Friday morning, sermon preparation day.  I’m at home with him alone, Noel and the kids are gone. It’s just me and him. He’s gone. He left me a note under his pillow. „I love you, and I let you down, again. Don’t worry. I’m okay. Another city.” I wasn’t too worried, frankly, except: He’s gone! What do you do? How do you preach? How do you get a sermon ready? This is life guys. This is what you’re dealt with. And, I made the decision, knowing him, I wouldn’t call the police. He knows what he’s doing. I didn’t think he was suicidal, or anything like that. Big judgment call. And I prepared my sermon. I have no idea what I preached on. And I called one man, one guy, and I said, „This is the situation, pray with me, don’t know what to do.” (I) walked into church from behind, looking, maybe he’ll be here. You’re preaching under these c… He wasn’t, and on Monday I called the school and asked, „Is my son in class?” They said, „Yes.” „I’m his dad, I wanna see him now”. So I drove to the school. And he’s walking down the hall, and I’m walking out of the principal’s office, and he just starts to weep on my shoulder. God is faithful. And we had the longest, best talk that night…

(3) The spiritual gifts battle– trying so hard to be a bonafide noncessationist. To be open to all the good things God has given us. And crazies come out of the woodwork, and people give you false prophecy that just about devastates you, and God is faithful. I didn’t throw it away, I didn’t despise prophesying, but, I sure am cautious, because we got some of the weirdest stuff happen in the late 80’s, because we were trying so hard. And, I encourage you to try hard. „Earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may propehsy.” They are all for the upbuilding of the church. Don’t let them tear anything to shreds. And don’t let them make you bitter and ugly, which was my temptation. Because when a lawyer prophesied over me that my wife would die in childbirth, and my next child would be a girl, and you’re weeping your eyes out saying, „God, is that what you’re giving me?” And a boy was born, and she didn’t die- so- a false prophet.

(4) The moral failure in our church in ’92 and ’93 is the biggest challenge we ever faced, and God wonderfully got us through that

(5) The worship wars were hard, and He brought us through that

And so, the last point is TRUST HIM, trust Him. Cast all your anxieties on Him. He cares for you. Last verse:

„Let him who serves, serve in the strength that God supplies, so that in everything, God will get the glory, through Jesus Christ. To Him be dominion forever, and ever.” Amen

Spurgeon – Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.

 

C. H. Spurgeon, "The Prince of Preachers&...

Kirk Cameron mentions this quote in his interview with Dr. Bryan Smith at First Baptist Church Roanoke. I have heard this quote before, and today, I tried researching it on the internet. Thankfully, I came across the fruit of this work from another fellow blogger named Daniel who blogs over at – http://doulogos.blogspot.com:

The saving of souls, if a man has once gained love to perishing sinners, and love to his blessed Master, will be an all-absorbing passion to him. It will so carry him away, that he will almost forget himself in the saving of others. He will be like the stout, brave fireman, who careth not for the scorch or for the heat, so that he may rescue the poor creature on whom true humanity hath set his heart. – Charles Spurgeon, One Antidote for Many Ills (Sermon #284, November 9, 1859, see: http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0284.htm)

…if sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies; and if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay, and not madly to destroy themselves. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” – Charles Spurgeon, The Wailing of Risca (sermon #349, December 9, 1860 see: http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0349.htm)

The original quote however is taken from a sermon preached by Spurgeon in 1888 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle entitled, „She was not Hid” (see: http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols34-36/chs2019.pdf) and is pulled from the following paragraph:

„But the confession had to be made for the sake of others. Do any of you wish to live unto yourselves? If you do, you need saving from selfishness. I have seen it brought as a charge against evangelical religion that we teach men to look to their own salvation first and that this is a kind of spiritual selfishness. Ah, but if that salvation means salvation from selfishness, where is the selfishness of it? It is a very material point in salvation to be saved from hardness of heart and carelessness about others. Do you want to go to Heaven alone? I fear you will never go there. Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that. What is the most natural plan to use for the salvation of others but to bear your own personal testimony?”

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