Test ALL Things, Cling to that which is Good!

Each of us has doctrines we hold to without properly examining them in light of Scripture – that’s how we are wired as humans. This comes into play on this notion of Christian Sabbath keeping which was first invented by early Roman Catholics in the 6th century and codified in paedobaptists’ system of theology a thousand years later. Now it is a tightly held tradition by many; and many who love this teaching celebrate any work that supports their perspective – which does their argument no good. Walter Chantry’s book, Call the Sabbath a Delight, is such a work. In my two years of researching this subject, this book did more to convince me this “Christian Sabbath” is not defensible from Scripture than anything written against this doctrine. The best thing about this book is that it’s small and short.

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by Walter Chantry – a critical review

Walter Chantry was born and raised in a Presbyterian home and graduated from a Presbyterian school (Westminster Theological Seminary). This is something worth mentioning, as it’s obvious he was heavily influenced by our paedobaptist brothers. Let each one of us realize we are likewise influenced by what we’ve taught and think is “so” and need test all things in light of God’s holy Word. In the introduction to this book, Chantry starts off presuming the Decalogue (not called the Ten Commandments until the New Geneva Bible) equals God’s moral law. Since this is foundational to his entire argument, it needs some explanation and defense, not mere assertion – but our author provides none. Perhaps he assumes everybody knows this or accepts it. Why this is problematic will be shown later. This short introduction to his book sets his premise, in which he comes across very much like the folks in the movie, Divided: just as the movie implied teenagers were going to hell because the right church program was not available, so Chantry paints a picture of a culture hell-bound because people have turned their back on the so-called Christian Sabbath: “We should consider it nothing less than shockingly unacceptable for Bible teachers and ministers to undermine the practice of the worship and service of God by teaching against the Sabbath law.” This pragmatic streak is another thing that shows up throughout this book. But we know, God saves His elect through the gospel people; salvation does not come through the Law or through behavior modification.

In chapter 1, Chantry quotes Ex 20:8-11 and calls it the 4th commandment. Does anyone think the tablets God wrote on contained all those words for the “4th Word”? By assuming all the words in these verses are the commandment, he fails to see the ceremonial, judicial, civil, etc. content in this and several of the commandments. He considers all of Ex 20:3 – 17 to be “the Ten Commandments”, summing up God’s moral law. If the 10 Words on the first set of tablets is God’s moral law, why do we not have those 10 Words clearly preserved in Scripture rather than bound up in words that conveyed the re-issue of the covenant of works to the Hebrew people? And why does the record of the Decalogue differ, particularly in the 4th commandment, between Ex 20 and Deut 5? Our author merely waves this aside, asserting, “as originally given on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20), the fourth law was enforced with an argument from God’s behavior during creation week.” Yes, the Lord gave illumination of His Sabbath command to the Hebrews by pointing back to the 7th day of creation, providing an example of the rest He was commanding the Hebrews to keep. God doesn’t call the 7th day of creation a Sabbath in Ex 20 – but He does use that word to describe the sign He has given the Hebrews. In his effort to defend his position, Chantry claims, “the Ten Commandments per se are free of all ceremonial and judicial peculiarities of the Mosaic covenant.” If this is true, should not the Lord have struck Moses dead for changing His eternal, moral law with he “rehearsed the Ten Commandments to Israel” in Deuteronomy? If by this our author means that embedded in the text of Ex 20:3 – 17 are the “the Ten Commandments per se”, that some of what’s recorded in this passage is not God’s moral law, he should have developed this argument. He leaves us wondering what he means, because he consistently calls “the Ten Commandments” God’s moral law and he does not tell us what he thinks “the Ten Commandments per se” might be. Just as we don’t have an inspired record of “the 10 words”, neither do we have for “the Ten Commandments per se”.

Chantry tells us (page 24) that Rom 2:15 is proof that Adam was given the Decalogue when he was created. This verse tells us that Gentiles without the law of Moses have the works of the law written on their hearts – it does NOT prove Adam was created with the Decalogue written on his conscience as claimed. Further, how could Adam know the Decalogue or any version of the moral law of God prior to having knowledge of good and evil? The law – any law – brings awareness of sin (evil); Adam knew none of this before he ate and his eyes were opened. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve knew the goodness of God; they did not know evil. After he and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God said “the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.” It appears that Adam was given the moral law of God in conjunction with The Fall – not when he was created nor when he walked in innocence.

There is, however, much to agree with in this book – we do get guidance from God as to what is honorable from His moral law, Christians are to be joyful about gathering on the Lord’s Day, he decries the overly rigid rules-based Puritan view of enforcing their Sabbath – which the authors of the WCF had as their baseline for their view. But Chantry, who was raised and educated as a Presbyterian, doesn’t seem to see the difference between the Jews living under the Old Covenant and the children of Abraham according to the promise living in the New Covenant. And he lumps all who don’t see this equivalence into the dust bin of dispensationalism (this line of argument takes up most of chapter 4, providing a platform for Chantry to condemn all who disagree by saying, “Never in Israel or the church did the gospel of salvation by grace through faith promote lawlessness.” This is the bucket all who do not hold his view are thrown into. There is no other position in Chantry’s model: if you are not a Sabbatarian, you are an antinomian. This is, sadly, an all-too-common assertion by Sabbatarians.

Another problem in claiming the Decalogue equals God’s moral law comes into play when Chantry argues for its universal application to all men at all times – implicitly endorsing blue laws and contradicting the historical record of Scripture and all of mankind. Only by Special Revelation can man know he is to worship God on a given day. How can the entire 4th Commandment, as presented herein, be universal when it’s apparent everywhere that many don’t know it, when nowhere in Scripture are any people outside the Mosaic Covenant punished for violating it? Nowhere in general revelation is man given the 7 day week; yet there is every evidence that all men everywhere know murder and robbery, etc. are wrong and all men worship something. God’s moral law is known to man and no man is without excuse. But there is no evidence that weekly rest from labor is part of that moral law; it appears only in context with God’s covenant people. Nowhere in any version of the 10 Commandments are people told to worship God on the Sabbath and nowhere in the Scriptures is the first day of the week called “Sabbath”. Yet we know from Scripture that the saints gathered to worship on the day after the Sabbath. They went to the synagogues to dispute with the Jews on the Sabbath.

He gives conflicting messages, telling us rightly that, as Peter said, we are not to live under the Mosaic law (beginning of chapter 2). But our author makes no effort to separate God’s moral law from the Mosaic Covenant in applying his sabbatarian argument. He cites Isaiah 58:13 & 14 as “a discussion of the Sabbath in all its spiritual beauty. Here is a text in which the Sabbath Law is presented without the drab and unappealing attire of judicial additives.” But Chantry told us in chapter 1 that “the Ten Commandments per se are free of all ceremonial and judicial peculiarities of the Mosaic covenant.” Is he now citing Isaiah 58 as proof against his assertion from chapter 1? He gives superficial attention to Scriptures but spends lots of pages talking about the woeful state of the culture and giving what can only be called pragmatic advice. “Mothers and fathers must work at making the Sabbath a delight to their children. Boys and girls must not come to view the day of worship as grim and repressive.” One cannot muster up nor manufacture “the joy of the Lord”. If mom and dad are new creatures in Christ, they will have joy in the worship, instruction, and fellowship that takes place in a local church. Yes, they will have sin to deal with and must strive for holiness. This should be modeled for their unregenerate small children – those impressionable young people can be easily trained to look like covenant children; but that is a very dangerous role for any person to play. As with the taking of the Lord’s Supper, young people ought to see Christian character and worship but parents ought to know they cannot participate unless they be born again.

Chantry (page 52) says there are some who “the claim that the New Testament is silent on the fourth commandment.” He then shoots himself squarely in the foot by claiming Matt 12:1-14, Mark 2:23- 3:6, Luke 6:1-11, Luke 13:10-17, Luke 4:1-6, John 5:1-18, and John 7:20-24 are New Testament teachings about Christians keeping the Sabbath – “They contain our Lord Jesus’ frequent and extensive teaching on the subject.” All of these passages are records of activity by Christ and/or His disciples doing kingdom work on the Jewish Sabbath with those under the Mosaic Law. He fails to cite the clear and thrice-told declaration (Ex 31:13 – 17, Ez 20:12. Ez 20:20) that the Sabbath is a sign between YHWH and the Jews. Chantry goes on to claim (page 54), that in Mark 2:27-28, Christ points back to creation in defending the continuation of the weekly Sabbath – And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Chantry claims the phrase, “the Sabbath was made”, refers to the 7th day of creation. He compares this passage from Mark to Paul’s very clear tie of creation to marriage – “Paul uses almost an identical formula in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9. ‘Man is not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman but woman for man.’” Contrary to Chantry’s claim, there is no comparison: Paul clearly cites Genesis 2:18 – 23, but one has to claim Moses used the wrong word in writing Genesis 2:2-3, because he didn’t use the word for Sabbath found in Exodus 20. The Hebrew word for the “rest” God observed on the “seventh” day found in Genesis 2:2-3 is shābat; a primitive root; to repose, i.e. desist from exertion; the word for Sabbath in Exodus 20:8-11 is shabbāt; intensive from <H7673> (shabath); intermission, i.e. (specific) the Sabbath. These two are related but are not the same.

He constantly insists the Sabbath was created in the beginning, because God set aside the 7th day as His day of rest, made it holy, blessed it because on it He rested from creation. No mention of Sabbath, no command to man to do anything nor punishment of man for failing to obey this command. Nehemiah (chapter 9 verses 13 & 14) records that God gave the Sabbath to the Jews on Mt. Sinai. The sabbath that Christ says was made for men – not just for the Jews – is that sabbath rest all elect enter into when we are raised to new life in Jesus and cease from our working to be right with God as the Old Covenant demands. Hebrews 4 is not talking about a continuation of the pale, weekly day of the Jewish religion, which was a type and weak imitation of the eternal rest and reconciliation He bought with His blood.

In chapter 5, Chantry inadvertently makes my point – that the moral law of God is not equal to the Decalogue, though it shone through the Decalogue – when he observes that Jesus and the disciples defined moral purity by quoting the Decalogue. When the commandments are quoted in the New Testament, they rarely (once?) include the judicial/ceremonial language contained in Ex 20 and Deut 5. These first century men knew the actual “10 Words” as did their Jewish audiences. And not once does Jesus or His apostles teach or enforce any type of sabbath keeping as described in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the 1689 London Baptist Confession in context of the Christian faith. But Chantry doesn’t see this – he says, “Keeping the Sabbath Day holy is a commandment embedded in the code of moral law written by God’s own finger. It is a part of the definition of righteousness.” (page 63) Many theologians like to make much of the fact that God wrote the 10 Words on the first set of tablets, tablets made of stone – which Moses destroyed. The second set of tablets, which probably carved by Moses as commanded by God, were stored in the Ark of the Covenant, along with the jar of manna and Aaron’s rod. This Ark of the Covenant was lost in antiquity, and according the Word of God, is to be forgotten – (Jr 3:15-16): “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, declares the LORD, they shall no more say, “The ark of the covenant of the LORD.” It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again.” Might these “tablets of testimony” (Ex 31:18) of the Mosaic Covenant be types and shadows that point us to something greater, as so much of what God gave Israel in that covenant is properly recognized as? God’s law written on tablets of stone, given to people with hearts of stone, who gathered for worship in a temple of stone. Compare this the new Covenant Jeremiah writes about: God’s people given hearts of flesh to replace their hearts of stone, God’s law written on the tablets of our hearts rather than tablets of stone, and we are God’s temple which is comprised of spiritual stones He is assembling for Himself. Chantry goes on to state (still on page 63),“The ways in which the moral law was applied and the way it was enforced differ greatly when we compare the management of Moses and the management of Christ.” This sounds a whole lot like our paedobaptist argument – that the covenant of Moses is part of the covenant of grace, just under a different administrator.

Chantry is right and correct in pointing out the ancient basis of the covenant of grace, delineating the difference between it and the Mosaic Covenant. His guidance regarding motives, in chapter 6, is solid, although he continues to use dramatic and inaccurate comparisons – calling those who do not align with his view of the first day of the week, lawless, antinomian. This is poor practice. It will take a biblical argument pressed on me by the Spirit of God that convinces me of anything – not a comparison between Christians and the culture.

In his argument about why Christians worship on Sunday, there is no argument – until he describes how the Sabbath was moved to the day after the Sabbath. If one takes the stone tablets as God’s moral law, rather than seeing them as a lens through which His moral law shone in the context of the Mosaic Covenant, then one must find a way to explain how that “which God wrote with His finger” was changed without a command from God. If the entire record in Ex 20 known as the 10 Commandments is considered to be God’s moral law, then one cannot accept changing the day (explicitly called out as the seventh day, not “every seventh day, and not the first); that is as much a part of God’s moral law as is the command to work six days (not five). And the 4th commandment does not command worship – but to keep it holy, set apart, and to abstain from work. But, if one sees God’s moral law as described above – shining through the Decalogue rather than the Decalogue being the source – then we can easily accept this change in the day, seeing the moral principle as the key thing. The Jews were commanded to honor the seventh day; Christ was raised from the dead on the first day and we gather for worship on that day. I know that many theologians agree with Chantry that Heb 4 is a proof text for weekly Sabbath keeping. But the Old Testament type given was a one time entry into temporal rest, just as was Creator God’s one time entering into His rest from Creation work – so why would the rest between these two be other than the one time rest the elect enter into when they are redeemed by Christ and take His light load upon them and find rest in Him? It is a stretch that belies belief to claim this is a weekly Sabbath, something that was a pale shadow of what was promised in Gen 3:15.

In the last chapter, Chantry tries to write off biblical passages that appear to teach that a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath were a shadow of what was to come, Col 2 being “the most striking and troublesome” for the author. “It is apparent that these three texts are describing ceremonial and judicial laws of Moses. … Weekly Sabbath-keeping as required in the fourth commandment does not fit the description of days described in Romans 14, Galatians 4 and Colossians 2.” His argument for this position is tied to his insistence on a creation ordinance – “The weekly Sabbath day is a creation ordinance just as is marriage. Moses said so (Genesis 2:1-3), Jesus said so (Mark 2:27, 28)! So did the author of Hebrews 4:3-4!” That Genesis 2 says nothing about a weekly pattern of rest for men does not come into Chantry’s evaluation of this topic. This pattern of days refers to all of the holy days of the Jews from yearly feasts to the weekly Sabbath, and comes from repeated descriptions of the Mosaic ritual, found in 1 Chron 23:30-31; 2 Chron 2:4, 8:12-13, 31:3; Neh 10:33; Isaiah 1:13-14; Ezek 45:17; and Hosea 2:11. This is another indication that the Mosaic code, of which the Decalogue is part, does not apply to Christian as a law – but as a type or shadow of the Christ to come. Our exodus is not from Egypt; that country is a type for sin and wickedness. The moral law, though it is revealed within the Mosaic code, is eternal and no more uniquely part of that Sinai covenant than the New Covenant is – though the covenant of grace was progressively revealed over time, even within the era of the Mosaic Covenant. His last point addresses “proper Sabbath behavior.” He gives some good counsel on the limits of elders and common sense examples of variation depending on circumstance, but defaults to Jewish rules to guide us. He does finish with a recognition that Sabbath keeping isn’t the “answer to all man’s ills”, but still holds up a Christian imitation of the Jewish rite as a joy for us to keep.

In explaining how the Sabbath day can be changed from the 7th to the 1st day, Chantry accepts the narrative accounts in Scripture which document the fact that Christians met for worship on the 1st day, claiming this does not “cause the entire law to crumble or disappear.” But if the Decalogue and this commandment in particular have no judicial or ceremonial content, then changing from “the seventh day” should take something more substantial. It is a common hermeneutic rule – narrative is not normative; one doesn’t build doctrine from narrative. Why should one be able to change God’s moral law by narrative example?

Regarding the assertion that the Decalogue is or sums up God’s moral law, this is a very complex topic that would benefit from a well researched book being written. One would need to develop the concept of “God’s moral law”, get a handle on what may have been carved on the stone tablets compared to what Moses recited to the Hebrew nation, and examine the biblical history and biblical theology of the relevant texts. If someone knows of such a work, please chime in!

The authors of Chantry’s “List of Outstanding Materials on the Sabbath” is comprised of 18 paedobaptists and 1 Baptist – Erroll Hulse, plus the Westminster Confession of Faith and Shorter and Larger Westminster Catechisms. This, in itself, tells us where the bulk of support is for Chantry’s position – those who flatten out the covenants and, in an opposite ditch from the dispensationalists, see equality of identity between the church and the nation of Israel.

Give me the joyful gathering of the saints who eagerly come together to worship the Lord and build one another up; I care not to enter into the shadow of what Christ brought to His church.

Al Whittinghill – An Ambassador for Christ

This is a wonderful reminder this Lord’s Day of what salvation is all about! Have a day that seeks to worship the Lord Jesus Christ, He who alone is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

When Christians aren’t Afraid

Reposted by permission from Stephanie, who is a friend of DefCon. Her words accurately reflect where we should be when addressing what is taking place around us. You can follow her blog Memoirs of a Blogger Saved By Grace.

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I am not a fan of Duck Dynasty. I have no hidden motive for going to bat for a man I have never met. All I know is what I’ve seen buzzing on my news feed all day and from what I can tell, it’s only further evidence of just how mad this world has truly become.

I live in a country where it’s okay to be a hate-filled, raging bigot as long as you’re not a Christian. It’s okay to sling false accusations, apply false labels, and vilify anyone who doesn’t say what you want them to say. Especially if that statement involves the word “homosexual”.

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God isn’t sacred anymore but apparently same-sexual attraction is. Anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

Remember when Chick-Fil-A was put on the spot and forced to make a statement that the media knew well beforehand would turn into a frenzy? It’s called “ambush journalism” and the media loves to use this very topic to stir up hostility between people by demanding that someone they know is a devout Christian admit they don’t support homosexuality and then crucify them mercilessly for it.

Remember all those people who showed up outside Chick-Fil-A’s restaurants to picket, make out, yell at, curse at, and otherwise harass anyone who walked into their doors looking for a good meal to eat? Remember how those people were treated by the Chick-Fil-A employees they were blatantly showing religious discrimination against?

The dissenters were offered free lemonade to cool them off as they picketed in the hot sun and even though these repeated peace offerings were rejected, the Chick-Fil-A staff simply turned the other cheek and went on serving delicious food and providing the same excellent customer service they always had.

Dear LGTB community — meet honor.

I want to be clear. I have absolutely no lack of love for homosexuals even though I don’t bare a shred of approval for the act of homosexuality. People should not define themselves by what they do in the bedroom to the point that they call that thing so hallowed and wonderful that if anyone so much as breathes a word in opposition to it, they are viciously attacked and publicly humiliated. That is not what freedom was meant to do to my country.

To believers:

If you are a Christian who doesn’t know how to love people — all people — then you have no right to speak about sin. Any sin. But if you are a person who resents and attacks a Christian who even respectfully disagrees with your choices based on the God-given right to their religious and moral beliefs, then you are absolutely no better than a loveless Christian and should not expect to be taken seriously.

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Tolerance is not a one-way street. If you cannot show tolerance to those you disagree with, then you are in no position to demand tolerance from those who disagree with you. It’s not a religious thing. It’s not even a moral thing. It’s a common sense thing and a respect thing — those two — and you either have them, or you don’t.

I defy any person of any “orientation” who deigns to demand respect and tolerance from others, regardless of their religious convictions, if they cannot themselves show equal respect and tolerance.

Many, many Christians have succumbed to the peer pressure. They’ve allowed themselves to be bullied, filled with guilt and media-brainwashed into silence to the point that they actually have developed a form of Stockholm Syndrome with popular opinion. They identify with it now, even condemning those who aren’t afraid to stand by the Word of God on matters of morality.

Despite what you’ve heard, homosexuality is not special. It is not a special occurrence and it’s is not even a special sin. It’s simply one more reason that Jesus had to died in order to rescue fallen men and a thing that He is most assuredly mighty to save them from.

If they choose not to accept that gift, it’s not a Christian’s place to force it on them. If they choose not to believe that what they do is sin, it is not a Christian’s place to convince them of it. The Holy Spirit is the only One who can convict a heart of its sin but if you ask a true believer what their position is on any matter of morality, you will hear exactly the same thing, every single time so let me save any future public “outrage” right now and tell you what their statement will basically be:

“If God’s Word calls it a sin, I also call it a sin.”

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Never be afraid of being called a bad name for speaking the truth. Take your stand with the Word of God, let the world reject you for it and do something that they will most assuredly never do for you in return.

.. Love them anyway!

Bitter Bile in the Throat!

When a woman cries, men often feel awkward or embarrassed. They struggle with knowing what to say or do. A man will seek to sympathize with her and may say something designed to help when all she may need is just a listening ear and a tissue to wipe her eyes. Another woman will both sympathize and empathize knowing that no matter what the problem is, there are times when a good cry may help to soothe the aching heart.

However, when one sees a man who has been brought to the point where he is sobbing in utter despair and anguish, there is a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. How does one watch a man completely broken without the realization that his entire life has crashed to the point where it seems life has been destroyed? There is something that crushes the spirit when a man sees another brought to such depths of despair. Nothing can be said that will probably offer help. A man in grief is often alone, or feels alone, because what makes him a man has been compromised and defeated – but in his despair, he does not care for what others think.

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The year is 586 B.C. and the prophet Jeremiah has come to that point. Reading his words with a true understanding paints a picture that is awkward to read and reveals much of the man in our account. Lamentations 2:11 continues with more of what transpired in the first chapter, but the description of his grief and despair is emotionally draining. “My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground.”

I remember the day like it was yesterday. My 22 year old brother’s boss called me at home to tell me that my brother was having difficulty breathing, that the EMT’s were already helping him, that they were taking him to the hospital for further observation, and that we were not to worry as he would be fine very soon.

Arriving at the hospital, I ran inside and was confronted by two nurses talking about a “John Doe.” Identifying myself, they checked their files and asked me to take a seat in a little room. One nurse told me the doctor would be with me very shortly and then closed the door behind me. I was getting rather worked up at this point, but I did not think the worst – yet!

After what seemed like an eternity but was probably no more than 4-5 minutes, I walked back out and repeated my request to see my brother. The nurses hastened to assure me that the doctor was with my brother and would come see me in just a minute. I walked back to the little room, and as I closed the door, I noticed a little sign that said, “Family Consultation Room.”

Now, my mind is starting to race back through the times I had tried to help others and fear began to grip my mind and heart. Still having no desire to put all the pieces together in my mind, I tried to rationalize away everything that was pointing to a meeting I knew I was not going to like. I staggered to a seat and sat down. Absent-mindedly, I watched a couple of minutes later as the doctor walked in with a person in some type of uniform. The only thing I remember seeing was the cross on the lapel of each side of a stiffly starched collar – and I knew!

The doctor’s words, “I’m so sorry. We did all we could, but there was nothing we could do.” The words were not necessary and his apology already rang as trite in my mind. After all, it was NOT his brother who had just had a massive heart attack. What did he mean that there was nothing that they could do? Surely, they could just either just restart his heart, or at the very least reverse the clock so that time could undo what had transpired over the previous 45 minutes.

It seemed like my world ended. My eyes filled with tears for weeks and months at the mere mention of something that made my brother special to our family. I struggled to eat and more times than not, my stomach churned at the very thought of food. That day in the “Family Consultation Room”, I do remember the contents of my stomach demanding to make an appearance. Throwing up is an action and feeling that I hate with a passion and it was all I could do to keep from vomiting that day.

There have been very few times in my life where I have been so violently ill that I have thrown up everything in my stomach. In a handful of those times, I can remember my stomach still tried to find something to get rid of, and so, it found the bile. Bile has a very bitter taste and is dark green or yellow in color.

What had caused such a reaction in my body? It was, of course, the helpless situation that sought to engulf my life. An unexpected death brought an overwhelming sense of despair and it seemed like there was nobody to turn to for comfort. Through no fault of his own, the doctor appeared as an enemy, and the last thing I wanted was the woman chaplain to try and offer me comfort. I did not want the box of tissues she offered and she could not bring my brother back. She was of no use to me.

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For the first time in my life, death had personally visited our home. That is what it took to bring me to my knees. The reality of death produced in me a body racked with pain because of the sobs and wailing that broke over and over from my throat like a small boat caught in the waves of a storm.

What in the world did it take to do the same to Jeremiah, a man accustomed to difficult situations? Did somebody that he loved die, maybe a wife, a parent, or a child?

The entire second chapter of Lamentations reveals that it was not the death of a close loved one that was destroying the physical well-being of Jeremiah’s body. Jeremiah’s emotions have been brought to what he thinks is the lowest possible point. He clutches his chest with the pain that courses through his soul. His head must hurt from the throbbing, and just as he thinks he has control of his emotions, another wave crashes over him and takes him down to another level.

Are you ready for the revelation of his words? It was –

THE WRATH OF GOD BEING POURED OUT UPON ISRAEL!

Listen to these words and phrases – “The Lord in His anger,” “The Lord has swallowed up without mercy,” “In His wrath He has broken down,” “He has cut down in fierce anger,” and “He has poured out His fury like fire.”

While we must ask the question of why is this happening, Jeremiah records some of the most solemn events that he has actually seen take place.

1) The Lord has made Zion forget the feasts and the Sabbath.
2) The Lord has spurned both priest and king because of His fierce indignation.
3) The Lord has scorned the altar of sacrifice in the Temple.
4) The Lord has disowned His sanctuary.

When my brother passed away, I remember repeating over and over, “Why, why, why, why?” I sat heartbroken, and although I knew the answer was found in the sovereign purposes of a holy, righteous, and loving God, I still wanted to blame others. There were even a few moments that I wanted to lay the blame on God.

But with Israel, it was different. Tragedy had struck. The tragedy that befell Israel was much worse than my losing a brother. In the despair our family faced, God was so very gracious and gave measure after measure of grace and strength in time of trouble.

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Israel did not have this luxury. It was too late for that. Jeremiah has confessed his faults and rebellion before God, but the nation has failed to turn from her wicked ways. Now, judgment day had arrived and nothing would stay the hand of Almighty God. The children of Israel thought they could play games with God and get away with it, but they were wrong!

Jeremiah then paints a picture that reveals the same tragedies being played on the stages of many churches across our land. It was a time of not tragedy, but it was a time of utter ruin. In 2:14, we find that many false prophets had risen up to bring nothing more than false hope. The problem was that 1) they prophesied false and deceptive visions saying that it was from God, 2) they had failed to expose the iniquity of the people, and 3) they have sought to encourage only those who are false and misleading.

The church in the West needs to listen to the laments of Jeremiah and take heed. Stop listening to the false prophets spouting Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Stop listening to ministers who whenever things are going wrong parrot the first part of Romans 8:28, “We know ALL things work together for God.” They use this verse out of context thinking this is like a pill that will make everything better for whoever wants to swallow it.

But these prophets who seek to forecast great days ahead have forgotten the rest of the verse, “All things work together for good to them that love God and to them who are called according to His purpose.” This means that not everybody will have all things worked out for the good. The ALL things are conditional based on our obedience.

In fact, the bitter bile that rises in the throat when we realize that we may be the recipients of what Jeremiah notes in Lamentations 2:17, “The LORD has done what He purposed; He has carried out His word, which He commanded long ago; He has thrown down without pity; He has made the enemy rejoice over you and exalted the might of your foes.”

Let me point out one more verse that has rocked me to the core as I read this over and over again this week. Lamentations 2:15, “All who pass along the way clap their hands at you; they hiss and wag their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem: ‘Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?’”

Those who are true believers should take heed to the lament before it becomes too late as it did with Jeremiah weeping over Jerusalem. If we do not repent and plead to God for mercy for our nation and for our churches, we will see the heathen pass by us clapping their hands, hissing and wagging their heads in derision.

Just as there were few who wept over their sin along with Jeremiah, so, too, there are few today who weep over their sin, the sin in their homes, the sin in their churches, and the sin in their nation. Our churches have failed miserably over and over again. Few are crying out the warnings necessary because it is not popular. It does not make people feel good about themselves. They have itching ears, but as Leonard Ravenhill often stated, “We have no commission to scratch them!”

The representation of Jesus Christ on this earth is the true church for which He died and shed His precious blood. Each local body of believers is called upon to be a light to the part of the world in which they live.

How tragic it will be when those to whom we are called to witness turn on the church. Hissing and wagging their heads in derision, we will hear them say, “Is this the (church) that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?”

True believers, we are called to heed the Scriptures as they call us to remember that one day the glorious Bridegroom Jesus Christ will return for a beautiful Bride. She will be the one who has made herself ready and arrayed herself in white garments. Do our churches reflect Jesus Christ who is the joy of all the earth? Do the heathen see in us the perfection of beauty because of what Jesus Christ has done in and through us? Or, do they only see and laugh at our destruction because instead of being like Christ, we thought it more important to be like the world?

When the heathen were courting Jerusalem with wine, jewels, and precious things, those called by the name of God were happily enchanted as they prostituted themselves over the gods of wood and stone. But when destruction came, the heathen had spoiled and taken all they wanted. They had assaulted Jerusalem and there was no more allure to the beautiful city of God.

Church of Jesus Christ, when we have finished courting the world and finished prostituting ourselves to gain the attention of unbelievers through entertainment and trivialities and messages that save nobody but only bring damnation to the souls of those who come to our meetings – then we will have to pay the price that comes from a reckless abandon of God and the rewards for our unforsaken and unconfessed sin will come home.

We will weep and wail. Our eyes will be red. Our hearts will pound with pain in our chests. The bile will rise in our throat as we vomit our anguish realizing that God cannot and will not be mocked, and that whatsoever we have sown, we will also reap.

However, right now, it would appear that there is still time for repentance. It would appear that the Lord remains a longsuffering and patient God. Let us flee to Him before our laments darken the skies of our existence in a day when it will be too late!

Acts 2 – The 21st Century Version

Today, I feel it is appropriate to share this short blog from another believer in Christ. Brothers and sisters, my heart breaks when I read things like this brother has written because I know that more times than not, it is the sad truth. Church is rarely a true family that seeks to look to the Lord in such a way that the world sees a foretaste of the reality of what eternity will look like for those who are true believers. Evangelical Christianity does not need to be rearranging deck chairs on the great ship “Relevant-ic” but needs to get back to true 1st Century Biblical Christianity.

titanic

Daniel from the site Daniel and Friends wrote,

The Glory Has Departed

“So then, those who had raised their hand were baptized, and there were added that day about three souls.
And they were occasionally devoting themselves to the pastor’s sermon, and to cordial chit-chat, to a cracker and juice, and to prayers for healing and prodigal children.
And everyone kept feeling a sense of boredom, and many feverish labors were being done by the pastor’s hands.
And all those who believed were busy, and had few things in common. And they began buying more property and possessions, and rented storage space for the extras. And those who had need were aided by the government.
And once a week meeting at the church building they were taking their coffee and donuts together with dissipation and distraction of heart, praising their sports teams and being unnoticed by most outsiders.
And the cool band and relevant messages were occasionally adding to their number those who were being immunized against the true gospel.”

This parody of Acts 2:41-47 is not meant to be humorous or even sarcastic. Read it with tears, not with chuckles or smirks. How far our American churches have fallen from the glory of Pentecost (or even the glory of the Reformation). I am thankful to be in a church that this parody does not describe. But we too have a long ways to go. May the Lord purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good works.”

Jeremy Strang followed this with a few of his own comments included here for our edification.

I, not Daniel, would go on to say this, as a whole the professing church in the modernized nations, especially in the US, the church has become this thing we do on Sunday rather than who we are in Christ and how and why we meet together. It seems as if we are more concerned with the Sunday meeting, which looks more like the Greek orators during the early days of Christian persecution (that is focusing or concentrating upon, and even being entertained by, men or mere traditions), than how Jesus demonstrated the meeting together by being concerned with prayer, the breaking of bread (not just communion but meals), fellowship and the word of God being read/taught.

I agree with Daniel, “But we too have a long ways to go. May the Lord purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good works.”

Blessings!

5 Saviors or Just One?

There is ONLY one mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus! There is NO hope in any other. Buddha cannot save. Mohammad cannot save. Religion cannot save. There will be no person who will dare to stand before God on the day of judgment and say, “You have not done enough to provide salvation!”

Is it NOTHING to YOU?

A popular song written by a godless man named John Lennon includes the following lyrics:

“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…Imagine”

Tragically for Lennon, he was wrong. Thankfully for those still living, he was wrong.

imaginetrib

There are many who try to imagine there is no heaven and no hell. They think that if they merely use the power of positive thinking that eventually everybody in the world will simply “live for today.” Yet, Lennon wrote in a world where depravity abounds more and more. He wrote of a world that knows war, famine, and disease. His words struck a chord of hope, although a false hope, with millions though and still do today with people who are just living for today. These individuals think that they live in some kind of utopic stupor, and if they only imagine hard enough things will change.

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Less than 350 years later, we find a prophet who is sits weeping and wailing before God facing this same challenge that we see today.

The remaining inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem are living in a utopic stupor. They believe their problems are going to get better. The people approach Jeremiah and even ask him to pray and seek the face of God in Jeremiah 42 on their behalf. Then, they promise him that whatever the Lord says whether good or bad, they will be willing to follow. God speaks with Jeremiah and receives word that destruction and devastation will fall upon the land from the king of Babylon.

Immediately, the people seek forgiveness from God, turn from their wicked ways, and God relents and grants pardon! Praise be to the everlasting God for His abundant mercy! This is the way the story SHOULD have ended.

However, that is NOT what happened. Just one chapter later in Jeremiah 43, they immediately turned on the prophet and called him a liar. They told him and sought to influence others that God would not really send judgment to the land. Their words implicated them in their own sin as they tried to convince themselves that not only did Jeremiah not have a message from God, but that he was not a true messenger. The people’s imaginations were vain and their hearts were hardened.

Now destruction has befallen the land. War has arrived and the land has been besieged and then plundered. The physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of the people left has been destroyed by the wanton rape, murder, and assault by the foreign soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Further, Jerusalem is in ruins. The glorious city that graced the hills of Judea, along with the magnificent temple built by Solomon, has been destroyed BECAUSE OF SIN! The sin probably did not even start out very big, but little by little they gave in to the lusts of their heart and God was quickly forgotten.

weeping prophet
Now, Jeremiah weeps and wails his heart-rending laments and cries aloud in Lamentations 1:12 – “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the LORD afflicted on the day of his fierce anger.”

Can you see him sitting with sackcloth covering his body, throwing dust into the air over his head, his eyes swollen red and grotesque in shape, and his entire body racked with sobs as he ponders what has taken place? He is not denying the sin that took place either in his own heart and life, nor the sin that befell the nation of Israel and Judah. He wails because he has lived to see the results of what sin will do if left unchecked and unrestrained and then allowed to continue until judgment falls from God.

He is willing even for strangers to stop and lament with him. He wants somebody, anybody, to mourn and lament with him over the desecration of the temple and of Jerusalem. However, nobody is stopping. They do not care. Destruction arrived and even in the middle of its arrival, there are still some who are living in a dream world just “knowing” that things will get better soon. The problem is that “soon” will not arrive.

In Lamentations 1:10, we hear the prophet’s lament and like Nehemiah who would come approximately 70 years later, we understand part of what his concern is. “The enemy has stretched out his hands over all her precious things; for she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary, those whom you forbade to enter your congregation.”

His heartbreak is real. The glory of God rested upon the Holy of Holies in the Temple. It was such a terrible place to be if you were not the high priest who was allowed to enter just once per year. It was a terrible place even if you were the chosen high priest to go in where you would face God. I can imagine that more than one high priest must have trembled when he entered that sacred realm to offer the blood of the sacrifices as an atonement. Sadly, the trembling had ceased a long time ago. Worship was no longer present, and it was little more than a frivolous atmosphere that greeted those who still bothered to go and give worship and praise to God.

Now, the prophet has watched as foreign troops not only invaded the land, but completely desecrated that which was to remain holy. The soldiers trampled under foot the holy items and the holy place because they had no appreciation for the God that rules over all. Their only concern was in looting whatever they wanted and assaulting whoever they chose.

What a great tragedy that befell Israel, and the messenger of God is as devastated in heart, mind, and soul as the devastation that has even overturned the gates and stones of the city and temple.

Can you see the connection between what took place in Jeremiah’s day and today? Sin abounds more and more. The world is NOT getting better. The true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ cannot imagine a better world in this life because they are fully aware that the only way a better world will come is when the Prince of Peace appears.

But my concern today is not just in reading the laments of Jeremiah over the city. The concern that grows on me daily is that destruction is coming and few seem to really care. I am not concerned about those who belong to Satan and are under his control. My heartache comes from knowing that those who are claiming the name of Christ, those who are supposed to be working to make themselves pure before the return of the Lord, those who are to be different from the world, those who have been made a new creation in Christ Jesus and are clothed with the garments of His righteousness. These are the people to whom I write.

isitnothing

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

The buildings, in which we worship, have been desecrated underfoot by the feet of those who do not belong. God, long ago, laid out the demands for what He expects in worship from His people but these have been ignored.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Pastors fail to preach truth because they are afraid of what they may lose, and prefer earthly treasures over heavenly ones.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Leadership teams fail to hold one another accountable based on the standards of Scripture, and instead, seek to govern from business perspectives that are modeled after worldly psychological methods.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Marriages in our churches are falling apart at the same rate as those in the world. Parents have little respect from their children. Fathers have failed to be spiritual leaders in the church and in their home. Mothers are taking on responsibilities that do not belong to them both in the church and in the home.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Children are following hard after drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex. They are running away from the church because all they see is hypocrisy. Dad and Mom live during the week something different than what they portray in their once or twice a month church appearance.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Parents want to come and cry out for prayer that God will bring their children back to the church. Their prayer should be first that God would break their own hearts and seek repentance for their sin and duplicity before God and before their children. Then, God will hear the prayer of the righteous person and may in turn be gracious in His mercy and longsuffering to bring salvation to the children.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

The unsaved are being permitted to become members of local body of believers without ever having made a true profession of faith in Christ Jesus. So, the churches are being taken over by those who care not one bit for the things of Christ. The buildings are filled with people who are man-centered, and not God-centered, and in so doing, they have become little more than social clubs.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

The gospel has been watered down so much that it is no longer recognizable as Scripture. It has become a little feel-good message that seeks to allow into heaven all who do not belong there. The message is so smooth and culturally relevant that myriads gather every Sunday and they are rarely, if ever, convicted over the depravity of their own hearts.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Entertainment and programs are the order of the day because we are concerned that the goats may leave if they are not made to feel happy or good about themselves. Our worship does not reflect praise of God because we come to hear about God instead of coming to learn from Him and to offer the worship that is due His name alone.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Our churches care little for true missions because we are rarely concerned about what we cannot see. More times than not, missions has been reduced to feeding the poor, building nice buildings, clothing the ragged, and educated the uneducated. Churches pat themselves on the back for having done something great for God while these same people head straight for hell because many so-called “mission societies and organizations” only preach a social gospel message.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Prayer is mostly absent, if not, almost extinct. Prayer meetings and Bible studies are often attended by less than 5% of the total membership. And we wonder why there is NO POWER in our gathering together. We talk about it every now and then, but few are willing to give up some comforts in order to see something changed.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Friends, we need more like Jeremiah who will weep and wail at sin, at the coming destruction, at the reality of hell and judgment from a holy, righteous God, at the sad state of affairs where people wink at sin and refuse to stand for truth, and also because of what is taking over in many parts of evangelical Christianity.

I am tired of worrying about what other people may think of me. My heart is heavy because I am afraid for too long in my Christian life that I have not been concerned enough about what God KNOWS of me.

My challenge with this post is to point out the reality of what is around us. The Scriptures are clear that if we forget God, we will face judgment. We need to get back to a standard that speaks of Holiness to the LORD. We need to pray, repent and confess our sins, turn from our wicked ways, and seek the face of the Almighty God. We need to pray that God does not allow such destruction among His people that somebody in the future will look back and lament about what happened to the church of the living God.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”

Strange Fire

Strange Fire by John MacArthur  strange-fire-the-danger-of-offending-the-holy-spirit-with-counterfeit-worship

a review

One area many – dare I say most – current day evangelicals have gone astray from orthodox Christianity is the topic of MacArthur’s latest book. From Southern Baptists to contemporary “Christian” radio, slogans and anecdotes fill space and airways with the message that it’s normal to hear from God. This is not the biblical message of “hearing” from God as you read and study His Word – it’s the dangerous practice of believing inferences and confirmations from myriad sources are God’s way of “speaking to your heart”. It is this claim of extra-biblical revelation that MacArthur addresses in Strange Fire. If your blood isn’t stirred up by the thought of reading and entire book detailing the train wreck of uninhibited charismania, it’s important, maybe more so – that this book also provides the child of God very good counsel on the identity, mission, and work of the Holy Spirit.

MacArthur’s book is comprised of 12 chapters on topics covering new apostles and prophets, gifts of healing and tongues, the work of the Spirit in salvation, sanctification, and the Scripture; the last chapter is an open letter to his continuationist friends. And he provides a handy appendix with several pages of quotes from the past on the topic of the continuation of spiritual gifts, in support of his claim that the current craze is not part of historic, orthodox Christianity. I’ve heard from some who think MacArthur has lumped all continuationists into one bucket of heresy – drawing equivalence between some respected theologians and the likes of Benny Hinn. But MacArthur’s letter to his friends is very clear that he sees much good in the work of these friends, as well as much thin theological ice that their “open canon” represents. He considers them dear brothers who need to be awakened to the danger they pose by sharing some views with flaming heretics – sometimes endorsing and appearing with them.

I will leave it to you to read the chapters detailing the train wreck of the strange fire doctrines, and focus some attention on the last third of the book. Citing an observation from A.W. Tozer, MacArthur says our “view of God is the foundational reality in our thinking, and it encompasses all that we believe about the Holy Spirit.” He points out the truth that while many miracle seekers flock after Benny Hinn and Todd Bentley, a true miracle takes place every time a spiritually dead sinner is raised to new life in Christ. This is too mundane for experience-based Christians, but is glorious to behold by those who inhabit the heavens – and ought to be recognized as such by us. The Holy Spirit works in the birth of new saints by a.) convicting the unredeemed of their sins, b.) convicting unbelievers of righteousness, and c.) convicts sinners that divine judgments are real and necessary. The Spirit of the living God then regenerates the elect – removes the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh by granting faith to believe the gospel. This is work man cannot do, any more than man can bring about his own natural birth. Salvation is of the Lord, as Jonah declared from the belly of the fish, and the triune God does not share His glory with anyone.

Still in this vein, the Holy Spirit also brings repentance to those He regenerates, liberating us from the power of sin and death and producing love for His righteousness. He enables fellowship with God and makes sweet the fellowship of the saints. We are heirs of the kingdom, free from the dread of God and drawn to Him as our Father, enabled to joyfully sing praises to Him. And here, then, is one biblical truth that cannot be reconciled with the “second baptism” doctrine: the Holy Spirit indwells every man, woman, and child He raises to new life in Christ. He is our Comforter and Helper; protecting, empowering, and encouraging us.

MacArthur delineates the difference between being filled with the Spirit of God and the heretical notion of being drunk on the Spirit. Drunkenness is irrational, out-of-control behavior, while filled with the Spirit is joyful, self-controlled submission to God. Being filled with the Spirit of God is an ongoing experience in the life of every Christian – not an occasional orgy with John Crowder. “Rather than being hopelessly distracted by charismatic counterfeits, believers need to rediscover the real ministry of the Holy Spirit, which is to activate His power in us through His Word, so that we can truly conquer sin for the glory of Christ, the blessing of His church, and the benefit of the lost.”

His last chapter on the true work of the Holy Spirit focuses on the Spirit’s role and identity in the Scriptures. MacArthur gives us a very quick run through history, highlighting a few of the faithful men used by God and several of those who fell or jumped into heresy and have misled countless simple folk. “By departing from the sole authority of Scripture, bot Roman Catholicism and theological liberalism became enemies of true Christianity, fraudulent versions of the very thing they claimed to represent. … Because He is the God of truth, His Word is infallible. Because He cannot lie, His Word is inerrant. Because He is the King of kings, His Word is absolute and supreme.” The Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture, provides illumination for the minds of Christians, and the Spirit gives power to the reading and preaching of Scripture. To reject the Scriptures is to reject the Spirit of God – and the entire trinity.

In his “open letter”, the last chapter, MacArthur observes that, “rather than confronting charismatic errors head-on, continuationists leaders find themselves flirting with aspects of a movement that is full of serious error and corrupt leadership.” These otherwise solid theologians allow the charismatics to set the vocabulary, changing the meaning of words and phrases from what the Bible and history show them to be, in order to justify the nonsensical babbling that passes for tongues in modern churches. “The continuationist position invites any personal impression or subjective feeling as a potential revelation from God. Moreover, it removes any authoritative, objective standard for questioning the legitimacy of someone’s supposed revelation from God.”

All in all, this should be a welcomed book in any Christian’s home. We do need to be provoked to think biblically – about gifts and the One Who gives them.

Give us Love – Not Doctrine!

This is the mantra that is being proclaimed loud and long across this nation. Love and unity at the expense of doctrine has watered down the message so as to try and make it palatable to the goats, and it no longer feeds sheep. Yes, we must share the truth in love, but we dare not state that the only truth is love minus doctrine. Sound biblical doctrine will always produce godly results in that the church will be edified, believers will learn what it truly means to love one another and the world, and most importantly, Jesus Christ will be exalted and glorified – not man!

Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?

An excerpt from a message preached by Charles Spurgeon – this kind of preaching is rare in the world of the 21st century. Too many think we can amuse goats instead of feed sheep. In the end, the minister loses because he has failed in his commission. The sheep are not being fed and will drift away, and the goats for which the services were catered have moved on to the next best thing – but still lost!

Instructions for the Ignorant

Instruction for the Ignorant:

BEING A SALVE TO CURE THAT GREAT WANT OF KNOWLEDGE, WHICH SO MUCH REIGNS BOTH IN YOUNG AND OLD.

PREPARED AND PRESENTED TO THEM IN A PLAIN AND EASY DIALOGUE, FITTED TO THE CAPACITY OF THE WEAKEST.

‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.’–Hosea 4:6

Bunyan’s Catechisminstructions-for-the-ignorant

ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR.

This little catechism is upon a plan perfectly new and unique. It was first published as a pocket volume in 1675, and has been republished in every collection of the author’s works; and recently in a separate tract. The earliest edition that has been discovered bears the date of 1691; from which our copy has been prepared for the press. This is the first book of this class that was composed upon the broad basis of Christianity, perfectly free from sectarian bias or peculiarity. It is an exhibition of scriptural truths, before which error falls without the trouble of pulling it down. It is in the world, like the ark of God in the temple of Dagon. It is alike admirably calculated to convey the most important truths to the inmates of a palace or of a workhouse,–to the young or to the aged,–to the ignorant Roman Catholic, or to the equally ignorant Protestant. Its broad catholicity is its distinguishing excellence. In the separate communions included within the general church of Christ are various, and in many respects, inestimable compendiums of Christian truth, arranged for the catechetical instruction of the young and ignorant; but it cannot be denied that these, one and all, exhibit some marks of sectarian feeling and dogmatic teaching in the details that relate to the special views which each communion takes of certain scriptural doctrines. The reason why this should be the case is very obvious: there would be no differences of opinion amongst Christians except from conviction that these differences are essential, and such conviction naturally leads to these points of disagreement being (may we not say?) rather too obtrusively enforced as part and portion of a saving belief. All Bunyan’s efforts were to awaken sinners to a sense of their degradation, misery, and danger, and to direct them to the only refuge from the wrath to come–the hope set before them in the gospel; and then leaving the pious convert to the guidance of his Bible in forming his connections in the pilgrimage of life. Bunyan is solemnly in earnest; his desire is, that poor sinners should be relieved from ignorance, darkness, and destruction, and be introduced into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. May his impressive injunction be indelibly fixed upon our souls, ‘To read, ponder over, and receive the wholesome medicine as we shall answer in the day of the terrible judgment.’–GEO. OFFOR.

Read this 24 page catechism here.

Better Never to Have Been Born!

The warning of Scripture is clear. Oh friends, as Steve Lawson notes, if you are not a true believer in Jesus Christ alone, by grace through faith alone, you will wish you had never been born – just one second after death. No true Christian would ever desire the destruction of their lost friends, family or neighbors. This is why we seek to passionately deliver the truth of God’s Word before it is eternally too late! Hear Christ call and run to Him for mercy!

No Interview Like It!

This blog and video was posted at The Gospel Coalition by Thabiti Anyabwile. It is an amazing interview that would definitely not even be permitted in England and probably not even in America in many places.

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Thabiti Anyabwile is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition.

Will We Ever See Another Interview Like It?

Perhaps you’ve already seen the 1970 interview of Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Dame Joan Bakewell on the nature of man. If not, you owe it to yourself to check out this 19-minute conversation recently released by the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust.

The interview is striking for a number of reasons.

First, it’s conducted in the U.K., where most observers would guess such a fair and engaging interview would be all but impossible today.

Second, the interviewer’s familiarity with basic doctrinal Christianity and the contentions of the broader culture set her apart from the talking heads today.

Third, it seems there may be very few evangelicals today of the stature of Lloyd-Jones who could command any interest from secular television.

Fourth, most sadly, are there any evangelical pastors who would be so thoroughly convinced and unashamed of the Bible’s teaching about man, sin and salvation in Jesus Christ alone?

So, I guess you should view the interview because we’re not likely to see its like in our lifetimes.

HT: The Gospel Coalition

The Scandal of the Semi-Churched!

Kevin DeYoung writes this excellent post on “The Scandal of the Semi-Churched.” Every true believer should read and prayerfully consider these strong words of exhortation and edification.

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churchThe Scandal of the Semi-Churched

This is one of those posts I’ve wanted to write for awhile, but I wasn’t sure how to say what I think needs to be said. The danger of legalism and false guilt is very real. But so is the danger of disobedience and self-deception.

I want to talk about church members who attend their home church with great irregularity. These aren’t unchurched folks, or de-churched, or under-churched. They are semi-churched. They show up some of the time, but not every week. They are on again/off again, in and out, here on Sunday and gone for two. That’s the scandal of the semi-churched. In fact, Thom Rainer argues that the number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that church members don’t go to church as often as they used to.

We’ve had Christmas and Easter Christians for probably as long as we’ve had Christmas and Easter. Some people will always be intermittent with their church attendance. I’m not talking about nominal Christians who wander into church once or twice a year. I’m talking about people who went through the trouble of joining a church, like their church, have no particular beef with the church, and still only darken its doors once or twice a month. If there are churches with membership rolls much larger than their average Sunday attendance, they have either under-shepherds derelict in their duties, members faithless in theirs, or both.

I know we are the church and don’t go to church (blah, blah, blah), but being persnickety about our language doesn’t change the exhortation of Hebrews 10:25. We should not neglect to meet together, as some are in the habit of doing. Gathering every Lord’s Day with our church family is one of the pillars of mature Christianity.

So ask yourself a few questions.

1. Have you established church going as an inviolable habit in your family? You know how you wake up in the morning and think “maybe I’ll go on a run today” or “maybe I’ll make french toast this morning”? That’s not what church attendance should be like. It shouldn’t be an “if the mood feels right” proposition. I will always be thankful that my parents treated church attendance (morning and evening) as an immovable pattern. It wasn’t up for discussion. It wasn’t based on extenuating circumstances. It was never a maybe. We went to church. That’s what we did. That made the decision every Sunday a simple one, because their was no real decision. Except for desperate illness, we were going to show up. Giving your family the same kind of habit is a gift they won’t appreciate now, but will usually thank you for later.

2. Do you plan ahead on Saturday so you can make church a priority on Sunday? We are all busy people, so it can be hard to get to church, especially with a house full of kids. We will never make the most of our Sundays unless we prepare for them on Saturday. That likely means finishing homework, getting to bed on time, and foregoing some football. If church is an afterthought, you won’t think of it until after it’s too late.

3. Do you order your travel plans so as to minimize being gone from your church on Sunday? I don’t want to be legalistic with this question. I’ve traveled on Sunday before (though I try to avoid it). I take vacation and study leave and miss 8 or 9 Sundays at URC per year. I understand we live in a mobile culture. I understand people want to visit their kids and grandkids on the weekend (and boy am I thankful when ours come and visit). Gone are the days when people would be in town 50-52 weeks a year. Travel is too easy. Our families are too dispersed. But listen, this doesn’t mean we can’t make a real effort to be around on Sunday. You might want to take Friday off to go visit the kids so you can be back on Saturday night. You might want to think twice about investing in a second home that will draw you away from your church a dozen weekends every year. You might want to re-evaluate your assumption that Friday evening through Sunday evening are yours to do whatever you want wherever you want. It’s almost impossible to grow in love for your church and minister effectively in your church if you are regularly not there.

4. Are you willing to make sacrifices to gather with God’s people for worship every Sunday? “But you don’t expect me to cancel my plans for Saturday night, do you? I can’t possibly rearrange my work schedule. This job requires me to work every Sunday–I’d have to get a new job if I wanted to be regular at church. Sundays are my day to rewind. I won’t get all the yard work done if I go to church every week. My kids won’t be able to play soccer if we don’t go to Sunday games. If my homework is going to be done by Sunday, I won’t be able to chill out Friday night and all day Saturday. Surely God wouldn’t want me to sacrifice too much just so I can show up at church!” Not exactly the way of the cross, is it?

5. Have you considered that you may not be a Christian? Who knows how many people God saves “as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). Does going to church every week make you a Christian? Absolutely not. Does missing church 35 Sundays a year make you a non-Christian? It does beg the question. God’s people love to be with God’s people. They love to sing praises. They love to feast at the Table. They love to be fed from the Scriptures. Infrequent church attendance–I mean not going anywhere at all–is a sign of immaturity at best and unbelief at worst. For whenever God calls people out of darkness he calls them into the church. If the Sunday worship service is the community of the redeemed, what does your weekly pattern suggest to God about where you truly belong?

HT: The Gospel Coalition

The Truth About Hell!

This message should be preached over and over and over until the church that claims the name of Jesus Christ falls to its knees either to seek forgiveness for not proclaiming this truth, or because it realizes for the first time that it has not been a true believer.

What’s the Significance of the Lord’s Supper?

As with baptism, there is much more meaning in this ordinance than what meets the eye. Every time weLords-Supper are given the blessed opportunity to be nourished spiritually with this ordinance, how it represents the broken body and shed blood of Christ, which cut the New Covenant and in which we have our adoption as sons of the Living God. This description is right and it is a main point we supposed to gain from observing this ordinance. We will examine these truths – but there is another aspect that I think will add a deeper appreciation and greater holy awe of our Lord and Savior. We read from 1 Cor 11 each week, but the establishment of this ordinance is also found in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22. This is an important means God has given us, we must diligently inquire of His Word what it means and how we are to practice it. 

Click here to listen to the message.

A Call to Anguish!

The words of the message were very convicting. We need more men like Nehemiah who was willing to weep in anguish over the fallen down walls of Jerusalem and the destruction that has assaulted the walls of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We need more willing to weep over the sin that has run rampant through the halls of our churches. We need more who will seriously pray that God will break us, and that whatever it takes to be a pure church that He will bring it to pass in our lives.

Here is a link to the entire message as well.

Mandela in Heaven or Hell?

nelson-mandela
This last week beginning on December 5, Thursday, the world began to mourn a man who has been considered as one of the greatest men of the 20th and 21st centuries. Sadly, even Christians have lauded this man without bothering to see the truth of what he believed.

The reality is that Nelson Mandela was a Marxist, a Communist, a terrorist, a leader of an organization that used such bizarre and horrific practices known as necklacing in order to achieve his own ends. Necklacing was the use of rubber tires hung around the necks of a victim and set on fire. He was not a man of peace, but a promoter of war and hatred. Further, he hated God and loved the abominations that God hates.

This post in no way can be assumed as a promotion of apartheid because we believe that it was wrong. However, we must remember that two wrongs never make a right.

Some would question why we are trampling on the grave of a man that has not yet even been dug in South Africa. The reason is because too many Christians are buying into the media hype without seeing the truth.

The bottom line is this though. No matter what Mandela did and no matter what anybody thought of him, the moment he died he found himself facing the sovereign Creator of the Universe who is the all-seeing and all-knowing Judge of the souls of men.

If Mandela crossed the line into eternity without having ever placed his faith in Christ alone, by grace through faith alone, and been brought to repent and confess his sins before a holy, righteous God, then he will pay the ultimate penalty for his sins in hell forever. He will not be in hell because he was a terrorist, a Marxist, or a Communist. He will be in hell because of his rejection of Jesus Christ.

This is not something we rejoice in, but it does serve as a warning to all those who think they can mock God and get away with it. Judgment will come because it is appointed unto man once to die and after that moment the time of judgment arrives.

American Vision has a great article that we recommend to our readers on The Real Mandela.

Alas! and Did My Saviour Bleed?

A little something different this morning. The gospel in the hymn of Isaac Watts, but with a little different arrangement. May you be encouraged with these beautiful words.

And another beautiful old hymn to remind us that while He did die for us and shed that precious blood, He is also coming again. Truly what a day that will be!