Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Letter To My Future Wife

This is an excellent exhortation to male and female saints, as we battle the selfish flesh...may it be a blessing to each of you.

Courtesy of Reformed For His Glory

Over the last year, I have been diligently reading and listening to sermons in an attempt to get ready for marriage. I thought that it might be beneficial to the body of Christ (especially to young single men), if they could see what is on my mind, and in my heart (not because I am an expert of any kind, but because I have been diligently reading other godly men, and diving into the word, in order to find out how I could be a godly and loving husband). Mainly this letter IS for my future wife, and for myself (to serve me as a reminder), but I invite you to read, and reconsider whether our expectations are egocentric or Christ-centered.

Dear, Love

I've decided to write you a letter- now that we aren't married- to let you know of the things I expect from myself to give to you. These things will serve as a reminder to me, as I await the day where we will become one.

The Things I Expect From Myself To Give To You

Notice that I said- "The Things I Expect From MYSELF To Give To YOU". Too often in marriage, and unfortunately in Christian marriages, there is this self-fish focus on behalf of both spouses, where they enter into marriage attempting to find someone who will fulfill all their self-fish needs- this does not glorify our Lord. The husband's love for his wife should "not seek it's own self-interest". Instead, it should seek the interest of the other (which leads to my first point).
  • I expect from myself to seek your self-interest above my own.

Marriage is the union of two imperfect people coming together. With that being said- I don't expect you to fulfill all my "needs" (not that you are incapable of supplying me my needs, but I understand that you WILL fail me at times, and sometimes my "needs" aren't really needs). Rather, instead of focusing on your failures, I will focus on improving on mine. I will focus on loving you in spite of your shortcomings. Your self interest will be my duty. Not only in the "big" things, but also in the most minute of details, in all that is important to you.

  • I expect to provide for you financially. 
It is the duty of every man to provide for his wife and family. And a Christian man that does not, "has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever" (1st Timothy 5:8). At the same time, we must remember that even if we have financial burdens, it is not the end of the world. For we do not live for this world. We must always find our joy in the risen savior. In the riches that are in Him. On the other hand, this does not mean that I am not currently working on preparing myself financially for our future. I am doing just that, and with the Lord's providence, we will be just fine. 

  • I expect to give my life for you as our Savior gave His for the Church
I believe this entails all of life. I will not only seek to please your material needs, but your spiritual ones as well. Further, I ought to seek your happiness when you are sad, I ought to seek your healing when you are hurt, I ought to seek to provide in all that you need. Even in those things that might seem minuscule to me, if they bother you, I ought to find a solution. My life will be given for yours.

John Gill expresses it more eloquently

Husbands, love your wives,.... Which consists in a strong and cordial affection for them; in a real delight and pleasure in them; in showing respect, and doing honour to them; in seeking their contentment, satisfaction, and pleasure; in a quiet, constant, and comfortable dwelling with them; in providing all things necessary for them; in protecting them from all injuries and abuses; in concealing their faults, and covering their infirmities; in entertaining the best opinion of their persons and actions; and in endeavouring to promote their spiritual good and welfare: this love ought to be hearty and sincere, and not feigned and selfish; it should be shown in private, as well as in public: it should be chaste and single, constant and perpetual; it should exceed that which is bore to neighbours, or even to parents, and should be equal to that a man bears to himself; though not so as to hinder, and break in upon love to God and Christ: many are the reasons why husbands should love their wives; they are given to be helps unto them; they are companions of them; they are wives of covenant; they are their own wives, yea, their own bodies, their own flesh, nay, as themselves; they are their image and their glory; and especially the example of Christ, in his love to his church and people, should engage to it:

I love you, awretchsaved

Monday, June 25, 2012

Temptation Quote

No man is the less loved by God, because he is tempted. Those whom God loves best--are usually tempted most. Witness David, Job, Joshua, Peter, Paul, yes, Christ Himself--who, as He was beloved above all others, so he was tempted above all others!

God had but one Son without corruption--but He had none without temptation!

Those who were once glorious on earth, and are now triumphing in heaven--have been severely tempted and assaulted by Satan. It is as natural and common for the choicest saints to be tempted--as it is for the sun to shine, the bird to fly, the fire to burn. The eagle complains not of her wings, nor the peacock of her train of feathers, nor the nightingale of her voice--because these are natural to them. No more should saints complain of their temptations, because they are natural to them.

"Our whole life is nothing but a temptation!"

The best men have been the worst tempted!

Temptations which are resisted and bewailed, will never hurt you, nor harm you.

Distasteful temptations seldom or never prevail. So long as the soul distastes them and the will remains firmly averse against them--they can do no hurt. So long as the language of the soul is, 'Get behind me, Satan!' the soul is safe.

It is not Satan tempting--but my assenting; it is not his enticing--but my yielding; which undoes me!

Temptations may be troubles to my mind--but they are not sins upon my soul--while I am in arms against them. If your heart trembles and your flesh quakes when Satan tempts--your condition is safe enough. If Satan's temptations are your greatest afflictions--his temptations shall never conquer you nor harm you!

~ Thomas Brooks

Thursday, June 21, 2012


The article which got me thinking about this topic-->HERE.

Hireling...the word is used 9 times in 8 verses (OT and NT).

First OT usage:

Job 7:1 - Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?

H7916 - From H7936; a man at wages by the day or year: - hired (man, servant), hireling.

  • H7936 - The second form by permutation and used in Ezr_4:5; a primitive root (apparently akin (by prosthesis) to H3739 through the idea of temporary purchase; compare H7937); to hire: - earn wages, hire (out self), reward, X surely.
Same word usage in Job 7:2, 14:6; Isaiah 16:14, 21:16; and Malachi 3:5.

Found 17 times in 17 verses - also translated as hired servant (Exodus 12:45, 22:15; Leviticus 19:13, 22:10, 25:6; 25:40, 50, 53; Deuteronomy 15:18, 24:14) hired men (Jeremiah 46:21)


John 10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

G3411 - From G3409; a wage worker (good or bad): - hired servant, hireling.
  • From G3408; to let out for wages, that is, (middle voice) to hire: - hire.
    • G3408 - Apparently a primary word; pay for service (literally or figuratively), good or bad: - hire, reward, wages.
Same word usage in John 10:13 - The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

Also translated as hired servant in Mark 1:20 - And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

We are not to be distressed at this news, for we were warned that the hearts of many would turn away.

Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

One of the most chilling statements from the 'pastor' who 'came out' was this:

“Hardly anyone reads the Bible,” said Mike Aus of  the non-denominational Theopholis Church on Up with Chris Hayes. “If they did, the whole thing would be in trouble.”

That should be a clarion call to those who are true disciples...Study to show thyself approved, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.

If we do not spend time in the Word of God, how can we expect to be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11)?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Monday, June 18, 2012

They Went Out From Us

Courtesy of Chapel Library

Samuel Eyles Pierce (1746-1849)

Baptist preacher; known for his exalted view of Christ and love of sovereign grace; 
born in Up-Ottery, Devon, England. 

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”—1 John 2:19

THE former verse contained a declaration that there were at that period many antichrists, which was an evident sign the last state of the apostolic church was just closing. It was necessary this should be known and taken notice of because whilst the fathers in Christ might be wholly out of danger from these heretics and from heresies and errors, yet such as were not established in Christ might not be so. As the Apostle therefore wrote to these and informed them what the times were, so he also informs them from whence these persons came. They originated in the church: they went out of it. They were therefore the more dangerous, seeing they knew the better how to sow their pernicious (49) errors. They were the more to be avoided in their persons, as well as their doctrines also…Their renouncing the faith and fellowship of the Gospel after they have made plausible professions and appearances of being believers in Christ, their separating themselves from our church communion that they might broach (50) their infamous errors and spread the same with their infamous practices far and wide, fully manifest they were never true believers, but downright hypocrites and falsehearted professors. These persons I would guard you  against. Your being preserved from them and their pernicious ways and errors will be good evidence for you that ye are on the Lord’s side and belong to Him. As this distinguishes you from them, so it makes you very precious unto us. It is therefore that I address you on this subject…I am

1.  TO SHOW THESE ANTICHRISTS MENTIONED IN THE FORMER VERSE WENT OUT FROM THE TRUE CHURCH OF CHRIST: and the reason they went out of it was because they were not of it. “They went out from us, but they were not of us.”

Where could these apostates go out from but the church? If they had not been in it, they could not have gone out from it. The church they went out of was the true church of Christ, founded by the Apostles themselves on Christ, the foundation and chief cornerstone, in which the true and everlasting Gospel was preached; the ordinances of Christ —Baptism and the Lord’s Supper—kept as purely as Christ Himself had delivered them; the whole church plan, form, order, laws, and government properly enforced and attended unto also. And these persons had professed their faith in all the essential truths of the Gospel. They had been baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. They had been regular members of churches. They had been admitted to the Table of the Lord. It may be [that] they had been admitted to fill up some office in the house of God, such as that of deaconship or of being preachers of the Word.

Yet their ambitious spirits were such, they could not be content but they must bring in another gospel, contrary to what the Apostles preached. And in the virulency (51) of their spirits were set most desper-ately on spreading the same. They therefore broke through all the sacred ties and obligations of church fellowship and went off from the various churches to which they belonged, pretending to have greater light into truth and what they called the Person of Christ and grace than the very Apostles themselves. “They went out from us.”

The word us is a very distinguishing one in the New Testament. It was made use of on the first formation of an instituted church, which took place immediately on the ascension of Christ into heaven. Peter, speaking of Judas Iscariot to the church then present, says, “He was  numbered with us” (Act 1:17). And of the whole church as included in the word us, he says, “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection” (1:21-22). We have this word us made use of by the Apostles in their writings to express the church of Christ by. As for instance, “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us” (Eph 5:2). “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev 1:5). Our Apostle uses this word  us in the same sense here. These persons, whom he here styles antichrists, had been in the church. They went out of it without leave. They took themselves off abruptly; neither gave they their reasons for so doing. They would not acknowledge themselves under any sort of obligation to the churches to whom they belonged. Thus, they openly and publicly renounced all submission to Christ’s Lordship and Kingly authority over His house, the church. Thus, they went out as traitors and with a treacherous design against Christ and the church that He hath purchased with His own blood: to corrupt His worship, to renounce His truth, to blaspheme the same, to draw away from the true churches of Christ followers after them. They went out from us. It was most awful in them so to do.

It must have been in some of them the sin against the Holy Ghost, which is styled in this Epistle, “the sin unto death” (1Jo 5:16-17). They turned their back on Christ, His Gospel, His ordinances, His Apostles, His churches, and everything belonging unto Him, and framed out of their own errors, heresies, whims, and fancies, a Christ and Gospel for themselves. The Apostle assigns the reason why they went out from the churches in the way and manner they did—it was because they were not of one heart and soul with the churches in the truth. “They went out from us because they were not of us.”

The true church of Christ is holiness to the Lord. Her real members are born of God. They have the Spirit of God. They know Christ. They live Christ. They are baptized into one and the same Spirit. They love the Truth. They abhor all and everything that detracts from it. No marvel that these antichrists should go out, depart from the true churches of Christ, and set up for themselves. They were not one with them, whilst they remained amongst them. Therefore, they only waited for an opportunity, and then they left them entirely.

Thus, it was in the Apostle John’s time, a little before the close of the apostolic age. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us.” This is the account the Apostle gives of them. As it was then, so it has been ever since. All the heresies which have tormented the churches of Christ ever since and down even to our present times have originated  from persons who have been in the churches, who have departed from the churches, from such as have made schisms and divisions in the churches. And when any old error is newly revived, it in general springs from such persons as are disaffected (52) to the true churches of Jesus Christ.
It may be you will expect me to give you to understand what I mean by a church of Christ. Most certainly, I understand a company of saints giving themselves up to the Lord and to each other by the will of God, to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord agreeable to the rules laid down in the written Word. I do not look on all the congregations of saints to be worthy of the title of the churches of Christ…Many denominations amongst us…are sound in the articles of Truth—so far as they respect salvation—yet I should not look on them as justly claiming the titles of the churches of Christ, and that for this reason: because they are not framed according to the plan and model of the New Testament account of the same. The greatest reformation of churches that ever took place since the reformation from popery was in Oliver Cromwell’s days. Dr. Owen, (53) Dr. Goodwin, (54) Dr. Chauncey, (55) and others give the best account of the formation, plan, order, members and officers, laws, rules, government, and discipline of the churches of Christ, which I can refer you to: except it be in the writings of Dr. Gill, (56) who has made some improvement in the same. The churches styled independent churches, and those styled the baptized churches of Jesus Christ, are properly churches. (57) There is no difference between these but in the ordinance of Baptism. These have a defense in themselves, of themselves, and from themselves to defend their members from error and heresy. [Yet] many in these are weary of Christ’s yoke and often find ways and means to cast it off. At times, error and heresies spring up amongst them; and it must be so, according to the purpose and sovereign will of God. So says the Apostle to the Corinthian church, “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1Co 11:19). There were in that church many who profaned the Lord’s Supper and polluted it, some who denied the resurrection of the dead. Yet the church at Corinth being properly organized according to our Lord’s institution remained a true church, though all the members of it were not one with the Lord Jesus Christ. [Similarly,] the Gospel remains immutable in its truths, doctrines, and grace, notwithstanding Hymeneus and Alexander, [who] put the same away from them and made shipwreck of faith and a good conscience (1Ti 1:19).

It is an honor to belong to a true church of Christ. It is to be lamented any should be admitted into it without having a clear and Scriptural knowledge of it. For when they profess and give themselves up to walk with a church, it is very dangerous to depart from that church, unless any immorality or heresy spring up and is connived at (58) by the majority of members. Or unless a member has good reason to believe he should increase with the increase of God more by removing his communion to another church. In the present day, there is very little conscience made of these things. But whoever observes it will see, it is no honor to remove from one church to another, nor is it a blessing to any church to receive any disaffected member into their communion. It is always best when the church in its members is gathered into its own holy fellowship by the ministration of the same minister of the Gospel. Then they uniting in the same faith, the obligations they subject themselves unto as the yoke and by the divine authority of Christ will have a very blessed effect and lasting effect on them…But I drop this and proceed to my next particular, which is

2. TO SHOW HOW THE APOSTLE CONFIRMS HIS ASSE LE CONFIRMS HIS ASSERTION. He had said, “They went out from us, but they were not of us.” He gives this reason of their going out from them: They did not belong to them. Though they were for a season numbered with them, yet they were never of them or of their number; if they had, they would have most certainly remained with them: this is his argument. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.

How solemn! How awful! These antichrists came out of the apostolical church of Jesus. They had been in it. Their names had been registered in their church book. They had been church members with the best of saints. Yet all this did not preserve them from the foulest apostasy. They had heard and professed to have received and believed the very same doctrine the Apostles preached! Yet this did not keep them steadfast in the faith. They were carried away with lust and lasciviousness. This led them to corrupt the doctrine of God’s free grace: to suit it to encourage their own corrupt affections, and from hence to proceed to set forth such a different christ, such a different gospel, and such a different spirit as eclipsed the whole glory of that Christ and Gospel that was preached and declared by the Apostles themselves. If these wretches had not for a season been under the profession of Christ and in the church amongst His people, they could not have acted as they did. They could not so completely have corrupted the Gospel, if they had not had the notional scheme of the same in their minds. It answered their end for a season to remain in the churches to whom they had given in their names. It suited them to leave these churches at such seasons, when they could, to distil their pernicious influences, as they thought and hoped it would gain converts to them…Christ is yesterday, today, and the same forever (Heb 13:8). So are the truths and doctrines that have respect unto Him, and in and by which He is revealed unto and set before His church, and which His saints have such evidence of in themselves that one for them all says, “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1Pe 1:24-25). These heretics left the churches because they were not of them, only nominally. (59)  They were not the elect of God. They were reprobates. (60...It is evident these could never belong to Christ…All heretics come out of the church. Most of them have been preachers and teachers in it. They are raised up by Satan, first to disturb the peace of the church and next to pollute and defile it with their abominable falsehood. The words of the Apostle are very suitable here: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1Co 3:16-17). But I will go on and proceed to my last particular, which is...

3. TO SHOW THE REASON WHY THESE ANTICHRIST WENT OUT OF THE CHURCH. It was by their departure from the true churches and by their errors, heresies, and sins into which they fell, they were man-ifested to be what they were.

In the day in which we live, we have had many preachers who have shone forth in public view as blazing stars and comets, who have professed superior light, zeal, and usefulness to all others, who have been puffed off (61) [and] had their own cant phrases. (62) Such as saying of some of their great admirers, “They see the Spirit in such and such sentences,” in which they have chosen to express themselves. They have—very many of them—fallen foully, scandalously. Yea, most shamefully, and abominably, and all by lust…What shall we say or think of such? I know I think and cannot but pronounce they are of their father the devil. Yet we have persons professing godliness who will stand up for them, [saying] that they are powerful preachers, that they are preachers of the Gospel, that they are clearer and deeper in the truth than others are, that it is on account of their excellency of knowledge in the mysteries of Christ [that] they are persecuted!

Sirs, such excuses for such notorious sinners are an awful sign of what our times are. Let us by no means have anything to do with licentious preachers and teachers. It is a shame to speak of those things that are done of them in secret. I count it to be a defilement to mention the names of such. I fear there is more licentiousness stalking up and down the professing religious world than any of us are aware of. May the Lord preserve us from it.

It is by these most holy and righteous dispensations of the Lord that He is pleased to separate between the precious and the vile. As it was in John’s time, even so it is now. They never belonged to the true church of Christ. So it need not stumble or distress us, as if such were instances of falling from grace. No. Such were never partakers of the grace of God. They professed something that they called grace, but they never knew any more of it than the sound. Let us therefore rejoice when such are most justly exposed…

There is a greater discrimination made by the preaching of the everlasting Gospel than we can or ever shall be able to conceive and apprehend. It is to some the savor of life. It is to others the savor of death. All [this is] by divine and immutable appointment by which man and man are so discovered—as it concerns the Lord’s purposes towards them—as is most truly solemn and awful. One is called under the preaching of the Gospel, and another left. Not only so, but at times under one and the same Word,  one is won to the obedience of Christ, another is led to blaspheme—so different are the effects that the revelation of God’s will produceth in the minds of such as are hearers of it. Hereby that solemn word of truth is realized in us poor worms of the earth, which is quoted by the Apostle, as delivered by the Lord: “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Rom 9:18-24).

These are most important and very solemn questions in which great truths are implied and contained. When they enter into our minds, and their weight, importance, and authority rest upon our hearts, they empty us of all dependence on ourselves. We clearly see that he that glorieth must glory in the Lord. If these things are so, let us know and remember [that] the church of Christ will be preserved and continued to the end of time, and the gates, that is, the powers of hell, shall never finally prevail against it. Let who or whatsoever may arise, and even though it may overthrow the faith of some, yet we may say—and it becomes us to say with the Apostle, when all they who were in Asia were turned away from him—“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2Ti 2:19). It well becomes us so to do—to depart from all doctrinal and practical iniquity. I can never believe men to be sound in the faith and truths of the Gospel who live in any known sin. I therefore suspect the judgment of many, who insist…that men may be sound in the faith who do not adorn it in their lives and conversations. I am for my own self fully persuaded [that] we can live no one single truth of the Gospel over in our minds any farther than we know it by the teaching of the Holy Ghost. And so far as we live any one single truth of Christ’s Gospel, so far we shall live down sin and live above by living Christ and living on Him.

From Sermon XXIV in An Exposition of 1 John, reprinted by Particular Baptist Press, 

49 pernicious – destructive.

50 broach – introduce.

51 virulency – extreme poisonousness.

52 disaffected – alienated; resentful and rebellious.

53 John Owen (1616-1683) – Congregational pastor and theologian; often called “The Prince of the Puritans”; wrote “The True Nature of a Gospel Church” in The Works of John Owen, Vol. 16.

54 Thomas Goodwin (1600-1679) – Congregational pastor and theologian; wrote “Of the Constitution, Right Order, and Government of the Churches of Christ” in The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Vol. 11.

55 Isaac Chauncey (1632-1712) – Congregational pastor and theologian; wrote The Divine Institution of Congregational Churches, Ministry and Ordinances, [As has bin Professed by those of that Persuasion] Asserted and Proved from the Word of God, for Nathanael Hiller, 1697.

56 John Gill (1697-1771) – Baptist minister, theologian, and biblical scholar; wrote numerous works on the nature, ministry, and ordinances of the church, including A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity.

57 Not all of our readers will agree with the author on this point.

58 connived at – silently approved.

59 nominally – in name only.

60 reprobates – those rejected by God.

61 puffed off – swollen with vanity and pride.

62 cant phrases – peculiar phraseology of a religious sect.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Father

I am not a denominational person...thankful that, by His grace, from the moment He saved me He empowered me to resist being labeled or forming an 'alliance' with a denomination.  I am first and foremost known by the name of the one who laid down His life: Christ...Christian.

Who stepped from majesty on high, provided seed in the virgin womb, lived a sinless life, paid the price for Adam's treacherous sin and rebellion and made a way for a multitude of people to cry Abba....Father.

The following is a quote from this blog, and strikes a cord within me.  I've been pondering upon how Christians seem to spend a lot of time debating among themselves (counting beans in the barn) versus spreading seed in the fields.

"We sit in our comfortable churches, gather in our convention halls for annual meetings, and focus in on doctrinal differences by issuing various white papers on traditional Baptist beliefs. Yet, while we pontificate and bloviate, men and women outside our doors are dead on the inside and living in a virtual hell. I entered Bourbon Street wanting to know what people thought of the SBC -- I left Bourbon Street two hours later realizing it makes absolutely zero difference what people think about the SBC. As long as we Southern Baptists think more about our Convention than we do the kingdom of Christ, we will focus on the politics of our convention and less about the power of the Christ to change lives."

God, the Father, very clearly gives direction to His children:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations... ~ Matthew 28:19

I am convicted for having spent far too much time debating over issues with other Christians which probably have no eternal significance versus spreading the Word.

Am I more apt to be a pictorial of this verse:

Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. ~ 2 Timothy 2:14

Versus this one:

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; ~ Philippians 1:27

Would that my heart was with the Father in this regard:

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. ~ Luke 15:7

Lord, You, in Your gracious mercy, without any merit or work on my part, chose to make me Your child.  I, who once hated You, vainly attempted to thwart Your eternal decrees, help me to be a better reflection of You today.  To continually grow in Your grace, to give a proper estimate of You in all situations, circumstances and seasons.

For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother. ~ Mark 3:35

Can it be said of me: I and my Father are one or I do the will of Him who is in heaven?  Can it be said of you?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Women of the Reformation: Anna Reinhard Zwingli by Norma Tochijara

Affectionately referred by her husband as “his dearest housewife” Anna was the beloved wife of Ulrich Zwingli. Shedding much light into the charitable heart of this gentle soul, Anna was also warmly regarded by the people as, “the apostolic Dorcas.”
Born sometime during the year 1487 she matured into a very beautiful woman.  She married John Meyer von Knonau, who came from an aristocratic family, though she did not. When his father found out about their marriage, he disinherited him, leaving John and his family to cast on his own resources. In 1511, John was elected to join the Swiss army where he traveled to Italy to fight against France. After many campaigns, he returned  gravely ill and soon thereafter died, leaving Anna with 3 children: 1 son and 2 daughters.
Suddenly thrust into widowhood, Anna was forced to look after her family on her own. She struggled often to support her family and train her children. But God had not forgotten Anna.  Every time a certain preacher, named Ulrich Zwingli came to preach in her town, she would attend.  She listened attentively to his words as they thundered from the pulpit and it wasn’t long before he became her pastor. A true lover of the Word of God, Anna was always eager to hear the Scriptures as taught by him. At the same time, Anna’s young son Gerold, caught the preachers attention.  Zwingli took an interest in becoming a role model to him and particularly encouraged him to pursue higher education. He gave him private lessons in Latin and Greek and in many ways became like a father to him. When Gerold took leave for another city, Zwingli actually wrote him a book to encourage him in his walk with the Lord. And walk with the Lord, he did. Gerold quickly obtained much favor in his new city and secured a very influential position.
It wasn’t long afterwards that Zwingli and Anna were married.  Right away the young marriage encountered hostility.  Many people accused Zwingli of marrying her because of her beauty — and  now wealth due to her son’s success. But soon after they married, Anna stopped wearing jewelry and her appearance became more simple and modest.  Together the Zwingli’s had 4 children.
Anna had a most charitable heart.  She loved to help others and saw it as something of great priority in her life. She became a helper of the poor and visited the sick as often as she could. Every opportunity, and any little extra that the family had, was given to the poor, or in some way used to benefit the work of the Lord.   Those who knew her well described her as a pious woman. Anna was a wife who could easily be described as being preoccupied with her husbands well-being. She was known to encourage her husband and remind him to take rests when he was working feverishly translating the Bible to her own Swiss tongue.
Read more -->Here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Importance of Sanctification

Courtesy of Chapel Library
A.W. Pink (1886--1952)

What is “sanctification”? Is it a quality or position? Is sanctification a legal thing or an experimental? That is to say, “Is it something the believer has in Christ or in himself? Is it absolute or relative?” By which we mean, “Does it admit of degree or no? Is it unchanging or progressive?” Are we sanctified at the time we are justified, or is sanctification a later blessing? How is this blessing obtained? By something that is done for us, or by us, or both?  How may one be assured he has been sanctified: what are the characteristics, the evidences, the fruits?...Are sanctification and purification the same thing? Does sanctification relate to the soul, the body, or both? What position does sanctification occupy in the order of Divine blessings? What is the connection between regeneration and sanctification? What is the relation between justification (1) and sanctification?...Exactly what is the place of sanctification regarding salvation: does it precede or follow, or is it an integral part of it? Why is there so much diversity of opinion upon these points, scarcely any two writers treating of this subject in the same manner? Our purpose here is not simply to multiply questions but to indicate the many-sidedness of our present theme…

The great importance of our present theme is evidenced by the prominence that is given to the Scripture: the words: holy, sanctified, etc., occurring therein hundreds of times. Its importance also appears from the high value ascribed to it: it is the supreme glory of God, of the unfallen angels, of the Church. In Exodus 15:11, we read that the Lord God is “glorious in holiness”—that is His crowning excellency. In Matthew 25:31, mention is made of the “holy angels,” for no higher honor can be ascribed them. In Ephesians 5:26-27, we learn that the Church’s glory lieth not in pomp and outward adornment, but in holiness. Its importance further appears in that this is the aim in all God’s dispensations (2).  He elected His people that they should be “holy” (Eph 1:4); Christ died that He might “sanctify” His people (Heb 13:12); chastisements (3)  are sent that we might be “partakers of God’s holiness” (Heb 12:10).

Whatever sanctification be, it is the great promise of the covenant made to Christ for His people. As Thomas Boston (4) well said, “[Sanctification] shines like the moon among the lesser stars. Sanctification is the very chief subordinate end of the Covenant of Grace, (5) standing therein next to the glory of God, which is the chief and ultimate end thereof. The promise of it is the center of all the rest of these promises. All the foregoing promises—the promise of preservation, the Spirit, the first regeneration or quickening (6) of the dead soul, faith, justification, the new saving relation to God, reconciliation, (7) adoption, (8) and enjoyment of God as our God—do tend unto it as their common center and stand related to it as means to their end. They are all accomplished on sinners on design to make them holy.” (9)  This is abundantly clear from, “The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life” (Luk 1:73–75). In that “oath” or covenant, sworn to Abraham as a type of Christ (our spiritual Father: Heb 2:13), His seed’s serving the Lord in holiness is held forth as the chief thing sworn unto the Mediator (10)…

Not only is true sanctification an important, essential, and unspeakably precious thing, it is wholly  supernatural.  “It is our duty to enquire into the nature of evangelical holiness, as it is a fruit or effect in us of the Spirit of sanctification because it is abstruse (11)  and mysterious, and undiscernible unto the eye of carnal reason. We say of it in some sense as Job of wisdom, ‘Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our
ears. God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof…And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding’ (28:20-23, 28). This is that wisdom whose ways, residence, and paths are so hidden from the natural reason and understandings of men.

“No man, I say, by mere sight and conduct can know and understand aright the true nature of evangelical holiness. It is, therefore, no wonder if the doctrine of it be despised by many as an enthusiastical fancy.(12)   It is of the things of the Spirit of God, yea, it is the principal effect of all His operation in us and towards us. And ‘the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God’ (1Co 2:11). It is by Him alone that we are enabled to ‘know the things that are freely given unto us of God’ (2:12) as this is, if ever we receive anything of Him in this world or shall do so to eternity. ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him’: the comprehension of these things is not the work of any of our natural faculties, but ‘God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit’ (2:9-10).

“Believers themselves are oft-times much unacquainted with it, either as to their apprehension of its true nature, causes, and effects, or, at least, as to their own interests and concernment therein. As we know not of ourselves the things that are wrought in us of the Spirit of God, so we seldom attend as we ought unto His instruction of us in them. It may seem strange indeed that, whereas all believers are sanctified and made holy, they should not understand nor apprehend what is wrought in them and for them and what abideth with them! But, alas, how little do we know of ourselves of what we are and whence are our powers and faculties, even in things natural. Do we know how the members of the
body are fashioned in the womb?” (13)

Clear proof that true sanctification is wholly supernatural and altogether beyond the ken (14) of the unregenerate is found in the fact that so many are thoroughly deceived and fatally deluded by fleshly imitations and satanic substitutes of real holiness. It would be outside our present scope to describe in detail the various pretensions that pose as Gospel holiness, but the poor Papists, taught to look up to the “saints” canonized by their “church,” are by no means the only ones who are misled in this vital matter. Were it not that God’s Word reveals so clearly the power of that darkness that rests on the understanding of all who are not taught by the Spirit, it would be surprising beyond words to see so many intelligent people supposing that holiness consists in abstinence from human comforts, garbing themselves in mean (15) attire, and practicing various austerities (16)  that God has never commanded.

Spiritual sanctification can only be rightly apprehended from what God has been pleased to reveal thereon in His holy Word and can only be experimentally known by the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit. We can arrive at no accurate conclusions of this blessed subject except as our thoughts are formed by the teaching of Scripture, and we can only experience the power of the same as the Inspirer of those Scriptures is pleased to write them upon our hearts…Even a superficial examination of the Scriptures will reveal that holiness is the opposite of sin; yet the realization of this at once conducts us into the realm of mystery, for how can persons be sinful and holy at one and the same time? This difficulty deeply exercises (17) the true saints: they perceive in themselves so much carnality, (18)
 filth, and vileness that they find it almost impossible to believe that they are holy…We must not here anticipate the ground that we hope to cover, except to say, the Word of God clearly teaches that those who have been sanctified by God are holy in themselves. [May] the Lord graciously prepare our hearts for what is to follow.

From Studies in the Scriptures by A.W. .Pink, born in Nottingham, England., reprinted and available from Chapel Library.

1 justification – Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in His sight only for the righteousness of
Christ imputed to us and received by faith alone. (Spurgeon’s Catechism, Q. 32) See FGB 187, Justification, available from CHAPEL LIBRARY.

2 dispensations – God’s arrangement of events by divine rule and care.

3 chastisements – authoritative corrections of one who is at fault; corrective punishment.

4 Thomas Boston (1676-1732) – Scottish Presbyterian minister and theologian.

5 Covenant of Grace – God’s gracious, eternal purpose of redemption, conceived before the creation of the world, first announced in Genesis 3:15, progressively revealed in history, accomplished in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and appropriated by faith in Him.

6 regeneration or quickening – God’s act of creating new life in a sinner by the power of the Holy Spirit, resulting in repentance and faith in Christ and holiness of life.

7 reconciliation – the change in relationship from being an enemy at war with God to peace with Him: in Christ, God reconciled sinners to Himself by Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection, thereby setting them free to restored union with God.

8 adoption – Adoption is an act of God’s free grace whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.  (Spurgeon’s Catechism, Q. 33, available from CHAPEL LIBRARY)

9  Thomas Boston, “A View of the Covenant of Grace from the Sacred Records” in The Com-plete Works of the Late Rev. Thomas Boston, Vol. 8 (London: William Tegg, 1853), 487.

10 Mediator – a go-between; “It pleased God in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus His only begotten Son, according to the Covenant
made between them both, to be the Mediator between God and Man; the Prophet, Priest and King; Head and Savior of His Church, the heir of all things,
and judge of the world: Unto whom He did from all Eternity give a people to be His seed, and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified,
and glorified.” (1689 London Baptist Confession 8.1, available from CHAPEL LIBRARY)

11 abstruse – difficult to understand.

12 enthusiastical fancy – mystical delusion; misdirected religious imagination.

13 John Owen, “A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit,” The Works of John Owen, Vol. 3 (Edinburg: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1981 ), 371-73.

14 beyond the ken – outside the limits of one’s knowledge.

15 mean – shabby; poor in quality.

16 austerities – rigidly severe self-disciplines; extremely strict moral practices.

17 exercises – causes painful mental struggle.

18 carnality – fleshly, worldly, or sensual inclinations.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Free Will?

"Then why do you embrace Christ, and your moral Buddhist neighbour across the street does not?

Are you smarter than he is?

More spiritually sensitive?

Better, in any way?

What makes you to differ?

Is the Holy Spirit working just as hard on him as He did on you?

If so, why do you believe, and he does not?

No matter how hard you try, you can’t avoid coming to the conclusion that, in a 'free will' system of salvation, those who believe do so because there is something different about them.

If the Spirit is bringing equal conviction to bear upon each individual, the only deciding factor, given equality in everything else, is something in the person himself.

I believe the only possible difference between the redeemed in heaven and the guilty, condemned, punished sinner in hell is a five-letter word ...

It’s called 'grace.'"

~ James White

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Ledger

Courtesy of Challies

Tim Challies 05/23/12

Near the center of every religion is a ledger. Every religion acknowledges, on one level or another, that people do good things and bad things and every religion then maintains a tally, supposing that one day there will come a reckoning. Every religion hopes that on the day of accounting, the day of the audit, the good will outnumber or outweigh the bad. There is hope for those who come to that day with a surplus and no hope for those who come with a deficit.

Islam acknowledges sin—deeds that contradict the will of Allah—and calls its adherents to do good that will outweigh the bad. Good deeds are repentance, prayer and certain acts of charity and kindness. Each of these go in the ledger as credits meant to balance the debits.

Judaism acknowledges sin—violations of God’s commandments—and calls on its adherents to make atonement, reparation of relationship with God, through the good work of repentance, through making right the wrongs done to another person, through prayer and devotion. Each of these is a black entry in the ledger that may outweigh the red.

Buddhism acknowledges sin, or something like it, and calls on its adherents to avoid it in favor of something higher and better. Bad deeds bring bad karma which must be outweighed by the good deeds that bring about good karma. When the accounting comes, the good must outweigh the bad, or fate will not be kind.

Hinduism acknowledges deeds that draw us toward and deeds that draw us away, though a Hindu would hesitate to describe such deeds as sin. Still, it calls on its adherents to repent of what they have done that is bad and to restore parity with repentance or acts of contrition.

Roman Catholicism acknowledges sin—acts not in accord with reason informed by Divine law—and calls on its people to be made right with God primarily by grace bestowed through the use of sacraments such as baptism. Great sins, known as mortal sins, destroy the grace of justification which must then be restored through penance and works of satisfaction. Though Catholicism acknowledges the importance of grace and faith, still it demands deeds, meritorious deeds, that may help restore balance.

Christianity, the Christianity of the Bible, acknowledges sin—acts that transgress or do not fully accord with God’s revealed will—and calls on its adherents to avoid sin altogether. There is a ledger in the Christian faith, but a unique ledger. This ledger allows no balancing. The moment there is one red mark, the moment any sin is entered in the balance sheet, the books are closed. Baptism merits nothing; penance and confession merit nothing; good deeds bring no good karma and no merit in the eyes of God. Balance cannot be restored by any human action.

What can be done? The answer is simple: the account must be settled by someone else. Merit cannot be intrinsic, so it must be extrinsic. And this is where we look to Christ in faith, faith that acknowledges that Christ’s merit can be—has been—applied to us and faith that is itself a gift of God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The debt is canceled, it is paid, exclusively and eternally by the work of Jesus Christ.