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A Delightful Obedience

October 5, 2017

The eternal existence of the believer is almost impossible to comprehend. Once in heaven the believer will be eternally unable to sin. God will fulfill His promise through Jeremiah. He will so transform the heart that sin will be unthinkable. In heaven the believer will always delight to obey God.

C.S. Lewis does an incredible job of portraying the Christian’s joyful delight in obedience. In the second book of his space trilogy, Voyage to Venus, he describes the temptation of the Queen, the Venutian Eve. Through her dialogues with two men, one who would tempt her to sin and one who would keep her from sin, Lewis unveils her way of thinking. Obedience is no chore. Nor is it the obedience of an automaton. C.S. Lewis shows an obedience that is genuine and free from the possibility of disobedience.

When trying to understand disappointment the Queen says, “One goes into the forest to pick food and already the thought of one fruit rather than another has grown up in one’s mind. Then, it may be, one finds a different fruit and not the fruit one thought of. One joy was expected and another is given. But this I had never noticed before that at the very moment of the finding there is in the mind a kind of thrusting back, or a setting aside. The picture of the fruit you have not found is still, for a moment before you. And if you wished- if it were possible to wish- you could keep it there. You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other.

“It is I, I mystelf, who turn from the good expected to the given good. Out of my own heart I do it. One can conceive a heart which did not: which clung to the good it had first thought of and turned the good which it was given it into no good.

“I thought that I was carried in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk with it. I thought that the good things He sent me drew me into them as the waves lift the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my legs and arms, as when we go swimming.

“One’s own self (walks) from one good to another, walking beside Him as Himself may walk, not even holding hands.”

When God writes His law in the heart of His people, they will have the internal desire to obey His commands. Obedience will no longer be by external coercion. Though today duty is often absent delight, the time is coming in which the Christian will always delight to do that which is his duty.

Commands will not be eliminated in eternity. Just as God before the fall gave Adam and Eve the responsibility to do that which ought to be done, so in eternity the saved will hold responsibilities. The responsibility will not be a burden but a rich blessing. The heart will not yearn for some other pleasure, but will rejoice in the pleasure currently enjoyed. The flesh will not desire some forbidden pleasure but will entirely delight in the good pleasure being experienced. The redeemed in heaven will walk in the will of God finding the greatest delight in doing all that which God requires.


Politics Today and Tomorrow

October 2, 2017

Why do the heathen rage? This question is 3,500 years old but is it not still pertinent today? The Christian observing the state of America is shocked at the intensity, the outrage, the name calling, the violence and the destructiveness of the wicked. Political observers have long noted that we have lost the art of civil discourse.

Why do the wicked plot further wickedness and then demand that all support their depravity? In a few brief decades America moved through the sexual revolution to the homosexual revolution. Today marriage means little, sex is just the expression of undeniable biological impulses, identity is morality, restraint is cruel and opposition is oppression.

The events of today are not at all unique in history. The problems of America are as ancient as Adam and Eve and a fateful conversation with a snake. The ungodly have always raged. The wicked rage because they hate God. No one is an impartial observer. None can impartially consider the claims of Jesus or the commands of God’s Word. Men either worship God and obey His command, or they reject Him and rebel against His Word.

The wicked rage because they hate God. They hate Jesus. The wicked are bent on active opposition to Him and all that He is for. This was true in Jesus’ day. King Herod sought the destruction of Jesus while He was just a toddler. When Jesus began to teach and preach the Jews hated Him. They repeatedly plotted ways to kill Him. Finally the conspired together with a traitorous disciple and the Roman governor to execute Jesus. This will be true again when Jesus returns. The nations of the world will see Jesus coming down from heaven in glory, with a mighty army of saints and angels and then they are going to do the stupidest thing imaginable. They are going to line up their tanks and missiles and infantry and whatever other arms are available to them to assault God the Son who just rode through the sky on a great white horse. They hate with an unreasonable, unimaginable hatred. The wicked will still hate Him at the end of Jesus’ millennial reign. After 1,000 years of the most blissful, beautiful, peaceful rule the world has ever know, Satan will gather together a large army of rebels and discontents to attack the city of Jerusalem. Satan’s army will surround the city where God the Son resides and rules. In the shortest battle known to man, God will destroy them all with a command.

The mighty of the world plot against God. They conspire together against God. They go to great lengths and it is all futile. Their plans are vain. They have no chance of success. God is not threatened by wicked men. He is not afraid of their ragings. His plans are not hindered by the plots of men or devils. They threaten Him, and He scorns their puny threats.

Prayer is banished from the schools? His plans are not altered in the least. The ten commandments are taken out of public buildings? God’s Word is no less true. Prayer in Jesus name is forbidden in public meetings? Jesus is still God, is still establishing His church, is still saving souls and is still returning to establish His kingdom. God is still working all things out according to the counsel of His own will.

As Hurricane Irma approached the Florida coast a fruit fly determined to save the state from the onslaught. He gathered together a huge army of flies who lined up in front of the hurricane and flapped their wings furiously to turn the storm back into the Atlantic. Such folly would be blown away in an instant, but a plague of flies has more power against a hurricane than a world of wicked men does against the will of God. He has set His Son on the throne. His reign is unstoppable.

Effective Prayer

September 28, 2017

Two months after God’s overwhelming display of power to rescue Israel from bondage in Egypt the Israelites worshiped a golden calf. While Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the law of God the Israelites became impatient. They decided the best way to worship the all powerful Jehovah was to create an idol. In that same spot several weeks earlier the Israelites promised to obey all the commands of God. Their obedience lasted about as long as a particularly determined New Year’s resolution.

God was not pleased. He informed Moses of His intent to destroy the Israelites. He would start over with Moses and through him fulfill the Abrahamic covenant. Moses responded with a powerful prayer.

“And Moses besought the LORD his God,
and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people,
which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt
with great power, and with a mighty hand?
Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say,
For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains,
and to consume them from the face of the earth?
Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants,
to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them,
I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven,
and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed,
and they shall inherit it for ever.”

The prayer of Moses for Israel stayed God’s hand of wrath. In this marvelous model of effective praying are found four things crucial to prayer that “availeth much”.

  • Moses remembered the works of God (v. 12)
  • Moses sought the glory of God (v.13)
  • Moses held to the promises of God (v. 14)
  • Moses desired the benefit of others not his own (v. 12; cf. Exodus 32:10)

The Christian’s prayer will be fruitful and God-pleasing when he remembers how God has worked in the past. Whether it be remembering previous answers to prayer or remembering how God has worked to bring the individual to that point in life, prayer ought to acknowledge God’s powerful working. In praise thank God for His powerful answers. In petition look back at God’s mighty working and ask Him to do so again.

When a Christian prays seeking God’s glory above all else, God will answer. The one who has a compelling desire for the exaltation of God’s greatness will be praying “in the name of Jesus”. He will be seeking the will of God above his own desires and his own opinions. God promises to answer the prayer that makes His will supreme.

The Christian who prays what God has promised knows the will of God. He lays hold of the promises of God, not as supernatural arm-twisting to force God to do what He said, but in simple faith which relies on God to be faithful to His promises. God is faithful. He will always keep His Word.

Selfless prayer that, in accord with the previous principles, seeks the good of others will be effective. Those who ask sacrificially for the gain of others will know the power of God at work in answered prayer.

No Other Book

September 25, 2017

The Psalms have been called the hymn book of the church and the prayer book of the church. The books of Psalms gives words of comfort to the sorrowing heart, words of praise to the fill the mouth of the worshiper and words of confession for the repentant sinner. The Psalms are a balm of healing for the wounded in Spirit, a rest for the weary in heart, a guide for the correction of the sinner, strength for those struggling in life, encouragement for the discouraged believer, confidence for spiritual warfare, and hope for the fulfillment of God’s promises.

The Psalms give voice to the fulness of joy. The Psalms probe the depths of the heart of man and peer into the heights of the glory of God. They show us the sinfulness, frailty, brevity and hope of man. The Psalms make personal the faithfulness of God, the work of God, the character of God, the glory of God, the grace of God and the compassion of God. The Psalms declare the Savior who was coming to suffer for His people. The Psalms reveal the King who is coming to deliver His children. The Psalms are a vibrant illustrated of how truth is lived, sung and prayed in the ordinary Christian’s life.

The Psalms are the textbook for the Christian experience. Martin Luther said of the Psalms, “The book of Psalms is, in my opinion, of a different nature from all the other books. For in the other books we are taught what we ought to do, both by precept and example. But this book not only teaches us, but shows us in what way and manner we do the Word, and imitate the examples it contains.”

The Psalms are a vivid portrayal of the experience of the child of God in sorrow and joy, praise and petition, intercession and imprecation, faith and frustration, blessing and suffering and worship and despair. Psalms shows the Christian how to live the Christian life. The New Testament quotes the Psalms more than any other Old Testament book. John Calvin said of the Psalms, “There is no other book in which we are more perfectly taught the right manner of praising God, or in which we are more powerfully stirred up to the performance of this religious exercise.” The book of Psalms models the life of the chld of God like no other book of the Bible.

A Lesson in Praise

September 21, 2017

I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously:
the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and song,
and he is become my salvation:
he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation;
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea:
his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.
The depths have covered them:
they sank into the bottom as a stone.
Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power:
thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee:
thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.
And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together,
the floods stood upright as an heap,
and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.

The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them;
I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.
Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them:
they sank as lead in the mighty waters.
Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like thee, glorious in holiness,
fearful in praises, doing wonders?
Thou stretchedst out thy right hand,
the earth swallowed them.

Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed:
thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.
The people shall hear, and be afraid:
sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.
Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed;
the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them;
all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.
Fear and dread shall fall upon them;
by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone;
till thy people pass over, O Lord,
till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.

Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance,
in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in,
in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.
The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.
For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots
and with his horsemen into the sea,
and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them;
but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.
Exodus 15

  • Praise should always follow answered prayer
  • Make it personal
  • Focus on God
  • Be specific
  • Be detailed
  • Remember God’s work
  • Declare God’s character
  • Exalt God’s glory
  • Anticipate the fulfillment of God’s promises

Work for Fruit

September 18, 2017

“Herein is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit.”

In John 15 Jesus tells His disciples they must be fruitful, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Fruitfulness does not happen by the ability of the Christian. The disciple of Jesus can only be fruitful by abiding in Christ. The Christian cannot produce fruit of himself. When he is yielded to the Holy Spirit and directed by the Word of God fruit will be produced in and through Him. The Christian must be dependent to be fruitful but he cannot be passive. Active engagement in good works is a necessary element to being fruitful in Christ.

The final instruction to Titus regarding the churches on Crete was “let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses.” Ephesians makes clear that salvation is only by the grace of God and is only received through faith. Works have no part in the believers salvation. Those who are saved by grace through faith are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” (Ephesians 2:10) Good works are the supernatural result of salvation. The second half Titus is peppered with reminders to good works. Four times in twenty-three verses Paul instructs about the importance of good works. In his closing remarks Paul again asserts the importance of good works. Titus was to remind the Cretians Christians to be careful to provide for the indispensable necessities of others. Caring for the needs of others would promote the believers fruitfulness in the Lord.

Much of Titus describes the believer’s good works. The good works found in Titus include being self-controlled, patient, compassionate, honest, reverent, and faithful. Good works include having sound doctrine and a right thinking. Good works provide for the needs of those preaching the gospel. Good works are humility and gentleness with all. Submission to the government is a good work. A good works seeks to bring genuine physical or spiritual benefit to others. The Christian who is forward to do good works will be fruitful in the Lord.

Be active in good works. The Christian’s duty is more than prayer and Bible study. The work of the ministry is more than preaching and teaching. Private devotion to God and the public ministry of the Word are essential. A Christian life without good works is lacking. Study without service is insufficient.

“And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.”

The Blessings of Suffering

September 14, 2017
  • They will have an end [Ps. 37:37]
  • Joy will follow [Ps. 126:5]
  • They show us our weakness [Isa. 38:10]
  • They move us to pray [Hos. 5:15]
  • They show we are in the pathway to heaven [Luke 24:26]
  • They make us condemn this present world [Eccl. 1:2].

By them we learn:

  • to repent us of sin past [2 Sam. 24:17]
  • to take heed of sin present,
  • and to foresee sin to come [Gen. 39:9].

By them we:

  • receive God’s Spirit [Acts 2:2]
  • are like to Christ [Phil. 3:10]
  • are acquainted with God’s power [Dan. 3:17]
  • have joy in deliverance [Ex. 15:1]
  • know [the] benefit of prosperity
  • made more hardy to suffer
  • and have cause to practice many excellent virtues [1 Peter 1:6–7]

– William Perkins

Church Discipline

September 11, 2017

Church disicpline ought not be thought of as mere punishment. Discipline is not the response of an angry or vengeful church. In fact, a church or Christian that is mad at someone will not bother with the process of church discipline. They may jump cast someone out of the church but they won’t take the time to go through the Biblical process.

Genuine church discipline is preventative and restorative. Church discipline seeks to correct the problem, not just remove the person. Because church discipline is therapeutic in nature it is not slammed down upon the individual without warning. Church discipline is a relationship with believers that begins long before sin becomes evident. Church discipline must involve a commmitment to care for one another’s spiritual wellbeing. Restorative church discipline involves encouragement, comfort, teaching, correction, warning and rebuke. The removal of someone from membership is the final, extreme measure when all other attempts at restoration have failed.

Matthew 18 is the foundational teaching on church discipline which lays out the reason for discipline, the goal of disicpline and the process of discipline. The first step is goign to a brother who has sinned agaist you. The offense and the correction is personal. Go in private to that person to address the sin between you and he alone. No one else should be a part of this process, no one else needs know about the wrong. If the sinning brother heeds your correction then you have gained your brother.

If the sinning Christian doesn’t hear private rebuke then others need to be brought into the process. This is not to gang up on the sinner, but to bring greater weight to the importance of the sin, to offer wise counsel in the matter and to exercise loving care for the sinner. The others will testify to the sin and add their voice to the call to repent.

If the person does not hear the small group, then the sin needs to be communicated to the entire church. The church then has opportunity to call the person to repentance. If the sinner refuses to hear the correction of the entire church, then the church is to remove that member.

See how much interest there is reconciliation and restoration! The process gives multiples avenues of exhortation calling the sinner to repentance. Except in certain cases of heinous sin, the sinning Christian is to be removed only after repeated rejections of Godly admonition. When a Christian is removed from the church the church is to be ready to forgive. If repentance follows, then forgiveness and full restoration should be extended immediately.

Why does a church practice discipline among its members? The Bible gives at least six reasons.

  • First, is for the repentance of the sinner (1 Corinthians 5:5; Titus 1:13)
  • Second, is for the restoration of sinning brethren (Matthew 18:15)
  • Third, is for the purity of the church (1 Corinthians 5:6; Hebrews 12:12-15)
  • Fourth, is for the protection of the unlearned (Romans 16:18)
  • Fifth, is for the protection of the unity of the church (Titus 3:10; 1 Timothy 6:4)
  • Sixth, is as a warning to all (1 Timothy 5:20)

Pray for Them

September 7, 2017

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
– Matthew 5:44

The story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt is a familiar one. After the death of Joseph the Israelites were made slaves in Egypt. Their long years of suffering culminated with Pharaoh’s command to slaughter every infant son. Eighty years later God sent Moses to Egypt to lead Israel out of bondage. Pharaoh refused even to let Israel go into the nearby wilderness to offer sacrifices to God. As a result God distressed Egypt with ten plagues culminating in the death of the eldest of every house in Egypt.

God’s plagues were not just punitive. When God sent Moses to Egypt He told him that Pharaoh would not release Israel. God planned to use Pharaoh’s rebellion to show Israel, Egypt, Pharaoh and all the world that He alone is God.

The second plague to trouble Egypt was an infestation of frogs that overran every home in the land. Pharaoh asked Moses to pray to God for the frogs to be taken away. Moses agreed to do so. He “cried out” unto the Lord. Moses made no half-hearted request. His prayer for Pharaoh was made with great fervency. He prayed in this fashion so Pharaoh would see and know, “that there is none like the Lord our God.” (Exodus 8:9)

Pharaoh refused to allow the Israelites to leave despite his promises, Moses’ prayer and God’s power. God sent further judgments upon Egypt. Pharaoh asked Moses to pray for the land to be delivered from the plague of flies. Moses prayed for Pharaoh though he had good reason to doubt Pharaoh’s sincerity. Moses prayed for the people that had held the Israelites in bondage to be eased of their suffering. He prayed for the king who oppressed, persecuted and deceived Israel to be relieved from his affliction.

Pharaoh continued his rebellion against God and refusal to release Israel. During the plague of fiery hail Pharaoh asked Moses to pray to God to stop the horrible precipitation battering the country. Moses prayed for Pharaoh. Moses knew Pharaoh would not fear God but he prayed any way, “that thou mayest know how that the earth is the Lord’s.” (Exodus 9:29)

The plague of hail was followed by a plague of locusts which threatened to destroy the little that was left from the depredations of the first seven plagues. Pharaoh hurried to call Moses and Aaron to him. He again asked Moses to pray for Egypt’s deliverance from the plague. Moses said nothing to Pharaoh but he went out and prayed for God to turn the locusts away.

Four times during the ten plagues Pharaoh asked Moses to pray. Four times Moses prayed though he had no reason to be kind to Pharaoh and every to reason to believe Pharaoh was insincere in his promises. Moses’ faithfulness in praying for his eneym is a vivid example of how the Christian ought to pray for others. Moses shows how a Christian can pray for those who persecute and revile. Moses illustrates how a Christian can pray for the enemies of God. Christians can genuinely pray for the benefit of their tormentors so that they may know the power of God and that they may know the God of heaven. When Christian’s pray for their enemies God is at work to show His power and accomplish His eternal purposes.

Doctrine that Divides

September 4, 2017

A primary tool in the debates over morality is control of the terminology used. It is no coincidence that those in favor of abortion are called pro-choice nor that they call pro-lifers anti-abortionists. The issue is often framed in terms of women’s rights and health. How we talk about stuff matters. How we talk about things shapes the way we think about it. Calling someone an abortion provider conveys something far different than calling him a murderer of babies. The terms shape thinking.

This is true within the church as well. In today’s church culture those who insist on sound doctrine are considered to be divisive and unnecessarily contentious. Those who embrace doctrinal vagueness and openness are said to do so to promote unity and grace in the church. Despite the popular nomenclature the Bible teaches something quite different about doctrinal rigidity.

The impact of false teachers on the church is horrible. The effects of apostates and heretics upon American Christianity has been catastrophic. The doctrine of the false teachers was described in Acts 15:24 troubling and turning away Christians. False teaching shipwrecks faith and blasphemes the name of Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:19-20) False teaching overthrows those who receive it. False teaching breeds ungodliness and spreads like a terrible infection. (2 Timothy 2:14-15) When it comes to the clear doctrines of the Bible Christians cannot agree to disagree. The church of Jesus Christ cannot join hands with teachers of all sorts and stripes. God’s church must affirm truth. God’s people must defend truth. The church must be protected from error.

Romans 16:17-18 says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”

Those who teach false doctrine are the ones who create division and cause harm to the church. False teachers do not serve the Lord. They do not love him or His church. They love the satisfaction of their own desires. They use their convincing, appealing speaking to deceive many. New believers are susceptible to the manipulations and deceptions of these doctrinal charlatans. False teachers are not to be tolerated. They are to be marked out, removed and avoided. Christians who love one another will oppose false teachers. The loving Christian will not give false teachers an audience. He will give them rebuke.

Those who defend true doctrine are defenders of the church and of unity. This is what Paul is telling Titus, the churches on Crete and all New Testament churches. “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;” The opposition of false teaching and the rejection of false teachers is essential for the good of the church, the protection of Christians and the repentance of the false teacher.