December 31, 2008

New Years: 2008 is set in eternity!

Well, this is the last day of 2008. I am thankful to the Lord for all that He has given to me and taught me this year (I certainly do not deserve any of it). For the most part of 2008, I have been blogging, which I never had done before. Not only that, but I have also lived past a quarter of a century this year! And many other things have happened as well.

As I reflect, I am more humbled by the death of Jesus Christ today, because He is the only reason why I should not suffer for eternity in hell for what I've done this past year. And it will still be the same if I live on during 2009. It will still be Christ as my life, Christ as my pardon, Christ as my acceptance with the Father forever, and Christ as my portion and joy too! Although there are many things I've learned this year, as well as many experiences, one thing remains the same - it is all of Christ, in other words: ALL OF GRACE! :)

Thank God for His wonderful grace today, and never stop growing in your amazement of Him! (2 Peter 3:18, read this verse and meditate on it!)

December 25, 2008

An Evangelistic Tract on Knowing God

Do you know God? How we can know God through the Bible. Check out my little message by clicking here: Knowing God and the Bible.

December 20, 2008

Why Give Thanks to the LORD?

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1 ESV).

I love that verse, and the more I read it, the more I delight in what it says. First, it tells the people of God (who were chosen by God, see Psalm 135:4-6) to give something to YHWH (JEHOVAH). What are they told to give? They are told, "Give thanks to the LORD."

And for what reason are the chosen people of God (and not them only - Rom. 1:21) commanded to give thanks? It says, "for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever." The rest of this Psalm continues to show how the Sovereign LORD is good to all His creation and how He has shown steadfast love to His people by saving them and giving them an inheritance.

For these reasons then, we are told to give thanks: First, because the LORD is good. To even know what goodness is, we need to know the LORD. He is good. There is no good apart from Him (Psalm 16:2). God is the very definition of what good is, and so we are to give thanks to Him for His wonderful goodness. Second, we are told to give thanks for His steadfast love endures forever. Other translations of the Bible use the words mercy, kindness or lovingkindness. The Hebrew word translated as steadfast love in the ESV is chesed (Stong's #H2617), which has the meaning of kindness, as well as all those I just mentioned. The point is this, God's kindness, mercy, His steadfast love toward His people never ever ends. What does it say, "for his steadfast love endures forever."

God is eternal, His goodness is eternal, His mercy and kindness and love are eternal; never ending, never changing, never failing. However, we need to remember that because God is good, He must destroy sin and sinners (Rom. 3:5-6). I thought, after reading this psalm, of all the people around the world who are suffering terribly. This is God's goodness and mercy. Why? Because instead of destroying us all immediately for our numerous sins, He has instead been patient, inflicting us with daily reminders that we have sin, we are under judgment, and if we believe the gospel that Jesus Christ is the answer from God the Father for this problem, He will save us forever.

Here is how God shows His steadfast love for such wicked and wretched people who have been chosen for salvation: Jesus unrolled a scroll given to him in the synagogue at Nazareth and read,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
(See Luke 4:17-19). Jesus stepped into a world that hated him, had rejected him, was under the condemnation of the holy law for sin, is totally worthy of destruction by God, and yet He came to set people free from their own deserved guilt and judgment by dying for them on the cross. He came to show the never ending steadfast love of God for wicked, vile sinners. This love is unending if you are one of His chosen, because His resurrected life is unending (Rom. 6:9; Heb. 7:25). And whom does God choose? The poor (poor in spirit - Matt. 5:3), the captives (captive to their sin - John 8:34; Rom. 6:15-22), the blind (spiritually unseeing - John 9:35-41), the oppressed (by the devil - Acts 10:38). In other words, God's unending steadfast love is shown to those who recognize they are completely miserable, helpless, worthless and bankrupt of all righteousness of their own, and so find eternal goodness and kindness in the righteousness of God given solely through Jesus Christ our Lord! (See Rev. 3:17-19)

If you are one of these who have fled to Christ Jesus for help, then "give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever!" Hallelujah!

December 17, 2008

Grace Gems: Growing in Grace by Pink

I asked the Lord that I might grow

(Arthur Pink, "Experimental Preaching" 1937)

"Make Your ways known to me, Lord; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me." Psalm 25:4-5

There are two ways of learning of Divine things. The one is to acquire a letter knowledge of them from the Bible, the other is to be given an actual experience of them in the soul, under the Spirit's teaching.

Many suppose that by spending a few minutes in a concordance, they can discover what humility is; that by studying certain passages of Scriptures, they may obtain an increase of faith; or that by reading and re-reading a certain chapter, they may secure more love.

But that is not the way those graces are experimentally developed. Humility is learned by a daily smarting under the plague of the heart, and having its innumerable abominations exposed to our view. Repentance is learned by feeling the load of guilt, and the heavy burden of conscious defilement, bowing down the soul. Faith is learned by increasing discoveries of unbelief and infidelity. Love is learned by a personal sense of the undeserved goodness of God to the vilest of the vile. Patience cannot be learned from books--it is acquired in the furnace of affliction! It is thus with all the spiritual graces of the Christian.

Ah, my reader, we beg the Lord to teach us--but the fact is, that we do not like His method of teaching us! Fiery trials, storms of afflictions, the dashing of our carnal hopes--are indeed painful to flesh and blood; yet it is by them that the heart is purified.

We say that we wish to live to God's glory--but fail to remember that we can do so only as SELF is denied and the Cross be taken up. God's ways of teaching His children are, like all His ways, entirely different from ours!

I asked the Lord that I might grow,
In faith and love and every grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.

It was He who taught me thus to pray,
And He I trust has answered prayer.
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair!

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He'd answer my request.
And by His love's constraining power,
Subdue my sins and give me rest!

Instead of this, He made me feel,
The hidden evils of my heart.
And let the angry powers of hell,
Assault my soul in every part!

Yes, more with His own hand, He seemed,
Intent to aggravate my woe.
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low!

"Lord, why is this?" I trembling cried.
Will You pursue Your worm to death?"
"This is the way" the Lord replied,
"I answer prayer for grace and strength."

"These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set you free;
And break your schemes of earthly joy,
That you may find your all in Me!"
--John Newton

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We have posted Arthur Pink's outstanding
article, "Experimental Preaching" Please
forward this on to your pastor!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

Grace Audio Treasures (choice AUDIO sermons)

Sovereign Grace Treasures (choice PRINTED books)

December 16, 2008

Grace Abounding: God Answers My Prayers!

"God answers all my prayers." That was the statement I kept hearing from Mark, a homeless man I met on 69th Street this Saturday. He had alcohol on his breath, and must have drank enough to make him just under the influence. He knew the Bible extremely well, and was quoting Scripture to me most of the time we talked. A faithful follower of Harold Camping from "Family Radio", Mark could have talked my ear off all night. He insisted that I give him a prayer request so that he could pray for me about that thing. So I told him that I want to study and learn to understand accurately and communicate the Bible. He wrote it down in his "book of miracles." We argued about a few things, and Mark ended by denouncing me as not working for God (at least not in the correct or true way or something), even after he had begun by commending me. He kept saying that he works for God, and that God answers his prayers and people have been healed from his prayers. He even went as far as to tell me he doesn't even pray anymore because God will just give him what he knows he needs or wants or something like that. Although there were some serious things about Mark's faith and attitude that came up that night, one thing he reminded me of was that God answers my prayers. When I challenged Mark about his hope for heaven, he got upset at me, because he said that you can't know if you're going to heaven... in other words, you might lose it. He asked me what mine was, insisting on it. So I told him, I said, "Mark, you wanna' know what my hope for heaven is?" He answered, "Yeah, I really wanna' know. What is it?" So I said, "It's Christ!"

Which, as I mentioned, reminded me of how God answers my prayers all the time. It does not surprise me anymore that the LORD answers my prayers, but it does still make me in awe of His endless mercies. I will not say that God gives me everything I ask for, but that He is so gracious, as my heavenly Father, to first give me eternal life in His Son and eternal hope through His Holy Spirit. 1 John 5:13-15 says,
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him."
It then continues to teach how to pray and how not to pray for a believer who sins.

That verse is one that I love. First, John says, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." Then he goes on to say that we have such confidence toward God to ask anything according to His will, knowing that He hears us and will grant that request.

All that simply to say, I am so glad that the LORD has been granting me the desire to read the Bible more. I also have some good books I've picked up again after setting them on the shelf for a while, such as Holiness by J. C. Ryle and a book by John MacArthur on Revelation. I have been reading through Revelation and just been amazed at the revelation of Jesus Christ all throughout as "the Lamb who was slain" and as God in the flesh of a man. Jesus is God, and God became a man, and this man is the eternal Son of God who died on a cross. It is amazing! And the prayer part is that I would continue seeing Christ in the Scriptures, which is happening so much lately, and that I would be praying more, and continue to be sanctified in the Holy Spirit to be useful to the Master. This request is still an ongoing process, but God is faithful, and I just wanted to share the benefit of joy and hope that comes from knowing Christ, my solid hope. :)

December 13, 2008

Total Depravity in Romans One

This is a translation of Romans 1:18-32, which I just finished using The Resurgence Greek Project and The Blue Letter Bible for help interpreting the Greek. I call this the Total Depravity section, because it shows us our true human condition throughout the world since the fall of Adam in Genesis 3. Of course, nobody in the world thinks they are naturally this bad (nobody except Christians that is). The Jews in Romans chapter two sure had a difficult time accepting this about themselves, and so Paul dealt with them appropriately (See Romans Chapter 2).

I believe understanding our human sinful condition as it relates to God is extremely important in order for us to understand the absolutely amazing love and grace of God (1 John 4:10,16). Just to note, I tried to be as perfectly literal as I am able to be with my limited knowledge. I am by no means educated in the Koine Greek language. Ok, well here it is, Romans 1:18-32 (Personal Translation by P. T.):

For the anger of God is being made known from heaven against all of the ungodliness and injustice of people who hold back the truth by their wrong doing. Because that which is well-known about God is clear to them, since God has shown it to them. This is because the invisible things of God and His eternal power and Godhood are already understood, being fully seen by the works done in the creation of the world, so that they have no excuse. For although they knew God they did not think of His glory and praise or give thanks to Him, but they became thoughtless and dark in their stupid heart. Calling themselves wise, they became stupid and ignorant. And they exchanged the glorious praise and honor of God with pictures that look like man and birds and animals and reptiles. Because of this God handed them over in the desires of their hearts to filthiness, to degrade their bodies with themselves. By that they exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creation instead of the Creator (Who is forever blessed! Amen.) In this way God handed them over to disgraceful passions, because women exchanged the natural use of their body for that which is unnatural. And in the same way, the men let go of the natural use of their body with the woman and burned out with lustful desire for one another, men with men doing shameful things and receiving back in themselves the reward for going off course. And just as they did not accept to hold God in recognition, God handed them over to a rejected mind, to do those things that are not acceptable. They were filled with all injustice, wickedness, greed, badness. They were full of resentment, murder, contention, deceit, wretchedness, gossip. They were slanderers, haters of God, abusive, proud, boastful, inventors of worthlessness, rebellious toward parents, stupid, disagreeing, unaffectionate, unmerciful. They realize the righteous requirement of God, that those who practice things like these deserve death, but they not only continue doing them, they also are pleased with others who practice them.
My dear friends, this is exactly why no one can be saved by their works, because our works are all totally polluted and unclean before God (Isaiah 64:6). And don't think this description does not include ourselves in it. Because Paul said to the Jews who thought that way in Romans 3:9, "What then? Are we above others? Not at all! Because we have already made the accusation that Jews and Greeks are all under sin." So we find it to be true from this knowledge of our natural sinfulness, that "It is a faithful word and deserving total acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to be saving sinners, of whom I am chief." (1 Timothy 1:15). We who have recognized these things about ourselves, and have confessed to God in repentance and trusting faith in the Lord Jesus, we have found that we were saved solely by God's grace apart from any works we could perform (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 11:6). And as I've shown in other posts, this salvation turns sinners into saints by the gracious working of the power of God's Holy Spirit who pours love into our hearts (Romans 5:5).


December 10, 2008

Sovereign Grace: Hope

"Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope." (Psalm 119:49 ESV).

So, some people like to argue that man has the free will to choose to believe, trust, hope in God, and God graciously gives us that option to choose. I don't like to argue about free will, although I feel like doing that sometimes when someone misuses the Bible (and have been overly zealous at other times to blast away with Scripture), but here is my reason why I believe God is completely Sovereign over my ability to have faith: The Bible teaches that God made me hope in His Word. It is plain, simple and true.

1 Corinthians 1:30:
"And from him [God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written [thus the title for my other blog :D], "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

It cannot be more clear! But how hard it is to humble our pride and admit we depend on God for even the least amount of genuine believing, hoping, trusting faith? And knowing this must not make us proud and rough toward others, on the contrary, filling our hearts with confidence in God as the supplier of hope, we encourage and exhort others to look to Him in Christ.

December 6, 2008

Grace Gems: Sustaining Grace

If we were left to ourselves

(William Secker, "The Consistent Christian" 1660)

"What makes you better than anyone else?"
1 Corinthians 4:7

Reader, are there not the same lusts lodging in your
--which are reigning in wicked men's lives? The
reason why there is so little self-condemnation, is
because there is so little self-examination.

If we were left to ourselves but for a moment--we
would destroy ourselves in that moment! We can defile
ourselves--but we cannot cleanse ourselves. The sheep
can go astray alone--but can never return to the fold,
without the assistance of the shepherd.

"Hold me up--and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

(From Grace Gems)

December 5, 2008

Romans 6:14 Notes

For sin will have no dominion over you (literally: be Lord over you), for you are not under law but under grace.

My literal translation of Romans 6:14:
"Sin for you people* will not be lord, for you are not under law but under grace."
(* "you" is plural.)

Sin will not be the ruler or slave master over Christians any longer. Why not? Because they are not under the law but under grace, which means that Christians are not subject to the law of commandments (Eph. 2:14-16), but are rather given freedom from it through God's abundant grace in Christ Jesus our Lord. The reason for this is that Jesus Christ has abolished (or more lit. "disemployed, put an end to") the law of commandments expressed in ordinances by His death on the cross (Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14). Sin rules where the law is in force. The reason sin has dominion where the law is in force, is because it can only bring forth death using the law when the commandment is violated and the penalty of the law is put into charge. The law pronounces death on the one who sins (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12). Therefore anyone who sins is under the just penalty of the law, which is death and condemnation. So in this way, sin is lord, because it keeps bringing forth death where the law is in charge, since it by nature violates God's laws (1 John 3:4).

Grace is not so. Grace sets us free from the law by providing sufficient payment through the death of Christ. Jesus fulfilled the law and met its requirement of death for all who are justified by faith. Therefore sin is rendered powerless to kill, since the law has been satisfied already by the death of Christ on behalf of believers, and so the Christian cannot be brought under it again. That is why sin is not lord of the Christian, because it cannot make the Christian guilty under the law anymore. The reason for this is because the Christian is counted righteous by faith in Christ Jesus, and is therefore no longer under the law but is set free by the grace of Christ.
(See also Matthew 3:15, 5:17; Romans 3:24-26,28, 4:15-16, 5:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 2:21, 3:13,24,25; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18).

The very next verse following Romans 6:14 is vitally important:
"What then, do we keep sinning because we are not under law but under grace? It will not happen!" (Romans 6:15).

November 30, 2008

Grace Abounding: Please Pray for Evangelism

I was in West Philadelphia yesterday evening with my dear friend and older brother in Christ, Herman Lee, Sr.. We met at 69th Street in Upper Darby and began passing out gospel tracts around 4 pm. It was really an amazing time. I had been praying all day for God's Spirit to move and work in me to witness to the lost. The temperature began dropping as the evening became darker. There were a lot of people walking up and down the street, and they all looked so needy to me. That is, they all seemed to be so blind to the fact that eternity is awaiting them very shortly, and they need to have a righteousness that is not their own to be saved from the judgment of God against sin. I praise God that He has provided Jesus Christ to be our righteousness, but most people will never receive that free gift because they have no genuine saving faith in Him.

Well, as the day grew colder, I put on my hat and gloves. People kept walking by. I spoke to at least half a dozen people, both young and older, about their souls. Most of the time, I just began preaching instead of asking all the standard questions. And not surprisingly (because of God's purpose in preaching - 1 Cor. 1:17 and etc.) they listened. I spoke to a young professing athiest, just preaching to him about how God has provided so much evidence by sending His Son to be the Savior and changing the lives of wicked lawless men to be transformed by His power through grace, and how doubting God's Word is the same as calling Him a liar, and this young kid stood their and took it all in so openly. The words just began flowing from my lips. I told him that all the false religions in the world point to Jesus Christ as the only way, because that is what they are all so vehemently denying. I told him about the love of God in sending Christ to take our sin upon Himself. I gave him a New Testament to read, and left him with another tract for him to give his lady friend who was waiting for him over by the wall. I exhorted him to read the Bible, and he was agreeing to do it. Amazing to see God's grace at work there!

There was so much more that went on. People of different ages heard the word preached. Many of them recognize they need to check themselves to see if they are genuinely saved. Many of them were relying upon their works, which are as filthy rags in God's sight (Isaiah 64:6). Many of them were genuinely interested in knowing the truth about these things. Others left the tracts we passed out to them torn up on the sidewalks. But generally, most seem very open on 69th Street in Upper Darby.

One young man was the son of my fellow laborer, brother Herman. He had become a Muslim, and both him and his friend (who I tried speaking to) were closed to hearing the gospel. Please pray for Andre. They would not accept anything from me.

I am so blessed, as the most unworthy of saints, to be used by God in evangelism. You can labor together with me by asking God to cause fruit to come out of all this, and for sinners to be converted to true grace, the grace that changes sinners into saints.

God bless to all who serve the King!

November 28, 2008

Letter of Encouragement to Fellow Sufferers

I finished reading 1 Peter today according to my daily Bible reading plan. The letter of 1 Peter was written to strengthen and encourage suffering believers who were scattered all around the world, but specifically those in five named regions (1 Peter 1:1). Although I have not yet had my life threatened by anyone for being a Christian, and nobody has beaten me up or stolen all my property, I am still very comforted from reading this letter. All true Christians in every place do experience various trials and sufferings (Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 2:21). Anyone who does not suffer in some manner as a Christian is simply not one. But it can be very distressing and heartbreaking when the various trials seem to overwhelm, and then, the letter of Peter is meant to provide this kind of strengthening encouragement to help us endure:

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV).

My fellow Christian friends, you who are elected by God and called to be partakers of His glory in Christ Jesus our Lord, you must not be afraid, or discouraged, or fainthearted, or anxious because "after you have suffered a little while [whether it be mental anxiety, spiritual trials from Satan, physical pain, or any other form of sufferings], the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." And, if you have heavy anxiety over the willful ignorance of people whom you love, who also reject you and reject the truth of Christ, then just know that your sufferings may be a part of God's plan to bring them to repentance, and if not, God will work it all out for your joy and His glory in the end (Romans 8:28; 1 Peter 1:6,7). Only stand firm, be strong, give yourselves to prayer and to reading the Bible, and may the God of all grace give you peace.

In Christ Jesus, I can say that I love you who are my true brethren in the faith. Grace be with you all.


November 27, 2008

Things I'm Thankful For: just sharing from my heart

First, I am thankful to YHWH (Jehovah, the LORD) because He is good and His steadfast love, His lovingkindness and mercy endures forever: "Give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever." (Psalm 136:1). And also Psalm 138:2, "I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted your word above all your name."

I am also thankful that He chose me, loving me forever, even though I am the least worthy of the smallest dirt-crumb of loving kindness from the King of all ages. He loved me by giving His Son to die for me and rise so that I am accepted in His presence, not just for a little while, but forever and ever and ever! (I already feel humbled to the floor just by this thought).

I am thankful for the Bible in English, because that is my language, and people were literally hunted down, arrested, imprisoned, tortured, murdered, strangled and burned for translating the Bible into this language.

I am thankful for everything because I have eternal life, and so everything, whether good or bad is working out for good in eternity according to God's purpose (Rom. 8:28).

Therefore, I am thankful for grass, and for the sky, for stars, and for family.

For frogs and for salamanders, for water, for the internet, for self-control, for the Holy Spirit in me doing His work by God's grace.

For friends, and for enemies.

For disease, hurts, broken relationships, emotional pain, mental confusion, the misunderstandings and slander of people who do not love the truth.

For wearisome toil, for traffic, for Satan's opposition, for my own temporary humiliation, for God's grace that works through faith which works by love.

For God's promises, and for the birth from above.

For being separated from the world.

I'm thankful for my mother, for my niece and nephew, for my parents and brothers and sister.

Even more, I'm thankful I have true brethren in Philly, Pittsburgh, and all around the world who are my eternal family in Christ (we'll be together forever). I'm also thankful for sugar, and insulin too :)

Honestly, I don't feel very thankful right now, but I truly am, and I am thankful that God will flood my heart again and again with thanksgiving at the right time... Oh, Lord, make me a thankful man!

How about you?

God bless to all who are resting in the righteousness of our King Jesus!

November 26, 2008

No Confidence in the Flesh

Thus says the LORD:
"Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the LORD."
(Jeremiah 17:5 ESV).

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD."
(Jeremiah 17:7 ESV).

November 17, 2008

Grace Abounding: Josh's Mother Needs Help

My neighbor (on the other side of Lancaster County) and fellow believer in the truth has been letting people know about his mother's condition and her need for support. Josh has a great blog called Truth Matters. His mother has been sick with cancer, and she needs to take expensive medication but her insurance will not cover the costs, so all the expense must come out of pocket. I am writing here to inform my readers about this need, so that perhaps the Lord in His mercy may move your hearts to give or to pray for Carol and Josh through this post.

Go to Truth Matters and read more about Josh's mother, Carol's need. Thank you!

November 15, 2008

Romans 6:1-2: Should We Sin Because of Grace?

I was reveiwing my notes on Romans 6 in preparation for a Bible study on the beginning of the chapter, and I decided to post my brief notes on verses 1-2. Perhaps it may later be followed by more? Here is Romans 6:1:
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?"

In response to Romans 5:20-21, where we learn that grace abounds even more where sin increased. Does that mean that we should keep on sinning so that grace may continue to abound? If grace is so much more abundant where sin is increased, then why not sin so much the more in order that grace may keep abounding? That is the question, and that is the issue most often brought up when the religious mind understands grace. The religious person responds in distrust: "What are you saying, that we can keep sinning so grace will abound?" While the non-religious person responds with antinomianism: "Wow! I can sin as much as I want and God's grace will cover it - that's great!" etc. But Paul makes it clear that this objection to grace, as well as the abuse of grace is not possible at all. For one thing, sin is not the cause for grace to abound. Paul didn't write in verse 20, "where sin increased, sin made grace abound all the more..." No, but rather he wrote, "but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (KJV). So since grace is a free gift of God and cannot be earned by good works, we should also realize that it cannot be earned by sin either. Grace is free, undeserved, and no sinning can bring more of it, since it is only freely given at God's own goodwill and pleasure.

In the next verses we find out just how impossible it is for us to continue in sin because of grace.

Romans 6:2
"By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?"

The answer to the question in verse 1 is a strong, resounding NO! No way! May it never be!

Why? Paul answers the question with another question: How can we be dead and still be alive at the same time? In other words, we died to sin, so how can we be alive to it still? Those who are dead are no longer living, and those who have died to sin can no longer live in it anymore. It is an impossibility, a contradiction for a Christian to continue to live a sinful life, because he has died to sin.

A Death Poem:

Did you ever die?

What happens when someone dies?

First, they lose their ability to do anything. No more breathing, heart-beating, feeling, tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing. No more thinking, speaking, reading, writing, praying, being. No more moving.

Death takes everything away. No more wearing, buying, selling, enjoying. No more money, friends, family, health, house, city, town, pets, spouse, children, country.

All gain is lost. All hopes quenched. All plans ended. The past is gone, the future lost, the present restricted.

Death ends it all.

So, have you ever died? I don't mean physical death like I described above, because then you would not be reading this now. Have you died to this world? Have you died to sin? Have you died to self? Have you died to the law so that you may live to God in Christ who is the fulfillment and end of the law? Have you died with Christ, and so have you been raised to new life with Him? If so, just as you cannot live while being dead, you cannot continue in your old life of sin while being a Christian. That would be impossible.

I'm not forgetting the other objection to this teaching in Romans 6, and Paul didn't either, that is why we have Romans chapter 7. We are free from sin, yet we continue to fight with it until we are completely delivered from "this body of death". Nevertheless, we are dead to it, and so we walk in newness of life.

Let us remember, it is all of grace! And we must not forget it :D

November 13, 2008

Responses Welcome: How Has Grace Worked to Change You?

You may share whatever you like about God's grace working in you...

I would like to simply say that Romans 5 and six are two interlocked chapters. The first dealing with the glory of God's grace toward the vilest of sinners, and the second dealing with the power of His grace to transform lives completely through the death and resurrection of Christ. As I've been reading Romans 6, I am reminded of how grace changes lives forever, and how being freed from sin and living in obedience to God through Christ is as much the gift of God as justification by faith alone.

Grace took me from being a self-deceived hypocrite, who used to justify sin by claiming forgiveness since I "believed" in Jesus, therefore God would forgive the evil that so characterized my heart and life, both inwardly and outwardly. Grace opened my eyes to the severity of my sin as I read the Bible, and grace gave me a completely new life hidden in Christ, where knowing God through Christ and being holy and sanctified to Him are what I hunger and thirst for now. This all is a gift of God's grace to me through the work of Christ my Lord when He died and He rose and He lives forever as my great High Priest.

November 7, 2008

Grace and Repentance: Do They Go Together?

Does the message of repentance fit in with the message of grace? If so, how?

During his earthly ministry, Jesus denounced certain cities for their unrepentance (Matthew 11:20-21,22-23,24).

And after saying those things, he went on to say that only the Father's gracious will can reveal the truth to people and bring them to repentance (Matthew 11:25-26,27,28-30).

Without true, genuine repentance, you cannot and will not be saved. But that repentance can only be graciously granted by the loving Heavenly Father's will. It is my desire to share the gospel with sinners, but without repentance, there is no salvation and no gospel. Oh, LORD God, that you would grant repentance to some poor dead sinners in this day by your powerful grace! Amen.

November 5, 2008

This Video Blew Me Away... Its Worth Watching All

This Video came at the right time for me. It has confirmed so much of what I've learned over the past 2 1/2 years. Watch the whole thing if you can, because we need to hear these things and tell them to others!

"When you refuse to preach on the radical depravity of men, it is an impossibility that you bring glory to God, His Christ and His cross. Because the cross of Jesus Christ and the glory thereof is most magnified when it is placed in front of the backdrop of our depravity. 'She loved much, because she has been forgiven much.' And she knew how much she had been forgiven because she knew how wicked she was. Ah, we are afraid to tell men of their wickedness, and they can never love God because of it. We have robbed them of the opportunity to boast not in themselves, but to follow the admonition: 'Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.'"

- Paul Washer, Ten Indictments Against the Church sermon.

November 4, 2008

Assurance of Salvation

Sometimes the path to assurance can be a dreary road, but there is hope for those who trust the Lord.

Does your assurance rest on Christ as your salvation?

Romans 8:31-38
What then shall we say to these things? [To what things? Why, the things that were written before this of course! See Romans 1-8. But more specifically to Rom. 8:23,24-25, and especially Rom. 8:28,29,30!!!] If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all [i.e., all who are 'children of God' and 'heirs with Christ' and who have the 'firstfruits of the Spirit' - Rom. 8:16,17,23], how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?...

What is the argument here for being sure we are saved? On what basis does it rest assured? We always need to be careful not to write too much on important truths, since that can overwhelm our mind instead of strengthen it by what the Scripture plainly says. Paul assures his readers that the assurance of the promise of eternal salvation rests not on anything we have done, but rather, on what God has done in Christ. Paul made it clear in chapters 6-8 that only believers who have been crucified with Christ and have died to sin, to the law and to the world are saved. That all who have the Holy Spirit and are being led to put to death the deeds of the flesh are saved. But when he talks of where our assurance really stands sure, he says (for those who meet the previous qualifications of being genuine Christians, see Romans 8:1-28 for evidences of being saved), it is God who is for us, since He is the one who predestined us, called us, justified us and ultimately glorified us before we even had any say in the matter! So our confidence for being sure is in what God has done for us, not what we have done for Him.

The fruits of righteousness are a result of what God has done in saving us, and are an evidence that we are saved, but I don't think we can look to them for real confidence. What we look to for a firm ground of assurance is found in Christ. God did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all. I have often thought, "How can I doubt God's love?" I know for a fact that in my natural flesh, I want to do nothing but doubt God, which is sin and is the same as calling Him a liar! But by His grace and through the work of His Holy Spirit, I cannot doubt what He has done for me. He gave up His own Son for me. He loved me in an unbelievable way, and now I believe it! How could I possibly think He won't do the rest of what He promised, such as eternal salvation? "How will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?"

There is more here, but I think you get the point. I am sure that I am saved, because I have repented sincerely of my sins before God, have put all my hope and trust in the one man God anointed to be the Savior and in whom all are commanded to believe, and have bowed my heart and life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and God. But the only reason I have to be sure that all this means salvation for me, is that God loved me by giving up His own precious beloved Son on the cross to take away my condemnation, so that through His resurrected life, I may be justified and live forever at peace with Him. This kind of love makes me want to shed tears of joy! How about you? Does the cross of Christ truly mean salvation for you? Are you believing? Remember that faith is a gift in Ephesians 2:8-9! One of the things I was teaching on Romans chapter 5 this past Sunday, and I said, "Do you know why all who are in Christ by faith can never, ever, ever, ever be lost or condemned?" And they kind of looked at me expecting an answer from me, so I said, "Because Christ was already condemned for them." That is why I will never be lost, the perfect Lamb of God was condemned for all my sins, and now there is nothing left for me but salvation! If He was condemned for me, I cannot be condemned. I know this is for me, because of the grace the Lord has shown to me in giving me His Spirit, repentance and real living faith. My faith and works are sometimes weak, but I can never doubt the all surpassing love of God in Christ my Savior. It was a battle for me in the past to know this, but that is why I look unto Jesus (Heb. 12:2). I hope you all do the same.

October 30, 2008

Still Ain't Too Late to Hear All of Grace for Free!!!

I am trying hard to refrain from spewing out threats to anyone who has not yet downloaded this book for free: All of Grace by Charles H. Spurgeon. I already listened to it in the car to and fro my work. It is well worth every word Mr. Spurgeon prayed over and took his pen in hand to write.

Go ahead and download it before the month is over... there is still one day left! :)

P.S. And I would love to hear what people think who have been listening already. Thanks, grace to you!

Related Post:
FREE: All of Grace Audio Book!!!

October 25, 2008

FREE: All of Grace Audio Book!!!

I just read Noel Piper's post on the Desiring God blog this morning about free audio book resources. She mentioned All of Grace being free this month. So I downloaded the free audio book: All of Grace by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I already read this book before, and I've given them away to Christians needing to be taught. It is very good and should be read by everyone! The chapters are short and easy to understand (it is not a big book, but a little one). It is worth reading again and again! So go ahead and download it while it is free, otherwise as soon as this month is over, it will cost around $15. And if you drive as excessively as I do, it is very valuable to have something like this to listen to in the car. You can also order a free paperback from Chapel Library's literature catalog, or buy it for around $3.21 if you write to them or call.

To make it easy on you if you want a paperback, just write:

Chapel Library
2603 W. Wright St.
Pensecola, Florida 32505

And include this information:

Item: aogr
Title: All of Grace
Author: C. H. Spurgeon

They will send you a free one, or if you want more than one, they are $3.21 each. There is a study guide included if requested (but it is one that takes a lot of time, I tried it, but didn't complete it because I am way too busy for my age :)

Related Post:
Still Ain't Too Late to Hear All of Grace for Free!!!

October 22, 2008

Seeing and Savoring Christ in Psalm 119: Aleph

Psalm 119 has been a blessing for many saints throughout history. It is one that has refreshed and renewed my zeal and desire to know and to live by God's Word. However, I realize there are many Christians who do not realize that this Psalm, as well as the rest of the Psalms in Scripture are written about Christ (Luke 24:44). It is my desire to meditate on Christ in this Psalm as I memorize it.

We begin with Aleph, which is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD!

We know that many saints have walked blamelessly at times before men (Gen. 6:9; Job 1:8), but who has been blameless in God's sight ? Yet Christ came to walk blamelessly in the law of the LORD for us who believe in Him, in order that He might present us blameless to the Father through Himself (Eph. 1:4). Only now, through Him and by His Holy Spirit are we made willing and able to walk as blamelessly as we can until He presents us perfect on the day of Christ (Phil. 1:10; Col. 1:22; 1 Thes. 3:13, etc.). All glory to God for that!

2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
who seek Him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways!

Again, only through Christ are we able to do these things, and yet who has kept his own heart steadfastly on God without doing any wrong? Only Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!

4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

There is a standard all men and women must meet in order to be right with God, His commandments must be kept diligently. This prayer is a longing to fulfill that command. What a blessing of divine grace and benevolence that Christ the Lord has fulfilled this requirement as a substitute for His own people (Matt. 3:15; Rom. 5:19)!

6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.
There is no shame for those who do not break God's commandments. The shame of Adam has been passed to all his offspring (Gen. 2:25 and 3:7,10; Rom. 5:12), accept for the Son of Man, the New Adam, who knew no sin (1 Cor. 15:45,47; 2 Cor. 5:21). Christ learned obedience through what He suffered (Heb. 2:10, 5:8), and so His praise comes from a truly upright heart, because He has both learned and fulfilled God's righteous rules for us. What a blessing it is to have His steadfast obedience imputed (counted) to such worthless sinners as us who are called and chosen in Him (Rom. 5:19; 8:30)! What mercy and grace! We may now praise Him with a new heart as we learn His righteous rules through our Prophet, Priest and King.

8 I will keep your statutes,
I will not forget your word.
Thank God that we have one who has not forgotten the word of the Lord and has kept His statutes blamelessly. What a privilege it will be when we find ourselves transformed into His exact likeness (1 John 3:2)!

This is looking to Jesus in Aleph, from Psalm 119. Let us not forget what our Lord came to do. Hallelujah!

October 21, 2008

Six Lessons Learned, Even Seven I'm Reminded of This Year

Stephanie had me on her list of people to tag about sharing six things I learned this year. While many of these things I may have learned over many years, I am at least reminded again this year of them and their importance.

So here are six things I've learned this year, even seven that I've been reminded of (these aren't necessarily in order):

1. Getting enough sleep and exercise, as well as eating carefully is extremely important to keeping yourself able to do just simple daily things well like work or ministry. Oh, how I learned I need discipline to do this.

2. Not only is God able to do the impossible, He does do the impossible for those who believe His Word!

3. I've been learning Spanish, and this year I've learned to say Efesios 2:8-9 and Romanos 3:10-12 without looking at the page. I have also learned many other words, and can sometimes even understand people when they speak in Spanish! I also just learned that in Vietnamese, "Gong Lam" means "Very Good," which I said to the people at the restaurant this Sunday and they laughed and smiled because I knew something in their language. I also learned that Chao Ahng is hello to men and Chao Ba is hello to women. Doc Kinh Tanh means Read the Bible.

4. I've learned about blogging this year (before I knew very little about this crazy internet world).

5. I learned that you have to spend time with and talk/witness to your family members (like grandparents) before they die and you lose the opportunity. There are no excuses that can be made. Time is short and they/you may not be alive tomorrow.

6. This one certainly is not the least important, but knowing, understanding and holding to the correct gospel is absolutely essential to being a Christian. What salvation do we have if we have faith in the wrong message??? Don't be lazy about examining your own beliefs about this with Scripture! The Bible teaches one gospel, and that is Christ. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ, and the Scriptures show us that. We can't add anything to it, like baptism, good works, miracles, dreams/prophecies, our obedience, our own natural faith, some gifted leader, the church we attend, sacraments, or anything else. Christ has done all the work on the cross, and salvation is by believing the good news in Him, not about what you have to do. We must repent and believe, but that is by looking to Christ as the Scriptures reveal to us the way He has been manifested. Obedience is the essential fruit, but not the root of salvation in Christ. Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, who died and lives, who is God in the flesh, He is the gospel! I cannot make this point more important to remember each and every day and year!

7. I'm always reminded that it is all of grace! :) Salvation is all of grace. Living the Christian life is all of grace. Evangelism is all of grace. Knowing God in Christ is all of grace. Waiting on God through prayer is all of grace. Seeing Him answer my prayers is all of grace. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is all of grace. Walking in obedience to my Lord is all of grace. I am sooooooo thankful for His abundant grace through Christ Jesus my Lord!

I'll pass it on to Phylicia, Sean, CJ if they'd like to participate.

October 15, 2008

Are You Assured of Your Salvation? Why or Why Not?

Do you have assurance that you are saved? Why or why not?

This is something I've been thinking about lately. Mostly thinking about where my assurance lies. Every Christian thinks about this question from time to time. Personally, it is one that I have wrestled with intensely in the past. So I want to ask anyone who reads this post (whether or not you've commented here before - all readers wanted) to share a little about your personal assurance of salvation. There are two sides, those who say they have and those who don't - both are welcome to share.

1. Do you have assurance that you are saved? Why or why not?
2. How do you know?
3. How important is it for you to know whether you are going to heaven?

I will let you know my answer later. First I'd like to know what others say. Thanks!

The Good News of Love in Galatians - 10 min. or so

Pastor Mark in Philly asked me to speak for a few minutes before his sermon on Sunday. He has been preaching from Galatians, so I said something about the love of Christ in Galatians.

Powered by

October 14, 2008

Did Y'All (You All) See This DG Video Yet? Convicted the Hypocrite Out of Me

"James 3: A Story" - produced by Desiring God. This little film was made to go along with the theme of the 2008 National Desiring God conference two weeks ago on the power of words. I recommend listening to as many of these messages as you are able to (free to download).

James 3:8-10 says, "but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so."

My misuse of the tongue is a constant reminder to me that I am deeply in need of grace from God. That if I were judged based on my own standards, I would be worse off than those I've judged, and that I am so grateful for Christ who cleanses me from all sin with His blood, not only that, but even changes what comes out of my mouth by His grace.

Grace Abounding: Evangelism in York again

While I was at McDonald's waiting for Matt, I received a voice message from my S. Texas friend, Julian. I haven't heard from him in 2 1/2 years! Julian professed faith in Christ while talking with a fellow evangelist on the street near the University of Pittsburgh in 2006. He is also the one who taught me how to make Pico de Gallo and helped me begin to get interested in learning Spanish. I called him back later, also leaving a message. This time I quoted Efesios 2:8-9 to him to show him how much I've learned.

Matt had some more questions for me, and we were looking them up in the Bible, while the older lady was sweeping the floor nearby. She asked, "Is that the Bible?" I said, "Yeah. Are you a Bible reader, too?" She said, "Yes I am." She kept on sweeping the floor, so I said, "That's awesome" and smiled at her. She has been noticing us for some time now, so I think God is giving us a little favor with the McDonald's crowd (again, we are two young white guys in a mostly black and Hispanic McDonald's, so hopefully in a little more time we may start more conversations with those who work there... If the Lord wills).

We hit the streets afterward, and since the weather was so beautiful and warm, people were leisurely strolling about in the square. First guy we met was named "Day-day." He was hanging out like a homeless man, but I couldn't be sure. He had a big cross around his neck, so I sat down beside him and we talked about faith in Christ. He was going to church and watching Benny Hinn and other TV preachers for his soul food, so I asked him, "What about the gospel? What is it all about?" He didn't know, but thought it had to do with doing enough good works to get to heaven. He seemed interested in the tract I gave him, and his attitude was cheerful, so we talked some more about the cross, then left him to go walk around the block, praying along the way.
We met some more people briefly, handing out gospel tracts along the way. We then walked up to two guys hanging around a park bench, John and Terry. Terry only had one leg and needed to get a cab, so John was going to call one for him, but then he didn't need to. We talked for a bit, and John said he was a born-again Christian. He shared a brief testimony that seemed like maybe he knew the Lord, but maybe not (I couldn't tell). I said to Terry (the older man), "Do you know the song, 'Amazing Grace'? You know how it goes, 'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me." I explained that we are the "grace men," just talking to people about God's grace. I said, "Grace is for hell-deserving sinners. Do you deserve to go to hell?" Terry said no, then looked at me and said, "Do you deserve hell?" I said, "If God doesn't send me to hell, there is something terribly wrong, 'cuz I violated every one of those ten commands." Then I explained the cross of Christ and how Grace through Christ Jesus is the only way, not works. Some more interaction with John and Terry went on, then we headed up to my car. On the way, we met some skater kids walking down the street. Two out of three accepted tracts, and one stopped to talk briefly.

A few other gracious things happened, which I don't have time to go into detail about, but our time in York tonight was brief, nevertheless very encouraging to me. People were a little open tonight. Probably partly due to the nice whether, yet even that is mercy from God... for now. Until then, here's a very important quote from A. W. Tozer on the practice of "Accepting Christ":

The formula "Accept Christ" has become a panacea of universal application, and I believe it has been fatal to many...

The trouble is that the whole "Accept Christ" attitude is likely to be wrong. It shows Christ [appealing] to us rather than us to Him. It makes Him stand hat-in-hand awaiting our verdict on Him, instead of our kneeling with troubled hearts awaiting His verdict on us. It may even permit us to accept Christ by an impulse of mind or emotions, painlessly, at no cost to our ego and no inconvenience to our usual way of life.

For this ineffectual manner of dealing with a vital matter we might imagine some parallels; as if, for instance, Israel in Egypt had "accepted" the blood of the Passover but continued to live in bondage, or the prodigal son had "accepted" his father's forgiveness and stayed on among the swine in the far country. Is it not 

plain that if accepting Christ is to mean anything there must be moral action that accords with it?

- A. W. Tozer, That Incredible Christian, (Harrisburg, Pa.: Christian Publications, 1964), 18.

P.S. Please excuse my goofy non-irreverent photo of me pulling a 'crazy street preacher' stunt. It is all of grace, and I thank God for His grace that fills us with love to reach out to those I would normally have no love for.

God bless and grace to all in Christ!

October 11, 2008

Grace Abounding: My Grandmother's Funeral

I traveled with my mother, my younger brother Lee, and my sister Maria to Wooster Ohio for our grandmother, Elizabeth Tomassetti's funeral. We took our black lab, Caesar, along with us because we didn't want to leave him home alone. Our cousin's children loved playing with him. I had asked for prayer here on the blog not long before we left, and I am very grateful for all those who did pray for us. I was comforted being in Wooster Ohio knowing that family in Christ were praying for me and my natural family during this visit.

My grandmother was born in Ireland. During WWII, she met my grandfather who was a U.S. Navy man. After they were married, they lived in Scotland for three years where my dad was born, then they moved to Wooster Ohio where my grandpa Tomassetti was born. My entire family on my dad's side were raised Roman Catholic.

My parents raised my brothers and sister and I in a protestant church. Nevertheless, I was not saved by grace until I was in college. Now that I know Christ and am His, it is my desire that my family members, both immediate and extended, also come to God through Christ by faith alone. Faith is not easy to come by, we need the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures to teach us (Rom. 10:17), so I make it my aim to share the Word at whatever opportunities the Lord provides.

Wednesday night, I spent a lot of time talking with a family friend's teenage son. I had shared the gospel with him in April at my grandfather's funeral, but he had not been reading the pocket NT I gave him. We must have spent almost an hour talking. He did not know anything about Jesus or what the Bible teaches, so I explained a lot to him about why Jesus came into the world, who He was, why we need a Savior (using Children of the Corn as an illustration of our spiritual deadness, because it came up in our conversation) and what He will do when He returns. This young man started to see that this was more interesting than he had previously imagined. His mother told me at the graveyard that he went home talking about what I said to him. I also gave him one of my new ESV pocket NTs, which I told him would be easier to read the the KJV or NKJV one I had given him last time we talked. My prayer was that he will read it, and get his family to read the Bible as well. May God do so and more.

I had a bad cold this week. I could barely talk during our visit. However, I did get to ask one of my older relatives if he would go to heaven when it was his turn to lay in the casket. He said that he would probably not go there. I asked him if he knew the song, "Amazing Grace"? He said yes, (it was playing on the slideshow in the funeral home). I said, well it goes... "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a WRETCH like me." And I pointed to myself. I said "It is good news for bad people, but bad news for good people." I think I also said something about how that is why I needed Jesus to die in my place so that I can be saved... something along those lines. He said he would talk to me again about this, but we didn't get to talk again yet.

During the trip, I talked with my mom about salvation by grace, how that we deserve hell, and that God should hate us, but His love for us is extraordinary since it cost the life of His dear Son (Rom. 5:8-9,10). I also talked some about salvation by faith alone (Rom. 3:27-28). The funeral mass was held at the Roman Catholic church, and it always grieves me to hear that blind guide stand there and tell people that sins are cleansed by baptism and holy communion and that those who practice those things are the "faithful" who will be in heaven with Christ. There is no mention of the utter ruin of our sinful hearts and our need to be regenerated by an act of the Holy Spirit and to be justified by faith apart from any works that we perform, and of the powerful effect of Christ's substitutionary death (even though he did mention the resurrection quite often, which is important, but we need to know why Christ died and then how He lives to save). Without Christ's salvation by grace apart from human works or ordinances, where is the gospel (good news) by which we must be saved? See Ephesians 2:1,5,8-9 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-2,3-4.

Again, thanks so much to God for all who prayed!

October 6, 2008

David Mathis' thoughts on Christ as the Life

In Him Was Life, by David Mathis from the Desiring God blog. This is an excellent meditation on the Life that is in Christ. Thinking of death and of Life...
Grace to all who are hidden in Him!

October 5, 2008

Grace Abounding: I'll be traveling for the funeral

I went to Philadelphia today for church. There was only a handful of us there, but we worshiped and learned of our great Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Afterward, there was a Pakistani woman named Maria who had come for her first visit and she wanted us to go pray over her house because she feared someone at her work had cast a spell on her. She is a single mother and has a thirteen year old daughter, who was out with other family members at six flags today so we did not get to meet her or the rest of the family. She had grown up in a "Christian family" in Pakistan, but was having difficulty understanding some things. So we discussed God's purposes in suffering and Satan's hand in it (see one of John Piper's excellent resources on this here). We went to her house afterward to pray; the pastor and his family, and brother Herman and myself all went. She offered us some water to drink and we prayed for peace in her house and for the power of Christ to protect them from Satan. We also prayed for many other things. Especially her work situation, because there was a lot of difficulty going on there with the people, and she may be losing her job. She showed us a room in her apartment building where she wants to help us to be able to hold church services, so we prayed about having that work out for us as well (which is something we've been looking for).

After this, we ate some lunch at a pizza shop, then went to go see the movie "Fireproof." While we were on our way to the theater, my dad called me and said his mother just passed away while his best friend Freddie was praying for her. My mom and my younger brother and sister met us at the movies and we watched the movie together. It was very, very moving. An excellent movie, and the first time I've been in the theater in I think over 3 years! This movie will totally transform how you think about love in any family relationship. Well, it was a time of grieving for my grandmother, but also a time to be inspired by God's love as it was portrayed in an American cinema (a very rare thing indeed!). I really want to go and share this good news as well as I can with everyone who will listen, that "God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8).

Well, I'm going to end this update by asking for some prayer for my family and myself during this period of bereavement. Thanks so much to all my blogging friends in Christ.
God bless!

October 4, 2008

Grace Abounding: Grace Gems!

So I finally joined the Grace Gems mailing list. It has been a long time, well over 3 years, that I have been reading materials published on the Grace Gems website. It was my friend, Mark "Grace," who first introduced me to them. But now I was again inspired to return to the habit when I saw that Rita had been posting the daily Gems on her blog New Human Life, and Stephanie also got hooked over on Thirsty Soul.

The story behind my experience with Grace Gems began on a cold and cloudy day in Pittsburgh (like most days there)... well I could go on with a long story, but the short of it is that Mark "Grace" would print sermons from the Spurgeon Archive and give them to me to read (from the famous and amazing website by Phil Johnson who also does "Pyromaniacs"). Mark would print out sermons from Grace Gems also and pretty much throw them at me so I would read them after he had read them and left his highlights all over (we were opposed to each other theologically and doctrinally back then). Nevertheless, I would read them anyway.

Now I've read dozens of sermons by authors like Charles Spurgeon, J. C. Ryle, J. R. Miller, Jonathan Edwards, J. C. Philpot, Octavious Winslow and so many more. All I can say is that they have only blessed me abundantly in meditating on the Person and work of my Lord Jesus Christ. They have taught me to know Christ, not just to know about Him. And so I'm pretty excited to get daily quotes from these guys in the mail. That is why I'm posting this today, to share the benefits I reap from reading great authors. I hope others can do the same.

God bless!

Penn ~ a hell-deserving sinner,
saved, satisfied and sanctified
in Christ Jesus my Lord.

Now, here is the one I got from the introduction message:
"Remember that it is not hasty reading—but serious
meditation on holy and heavenly truths, which makes
them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not
the mere touching of the flower by the bee which
gathers honey—but her abiding for a time on the
flower which draws out the sweet. It is not he who
reads most, but he who meditates most—who will
prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and
strongest Christian." Thomas Brooks

September 30, 2008

Who Should I Marry? Part 2

Here are some passages I wanted to share from the booklet, "Whom Shall I Marry," by Andrew Swanson:

"It is not wrong to wish for someone you find attractive, who shares similar interests or a similar background. These and many other qualifications have some importance in guiding your choice of a marriage partner. The one qualification, however, that is a must as opposed to an optional extra is that the prospective partner really shares your Christian faith.

If your prospective partner is good looking, has a secure occupation, shares many of your interests and whatever else you value - that is a bonus not to be despised. But these matters are not of first importance. They must never replace the one thing that really matters." [which is that we marry 'only in the Lord' or only a true believing Christian].

And in another place it says:
"2. Marriage to a believer is one of the ways you can glorify the Lord.
The great question for every believer is, how can I best live to please God? The Apostle Paul teaches us that our whole life should be governed by the principle, 'whatever you do, do it all for the the glory of God' (1 Corinthians 10:31). In the context in which Paul writes these words, he is emphasizing the fact that even our eating and drinking should be controlled by this principle. He is clearly teaching that we can and ought to seek to glorify God in the things we allow ourselves to eat and drink. But that is only one example of the principle. It is not just that God expects us to glorify him in what we eat or drink but also, 'whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.' This means that every believer who contemplates marriage ought to ask, 'Can I be married to the glory of God?

Believers should never simply get married because they want to be married or because they feel pressured into being married. No! believers should only marry if they can marry to the glory of God. Believers should be thinking of the purpose that God intends marriage to fulfill."

Just remember, this is a blog about grace and I wouldn't be a 'grace man' if I didn't say that all we have, or will ever have that is good, only comes from God. Prov. 19:14 says, "House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD." God has not promised us a marriage partner, but He has promised eternal life, where marriage will no longer be necessary, and He has promised to give more grace to the humble (Titus 1:2; Luke 20:34-36; James 4:6).

When considering marriage, I usually think about death also, because we just don't know if we will have the opportunity to get the kind of marriage we desire in our hearts. I honestly never expected to live past 22 or 23 for a couple reasons. One is that I know people who died at a similar age before they were able to marry, and I always thought, "Why them and not me?" We just don't know if we will live long enough to be married. Christ could even return before that happens, so we need to make sure marriage is not "the end all be all" of our hope, but eternity with the risen Savior is. I'll be arriving at 25 in a few months, and it is possible that I could die before I get there. So I think the question we should examine ourselves with most searchingly is, "Have we found our satisfaction in the truth and trustworthiness of God in Jesus Christ according to the promises of His Word - the Bible?" With that said, I still plan on getting a prudent wife from the LORD if He would be so gracious.

This post relates to these also:
I also wrote in much more detail on the subject of marriage a number of weeks ago here:

September 29, 2008

Grace Abounding: Update on some things

I cannot express the thanks I have toward God for all who have been praying for my grandma. My dad arrived home tonight. He is pretty sad, because he lost his dad five months ago and now his mom is very ill. We have lived 8 hours away from his family all my life. We always only would visit them occasionally. Please keep praying for faith in my grandmother, that she would trust in Christ alone as her salvation. I hope to go visit her before she dies, so I will probably drive out with my siblings this weekend.

I'm still memorizing Psalm 119, although it has slowed down, since I need to make it stick. So I'm going over what I've got so far of it. I can still fly through Alef like crazy, but I'm working on keeping some other lines in my mind before moving on. With all that is going on lately, I have some things on my mind, nevertheless, my joy in Christ has been greatly increased this past week. There is nothing better than joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:11)!

There are some new things added to my internet life on the sidebar there: Pennspod (which is some audio clips of my evangelism adventures and other things which I decided to share for encouragement); Learning to Speak in Tongues (my new blog to help me perfect a gift I've requested from the Lord); and there is a song sung by Michael Card and Sarah Groves on the sidebar, called "Jubilee" (you have no choice, you have to hear it!).

In thinking on the topic of marriage according to a post from a few days ago, I thought the lyrics to this song were pretty insightful. No matter what our circumstances, these words are true for me:

These lyrics accompany the song "You're So Good To Me" from the I Stand In Awe album by Steve & Vikki Cook (Sovereign Grace Music).


You’ve given me so much
More than I’d ever dreamed
And so much more than I deserve
Your mercies surround me, reminding me anew
That all I have has come from You
It’s all from You

For You have crowned my days
With overwhelming grace
Lord, You’re so good to me
Though troubles fall like rain
This precious truth remains
Lord, You’re so good to me
Yes, You’re so good to me

You chose me, You saved me
And made me Your own
Promised that You would never leave
Soon one day, You’ll call me
And we’ll see face to face
‘Til then You’ve given me a taste of paradise

This is grace abounding in a world of sin and trouble (...I'm sorry, that line I just wrote reminds me of a Tupac song I used to listen to because of the words "in this world of sin" - don't ask why that just came to my mind - but now I think this way: this is grace abounding over and above sin and trouble in the promises of God's Word).

Grace to you all.

September 28, 2008

Please pray for my grandmother and family

I just told my dad to call my mom, because she told me my grandmother's heart and kidneys are failing and they took her to the hospital. The family in Ohio wants my dad and mom to come there before she dies (if the Lord wills, perhaps she will recover). My grandmother's name is Elizabeth Tomassetti, and she was born in Ireland. My grandfather Tomassetti just died in April this year. Most of my Tomassetti family lives 8 hours away in Wooster Ohio. They all need prayer for salvation and for peace. This will be tough for my parents to travel tomorrow in this situation.

Thank you all in Christ Jesus my precious Savior.


September 27, 2008

Faith vs. Works? My Morning Meditation on Galatians

[I was reading this morning, and the following thoughts came to my mind, so I turned them into a post.]

In the letter to the Galatians, Paul used some strong, strong language to warn them about trusting in a work's (law) based salvation. At the end of chapter four, after he explained the difference between the two covenants - how one is of the flesh but the other is of a promise, one is for slavery and the other for freedom, one is from below while the other is from above, one is born of the flesh and the other born of the Spirit - he then ends with these words, "But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." So brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman." (Galatians 4:30-31 ESV).

So we see that all who are of the flesh, and who remain under the covenant of works-righteousness (law) for salvation, cannot be heirs with those who are of faith. It is only the children of the promise who are saved. Paul's point has become clear by this section of his letter, which is that salvation is only by faith in Christ. Faith unites us with Jesus, and it is in Christ Jesus alone where we find eternal life (1 John 5:11-12). As long as anyone continues in a course of works-based righteousness, they will never attain to the righteousness that leads to eternal life, which is given freely only to those who believe in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 3:21-24). Christ died, was buried and rose again on the third day making sufficient atonement and satisfaction for all the sins of those who trust in God through Him. It is only through His Person and His work that we are reconciled back to God the Father. There is no other way for sinners to be justified and reconciled to God for eternity.

I was once exhorted to remember Paul's own words in the beginning of chapter five: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery [works-righteousness]" (Galatians 5:1 ESV). We ought to also know and understand that faith does not free us to live any longer in sin, but rather it frees us to enjoy living by God's grace through faith which always works through love (Ephesians 2:8,9,10; Galatians 5:6).

Grace and peace be multiplied to all who find their righteousness and rest in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Total Depravación, part 2
In Hope He Believed Against Hope
Entering His Rest

September 26, 2008

Who Should I Marry? Two Resources to Help in the Struggle

This title comes from a booklet called, "Whom Shall I Marry?" published by the Banner of Truth Trust and available here to order.

With all the commotion around Christian circles today about singleness, dating and marriage, I thought I'd check out this booklet. Personally, I think a lot of the singleness/dating/marriage talk and books flowing through Evangelical circles are somewhat ridiculous. There is a certain point where you can talk about certain subjects too much (of course not including the gospel, which can never be spoken too much, yet I've been accused of that). Nevertheless, it still is an important subject and shouldn't be ignored.

I have been unmarried my entire adult life, which is going on seven years (if you consider age 18 to be adulthood). That means that I have had some time to wrestle with thoughts on this issue, (just as those close to my age can very aptly understand). People often ask me, "Why don't you have a girlfriend?" or "Are you looking for anyone?" and other similar questions. My most recent answers have been like this: "When Abraham sent his servant to get a wife for Isaac, the one thing he made his servant swear to do was not to get a wife for his son from the Canaanite daughters." (Genesis 24:3). There is one crucial thing for a Christian when considering marriage, and that is marrying "only in the Lord" (marrying only a like-minded believer - 1 Corinthians 7:39). The Canaanite women proved to be a disaster to every saint who ever messed with them (just remember Solomon who was the wisest guy, yet even he stumbled in this area).

The starting point of the booklet is a much needed reminder that we are not our own, but were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). We belong to God, and as His temple, we are to be holy and honor God with our bodies. This should be at the center of our thinking when choosing what to do about marrage. I especially like what 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us about being bought with the precious blood of Christ. That kind of love deserves our whole-hearted devotion to Him who first loved us.

Well, the booklet does a great job at explaining this familiar concept in a positive way as well as in the negative. It talks about why Christians must not marry unbelievers and gives a lot of good reasons for it, which I don't have time to list. One of them being that unbelievers are the enemies of Christ.

It keeps at the center of the message the truth that God is a benevolent Father who knows what our greatest needs are and how to provide for His children best (Matthew 7:11). It also offers some helpful advice, such as this: "In seeking a marriage partner, the first rule to observe is: 'Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness' (Matthew 6:33)." I would recommend this resource to any single Christian friend thinking about what kind of person is acceptable to consider marrying. I really don't think there is anything too legalistic in it, (such as I've found in some of the other books I've read on Christian single male/female relationships). I wish I could say more, but my lunch break time is running out. :º

While I'm at it, I also want to list one of my favorite resources I ever found on this topic, which is a message by Mark Dever at a Desiring God conference called, "Christian Hedonists or Religious Prudes? The Puritans on Sex." I really think the Puritans understood more than we do all the trials and temptations surrounding this subject. If you have an hour to listen, or download it and listen in the car, etc. This one is really worth your time.

That's all for now, and may God's magnificent grace through Christ be your glory.

Related Posts:
Who Should I Marry? part 2
Is God's Grace Sufficient?