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).