January 23, 2009

Thinking About God

Some thoughts I wrote down at the end of the day:

From the beginning of time, humans have always had a conscience knowledge of a Divine Creator. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are completely surrounded by (and even made up of) the beautiful art of a Supernatural Being, all of which sing billions of crystal notes, declaring without apology, the glory of this great God. The Bible is a book about God, and it does not hesitate to speak of a personal relation to Him as a fact of creation. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1). Some no doubt scoff at this, but they might as well scoff at billions of eye-witnesses testifying before them in a courtroom. There have been so many throughout history who have had real encounters with the living God, despite the naivety of such scoffers.

At some point after God created him, man stopped trusting and started trying to get his own way by believing a serpent's lie. So God cursed the land, along with all people afterward (including you and I), to an eternal judgment. Therefore, in His mercy, the Lord promised a Savior who would one day come and make it all better than before. God requires one thing, that we believe in the one He sent (John 6:29). This new man would be the incarnation of the Holy Divine Being, sent to reveal the Father's love in the power of the Spirit by the sacrifice of Himself on a cross. The story of redemption is a story about love, and this love is all about one thing... God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Praise His mighty name!

January 21, 2009

The Attributes of God

God is out of this world! My desire to know God has been so blessed, as well as charged, as I've learned more about His attributes. Check out A. W. Pinks' study here: The Attributes of God. (You can either listen to it read by mp3, or read it on a PDF).

January 16, 2009

Are We Beginning to See a Revival?

Just Because Calvinism and Humble Orthodoxy are "in" with a lot of young Christians today, doesn't necessarily mean it will last.

What do I mean by saying that? With all the excitement about being a Sovereign Grace fan or a Desiring God addict, you would think that God's new generation of fired up Christians are really a great thing. It certainly is wonderful to see people become fired up for truth. However, does that mean all are Spirit filled? I think of what I have learned about other movements in the past, and I must say, the world gets 'em in the end.

What about this one? Well, I'm still not sure if many of the followers are even out of the world yet. Nevertheless, they are certainly into theology. That is a good thing, but if good theology does not make our Biblical convictions last regarding true saving faith in Christ, the glory of God in evangelism and missions, and genuine assurance, then it will have accomplished very little, if not worse.

I hope to be one who resists going with the flow, but rather stands on the Word of God and the hope of Christ Jesus at all times. This should lead me to practice humble orthodoxy in a lasting way when it is the Spirit of God at work in my heart. I love the leaders of this movement and their messages. Men such as John Piper, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, as well as others are worthy of honor, but if their words are what I hang on, then what will there be after they are gone? Don't get me wrong, I love what is happening, and am very, very thankful for my answered prayers for a sort of 'Bible revival'. I also am concerned that the true children of God must mature to the point where we can stand on the Words of Scripture so steadfastly, even when, perhaps those within such a great movement might fail to do so. Are we able? Are we trusting in the Builder of the house, rather than in the house? By God's grace we will do so and more.

Grace to all and God bless.

[I just heard a well-known preacher give a very similar message, and so, since I had written this in my notes months ago I was reminded of it again. Perhaps it will help to "stir you up by putting you in remembrance" (2 Peter 1:13 KJV).]

January 13, 2009

JESUS: Intro Evangelism Message

I'm in the thought process of writing more of my own evangelism tracts. One time, I experimented on the streets of downtown Pittsburgh, asking confessed unbelievers if they would allow me to share for two minutes about who Jesus is and what He did. This was at the bus stop lines, and we normally walked down the line handing out tracts and speaking to people one on one. Although most turn away their faces, there are always a few who are willing to talk for a few minutes.

That was when I started sharing Christ briefly, by mainly focusing on His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, ending with His promise of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. I would describe in vivid detail the bloody suffering and death of Jesus, and every time those unbelievers heartily accepted a tract or a New Testament from me after hearing about how Jesus suffered and loved sinners. Well, now I've begun writing this down, only in more detail, and it will be much longer than a two minute brief presentation, but more like a tract/pamphlet.

Here is what I've written so far. Feed back will be very much appreciated by anyone. (Keep in mind, that this is a work in progress, and will need to be edited. Thanks.)

Who was Jesus?

The fact is undisputed that a Jewish man named Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in the land of Israel and that he was from Nazareth. He taught in Galilee, and was known by the Jews and many people from other nations. In fact, his name has been the only name that the Christian faith has proclaimed from the first century, 2,000 years ago, even until now. No one who has taken the briefest look at the past 2,000 years of history can deny that the impact this one man has had on the world is like no other who has ever lived. Even if you don't believe religiously in Jesus, you cannot deny the uniqueness of his character, which has convinced millions of people to learn of his teachings. It was Jesus who began the most despised sect of Jews that ever existed. It was Jesus who was so hated by religious leaders, that they passed the death sentence on him, even without a just cause. It was Jesus who made people rejoice with great joy and hope, while others gnashed their teeth at him in rage. It was Jesus who was hunted down to be murdered from his infancy. His parents had to flee away from Israel and hide in Egypt, while king Herod ordered a gruesome massacre of all two-year-old and under male babies in that land. It was Jesus who was accused of being a bastard, because his mother conceived him before she was married. Yet the holy Scriptures tell us it was because she (a virgin) had been chosen by God to bring His Son into the world, who would save His people from their sins.

Being no ordinary teacher, Jesus travelled through towns and villages, speaking in the Jewish Synogogues and declaring to people that the kingdom of God was about to come, as their Scriptures had predicted. People were amazed at how he spoke, with power and with authority, and yet without flaw. Multitudes crowded around him to be healed of all their diseases and ailments. It was testified that he had brought people back to life after they were dead. Even those who did not like Jesus could not deny his miracles, they just said he did it by an evil power. When Jesus forgave a man's sins, the religious leaders accused him of blaspheming, because "only God can forgive sins," they said. Some didn't like him because he spent time teaching those who had been publicans and immoral. Unlike the sophisticated teachers of his day, he held little children in his arms and blessed them in the name of the Lord. He also touched people with skin diseases and they were healed. They said he opened the eyes of the blind, gave hearing to the deaf, made mute people able to speak, made cripples walk, made deranged people return to their right mind. Spirits of demons which had oppressed and possessed people were driven out by Jesus when he commanded, and those people were set free. Sinners, found at his feet, the joy of knowing their sins were forgiven. They were transformed from being rebelliously selfish to being humble and obedient like no others. Jesus was a preacher to the poor, a doctor to the sick, a merciful shepherd to the wayward and wandering, a deliverer to those held captive.

Those who were against him said he was a deceiver, a blasphemer, a drunkard and a glutton, and that he had a demon in himself. Yet Jesus was the complete opposite of all that they accused him. It made them mad when he exposed their hypocrisy in broad daylight. Therefore we are told that many times his enemies conspired to kill him.

To those outside his way, Jesus was either a lunatic or an extremely crafty fraud. But to those inside his following, Jesus was more than just a man, though they could not believe it until after he rose from the dead. They saw him walk on water, command a storm to obey his voice and calm down, turn water into wine at a wedding, make a tree wither and dry up, feed thousands of people with a few pieces of bread. His closest friends saw him transform himself into a glorious man shining with light bright as the sun or as lightning. They called him a prophet, and even "the Son of God," which for a Jew, could get them expelled from their strict monotheistic (belief in only one God) religion. Jesus himself believed and taught there is only one true and living God, and that all people must repent and worship Him alone. He even claimed to be from Him and to be His only begotten Son. That is why Jesus made himself a whip and angrily drove out those merchants from the temple of God, because he said, "you have turned my Father's house into a den of thieves." Far from committing any sin, with the deepest conviction, Jesus upheld the holiness and worship of the one true and living God.

Everything Jesus taught was perfectly accurate and in harmony with the 39 books of the Jewish Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament). Everything he did and said were in direct fulfillment of what those books had prophesied he would say and do. Those books were in fact written about Jesus, who is the Christ (Greek for Messiah, meaning "Anointed"). Jesus was anointed with the powerful Spirit of God, in order to live a life of perfect submission and obedience to his heavenly Father. This was in order to preach and teach, to perform miracles, to free those held under sin's bondage and Satan's, to give life to the dead, to give the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who believe in his name, and one day, upon his return, to rule as supreme King over all the earth.

to be continued...

January 8, 2009

Sovereign Grace: Evangelism

"And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48 ESV).

I am thankful to God that evangelism is not a man-centered duty or field of labor. It is one that is empowered by His Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31), and is rewarded with joy as the word of the Lord is glorified, since He had caused them to believe who had been "appointed to eternal life." Praise God that we can pray and labor to evangelize a world which hates the light (John 3:19-20), for some will believe, because they must believe and be saved, since God is ever faithful to His own promises (Genesis 12:1-3)! "...and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

January 3, 2009

Married to Christ (Romans 7:4)

I just published my latest Bible study, but unfortunately, I have not had time to update some issues with my As It Is Written blog, so I am publishing this study here for anyone interested. It is on the topic, "What does it mean to be married to Christ," from Romans 7:4. I hope you enjoy, it is a short one. :)

January 2, 2009

The Grace of Fatherly Discipline

Sovereign Grace is a reason for our praise to God, both from the teaching of Scripture, and from our own Christian experience. Let us remember that staying a Christian, and staying in order as a Christian is a work of our Heavenly Father's Sovereign grace (just as our initial salvation is His work also). He works in us through many things, and whenever we need it, He disciplines us so that we will not be lost. 

This Grace Gem reminded me of that today:

God's sin-purging medicine

(Arthur Pink, "A Fourfold Salvation" 1938)

"God chastens us for our good--that we may
share in His holiness." Hebrews 12:10

Chastening is God's sin-purging medicine, sent . . .
to wither our fleshly aspirations,
to detach our hearts from carnal objects,
to deliver us from our idols, and
to wean us more thoroughly from the world.

God has bidden us, "put to death whatever in you
is worldly: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil
desire, and greed." (Col. 3:5) If we refuse to comply
with this unpleasant task, then we may expect God
Himself to use the pruning knife upon us!

"My son, do not take the Lord's chastening lightly,
or faint when you are reproved by Him." (Heb. 12:5)
This is a beneficial warning. So far from despising the
Lord's chastening, we should be grateful for it--that
God cares so much and takes such trouble with us,
and that His bitter medicine produces such healthful
effects. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but
painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of
righteousness and peace for those who have been
trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)

~ ~ ~ ~

We have published Arthur Pink's outstanding article,
"A Fourfold Salvation"