February 27, 2009

TRUST: A Firm Belief in the Reliability, Truth, Ability or Strength of Someone

As humans we are never asked by God to believe a certain way, do a certain thing or live a certain life. We were created to be, are expected to be, and even commanded by our Creator to be what He created, but never asked. Consider Genesis 1:26,27,28,29 (also Genesis chapters 2 and 3). God made man upright, but we have invented and sought out our own plans and purposes (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Therefore, we truthfully and accurately describe all of sinful humanity as totally corrupt and depraved (1 Timothy 6:5).

But since God does not ask things of us, we can know what He expects of us and what He commands us to do. Consider the command of Psalm 4:5, "put your trust in the Lord." Also Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." And this command is to be done continuously without end, "Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock." (Isaiah 26:4, and note that Isaiah often prophesied about salvation for believing Gentiles along with believing Jews, so no one can claim these words are only for Jews - Isaiah 49:6). Therefore, all people everywhere are commanded to trust God in believing repentance (Acts 17:30). There is no option, and it is our sin if we fail to do it (James 4:17).

Faith glorifies God, since it rests all confidence on Him who is trust-worthy. To know what we are to trust God for, and what a trustworthy God we trust in, it is absolutely necessary that we read the Bible in some way. The Bible plainly teaches that we are saved by faith, and just so we don't despair, God has told us that this faith is His gracious gift through Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 2:8; James 1:17; 2 Peter 1:1). Praise God that we don't have to rely on our own sinful minds or devices, but we must, and by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can rely solely on the faithfulness of God according to His Word. Amen.

February 20, 2009

For the Love of God, Souls and the Terror of Hell

"Let all that you do be done in love." - 1 Cor. 16:14

"If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord come!" - 1 Cor. 16:22

"For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you." - 2 Cor. 2:4

My grandmother passionately reminds me often that, "Love is the key," as she points her finger directly at me. "And don't you forget it," she always adds. That is very true, and with love in mind, I want to passionately remind those who read this post that it is out of love for God, His glory, His Son and His purposes in this world, that we must not only earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 1:3), but we must earnestly and passionately seek to evangelize the lost.

Such a word as "evangelize" is offensive in much of Western culture today, yet is it not a word overflowing with love? It means to announce the good news and seek to convince others of its beneficial truth. It speaks of a message widely hated around the globe. Yet it is a message with the best interest of the glory of God in mind according to His saving purposes, and without knowing and believing it, guilty souls will spend eternity under the just wrath of God in hell. So it also contains the best interest of all people.

Here is a message by Mark Dever that he spoke at John Piper's church almost two weeks ago. I hope that all will listen to it. May it move you to your knees and move you to plea passionately to God for the love and the power to do what Jesus sent His people out as "lambs among wolves" to do, which is to share the good news.

If you are genuinely born again by the Spirit of God, then consider for yourself the love of God that He would send His Son into the world to save such an unwilling, unfaithful, unloving, unworthy, sinful rebel such as yourself. Then also consider what it would cost you to give up a little time for prayer, a little money, a little pleasure, a little acceptance with this ungodly world, a little pain, a little heart-ache to follow Jesus in the most rewarding and joyful experience possible during our preparation for eternity.

And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16 ESV).

May grace be multiplied to those who love and serve our Lord Jesus Christ under many trials.

February 18, 2009

Meditation by Thomas Watson

It has been a little difficult to do much lately, but by God's grace I can't stop meditating on His Word, so here's is an excellent quote from Thomas Watson that I saved a while back when I read it somewhere from Grace Gems:

III. Proving Meditation to be a DUTY.

Meditation is a duty lying upon every Christian, and there is no disputing our duty. Meditation is a duty, 1. Imposed. 2. Opposed.

1. Meditation is a duty imposed—it is not arbitrary. The same God who has bid us believe, has bid us meditate, Josh. 1:8. "This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth—but you shall meditate therein day and night." These words, though spoken to the person of Joshua, yet they concern everyone; as the promise made to Joshua concerned all believers, Josh. 1:5 compared with Heb. 13:5. So this precept made to the person of Joshua, you shall meditate in this book of the law, takes in all Christians. As God's Word does direct, so his will must enforce obedience.

2. Meditation is a duty opposed. We may conclude it is a good duty, because it is against the stream of corrupt nature. As one said, "you may know that religion is right—which Nero persecutes;" so you may know that is a good duty—which the heart opposes. We shall find naturally a strange averseness from meditation. We are swift to hear—but slow to meditate. To think of the world, if it were all day long, is delightful. But as for holy meditation, how does the heart wrangle and quarrel with this duty; it is like doing of penance. Now truly, there needs no other reason to prove a duty to be good, than the reluctancy of a carnal heart. To instance in the duty of "Let a man deny himself," Mat. 16:24, self-denial is as necessary as heaven—but what disputes are raised in the heart against it? What! to deny my reason, and become a fool that I may be wise; nay, not only to deny my reason—but my righteousness? What, to cast it overboard, and swim to heaven upon the plank of Christ's merits? This is such a duty that the heart does naturally oppose, and enter its dissent against. This is an argument to prove the duty of self-denial good; just so it is with this duty of meditation; the secret antipathy the heart has against it, shows it to be good; and this is reason enough to enforce meditation.

- Thomas Watson

February 8, 2009

Sovereign Grace: Understanding the Bible

Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.
(Luke 24:44-49).

Only Jesus can give us a proper understanding of the Word of God, since He is in fact the living Word (John 1:14). I have been praying for more understanding of the Scriptures, as well as for strength to be able to comprehend God's great and incomprehensible love. Just as Paul prayed for the Ephesians, that God would grant them according to the "riches of his glory" to be "strengthened with power through his Spirit" in the inner man, so that "Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." He also prayed that "being rooted and grounded in love, [you] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints... the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge" (see Ephesians 3:15-19).

Grace Gems: Sovereign Election

God's sovereign election

(Arthur Pink, "The God of Jacob")

"Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works, but by Him who calls--she was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved--but Esau I hated.'" Romans 9:10-13

Jacob supplies us with the clearest and most unmistakable illustration of God's sovereign election to be met with in all the Bible. The case of Jacob gives the most emphatic refutation to the theory that God's choice is dependent upon something in the creature--something either actual or foreseen--and shows that the eternal election of certain individuals unto salvation--is due to no worthiness in the subjects--but results solely from God's sovereign grace. The case of Jacob proves conclusively, that God's choice is . . .
entirely sovereign,
wholly gratuitous, and
based upon nothing but His own good pleasure.

The God of Scripture then, is the God who chooses one--and passes by another. He is the One who exercises and exhibits His own sovereign will. He is one who shows Himself to be the Most High God, ruling in heaven and earth and disposing of His creatures according to His own eternal purpose. He is the One who singles out the most unlikely and unworthy objects--to be fashioned into vessels of glory. Yet, He is the One who necessarily always acts in harmony with His own divine perfections.

Election is not as some have supposed--harsh and unjust--but is a most merciful provision on the part of God. Had He not from the beginning, chosen SOME to salvation--ALL would have perished! Had he not before the foundation of the world chosen certain ones to be conformed to the image of His Son--the death of Christ would have been in vain, so far as the human race is concerned!

Reduced to its simplest terms, ELECTION means that God chose me--before I chose Him. Our Lord said, "You have not chosen Me--but I have chosen you." (John 15:16) We love Him--because He first loved us. Election means that before I was born, yes, before the foundation of the world--I was chosen in Christ and predestined unto a place in God's family! Election means that we believed--because He made us willing in the day of His power. Election then,
strips the creature of all merit,
removes all ground of boasting,
strikes us helpless in the dust,
and ascribes all the glory to God!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

Grace Audio Treasures (choice AUDIO sermons)

Sovereign Grace Treasures (choice PRINTED books)

February 6, 2009

A Portrait of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, part 3

These are very brief summaries of each chapter from the gospel of Mark. Here are chapters 5 and 6:

5. After the storm, Jesus and his students went to the other side of the sea, where they met a man who was possessed with many violent demons. Jesus drove the demons out of the man into a herd of pigs, which ran into the sea and drowned. The town's people were very afraid when they saw what happened, so they begged Jesus to leave them. Then the man who had been restored to his right mind wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus told him to go home and tell his friends "how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." (Mark 5:19). So he went through ten cities telling all about how much Jesus had done for him, and the people marveled. Jesus also blessed a woman for her faith when she touched his robe and was instantly healed. Then he went to a religious leader's house and restored the man's daughter to life, so that her parents received their daughter back with amazement.

6. People were also amazed at the wisdom of Jesus. But even his own home town still did not believe him. He then sent his 12 students to the towns, giving them power to heal as they preached everywhere that people should repent. During this time, King Herod killed John the Baptist, who was the forerunner for Christ. With all the crowds of people seeking Jesus, it was hard for him and his students to find rest. But Jesus had compassion on the people, and fed 5,000 men (plus thousands of women and children) with only five loaves of bread and two fish. His students recovered 12 full baskets left over after everyone was satisfied. Then he went up a mountain by himself to pray. He returned to his students late in the night, walking on the water toward their boat. They were terrified when they saw him, thinking it was a ghost, but he said, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." (Mark 6:50). Then he climbed into the boat with them and the wind calmed down. As Jesus traveled through more towns and villages, multitudes came to be healed of their sicknesses, even by a touch of his robe.

February 3, 2009

A Portrait of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, part 2

Continuing my summary of the Gospel of Mark (chapters 3 and 4):

3. The religious leaders became even more upset with Jesus, especially since he kept healing people on the Sabbath day. But he declared that it was right to do good on that day, because he was "Lord of the Sabbath." This made them mad enough to conspire to destroy him. However, they could not deny that Jesus really did miracles. He even freed people from demons, so they accused him of driving out evil spirits by the prince of evil. Therefore Jesus warned that whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, and he showed them the error of their thoughts by telling them it is impossible for evil to cast out evil.
Jesus also went away to pray alone, and afterward he deliberately chose 12 men to be his students [disciples]. He also chose Judas Iscariot, who would betray him.

4. Everywhere Jesus went, he was always teaching and preaching. He often spoke in parables (stories that have a spiritual meaning). He told them of the sower who sowed some seed on bad soil, and some on good soil. The seed that fell on the bad soil did not last, while the seed on good soil produced fruit. Later he explained that these are different people who hear the Word of God. Some believe it but later fall away, while others continue in it with patient endurance and later produce the fruits of a transformed life. This was a warning for anyone who hears the gospel, since some hear without being saved.
On the same day, Jesus and his students were in a terrible storm on the sea. His students were surprised to find him asleep, so they woke him in fear. Jesus rebuked the wind and the sea, saying, "Peace! Be still!" (Mark 4:39). Everything calmed immediately, and he said, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" (Mark 4:40). They were absolutely astonished at who this could be, since he commanded wind and sea, and they obeyed him!

February 2, 2009

A Portrait of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, part 1

How wonderful it is to meditate on the Lord Jesus, whom we know as "Christ" (the Anointed, who fulfills all of the Old Testament prophecies that God would come in human flesh and be King forever)! The gospels were also written to be evangelistic, to help others come to believe in the one God the Father has consecrated and sent to be the Savior of the world. That is why I am writing a summary of the Gospel of Mark. I will be posting summaries of each chapter, until all 16 chapters are completed, then I hope to use what I learn to write an evangelistic tract about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Here are the first 2:

The Gospel According to Mark
A Brief Summary about Jesus Christ, the Son of God

1. The word "gospel" means "good news." It is called "the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (Mark 1:1). To fulfill prophecy, John the Baptist came as a witness calling people to repent, turn from their sins and return to the Lord in preparation for the Christ [the Messiah or Anointed One]. Jesus himself was baptized, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove, while God the Father testified from heaven saying, "You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Mark 1:11). Immediately Jesus went away to be tempted by the devil, resisted every temptation and returned preaching, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel." Jesus also called some fisherman to follow him, taught with astounding authority in the Jewish synagogues, commanded an unclean spirit to come out of a man, healed Peter's mother-in-law from a fever, taught crowds the Word of God, went to pray alone, and then healed many more from various diseases and ailments. He even had compassion on a leper, being willing to touch him to make him clean.

2. As he traveled through each town, crowds came to hear Jesus preach and be healed by him. A crippled man was brought to him on a stretcher. Seeing their faith, Jesus said, "Son, your sins are forgiven." (Mark 2:5). Some scribes thought he was blaspheming, since only God could forgive sins. But Jesus proved his authority to forgive by telling the man to get up and walk home. Immediately the man got up and walked! This amazed all the people. Then some religious leaders criticized him for eating with sinners and tax collectors. So he explained that it was not the righteous [or good] people who needed him, but sinners that he came to call to repentance [because those who think they are good see no need for a Savior].