Saturday, February 28, 2009

Discovering and Directing SEEKERS

Now of course i know there is no such person as a 'seeker', not in the truest sense.
Yet something which i have always admired and have sought to do is to DISCOVER grace and DIRECT souls to grace.
This type of CONCERN for souls was awesomely displayed in the True Church Conference, and should be modeled by every believer.
CONCERN i say; it takes great concern to take the time to counsel with someone who desires to be a member, desires to labor for God, desires some form of counsel that leads first to the question of "is this person saved?". It takes great concern to deny the human tendency to give false comfort or to add numerical growth to your resume.
This CONCERN, comes first from a proper FEAR of God---> a fear that you would CONFIRM something He has NOT confirmed, a fear that His name would be BLASPHEMED among the wicked because of the wicked lifestyle of someone you just labeled "Christian" (this is EXACTLY what is going on today, to tell someone you are a Christian means a million things today).
This CONCERN, comes from a proper understanding of what the scriptures reveal about TRUE CONVERSION (which sets forth unmistakable evidences of spiritual life).
This CONCERN, lastly comes from a proper LOVE for souls, a biblical COMPASSION for people (which means you'd rather THEY HATE YOU and be warned and saved, then to love you and perish!)
***********These concerns are inter-related, they CANNOT be separated! Separate them and you will fall into legalism or works-salvation. YET if you have these, if God has BLESSED you with such concerns then you won't go to any extremes, yet you will continuously seek to grow in your understanding and your application of such realities.
I can say without a doubt, that the preachers at the TRUE CHURCH CONFERENCE 2009, had these concerns- it prevented them from extremes, from a form of law. Yet they set forth wise counsel in teaching the God-given principles concerning salvation and the purity of the church.

I share that these concerns MUST be there, because some people will want to buy some book or some guide and PRESS every person into some precise MOLD; looking for certain terminology or certain emotions etc...
In application of what I've said or hopefully what you would listen to in the TRUE CHURCH CONFERENCE sermons; you MUST examine yourself, you MUST ask God to reveal any deficiencies in your understanding or application of true conversion. You must plead with the Lord to shatter any desire to be seen of men (because of numbers) or to be loved of men (by lowering God's standard, telling them what they want to hear); in otherwords you must REPENT!!!!
It's just like asking the question "how to preach with passion?", there is NO ANSWER! Not in the way someone wants it, it's not a matter of mannerisms or tones etc... It's a WORK of God in your soul, it's the same as asking 'how does someone get the 'word in my heart like a FIRE' like Jeremiah?' ..... answer? YOU don't, God DOES. It's a matter of BEING, not doing; we must plead for the GLORY OF GOD to become a reality to us, to consume us in all things and FROM THAT we will be enabled to do the rest!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Refreshing T.C.Conference 2009

A conference of conferences was the 2009 True Church Conference on REPENTANCE.
I was more than blessed to be exposed to consistent expository messages concerning repentance. The emphasis under-girding the whole conference was the GLORY OF GOD, from the bookstore, to the missions reports, to the worship and even the fellowship. I was amazed to see the hunger from so many to be under sound and convicting preaching.
This conference was truly unlike anything i have ever heard of, and would go no where in exchange for it. In fellowship before and after service, and even around the bookstore; I was excited to hear of so many churches getting started that were very focused on the preaching of the word, the equipping of men to lead their families, and the saints reaching out to the lost. Also of many churches undergoing intense reformation, seeking a violent return to biblical models.
The preaching as well as the q&a time displayed an unusual amt of careful wisdom (drawing biblical lines) a heart for the glory of God at ANY cost, yet within that a balanced love for the CHURCH and for the LOST!
The LAST day was wonderful, especially the song service; to see such a number of BAPTISTs, of CALVINISTS shaking OFF all the false stereotypes, PRAISING the LORD through MUCH weeping and loss of voice; they worshipped like they believed the words they were singing (go figure!)
Here are some of the sermons so far:

Hopefully more to come:
Paul Washer had TWO sermons that were great, the first he went very calmly and carefully from a manual then he preached more typical later (there's really no typical with Paul unless you only listen to certain 'types' of his messages.

Conrad preached with accuracy and answered questions very insightfully, this is a dear pastor who preaches with AUTHORITY, pratical and passionate!

David Miller of course NEVER ceases to amaze anyone, being that his sermons are preached from memory, including the passages of scripture he quotes (not to mention he's hilarious!)

Jono Sims confronts you with BIBLE PACKED sermons, a unforgetable sermon from the OT
his heart for the lost and concern for the church is more than evident

Voddie Baucham, gave his heart, he preached about brokenness and blessed us all-- his worship q&a was perhaps the best that could be given in a short time (handling styles, unity of age groups, and family worship).

Jeff Noblit gave the insightful advice of a war-hardened soldier who has faithfully ENDURED the hardships of pursuing a BIBLICAL church. His many mistakes has only given him greater zeal for the glory of God and greater care for the souls of men, which spills through each sermon!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fruitful discipline

Jn 15:1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
Hebrews 12:5-6 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
------->KEEP THIS IN MIND---> The great truths that come from these passages, or the subject of discipline in the life of the believer, are these: That the Lord disciplines with a purpose, the purpose of our good, He does it while expressing His feelings, namely love towards His children! Why is not always important, sometimes because of our sins and sometimes it has nothing to do with what we have or have not done!

With that said, it is helpful to recall to mind those times of discipline.
If the discipline came from your disobedience then it will be good to remember the agony of such a time to discourage you from giving in to such sin or such circumstances. Perhaps you have been blessed to remember the steps that lead to such sin, or the gradual slipping of your devotion to Christ or involvement in Church. Perhaps you need to remember the fruit you bore from such an experience, maybe an unusaul (to you) time of clinging to the Lord and avoiding the world.
If through trials then you might recall such times in order to halt your doubts. Can you recall how God came through at such a miraculous time and how ridiculous you felt when things worked out after all. Perhaps it will be to close your mouth to complaints and open your lips to praise. It would be good for you to remember how softly the Lord ministered to your soul, kept your sanity and lavished His love upon you. It would be good to remember your trials because they were greatly used to strip you of vain pursuits. Perhaps your trials were used to convince you that God ALONE was your joy, your comfort, your security, and your strength!

My thoughts were refreshed concerning this topic due to the incredible memory of my 3yr old Malachi. Malachi has for over a yr, been able to see a picture (like an old slideshow) from months ago and recall his spankings. His accuracy is amazing, he'll see a picture and the exact area where he got in trouble at and remark 'Chi, Chi being bad, Chi, Chi, get smacked'. It's quite hilarious, but it could be a very useful thing.

I for one can and have recalled many 'pruning' points in my Christian walk and they have truly blessed me. I distinctly remember a very awful time of the Lord's disciplining that at the time was (from my perspective) crushing me! As a single man, the lord was gracious to humble me, to break me, to shatter my wicked pride and allow me to crash hard and suffer His rod for a season.
I can't count the lessons I learned from this experience. I can recall the allowances that i was giving my self at the time (others might not be able to handle it, I can), I remember my predominate use of the gift of discernment (maybe you have it too, it's a natural gift and it can also go by the name of the gift of criticism), I recall the busyness, the lack of devotions, the lack of any fruitful fellowship, and the lack of repentance.
I can recall the many friends who though they 'were' going to caution or rebuke me, decide not to because they reasoned the possiblities of sin were slim or that my previous zeal would keep me from such pitfalls. I remember confessing to the senior pastor before it really got out of control, and him telling me 'yeah i saw this one coming', THESE instances have been continual reminders to me NOT to avoid confronting fellow believers, they have strengthened my belief in Church Discipline, and in accountability of church workers.
The fruit of this time far outweighed the shame (what grace!), I can remember how incredibly fearful i was of myself. I was afraid in a very biblical manner of giving my flesh ANY room. I clung to Christ like someone who was just rescued. After church, after work, I would go straight to my room and seek the face of the Lord. I would pour over the scriptures while i ate, singing worship to the Lord till i went to sleep. I hungered for His presence like never before, i was so tired of chit-chatting, i didn't want to 'just hang out' I was longing for the Father, I wanted to lay upon His breast. It was a time where i could honestly say, i was experiencing personal revival, everything was heightened, everything was more real to me (if i was a fishing man, i probably would have tried to walk on water--->I remember one of my fanatical pentecostal friends who tried this, over and over). This also was the time where i finally left the thought of 'finding the one' i just wanted to be conformed to Him. This was also pre-puritan, pre-Spurgeon, pre-Piper, pre-Mcheyne days for me, and to a degree i am glad, because i WANT FRESH HELPINGS first!!!! No but really, i would recommend above all things that a man, a woman become familiar with the scriptures, familiar with prayer, before going to the thoughts of men even the best of them. It's only with a good grasp of the scriptures will you be able to properly discern things, and to an extent learn the life-long art of; taking the good and leaving the rest.

Above all, these times should teach us, should convince us, that MATURITY in CHRIST is absolutely linked to DEPENDENCE upon CHRIST. Did that register? That's the opposite of growth as defined by this world; which would say that the more independent you are the stronger you are (success). That's not the logic of Christianity, God would have us learn that we grow as we depend MORE on Christ. Let me address those of us in the reformed camp, have you noticed that you have struggled perhaps more now, then when you understood less about the scriptures? May i suggest that this is due to the fact that you have grown slack in your dependence upon Christ, because you have noticed such a tremendous growth in your knowledge that you have grown too comfortable (in other words; PRIDEFUL).
Repent therefore and beg the Lord to make dependence upon Him a REALITY!!!!

At the Cross

"At the cross, at the cross, where i first saw the Light......"
It is @ the cross, that we FIRST SEE!!!

It was at the cross, that i saw the Holiness of God
It was at the cross, that i saw the Glory of God
It was at the cross, that i saw the Worth of Christ
It was at the cross, that i saw the Justice of God
It was at the cross, that i saw the Wrath of God
It was at the cross, that i saw the love of Christ
It was at the cross, that i saw the grace of God

It was THIS sight, that convinced me of my shame, shattered all hope in my own goodness.
It was THIS sight, that convinced me of the seriousness of my sin, the wickedness of my crimes.
It was THIS sight, that convinced me of the centrality of Christ, of His perfections in humility and grace.
It was THIS sight, that convinced me that i alone deserved the full wrath of God, and that i was hopeless unless another could stand in my place.
It was THIS sight, that convinced me of the debt of worship i owed my Creator.
It was THIS sight, that convinced me of the gain of forsaking all for the pearl of great price the glorious Jesus Christ.

Let us feast upon the cross, let us never move from the heart of the gospel, let us pursue a life in light of the cross. If your passions be low, if the fire seems weak, then return your thoughts to the cross and meditate upon the glorious revelation of the person and work of Christ!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Prayer meetings

I was listening to a sermon at work, and the person quoted A.W Tozer saying this in regard to church attendance;
Sunday Morning will show you how popular a CHURCH is
Sunday Night will show you how popular the PREACHER is
Wednesday (prayer meeting) will show you how popular GOD is

Isn't this so true, you can tell a lot about a church from it's prayer meetings. I personally would be ecstatic about hundreds and thousands coming to a service, yet when it's time to pray there are only a few.
It was Spurgeon who attributed his success to the prayers of the people. I found this piece which illustrates this:
When visitors would come to Spurgeon's church he would take them to the basement prayer-room where people were always on their knees interceding. Then Spurgeon would declare, "Here is the powerhouse of this church."Spurgeon in his autobiography described his gratefulness for being blessed with such a praying church. "I always give all the glory to God, but I do not forget that He gave me the privilege of ministering from the first to a praying people. We had prayer meetings that moved our very souls, each one appeared determined to storm the Celestial City by the might of intercession." Spurgeon regarded the prayer-meeting as the spiritual thermometer of a church. His church's Monday night prayer meeting had a worldwide testimony for many years. Every Monday night a large portion of Spurgeon's sanctuary was filled with earnest and fervent intercessors."In Spurgeon's eyes the prayer-meeting was the most important meeting of the week." It is here many of us find ourselves in conflict with dear Mr. Spurgeon. We love our meetings for preaching and praising and yet sadly neglect those set aside for praying. One of Spurgeon's greatest concerns was that his people learn to truly pray. "He taught his people to pray, doing so far more by his example than by any preaching. People heard him pray with such reality that they became ashamed of their own mere repetition of words." Throughout his entire ministry many hearers remarked that they were moved by his preaching, but yet still more affected by his praying. D. L. Moody after his first visit to England, being asked upon his return to America, "Did you hear Spurgeon preach?" He replied, "Yes, but better still I heard him pray."

If you're wondering what he prayed you won't find much because he disliked recorded prayers (me too). Have you ever been to a church like that? Have you ever been to a prayer meeting that was distinguished by it's 'earnest and fervent intercessors'. I without hesitation believe there is too much talk about 'prayer- warriors' today as a 'type' of person. Where exactly is that found, which gift is that? Above that i have a problem with 'recognized' prayer warriors within a church, how exactly did that person become known for that? Did they broadcast it?
Even more troublesome is the idea that prayer is a woman's thing, NO NO NO, Men you are to LEAD in this area as well, and Shepherds EVEN MORE!!!
I've been at places where i had to force myself to come to the prayer meeting and leaving thinking 'we didn't even pray'. Paul Washer addresses this here:

Not sure if it's the same as 'worthless prayer meetings'. Brother Paul says at one point that he doesn't blame some people for not wanting to go, and that because they've never been to a 'real' prayer meeting. I like BEST his rule at his Church in Peru; that no one could request something that they have not prayed about. Also that requests should come through the prayers of the people. I totally agree, it's certainly more natural to meet together with people and just pray what is pressing upon your heart, and then others can agree.
Too often prayer meetings are nothing more than sick lists; IMAGINE a CHURCH and the majority of prayer if not ALL is spent addressing physical health needs?????!!!!!
What of the LOST family members, what of the Glory of God, What of the church services, the blessing of godly leadership, what of the need for godly men, women, and homes???
Why don't more Christians pray together? We waste so much time and never get to heart of things, don't talk about the need for a CHURCH and the importance of BODY LIFE if you only mean we should hang out watching football, chatting online, and doing events together- that's NOT the intent of fellowship (I'm not saying we can't do those things, but they aren't what's FIRST nor are they needed). I was absolutely shocked when i suggested to a brother, a associate pastor that we should meet for prayer (we meet about once a week), and he replied that, that was the first time someone EVER suggested that. HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!! I can look back over the past and can recall those relationships that were built upon prayer, and i can distinctly recall the fruit from it. I can recall the freedom in rebuking one another in love, in rejoicing together and in weeping together; Prayer is the heart of FELLOWSHIP!
Let us pray together brothers and sisters, if anything suggest it more often.
I'm not one for Prayer-peeves, get over it, as long as it's not FAKE, it's not someone trying to IMPRESS everyone, be VERY SLOW to condemn a child of God's prayers unless it's clearly NOT prayer.
Prayer like NOTHING else REVEALS what we truly value, what we truly think is important. I do wish you were convinced that we need a revival, that we need a reformation in the churches of America, we need the GOSPEL to be seen CLEARLY. Test the bulk of any persons prayers and it will reveal whether they are truly heavenly minded or spiritually minded.
Prayer should be emphasized in a church, i could go so far as to say ALL leadership should be required to be at prayer meetings (unless justifiably absent). Prayer meetings should also include ALL ages of believers (don't tell me 6yr old Johnny is saved but he can't be in a prayer meeting), it should be the best of times, not a burden.
Let us pray church.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Being holy, not BUSY

I believe it is very important for a believer to grasp the initial intentions of God Almighty in adopting His children. That first intention being primarily a relational intention. It was God's choice to redeem a people for Himself, a people He would call His children. Much is speculated about glory (heaven) but this we know for sure, God has promised to be there with US in heaven. We are not set aside, we are not placed down the road somewhere, there's no basement! We will be WITH God almighty, He will forever be a REACHABLE father, Jesus said he would come back to take us to be where He was. Jesus' desire was that we would know Him and that we would be ONE with Him. In some aspects we are, yet in EVERY aspect we WILL be with JESUS, we will SEE Jesus. I'm not wondering who I'll meet, even though i love my children dearly, i love my wife, I will NOT be looking for them, I want to BEHOLD and HOLD my Savior. I desire above all things and you WILL too, to in your glorified state give Him worship like you've never given before, you'll give Him ALL your thoughts, you'll give Him all your HEART, you will forever explode with love for Him!
Today believer, grasp that Jesus is more concerned with you BEING His then you are DOING for Him. Being holy, being separated to Him; it's one thing to try to be distinct from the world- the list would go on in how you could do this. Yet a better way, a singular way it's to cling to Christ and let the world fall off you. There's nothing like service which flows from intimacy with Christ. Do you wish to be free from many condemnations, from many failures, then rest in Him. Stop being so concerned with activity, with programs, with witnessing, with preaching, with loving your spouse, with training your children, with being a good church member; The Christian life is not about MULTI-TASKING, it's not about keeping a list of things going in a steady circle: rather set your eyes on ONE thing. Set your eyes on Christ, seek Him to be with Him and as you do this things will be revealed, things will flow, things will fall into place.
Isn't this the strength of the new believer? You get saved and you are so full of grace and love for God that you just SIMPLY, yes SIMPLY start serving God.
In His presence we find motivation like nothing else, we receive tender hearts, we have eyes set to His glory. We easily give grace when we are still chewing on the grace we have received! LEt this be your goal, let this simplicity return as central to all things and watch how things work out. Seek Him for Him, not to be a better this or a better that, but to better know and enjoy HIM!

Minister pray!!!

I'm just loving my 'lectures to my students', what a convicting book. It's one thing for a man to talk about something and another for someone to do it. WHen it comes to prayer, there are men who actually pray and when they teach on prayer there is conviction and even a hungering to pray. Yet there are those who don't pray much and when they attempt to speak of prayer, there's no reality; you feel as though it's a nice conversation among friends and everyone is just throwing out advice to consider.
Perhaps this is the biggest flaw of ministers today, when they attempt to break apart a figure, a instrument that God used in the past, in order to excel in grace. Yet how worthless it is to read of dead saints, and to ignore the obvious distinctions of those people. Once again i must say we live in a micro-wave society and we seek to get the most out of the least. In regards to ministry many treat it like the lotto, they just give a buck here and there hoping to strike it rich. Yet how dare a man call himself a minister who doesn't go often before the throne of God.
Indeed how much good could each of us receive if only we were more consistent in our seeking of God.
I'm always amazed by the directness about such issues men like Spurgeon were. Of course i could list many who are just as direct today and sadly to say they aren't too popular. Let a dead man say it and it's fine, but press it upon your hearers and everyone is crying 'LEGALISM', that because most haven't a clue what legalism is.
Prayer is the most natural thing, it's the most logical thing, it's the most delightful thing, it's the most transforming thing; Prayer is among all things the test of a minister's heart. A man may have a natural love towards people, a kindly and personable affection towards people, yet not have biblical love. The love which will speak the truth when you know it will be rejected, the love which will sacrifice friendship and peace for the glory of God. The love it takes to make a preacher BOLD before his hearers, the love it takes to administer church discipline.
A man who prays is a man who desires to give men CHRIST and not himself, he goes before God and cries 'without you i am nothing, my words are nothing, i need you to speak through me, they need YOU Lord, restrain my opinions, restrain my cleverness, don't let me get in the way Lord, oh Lord burn this truth upon my heart first i don't want to put on a show, i want to show you Lord, open their eyes to see YOU, open their ears to hear YOU, let your will be done!'

Spurgeon said:
"The minister who does not earnestly pray over his work must surely be a vain and conceited man. He acts as if he thought himself sufficient of himself, and therefore needed not to appeal to God." and "If we are truly humbleminded we shall not venture down to the fight until the Lord of Hosts has clothed us with all power........The preacher who neglects to pray much must be very careless about his ministry. He cannot have comprehended his calling."

As i have said, i believe the most needed advice today among decent preachers, i mean they at least have doctrine; is to PRAY more. What of fasting? Is it for Pharisees or cults? Haven't they perverted a good thing? Well then never mind the weirdos and give yourself to fasting once in a while. Don't you wish people were gripped by the truth you are preaching? Don't you wish for the lost to be saved under your preaching? Don't you care whether people are moved or not? Then plead before the feet of Christ for power, for unction in preaching.
Have you never felt the shame of preaching for a people that you gave little thought to? I speak from experience; that knowledge of your lack of prayer for the good of the people you are ministering to; how i wish we all could say we preached as dying men to dying men, yet the tragedy of some (perhaps most) is that they preach as though there is no hell, as though there is no glory, no Christ, no good news- they speak as though they are speaking about the weather, perhaps they should limit themselves to writing magazine articles because they have no FIRE!
Yet good prayer, i mean real prayer; searching, repenting, worshipping, and intercessory prayer, will ignite FIRE in your words, it will inflame your life and your sermons. It is my conviction that your people will notice the difference as well.

You should be slaughtered in prayer

Without a doubt there are themes or scriptures that every minister, every teacher, every witness likes most and that usually due to the plainness of those scriptures.
One which i have often tried to drill upon the conscience of the lost, especially the 'churched' hypocrite is Roms 1:32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. and/or
Philippians 3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
This is especially a favorite among teens when they want to defend some musician or actor who's life is in direct opposition to Godliness.
Perhaps this may apply to you, perhaps God could have justly Slaughtered YOU right in the middle of your prayers! Like many hypocrites your life is defined by a continual pursuit of the pleasures of sin, yet you do a lot to HIDE this before men. Even worse you might try to hide this from yourself, you are self-deceived into thinking you are in good standing before the Lord.
Your crime is that you don't only sin, but you are an agent for sin, you sell sin as though it's wonderful. Like the wicked musician that blasphemes God in his lyrics, speaks of sex, greed, and the pursuit of power as good things. It doesn't just present a picture of the world, but it takes a side, it either promotes it or denounces it. Likewise you speak of sin as though it were nothing, as though it were fun as though everyone should wish to be in your shoes.
It's like the hypocrite that prays for forgiveness in church, he makes his promises and maybe even sheds some tears; but the minute he walks out of service he's back on the phone or among his buddies BOASTING (glorying in his shame) about the SINS he just PRETENDED to be so sorry for. It's amazing that God doesn't destroy you in your prayers, or while you are speaking to the crowd; yet this is the depth of the depravity of man.
Will you lift sin as though it's beautiful? Will you brag about your sexual encounters, the people you've stepped on, the amount of stuff you have, will you brag of all the things you've got away with, leading all who listen to you into hell with you and then turnaround without blushing and put on a "I'm sorry" show before God?
You are wasting your breath, just like that wicked celebrity who thinks it a good thing to thank God for a gift they use to PROMOTE sin, the ONLY god they serve and know is the god of their belly, their sinful pleasures is what they obey and that only!
What should make you blush, what should pull your head down to the dust, those actions, those words, those thoughts that you should never wish to become exposed: You take those things and put them on display to all, not to your humility, but to your pride, you wear them as trophies for all to see! May God shatter your wickedness, can you really have such a low view of sin and claim to KNOW ANYTHING of God?
I call your attention then to the CROSS, look at that bloody cross and blush for it's your indictment! If sin was no big deal then there would be no cross, Jesus Christ as the Holy one was completely OPPOSED to sin. Jesus Christ took upon Himself sin, He wore the shame of sinful men; imagine wearing clothes drenched in the blood of infants or soaked in a sewer. Imagine your child being molested and YOU having to be identified as a registered Sex Offender on the account of the criminal. Yet this is NOT EVEN CLOSE in comparison, for these thing are not beyond what we could do. Yet Jesus was completely SPOTLESS, completely INNOCENT and yet He WILLINGLY endured the pain and shame of the punishment of sin. God held BACK nothing when He PUNISHED Christ n the cross. WONDER AT THIS: The cross was the HEIGHT of Christ's humility, His grace, His OBEDIENCE to the will of the Father. It was at the cross (if it could be said) that Jesus MOST pleased His father (obedient unto death even death upon a cross) YET this is at the same time, where despite ALL THAT, as a substitute for sinners; God UNLEASHED a FULL cup of WRATH onto the glorious savior. The LAMB was SLAUGHTERED on the behalf of wolves. As the only mediator to bring wicked HELL DESERVING rebels forgiveness and fellowship with God, He was treated as though He committed their CRIMES. The Victim, the prosecution, the judge, became the CRIMINAL. What love is this? You will never find, and you will never be able to earn. Flee to this cross, flee to this Christ. Recognize your wickedness, your sins against a holy God, YOUR part in the death of Christ and truly repent, truly turn from your sins and turn to God. You have no other options, brag as you may, but you'll either beg for mercy on earth, or beg for it on your way to hell. Give up your show, give up your hypocrisy because it won't work, be honest before God and seek Him until He gives you peace. When He does give you peace, you will love Him, you WILL hate your sin, YOU will become crosseyed, meaning it will be as though your eyes were opened for the first time and you will begin to see the ugliness of sin and the beauty of God!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gospel Lens

I am more and more convinced of the impact a correct view of the gospel will have on a person. I've personally been lightly checking out dispensational, covenant, and new covenant theology, and i mean lightly. I've only done so because of some remarks i have heard from over-zealous New Covenant disciples, one who used the word 'anathema' to describe teachers of other schools. In my discovery of where some people fall into different categories of these and other types of theology it is interesting how a great majority DON'T ever fall into the extremes that is supposed to be inevitable. Well if you hold to this then you are this, this and this. Or teachers of this school teach this, this, and this. In the past i have attempted to show how false these assumptions are in regards to several things, like Pentecostalism. The amount of difference even within a church is amazing and incredibly wide. I must stress once again that the majority of people JUST don't FIT into categories, go ahead and put people in boxes if you want to but it will just lead to much confusion- as to unbelievers you will always be intimidated in not knowing enough of where they are coming from, and always letting them play in home court (NO NO NO you have the truth, you have the gospel, you have a divine directive to PREACH the gospel, don't get distracted always playing defence) as to believers you will become overly and unnecessarily critical because you will assume things that simply aren't true.
Take for instance dispensationalism, which would seem (certainly from it's beginnings) to ignore the major promises of regeneration to only apply to Israel as a nation and also lead to the carnal christian doctrine, man-centered appeals and the like. Yet to say this is NOT fair to many godly men, and i would like to propose why!
There is a guard, a safety net, a restraining truth that keeps many of us from gross error: even those who have been taught a certain system that seems to have many weaknesses. That truth is the GOSPEL, let a believer GRASP the GOSPEL and he or she will be protected from much harm. It is more than just central, it's truly transcends all theology. It is the light and foundation of all truth. Now when i say the gospel i don't mean a Billy Graham crusade TYPE of gospel, I mean a MEATY, SOLID, and DEEP Gospel which contains so much more than any gospel tract can hold. The men of the past knew it, the greatest thinkers of all time revealed such. Men who were (in our day would be considered genius) scholars of scholars, incredibly disciplined and masters of logic as the Puritans: let them get one aspect of the gospel and they would write several books on it. Once again this is my plug for the Puritans if you have never read them before, or an Edwards sermon then put down that contemporary survey and chew on something with some heat.
This gospel that i speak of, the gospel which declares the Sovereignty of almighty God, which declares the deity and humanity of Christ (God in the flesh), which puts Christ at the center of eminence, which shows Christ as the perfect sacrifice, the ONLY way, the ONLY atonement, the ONLY hope of salvation. The gospel i speak of is that gospel which SHATTERS the pride of man to find any worth, any ability, any goodness within himself; that gospel which convinces a man that he is JUSTLY worthy of eternal damnation, that gospel that DEMANDS a man to REPENT and BELIEVE. The gospel which promises a transforming work of the Holy Spirit to make a man WILLING to obey God, makes him WALK righteously. The gospel which declares a man may be assured of his salvation when it's followed by the FRUIT (change) God has PROMISED WILL come. That gospel that proves a man cannot work for his salvation or work to keep it. That gospel which shows a man was brought by the undeserved LOVE of God and KEPT (until heaven) by the undeserving love of God. That gospel which calls a man to die to his lusts, to crucify his passions; that gospel which is freely given to all and pleads with men to accept it.

This is the Gospel which will keep every believer in check. Let a man hold this much and REGARDLESS of what SCHOOL you put him in, regardless of what DENOMINATION, regardless of his AFFILIATIONS he will NOT stray from the faith. That grasp of the gospel will PREVENT him from going in the way of legalism, will prevent him going into pragmatism, will prevent him from proclaiming a SOCIAL-Gospel, will prevent him from antinomianism, will prevent a man-centered self-help gospel.
Let anyone be careful before proclaiming damnation on any who truly believe, teach and live the TRUE gospel. Let us also not get carried away with any form or system which some may try to present as the gospel, add nothing to this gospel, impose no opinions on this gospel. Debate what you will but don't attempt to win an argument by making your position as important (or part of) the gospel.
To this i would also add, continue to hone your understanding of the gospel; i don't mean can you quote the doctrines of grace or a certain confession or evangelistic method. What i mean is do you so understand, so grasp the truths of the gospel that you can teach them to others. Do you sound like a textbook? I am so amazed at how few times I've heard the gospel accurately preached in an understandable way. JUST STOP and THINK for a minute, do you not hear yourself, listen to what you are saying and ask yourself this; when i was LOST would this have made any sense at all? Think rather about truthful and understandable STATEMENTS rather than RIGHT terminology, explain over and over again if need be: let it be said that you have said too much, so you lose the attention of a few people BIG DEAL, even the apostle Paul didn't stop preaching the minute he saw people getting sleepy (remember the guy falling to his death). Yet it would tragic to stop SHORT of a whole and clear gospel.
It is this COMPLETE gospel which encourages and strengthens believers, it is the ULTIMATE sanctifying truth as well as the ultimate justifying truth. It was the practice of Martyn Lloyd-Jones to preach an evangelistic service every Sun pm, which to the surprise of many Christians was immensely helpful to them personally, of course Lloyd-Jones remarked about the tragedy that most Christians would think the gospel is only for the lost.
In all your preaching, preach the gospel, preach Christ, bring every passage to it's fullest understanding through the GLORIOUS gospel. May God give us MORE preachers who PREACH THE GOSPEL!!!!!!!!!!!

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