The Need To Strive for Holiness

(Originally posted October 10, 2006). 

Maurice Roberts writes:

It is of great importance to every believer that he should understand how to think of his own sins. Many of the mistakes which we make are miseries of mine which we suffer are closely connected to our ignorance about our present relation as Christians to our sins both past and present.

We assume that all well-instructed and experienced believers are agreed on the following points: that every sin, however small in our eyes, is most hateful to God; that the best actions of the best Christians are all defiled with sin; that sin in the Christian is still sin; that all the sins of the believer are pardoned for Christ’s sake; and that a believer’s lifelong duty is to strive towards unisnning perfection.

Puting these points another way, we may say that the following is our starting point as we review our relationship as Christians to our sins. First, sin in itself, in whomsoever it exists, is highly displeasing to God. Second, the best Christians have not in this life got beyond the commission of sin. Third, sin is not less sinful when committed by Christians. Fourth, no sins committed by a Christian can ever bring him condemnation. Fifth, a Christian must not rest satisfied in his mere forgiveness but should daily strive after complete and sinless obedience to God, even though he knows it to be impossible in this life.

Of course, this is why the Bible speaks to us to press on, and to persevere after the things of God. So many want to get the stamp of approval by being saved, but they do not want to walk in holiness. They want to cease from striving, instead of cease from sinning as Peter calls us to do. If we are truly in Christ, then we know that the power of sin has been broken, but the existence of it still remains and we must pursue holiness because He has called us to that way of life.

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Midweek Photos: Frisco, TX

Frisco, TX is one of the up and coming cities here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. I’ve been told they expect the city to grow by 250,000 people in the next 5 years, so you can imagine all the construction that will take place, and has already taken place. City leaders have done a fine job of putting together a new town square, where you can find Frisco’s library, and city offices, all in the same building. Here are just a few of the images I took the other day on a morning walk through the square.








 

Photos of the Week: Riverside

We stayed on the Wataugu River back in October for our daughter’s wedding. Our hope was to sit and enjoy the sounds, but we were so busy, we barely had time to enjoy it. I did step out early for some photos. I’ve found that the grey days do offer great opportunities for black and white.




 





 

“I Don’t Feel Saved.”


Have you ever heard anyone ever say those words? “I don’t feel saved.” Or a variation of that, such as, “I don’t feel like a Christian.”

These are words that true Christians will utter from time-to-time because they truly do not feel like a Christian, or feel saved, at least, not what people expect to feel when they are believers. I know there have been times in my own Christian walk where I have felt these things. The weight of sin in my heart, life, church, and the country are such that the joy of Christ seems to be extinguished.

So, lacking a sense of “feeling” like a Christian is quite normal.

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Photo of the Week: Rising Waters

Over the last couple of weeks, the level of Lake Texoma has been on the rise. You can get a glimpse of the level of the waters by comparing the first two pictures. In the second picture, you can only see a bit of the tree you see in the first picture.

In the third picture, that is the tree that me and the boys would sit under on the beach when we could.





 

Our Sin is Greater Than Mount Everest

Just a portion of a sermon… taken from 1 Peter 3:18… For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.

Let it never be said that God owed us this atonement. Let it never be said that He was obligated to provide grace. Grace only comes out His goodness and is given to those who realize their own sin, helpless to do anything about relieving themselves of this insurmountable debt.

The debt of our sin is far beyond anything we can tackle. If you piled up your debt, it would be as high as Mount Everest, at 29,029 feet above sea level. For some of us, it would be higher. And no matter how much we worked on trying to free ourselves of this debt, it would be impossible for us to do so. It would be like God requiring us to climb Mount Everest with a pick axe, then chip away a bucket full of rock, then heading off to the sea to dump the bucket. And once we got the entire mountain chipped away and dumped in the sea, then He would free us from the debt.

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Christ-like Submission


When I first arrived in Osceola, I was saddled with the responsibility of doing a wedding. The woman getting married had been associated with FPC in the past and she had no real pastor. So the elders there agreed that their pastor would conduct the wedding once he arrived. I was the man.

I met with them once or twice before the wedding and did the best I could. But at one point during the wedding, I began to speak to the idea of “submission.” And the moment I said the word, there came a shocked gasped from the back of the room where the ceremony was being conducted.

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The Vulnerability of True Religion

(Originally published in August 2006).

Every now and then I pick up Maurice Roberts The Christian’s High Calling and read. It strikes me how astute he is concerning the church and trends. In his article “The Vulnerability of True Religion,” he writes the following:

“This downward tendency in the human heart accounts for all the religious errors of the church, and of the whole world indeed. The plain fact is that truth and pure religion are such high, holy and heavenly things that man cannot love them till he is brought under the power of divine grace. Even then, man is so liable to decline in grace that he can hardly bear true religion for very long. Two generations, or perhaps three, may hold fast to a sound creed. But for more than three generations to retain the truth without serious loss is remarkable and it is rare.”

 

“The above sad fact explains the shrewd saying that ‘every institution sooner or later becomes its opposite.’ If we confine the application of this saying only to the churches, we see at once how just it is. Every church, more or less, that we know of in history has ended up by disowning its original creed! It began by admiring the Scriptures and it ended by rejecting them…”

It is for this reason that we have so many church splits. The denominations, even though I believe in denominations, will all eventually fail. They will all eventually turn and reject the truths of Scripture that they once held so dear. Yes, they do it under the guise of becoming more enlightened than their forefathers. But all that they have really become is fools and their forefathers would reject them outright as heretics.

We ask, “how is it that the liberal church has become so liberal when they started out so strong?” And the above answers that question. Men turn away from the truth of the gospel and cover their repentance from the truth under the guise of becoming more educated and more enlightened. As if somehow, today, we can become more educated and englightened than say, the apostle Paul. As if, somehow, we can know more than Peter did, or have a better understanding than Christ Himself. We take a heretical approach to Scripture and say that we are enlightened. When in fact, all we have done is reject the word outright. Jesus, Matthew, Paul and Peter had a few things to say about such approaches. But, of course, if we are truly enlightened, then we know more than they do. Silly, huh?

When we fall to the temptation to think we know more than Christ and the apostles, we have set ourselves up as little gods, and do exactly what John warns us against: we reject our first love. We say we love Christ, but reject His word because we know more than He does. We say we love our neighbor, but then reject God’s Law on how it is that we are to love our neighbor. We say we love God, but then reject His commands on how we are to worship Him. We say we are followers, but our hearts are idol factories by the moment.

As Maurice Roberts points out, if we are to stay true to the true religion, we must watch daily over our affections. He writes,

“The moment we suspect that our love of Christ is waning we must cry out for grace. If our love for any point of truth becomes dim, we are to cast ourselves to the ground before God, fearing lest he should give us over to our hardness of heart. All this is deep and humbling work. But it is the only way to hold true religion fast. The alternative is to ‘lose our first love’ (Rev. 2:4).Not for nothing does the Spirit of God say: ‘Keep they heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life'(Prov. 4:23).”

Yes, I believe all institutions will eventually fall, even the denomination that I belong to. But we must remember, that Christ came to save sinners, not institutions. Yes, they will pass away. But let us hope and pray that our labor for Christ will last into the following generations and as our denominations fail, God will use our faithful descendants to raise up more that hold to the creeds of the faith.

You can read more by ordering his book here!

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Keeping the Sabbath/LORD’s DAY!

(Originally published back in 2006, with additions from 2018).

By now, you probably have guessed my views on keeping the LORD’s day, otherwise known as Sunday. I believe that Sunday should be set aside for the worship of God. This is not a play day, or a day to sit and watch the television. We are still bound by the Moral Law and keeping that day holy.

Many have often asked why was it that those in Acts began to keep the LORD’s day on the First day of the week? Well, the simple answer is that Christ rose on the first day of the week, and the day reminds us of His resurrection and points us to the new creation to come. The resurrection is the most monumental event in history, and for that reason, the day we keep holy has changed from the seventh day, which was looking back to the original creation, to the first day, pointing to the new creation and the hope we have in Christ.

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Andy’s Best Churchill Impersonation

(Originally published back in 2006.)

It is said, that all babies look like Winston Churchill at one point or another. Given that, here is a speech given to Parliament June 4, 1940… on of his most well known speeches…

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.

The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

I love this speech and wish I could find an audio copy of it. Churchill was a great man because he saw the tyranny of socialism, the wickedness of Hitler, and was willing to take personal abuse in his steadfast fight to defeat both.

How The Church Changes Society

How many times a week do you hear about the atrocities of our culture, our government, our world, with the following admonition: “The church must ban together to stop this atrocity.” This is usually said about abortion, or politics.

I’m all for banning abortions. I’m also all for preaching towards that end, as long as the preaching done is to preach Christ crucified so that all come to know Christ. In other words, I’m for the church doing what the church is called to do: first, worship in Spirit and truth through preaching, teaching, prayer, and the sacraments. Second, through making disciples through the peaching and teaching of God’s word. That is the church’s purpose.

The moment we make the church’s purpose any social cause, is the moment we fail in what God has called the church to do. In our wisdom, we have decided to use man’s tactics and methods in bringing about change instead of trusting in the means we have been given by God to make those changes.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am concerned about social issues, but the best way to deal with social issues is by being what we in the church are called to be. Society will never change when we focus on bringing about that change apart from using the tools God has given us to make that change.

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Photos of The Week: Rock Stacking Festival

On our trip home from preaching at a church in the hill country, we stopped in Llano, TX, along the river of the same name and discovered the results of an annual festival held at Grenwelge Park, a rock stacking festival. Apparently, the good people of Llano have a festival every year in which people come in and stack rocks on top of each other. It is a competition and there is even a championship for it. In the words of Dave Barry, I’m not making this up. You can read about it on Texas Highways magazine.

In view of that, here are some photos from the park with left over rock stacks.









 

Faith Defined

J. Gresham Machen defines faith the following way:

To have faith in Christ means to cease trying to win God’s favor by one’s own character; the man who believes in Christ simply accepts the sacrifice which Christ offered on Calvary. The result of such faith is a new life and all good works; but the salvation itself is an absolutely free gift of God.

Taken from Christianity and Liberalism, p. 120.

 

Two Kinds of Books: Two Messages


Tim Challies, in his review of the book Girl, Wash You Face by Rachel Hollis helps us understand that there are only two kinds of books being written for Christians today.

It has long been my observation that there are two kinds of books being marketed to Christians. There are some whose foundational message is what you need to do and others whose foundational message is what Christ has already done. The first make a model out of the author, the second make a model out of Jesus. The first place the burden for change on personal power while the second place the burden for change on Christ’s power. It is clear that Girl, Wash Your Face falls squarely in the first category.

Of course, the books that sell the most are the ones that tell us what to do. This is Humanism 101, which is also described as picking yourself up by your bootstraps, believe in yourself, and you are told the world is your oyster. Humanism is a works-based religion in which the adherents are given instructions and told to follow those instructions in order to achieve happiness. It comes in many forms with multiple requirements and the message of society is humanism.

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Culturally Significant?

In order to be the spiritual successor of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, the OPC had to become culturally significant.

Those words were penned in Fighting the Good Fight: A Brief History of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, by D.G. Hart and John Muether. In the early 1940s, there were those in the OPC who feared that the denomination would not be socially involved enough, and they were seeking to bring about a committee to make sure they didn’t drop the social-agenda ball.

Hart and Muether had already shown that the identity of the OPC never was to have a politically-active mindset. In fact, members of the OPC had fought against it from the beginning of the denomination’s history.

Not that they were always silent. They did send letters to like-minded churches in South Africa with concerns about apartheid long before it became popular to bring up the topic in the 1980s. But the OPC has never been one to jump on the political and social bandwagons that we see so many churches doing today.

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Preach With Authority

We live in a day in which the church truly needs men who will boldly proclaim the word of God. Some might think that we already have that. I wish it were true. But far too many men enter the pulpits of their churches with the idea that they are going to give an inspirational chat, instead of proclaim the divine mysteries of God. In other words, they fail to preach with authority.

 

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Is Patriotism Idolatry?

 

Darrel Harrison writes the following about idolatry:

By definition, idolatry is the worship of a false god. But this begs the question: what is a “false god”?

Simply put, a false god is any person or thing that redirects our affections away from the one true God in terms of the devotion, worship, and adoration that is due only to Him. Most Christians would concur with that description of idolatry. The problem, however, is we Christians generally understand such misplaced adoration solely in terms of venerating statues and other physical images that represent other religions or deities.

In my earlier post, Should Patriotism Have a Place in Worship? I looked at whether or not we should sing patriotic songs in worship. My point was simply to show that we are only to sing what God has directed us to sing: psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16). This excludes patriotic songs.

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