“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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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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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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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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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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Photo of the Week: B&B in the Hill Country

Heidi and I had the wonderful opportunity of staying in a B&B this past weekend, so I could preach at a church in the hill country. For those who don’t know Texas, the hill country is the area around Austin and San Antonio that is known for its…hills. I know most people who have never been to Texas think of it as a flat desert with a skeletal cow’s head, and a funky cactus. But Texas is a large place, with lots of variety. The hill country is one such area. It is rocky, hilly, filled with cedars, lots of cactus, lots of deer, antelope, and other exotic animals. There are only two bad things about the hill country. The first is the lack of rain, and when it rains, it has a tendency to flood in low-lying areas. Heidi and I got a taste of that when we drove across an area with less than a foot of water. It took us into the on-coming lane, but thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic.

The other bad thing about the area is the influx of Liberalis Californius. This is a species that has migrated this way after destroying its own homeland area through socialistic tendencies, making their own area so unpleasant to live in, they have to migrate to Texas in order to spread their ill-gotten policies. Some how, they fool themselves into thinking that they can live the same way in a new place and get different results.

But alas, enough commentary. This is a photography post, and therefore, demands pictures! Here they are!


 






 

Signing the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel

I decided to sign The Statement on Social Justice & The Gospel. After hearing Dr. James White discuss it on his show, The Dividing Line, and reading some of the other statements by people I trust and admire, like Samuel Sey and Darrel B. Harrison, it is important to support the statement given what is at stake. Simply put, the social justice movement is an attack on the gospel itself, the Bible, and the church.

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Against the Generic “god”

“I am the way the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John Calvin, in his commentary on John 14:1-6, points out that many people will mention God only, but never refer to Christ in their religion. In doing so, they will be easily blown about by every wind of doctrine.

Calvin writes:

Proud men are ashamed of Christ’s humiliation, and, therefor, they fly to God’s incomprehensible Divinity. But faith will never reach heaven unless it submit to Christ, who appears to be a low and contemptible God, and will never be firm if it (does) not seek a foundation in the weakness of Christ.

This reminds me of one woman who was facing death, who refused to actually look to Christ and be saved. It was gut-wrenching because both my wife and I tried to help her see the need to trust in Christ alone for salvation. She would not have Christ. She was far too comfortable with the generic god of her faith, even telling this god that she wanted to live for 10 more years. Sadly, she didn’t have 10 more weeks.

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Machen: Definition of Paganism

From Christianity and Liberalism, J. Gresham Machen defines paganism as the following:

Paganism is that view of life which finds the highest goal of human existence in the healthy and harmonious and joyous development of existing human faculties. Very different is the Christian ideal. Paganism is optimistic with regard to unaided human nature, whereas Christianity is the religion of the broken heart.

Machen is not saying that Christianity ends with a broken heart, but that it starts with a broken heart because those who become Christians have a consciousness of sin, whereas pagans do not. We can see paganism all around us. We see it in the exaltation of the human spirit, and the self. We see the priests of it everywhere, from Joel Osteen, to Zig Ziglar, to Oprah, all proclaiming the goodness of man. It’s in our schools, universities, work places, entertainment, and homes. And in the midst of it all, we cover it up with our prosperity.

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Social Justice Seeks to Make the Gospel Relevant, Which is Why It’s Another Gospel


Darrel B. Harrison wrote in a Facebook post that Jesus doesn’t call us to become social-justice warriors in order to fix the problems of the world. Fixing the problems of the world was never Christ’s intent. It was His intent to save sinners. He will fix those problems, but not until His second coming.

While reading that post, it occurred to me that the reason so many are trying to latch on to becoming social-justice warriors within the church is because they think that it gives legitimacy to Christianity. No longer is Christianity an embarrassment to them. It’s now a religion that can fix the problem. But that is not true Christianity. It is simply the old whore of liberalism with a new dress and lipstick. It is another religion all together, as Machen showed in his book Christianity and Liberalism.

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Only “Orthodox” Would Do

It’s interesting that the original name for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church was actually the Presbyterian Church of America. Don’t confuse that with the denomination of today, the Presbyterian Church in America. The latter denomination would not arrive on the scene until the 1970s. The former was getting underway in the early 1930s.

But the new denomination, and the new name wasn’t to be. The former denomination, the Presbyterian Church USA, took the new denomination to court, saying that the name was too similar to the old name. The court agreed and the first PCA had to change their name.

They tossed around many names: The Evangelical Presbyterian Church (which now exists), The Presbyterian and Reformed Church of America, The North American Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church of Christ, the Protestant Presbyterian Church of America, and the Free Presbyterian Church of America.

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“We Need More Programs!” Understanding the Theology of Glory



Those are words you often hear in churches that are in decline. It doesn’t matter what size the church is, when there is a perceived threat of extinction due to loss of numbers, the go-to solution is very often the creation of more programs. The theory goes that the more programs a church offers, the more it will attract people to the building, and the more evangelism will take place. This belief is centered upon the secularist mantra: “If you build it, they will come.”

Entire church complexes are built under this belief.

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Machen’s View on the Bible in Schools


 

It has been my belief for some time that the worst thing Christians can do in order to turn the tide in our country is to put prayer or the Bible back into government-run and private schools.

The problem with doing so, is that you give the atheist, the cultist, the pagan, the Arminian, free reign to do with prayer and the Bible as they see fit. Placing the word of God into the hands of the enemies of the faith is no answer to the problem of cultural decay in America. They will simply turn the Bible into a screed against Christianity. If you doubt this, see Satan’s treatment of God’s word in his temptation of Christ found in Matthew 4.

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