The Conviction of Sin

Charles Spurgeon on the conviction of sin, from The Soul Winner:

“First, regeneration will be shown in conviction of sin. This we believe to be an indispensable mark of the Spirit’s work; the new life as it enters the heart causes intense inward pain as one of its first effects. Though nowadays we hear of persons being healed before they have been wounded, and brought into a certainty of justification without ever having lamented their condemnation, we are very dubious as to the value of such healing and justifying.”

It’s hard to imagine this ever being preached in our pulpits today. Far too many men enter to the pulpits of the church, merely to blow sunshine up the skirts of their congregations, and never mention the painful reality of becoming a Christian. If we come to Christ, we will suffer, as He suffered.

This is undeniable truth of the gospel. Coming to Christ will be a joy, but it will also be painful as we will learn to loath the sin that remains in our own hearts. This is one of the marks of a true believer, we mourn our own sinfulness. This is what Jesus was saying when He proclaimed “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

We mourn, if the Spirit really works in us, because of the sinfulness that we still struggle with, knowing that we will continue to struggle with that sin until God calls us home. This doesn’t mean we give into the sin. We are to fight against it, mortifying the flesh. But the battle will remain as long as we are on this side of glory.

Spurgeon continues:

“God never clothes men until He has first stripped them, nor does He quicken them by the gospel till first they are slain by the law.”

And here is part of the problem. The Law is virtually ignored in the pulpits of our day. Too many have fallen into the Dispensational error of misreading Romans 6:14, For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Indeed, we are under grace. But Paul was not removing the Law from our lives. He was telling us that we are now no longer under the condemning aspects of the Law. If we love Christ, then we will love His Law. If we love Christ, then we will keep HIS commandments.

Unless the Law of God is preached, mankind will never come to the reality that he needs a Savior at all. Without the Law, we think ourselves fine and dandy, and this is exactly the problem we have in the American church today. There is no Law to drive us to the cross. There is no Law to slay us. And never coming to the point of being slain, we never see any need for the true saving gospel of Christ.

Again, Spurgeon continues:

“When you meet with persons in whom there is no trace of conviction of sin, you may be quite sure that they have not been wrought upon by the Holy Spirit; for ‘when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.’ When the Spirit of the Lord breathes on us, He withers all the glory of man, which is but as the flower of grass, and then He reveals a higher and abiding glory. Do not be ashamed if you find this conviction of sin to be very acute and alarming; but, on the other hand, do not condemn those in whom it is less intense, for so long as sin is mourned over, confessed, forsaken, and abhorred, you have an evident fruit of the Spirit.”

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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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Cracked Pitchers


William Gurnall writes:

If the provisions were left in our own hands, we would soon be bankrupt merchants. God knows we are weak, like cracked pitchers–if filled to the brim and set aside, the contents would soon leak out. He puts us under a flowing fountain of His strength and constantly refills us. This was the provision He made for Israel in the wilderness: He split the rock, and not only was their thirst quenched at that moment, but the water ran in a stream after them, so that you hear no more complaints for water. This rock was Christ. Every believer has Christ at his back, following him as he goes, with strength for every condition and trial.

The truth is that out Father often brings us to a sense of need before He provides. He wants us to feel the want of not having, so we can see that He is the One who supplies our need. He wants us to ask Him to meet our need and trust in Him to do so. He may not answer our prayer immediately, but may use the need to keep us coming back to Him. He would much rather have His children returning to Him for their daily needs instead of blessing them with riches, and have them fall away.

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The Local Congregation Is Enough

Pastor Jared Olivetti writes:

To fight the danger, let’s hold onto this truth: If there was never another conference, retreat, podcast or seminar, God working through your faithful, local congregation would be everything you need to grow to spiritual maturity. Such events are much like special meals. Perhaps a few times in your life you’ll have a meal you could never forget. Maybe it will be a special feast or a date night at a restaurant you really can’t afford. Those meals are blessings to be enjoyed–but they aren’t what sutains you. You are physically alive because of the normal, everyday meals you eat at home. Even if you don’t remember what you made last Friday for dinner (or what was made for you), you were fed and nourished and sustained by that meal. Such it is with our church family.

Read the rest of the article here.

Is Infant Baptism Protestant?

R. Scott Clark has a 9-part series on Paedobaptism that is quite helpful. Here is the portion of the first installment:

Is Infant Baptism Protestant?

In short, yes. All the Protestant Reformers including Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin held to infant baptism. Though these three great Protestants disagreed on many things, they all agreed on the Protestant doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. They also agreed that infant baptism is a biblical practice and the best expression of the Protestant gospel.8 In fact, infant baptism has been the practice of the historic Christian church since the Apostolic period.9 Of course the historic practice of the church does not settle the question. Historic practice, however, suggests a certain presumption in favor of infant baptism. Nevertheless, tradition alone is not sufficient reason for any practice in the church. Therefore Reformed Christians practice covenant baptism because we are commanded to do so in both the Old and New Covenant Scriptures. 10

Expose Them

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them (Ephesians 5:11).

This verse really jumped out at me as I read it yesterday. Paul instructs us on how it is that we should walk as believers, given that we have the fruit of the Spirit, goodness, righteousness, and truth. Given this, we are to work toward what is acceptable to the LORD and have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness.

Most would agree up to this point. But Paul doesn’t stop there. He continues with one more clause: but rather expose them.

We are not only to keep from having fellowship with that which is sinful, but expose that which is sinful as well. This is the part of the verse that most people want to quickly jump over and think nothing of it, because in this part of the verse, it requires something of us. In fact, the verse requires two things of us.

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Raising the Bar on Salvation

We live in a day when a morbid charity induces many to exaggerate God’s mercy, at the expense of His justice, and when false teachers are daring to talk of a ‘love of God, lower even than hell.’ Let us resist such teaching with a holy jealousy, and abide by the doctrine of Holy Scripture. (J.C. Ryle’s commentary on Matthew).

I remember my church history professor, John Hannah, telling us about the early church and the practices they had for joining a church. If I recall correctly, a person that wanted to join the fellowship had to go through several years of instruction while the leaders of the congregation got to know the new acolyte. Then, after supporting a credible profession of faith, the new convert would be baptized and allowed into the congregation.

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“Test the spirits” Is Not a Suggestion

I was listening to my local pastor preach through 1 John 4, and he made a subtle statement that jumped out at me concerning verse 1, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits. The statement is a command.

It was at this point that the command really jumped out at me. As believers, we have been given the responsibility to “test the spirits.” In other words, we have to be on our guard against false prophets, false claims, and false religions.

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More Thoughts on Suicide and the Jason Foundation

Recently I had to take some online training for being a teacher with the Jason Foundation. This prompted me to think about their claims that Suicide is a Bad Choice. In other words, when it comes to telling other children not to commit suicide, the best reason they could give was that it was a “bad choice.” They could not give any rationale for the reason it was a bad choice, which shows the emptiness of their worldview.

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Three Rules of Life

On Friday as I was teaching my sixth graders, one of them duly noted that there was another class outside playing in the field across the street from the school. They quickly declared that they wanted to go out there and play with them. I told them that we had work to do and we were not going to join the other class outside.

If you have spent five minutes with any child at all in you life, you know their next statement: “That’s not fair!”

My quick response was: “There are three truths you need to know for today. The first is that life is not fair. The second is that nothing is “free.” The third is that Santa Claus comes from the land of make believe!”

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Going With the Crowd

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One of the greatest pulls on true Christians on this side of glory is to go along with the crowd. It’s very seductive to do so because those in the crowd are saying how right and just it is to go with the crowd. We see this today in the hot topics like gay marriage, or transgenderism. Yet, as believers, we must declare that the Bible is our guide to our beliefs, practices, and lives. What the crowd believes is really quite foolish given what Jesus told us about those on the broad path.

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The Church Does Not Need Christian Radio

The church doesn’t really need Christian radio to survive. I know that there are many who tune into Christian radio and listen on a regular basis, but the truth is, Christian radio is not necessary for our spiritual growth in Christ.  We especially do not need listener-supported Christian radio stations. If a station has to ask us for money, using the typical ploys of telling us we will be blessed by blessing them, then we should donate our offerings to more legitimate ministries such as the White Horse Inn, or Truth for Life, in which their focus is the preaching and the teaching of God’s word. My focus in this post are the stations that play Christian contemporary music, are doctrinally and theologically inept, and take no real moral positions at all.

What prompted me to say this?

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Demons, Pigs, and People

The Demons

And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

When Jesus went to the country of the Gergesenes, He encountered two men who were demon-possessed (Matthew 8:28-34). This is quite interesting because so many in our day and age try to ignore the existence of demons and the devil all together. But not Jesus. He confronted them head on in His ministry, and in doing so, showed us that He is not only the King of kings, but the King over all principalities, powers, and the rulers of darkness of this age.

If we could truly see the world with the eyes of Christ we would have no doubt that demon-possession does indeed exist. Not that I think we should go overboard and start hunting for demons, looking for demons in every corner, doorknob or crevice of our lives. However we should not ignore the reality that much of the problems we face in the world with people are related to demonic influence and possession. This is one reason why the evil seem to prosper as they do. It is why the wicked are exalted to such heights with their power, fame and influence. But none of the wickedness in this world is able to take place without the permission of our Father in heaven and His Royal Son. In the passage before us, we see Christ’s dominance of this realm, as well as everything else.

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J.C. Ryle on ‘Judge Not, Lest Ye, Be Judged!’

“People tell me judge not lest ye be judged. I always tell them, twist not scripture lest ye be like satan.” Paul Washer.

I know I have posted on the abuse of the passage found in Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” before, but really enjoyed what J.C. Ryle had to say about the passage in his commentary on Matthew. I post this in the hopes that my fellow believers will not be silenced when the wicked twist this passage in an attempt to silence us. Let us press on in doing good, regardless of what the wicked do.

Our LORD does not mean that it is wrong, under any circumstances, to pass an unfavorable judgment on the conduct of opinions of others. We ought to have decided opinions. We are to ‘prove all things.’ We are to ‘try the spirits.’ — Nor yet does He mean that it is wrong to reprove the sins and faults of others, until we are perfect and faultless ourselves. Such an interpretation would contradict other parts of Scripture. It would make it impossible to condemn error and false doctrine. It would debar anyone from attempting the office of a minister or a judge. The earth would be ‘given into the hands of the wicked’ (John 9:24). Heresy would flourish. Wrong-doing would abound.

What our LORD means to condemn is a censorious and fault-finding spirit. A readiness to blame others for trifling offense, or matters of indifference–a habit of passing rash and hasty judgments–a disposition to magnify the errors and infirmities of our neighbors, and make the worst of them–this is what our LORD forbids.

Of course, the lost will have no problem ignoring these clarifying words of Ryle. It doesn’t fit their narrative of finding a few passages to try and silence believers and the truth. They will continue to twist Scripture to their own advantage and their own peril until God calls them to give an account. Let them do so. Our calling is to continue to stand for the truth even when the wicked do not heed our words. Our LORD is big enough to deal with them.

Streams of Living Waters

The Scripture often speaks of “living waters” and this is because the original hearers understood the need for “living waters.” Living waters were those which provide life for us. We need living waters to survive, both physically and spiritually. It is the spiritual need that is the greater need. This is why Jesus said “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living waters.”

Those words are truly comforting because we find the need we have provided for us in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Only through Christ do we find true life. By this, I mean life that is eternal in nature. Everyone has “life” on some level. Only those in Christ have eternal life and are made new creations. He is the only avenue to find the living waters that our souls hunger for. This is why we go to Him and believe in Him, for our greatest need cannot be met by anything in the world. There is no place to go in order to find the living waters we need in which to drink. Only Christ can satisfy that need, the greatest need. We need to go to Him alone, and drink deeply.

Gentle streams

The Church is Called to Worship God, Not Change the World

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“We will never change the world by going to church. We will only change the world by being the church.”
This is one of those memes that floats around Facebook and sounds good on the surface. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking the purpose of the church is to change the world. But I beg to differ. The purpose of the church is not to change the world. The purpose of the church is to worship God. Until the church realizes this, and returns to it’s major purpose, we will never affect this world at all. But even so, that is not our goal. Our goal is to be obedient to Him. Yes, we are called to make disciples, but only the Spirit can convert them.

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Bruce Jenner Needs to Fear God More Than He Needs the Love of God

Once again before us we have a wonderful opportunity to learn what is wrong with the gospel in America. As the pictures of Bruce Jenner adorn everything after his sex-mutilation operation, people are rushing in to either condemn him for being a sinner, or pour out their view of the love of God upon him. One blogger put it this way:

The real scandal worth discussing is that of a Gracious God who would come and die and live again so that He could make a way for broken sinners like us to be with Him while teaching everyone that redemption has so little to do with us and everything to do with Him.

And that isn’t just in the Bible. It is the summation of all of Scripture.

So, before the Internet gets going… before the whole world starts talking and there are harsh words and angry debates and Christians who look like we carry around pockets full of stones, let’s remember this:

No matter what the cover of a magazine tells us to call a person, first…

We must call one another Loved.

I’m not so sure this is true, especially given that the author does not express what this “love” is. This is a sad tactic of many when it comes to such a debate concerning public figures living out their lives with sinful natures. Someone points out that nature, and others immediately counter with the L-word, and we know that once the L-word is thrown out there, anyone else who dares to comment on the situation is clearly un-L-wording… Just by throwing out the L-word, truth is stymied and the gospel stands askew once again. The question we need to ask: Would Jesus just throw His arms open wide and give ol’ Bruce a big hug and welcome him into the kingdom?

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Of the Trinity

We do believe that God is one, most singly and singularly one, and an only one: The unity of the Godhead is… a most singular unity…, All three Persons have one and the same single and infinite Godhead, and therefore must needs mutually subsist in one another, because they are all three one and the same infinite God… united in their one nature, not confounded in their distinct substances; nay though their subsistence is in one another, yet their subsistences are distinct, but the nature most singularly the same.
— Francis Cheynell
Quoted Joel R. Beeke & Mark Jones in A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life.

Exhort and Convict Those Who Contradict

In my post on Saturday, I mentioned that part of the problem in the publishing of books by the Christian book industry is a lack conviction on the part of those in leadership of the church. Far too many men who are pastors love to preach, as long as they don’t have to confront anyone.

The problem with this is that the qualifications for elders doesn’t allow such a passive approach in the pulpit or the leadership of the church. Listen again to Paul’s words: For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not given to win, not violent, not greed for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught that he may be able, by sound doctrine, to exhort and convict those who contradict (Titus 1:7-9).

Paul writes that those who are elders have a responsibility to exhort and convict those who contradict. This means that those who are contradicting the gospel, who are putting forth a false gospel, who are misleading the body, who are out for dishonest gain under the guise of the gospel, need to be confronted by our pastors. We cannot remain silent. We must speak the truth. To remain silent and not speak about those who are false teachers is to be disobedient to God’s word, and it shows a lack of love and care for the flock of God.

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