In Bruising Ourselves

We must join with God in bruising ourselves. When He humbles us, let us humble ourselves, and not stand out against Him, for then He will redouble His strokes. Let us justify Christ in all His chastisements, knowing that all His dealing towards us is to cause us to return into our own hearts. His work in bruising tends to our work in bruising ourselves. Let us lament our own perversity, and say: Lord, what a heart have I that needs all this, that none of this could be spared! We must lay siege to the hardness of our own hearts, and aggravate sin all we can. We must look on Christ, who was bruised for us, look on Him whom we have pierced with our sins. But all directions will not prevail, unless God by His Spirit convinces us deeply, setting our sins before us, and driving us to a standstill. Then we will cry out for mercy. Conviction will breed contrition, and this leads to humiliation. Therefore desire God that He would bring a clear and a strong light into all the corners of our souls, and accompany it with a spirit of power to lay our hearts low.

From The Bruised Reed, by Richard Sibbes, Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA, 1998, p. 11-12.

When the Chief Shepherd Appears

Except pastors retain this end in view, it can by no means be that they will in good earnest proceed in the course of their calling, but will, on the contrary, become often faint; for there are innumerable hindrances which are sufficient to discourage the most prudent. They have often to do with ungrateful men, from whom they receive an unworthy reward; long and great labors are often in vain; Satan sometimes prevails in his wicked devices. Lest then, the faithful servant of Christ should be broken down, there is for him one and only one remedy,–to turn his eyes to the coming of Christ.

From John Calvin’s commentary on 1 Peter 5, specifically verse 4: and when the Chief Shepherd appears.

 

Rob Bell and His Cleverness

Rob Bell is up and about again with a new documentary on how he became enlightened and became a heretic at the same time. He thinks that being a heretic is a good thing, but alas, this just shows his foolishness. Brett McCracken reviews Bell’s documentary along with another movie about another heretic entitled “Come Sunday,” and does a good job of showing that both these men have nothing to offer but a powerless message.

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Good Hope is a Hope That is Drawn From Scripture

J.C. Ryle:

It is not enough to have good feelings about the state of our souls. We may flatter ourselves that all is right, and that we are going to heaven when we die, and yet have nothing to show for our expectations but mere fancy and imagination. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things.’–‘He that trusted in his own heart is a fool‘ (Jer. 17:9, Proverbs 28:26).

I have frequently heard dying people say that ‘they felt quite happy and ready to go.’ I have heard them say that ‘they felt as if they craved nothing in this world.’ And all this time I have remarked that they were profoundly ignorant of Scripture, and seemed unable to lay firm hold on a single truth of the Gospel! I never can feel comfort about such people. I am persuaded that there is something wrong in their condition. Good feelings without some warrant of Scripture do not make up a good hope.

Quotes and More

In the comments section of The Demise of the PCA, Alec wrote the following:

Have you heard of Matthias Loy? He was a faithful Lutheran in Nineteenth Century at the time when the Lutherans were facing the issues the Presbyterians faced 50 years later with the troubles that came to a head at Princeton. Dr. Loy wrote the following in his autobiography:

“The history of the Church confirms and illustrates the teachings of the Bible, that yielding little by little leads to yielding more and more, until all is in danger; and the tempter is never satisfied until all is lost. It seems but a small concession that we are asked to make when an article of our confession is represented as a stumbling block to many Christians which ought therefore in charity to be removed, but surrendering that article would only lead to the surrender of another on the same ground, and that is the beginning of the end; the authority of the inspired Word of our Lord is gradually undermined.” The Story of My Life

I thought it was a great quote, making the point of denominational and seminary drift, along with the church. When we will not stick to the truths of the Bible, we all drift, which we must not do. This is one reason I appreciate the creeds, like the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Heidelberg Catechism. These two documents help keep us grounded in what the church has concluded to be the important doctrines of the faith.

But given all that, I couldn’t help think of Alec’s quote when I read what John Newton preached back in 1779, concerning the passage “speak the truth in love,” from Ephesians 4:15.

The Bible is the grand repository of the truths that it will be the business and the pleasure of my life to set before you. It is the complete system of divine truth to which nothing can be added and from which nothing can be taken with impunity. Every attempt to disguise or soften any branch of this truth in order to accommodate it to the prevailing taste around us either to avoid the displeasure or court the favor of our fellow mortals must be an affront to the majesty of God and act of treachery to men. My conscience bears me witness that I mean to speak the truth among you.

Amen and amen.

 

Calvin’s Warning

Calvin, writing on the roles of men and women given in Scripture, writes the following:

“Therefore, with respect to external civil organization, the man is the image of God because Jesus Christ is his head. And then the woman is below him, such that she cannot say that she has an equal position, for that would constitute an arrogance which would overturn all order and civic policy.”

This is from his sermons on Genesis.

 

Calvin on Wives Submitting to Their Husbands

I’m preaching through 1 Peter and decided to read Calvin’s Sermons on Ephesians for the corresponding passage dealing with wives submitting to their husbands. I love reading commentaries from men of Calvin’s generation in helping me understand how the text has been viewed in history given that our culture is so completely inundated with the idolatry of the individual, also known as radical feminism.

I was going to use the following quote but decided that it was too controversial in nature. Heidi told me it was what we call a “parachute illustration.” That comes from a fellow pastor, Grover Gunn, who used an opening sermon illustration that was so horrifying in its description that, I didn’t hear the rest of his sermon. That illustration involved a man who was parachuting with a group of others and his job was to film everyone else. As they were descending, one after another pulled their chute and he continued to fall. After the last of the group opened his chute, the view from the camera became erratic, and it started spinning. The man who was filming the others, forget to put his shoot on before jumping out of the plane. He fell to his death. But alas, the camera survived and we have this horrible story to share with our congregations.

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God’s Provision

Here is a gracious fact: “We receive support from the palace” (Ezra 4:14). Both the upper and the lower springs from which we drink are fed by the great King’s eternal goodness. In every moment we have been supplied with food and clothing.

Sometimes we have been reduced to a pinch. Then through our infirmity, fermented with the irritability of our unbelief, we ask, “What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?” (Matt. 6:31). Still we have lived in the land and we have been fed. It has been especially gratifying to receive a loaf of bread from our Father’s hand. You have known poverty, but there has been a special sweetness in the daily bread that has been sent in answer to prayer. Although we do not drink water from the rock (Ex. 17:6) or find daily manna (Ex. 16:4), God’s providence still produces the same results, and we are fed and satisfied.

— Charles H. Spurgeon

A.W. Pink Defines What is Meant by God’s Sovereignty

A.W. Pink defines the sovereignty of God in the following way:

“What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35).

“To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psalm 115:3).

“To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is ‘The Governor among the nations’ (Psalm 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the ‘Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords’ (1 Timothy 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.”

Calvin on 1 Peter 2:9 A Chosen Race

“…it appears more fully how incomparable is God’s goodness towards us; for He sanctifies us, who are by nature polluted; He chose us, when He could find nothing in us but filth and vileness; He makes His peculiar possession from worthless dregs; He confers the honor of the priesthood on the profane; He brings the vassals of Satan, of sin, and of death, to the enjoyment of royal liberty.”

 

Spurgeon on a Rock of Refuge

Be a rock of refuge for me,

a strong fortress to save me!

Our reliance on God in adversity is a principle method of glorifying Him. Active service is good, but the passive confidence of faith is not one jot less esteemed in God’s sight.

The words appear to embrace and fasten on the LORD with a confident grip of faith that is not to be relaxed. The personal pronouns lay hold on the LORD’s faithfulness. We need grace to have our hearts fixed in a firm belief in God! The figure of a rock and a fortress may be illustrated by the fortress of Gibraltar, often besieged by enemies but never wrested from its defenders. Ancient strongholds, though far from impregnable by modern warfare, were important in those remote ages. Fleeing to the mountains, feeble bands felt secure. Note the singular fact that David asked the LORD to be his rock, because He was his rock. Let us learn from it that we may pray to enjoy in experience what we grasp by faith. Faith is the foundation of prayer.

Charles H. Spurgeon, from The Treasury of David, Psalm 31:2.

The Clearest View of the Moral Law

It is only gross ignorance of the requirements of God’s law which makes people undervalue the Gospel. The man who has the clearest view of the moral law, will always be the man who has the highest sense of the value of Christ’s atoning blood.

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, Chapter XII, 28–34.

The Gospel is Transcultural

The Gospel is transcultural and in a sense, hyper-cultural, or above all cultural interpretations, judging them all. The Gospel is identical in every culture into which it comes and has no cultus as a referent which is not subordinate. As such there is no “Chinese Gospel” and a “European Gospel” an American Gospel and an African Gospel. There is exactly one Bible, one Gospel, one Christ and one Church, and these have no shift nor can they be, contextualized. These rather, are the context for every other thing that claims to be, Christianity.

In this, the ordained practice of the Church, prayer and praise, sacraments and worship, preaching and teaching, singing and believing, are identical in every true church. For them to differ does not mean that a church has a different cultural context, it implies that some church has a misunderstanding. Difference in the carpet color and the style of the architecture are the effects of applied human reason; it is hard for them to be “wrong” in the significant sense.

But differences in theology raise the necessity of someone being wrong. In the laws of God, the Gospel and the signs of a true church (the right preaching, right administration of the sacraments and the exercise of church discipline) these are either in accord with the divine mandate, or not. It matters not upon which continent they occur.

Taken from Christopher Neiswonger’s Facebook post, which can be found here.

Gender Apartheid?

On the face of it, the claim that there is “gender apartheid” in NAPARC is not only implausible but even offensive. First, those who make the claim did so on their own, public podcast. Under apartheid black South Africans were not freely, without government interference, doing the equivalent of podcasts. Our podcasters were in no danger of authorities breaking down the door of their studio. Indeed, our podcasters have the ability to control with whom they will talk—they block on social media even the mildest critics and potential dialogue partners. Further, our female podcasters were theologically educated or had other advanced academic degrees. Again, for prosperous females in North America, who have earned masters and doctoral degrees, to complain of apartheid is just silly. It is offensive because it demeans the very real oppression that black South Africans suffered under apartheid. It is the equivalent of comparing standing in line at Starbucks to standing in a chow line in prison. It is not a thoughtful way to argue.

R. Scott Clark, “Gender Apartheid” And “Toxic Masculinity” In NAPARC?

The Covenant of Grace Has No “Ifs” and “Buts”

From Charles Spurgeon’s sermon The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant, preached October 2nd, 1859. 

Nothing which man has made is everlasting, because he cannot ensure it against decay. But as for the covenant of grace, well did David say of it, ‘It is ordered in all things and sure.’

…There is not an ‘if’ or a ‘but’ in the whole of it from beginning to end. Freewill hates God’s ‘shalls’ and ‘wills,’ and like man’s ‘ifs’ and ‘buts,’ but there are no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ in the covenant of grace.

…Almighty grace rides victoriously over the neck of freewill, and leads it captive in glorious captivity to the all-conquering power of irresistible grace and love. It is a sure covenant, and therefore deserves the title of everlasting.

Furthermore, it is not only sure, but it is immutable. If it were not immutable it could not be everlasting. That which changes passes away. We may be quite sure that anything that has the word ‘change’ on it, will sooner or later die, and be put away as a thing of nought. But in the covenant (of grace) everything is immutable. Whatever God has established must come to pass, and not word, or line, or letter can be altered.

J.C. Ryle on Three Rules for Marriage

J.C. Ryle offers some excellent thoughts on good marriages in his commentary on Mark. He gives three rules that will help in marriage:

The first is to marry only in the LORD, and after prayer for God’s approval and blessing. The second is not to expect too much from their partners, and to remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels. The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another’s sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are. “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify it” (Eph. V. 25, 26).

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Unity in the Church

Taken from The Church and the Last Things:

Now here, surely, certain things can be said without any fear of contradiction. If we are to be guided by the scriptural teaching, then we must agree at once that the unity that the Scripture is interested in is spiritual unity. How often John 17 is misquoted! People just tear a phrase right out of its context. ‘That they all may be one,’ they say quoting verse 12, and they leave it at that. They insist also that division in the Church is the greatest sin of all. Now, of course, we all agree that division is regrettable; schism is certainly sin. Yes, but when that is interpreted as meaning that anybody who calls himself a Christian, no matter what the shape or form, is someone with whom we would be in absolute unity in every respect, then that is a contradiction of what John 17 teaches.

John 17 surely makes the character of this unity quite plain and clear. Our Lord’s terms are these: ‘As thou, Father, are in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us… And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one’ (vv. 21-22). That is all spiritual. Our Lord is talking of the relationship between the Father and the Son, and those who are in Christ, who are in the Father and the Son, and He has already told us certain things about these people. He says, ‘For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out of thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me’ (v.8).  So our Lord’s words about unity are only applicable to people who believe that particular doctrine, and if people tell me that they are Christians but say that Jesus was only a man, then I have no unity with them. I do not belong to them. They may call themselves Christians, but if they have not believed and accepted this, there is no basis for unity. It is spiritual unity.

It always helps to look as Scripture in context.

 

A Nice Quote From Luther

The Pulpit & Pen has an excellent article entitled The Crass, Intolerant Polemicist Who Loved Jesus & The Gospel, which helps us see just how much division Christ brought to earth. He did not come to bring unity, peace, love, puppy dog stories from the pulpit, but the gospel. And He even raised up men like Martin Luther, who would not be allowed to preach in many of the pulpits across America, because of his blunt attacks on the opponents of the gospel. In fact, as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of his nailing of the 95 Thesis on the Wittenberg door, I wonder how many churches that make a big to-do over the anniversary, would ever tolerate a man like Luther in their midst. Better yet, he would probably not tolerate many of them.

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