False Assurance

Sinners can convince themselves they are saved in two main ways:

1) Change the character of God
2) Change the character of themselves

The problem with this strategy is that it won’t work, it merely makes you a liar.

If you change the character of God–pretend He is loving like you want Him to be loving–it won’t actually change God, just your take on Him.

If you change the character of you–pretend you are not as sinful as you really are–it won’t fool God because He knows your heart.

If either of these strategies is employed to give you assurance of your salvation, you may indeed experience assurance in your mind. But whether you feel assured means next to nothing.

“Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me . . . the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.”

Grass Makes a Poor Foundation

Theology is not always based on Scripture. Much theology is based on what some guy said about Scripture. We then take a stand on our theology, build a reputation for standing for that theology, and we get stuck.

Even if we see cracks in our theology, maybe even the walls start to crumble around us, but we’ve got our group and our guys and we’ve bought all their books and it would hurt our reputation to admit we were wrong and to change.

For the sake of keeping our guys, our reputation, and keeping our people happy, we continue to believe error. In order to do this, we avoid Scripture, we don’t want our beliefs challenged or changed, we just want peace with our guys.

The major problem with giving a rip about what anyone else thinks is that all those people will one day be dead. Having a good reputation among dead people doesn’t count for much. A living dog is better than a dead lion.

Isaiah tells us that “all flesh is grass.” The problem with grass is that it fades away quickly. Two verses later Isaiah adds, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”

The Word of God is our foundation for our theology. If it’s based on what a guy says, it won’t help you much. The Word will last longer than any guy.

This is not to say that guys can’t help you theologically, they can, as long as what they say is helping you know Scripture more than it’s helping you know them.

The Testing of Your Faith

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. . . . Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.”
C. S. Lewis

It’s quite easy to say you believe something. People talk too much. We say stuff all the time. We ourselves rarely ever listen to ourselves.

Facing death is the ultimate test of our eternal beliefs. I’ve seen people die. I’ve gone through the process beside several folks. Some of them have called me crying, wondering if they really believe, they look back at their life and they doubt.

Conventional wisdom tells me that my job is to comfort, to reassure them that they do believe. But I never do this. I don’t do it because I don’t know if they believe or not. I’m not the judge. My opinion means nothing.

Most of us are not facing death today. Since that’s the case, few of us will make much time for thinking about our faith. Even fewer will actually do anything about it.

But one day you’ll be dying. You’ll be faced with where you’ll be in a few hours. Heaven or hell? Is my faith real?

Then again, some of us will die suddenly with no time to think about it at all. You won’t be contemplating heaven or hell; you’ll just show up at one or the other.

Dirty little secret that Satan doesn’t want you to know: you’re dying right now. Take care of your faith.

Personal Responsibility

We live in an age of irresponsibility.

Students don’t study for their tests and yet demand good grades. Employees play solitaire all day, drink coffee, and steal pens and yet demand more pay. Singers who can’t sing get mad when Simon Cowell tells them they stink.

The whole world is screaming, “Don’t judge me on what I do; judge me on who I think I am.”

What a dumb world, eh? Wonder where they got that philosophy from?

The Church.

The Church is to be the moral lighthouse in the foggy harbor of this age. Yet rather than point out sin, error and demand repentance, we’ve changed the Gospel. We’ve made God into a kindly, somewhat-senile grandpa.

We have the idea that we can claim to be believers and yet live like heathen scum and that this is OK because “God won’t judge me on what I do, He’ll judge me on who I think I am.”

Feels good to believe that doesn’t it? Won’t feel good on judgment day.

“These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.

Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.”

God Does Not Need Us

Most servants know who their master is. They may not like or respect their master, but they know who the master is. If they want a job, they keep serving the master.

This is true for all servants except God’s. The Bible tells believers they are God’s servants. Yet being a servant is demeaning, especially to us freedom minded Americans.

“I’m my own master” is Americanism 101. “I call my own shots. I’m the captain of my ship” etc, etc.

The American Gospel reflects this anti-submission mindset. We skip over the multitude of verses that tell us we’re servants of God’s to get to the one that says “we’re no longer servants but sons.” This is true, but all the other verses saying we’re servants are true, too.

God does not need us. He doesn’t need your money even though your pastor will tell you giving to his church is “giving back to God.” He doesn’t need your service to keep His plan working. He also doesn’t beg us to listen to Him, as though He needed the assurance He was still acceptable to us.

Nope. God doesn’t need us. Let Psalm 50:12 beautifully state God’s point of view, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.”

Oh that’s beautiful! Even if God were starving to death, He wouldn’t ask us for food! If we were starving to death I guarantee you’d ask Him for food.

God is awesome. He calls the shots. I suggest we serve the Master

Modernization and Vanity

Nothing is new that matters and nothing that matters can be modernized. One way to evaluate anything in the world around us is to check for possible modernization.

“If it can be modernized you may safely put it far down in the scale of human values. Only the unchanged and the unchanging should be accounted worthy of lasting consideration by beings made in the image of God.”
A. W. Tozer, read the rest here

The Curse of “Doing Well”

Societies create standards of success. These standards are frequently in opposition to God’s standards.

Americans celebrate getting a good education, finding a good job, working hard, getting a house, couple nice cars, electronic gadgets and on and on. If a guy has these things he has “done well for himself.”

In order to continue “doing well for yourself,” you have to keep up with what that means as society and trends change. If you fall behind in your electronics or your house or car, you are no longer doing well.

Soon your life is behind you. You’ve lived for your reputation. You’ve lived so that others may tell you you’re “doing well for yourself.” What’s the harm in living your life so you can do well for yourself?

Oh, I don’t know, maybe we should ask God.

Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
   when the glory of his house increases.
For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
   his glory will not go down after him.
For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
   —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself
his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
   who will never again see light.

The Power of God

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

The Gospel is not a recitation of facts. The Gospel is not mere history. The Gospel is not a magic incantation that makes the spooks flee. The Gospel is not a self-help formula for personal fulfillment.

No, the Gospel is the power of God.

There is power in the Gospel, there is mighty power at work, so mighty that men really want nothing to do with it.

Men do want a Gospel that appeases their conscience. Men do want a Gospel that makes them feel better about continuing in sin. Men do want a Gospel that eliminates personal responsibility. Men do want a Gospel that gets them out of hell as long as they can keep living like citizens of hell.

But men do not want the Gospel, the power of God. Men want to cut their sinfully mussed spiritual hair with a fine tooth comb and tweezers. The Gospel uses a chainsaw and cuts your head off and starts over.

The Gospel is power. Don’t mess with it, you’re liable to get hurt.

Me and Job–A Commonality

Sometimes, when things are bad with me, I may imagine myself to be like Job. Can it get any worse? I can even imagine myself being patient and righteous like Job through my sufferings.

Until I’m not.

Usually comparing myself with Job does not last long. I’m no Job. I’m Jeff. I’m a wimp.

However, today, while reading in Job, I came across a verse that shows that Job and I do have something in common. It’s from Job 19:17 in the KJV.

“My breath is strange to my wife.”

Yup, me and Job, like peas and carrots, baby, like peas and carrots.

Ezra 9

Ezra 9 is a great Bible chapter. And yes, that does mean I think there are chapters of the Bible that are better than others. Compare Ezra 9 with Numbers 7 and see for yourself.

Ezra lives in an exciting and troubling time. Jerusalem has been wiped out, but is being restored. It’s not as great as Old Jerusalem, but it’s way better than nothing. The people in rebuilt Jerusalem are still not following the Lord as they should. Ezra desires to correct that.

Here are some snapshots of Ezra 9:

“And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied. Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel.”

“I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.”

“And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.”

“our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving.”

“And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this.”

“behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.”

Oh for people who felt sorrow over their sin. For people who wanted to hear and tremble at God’s Word.

But, alas, we are a people who rarely see ourselves as sinning and when we do we jump to justifications. When we hear God’s word, the only trembling we have is our eyes trying to stay open.

Repentance? Nah, that’s for OT Jews. Trembling at God’s Word? Nah, God is love, man. Sorrow for sin? Nope, grace makes sin OK.

We’re a sad lot. But the point remains: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness and tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil.

Awake to righteousness and sin not! Christ can set you free.

Peter is not Dumber than Paul

Several times in the last few weeks I have seen several authors say that Peter didn’t understand the things that Paul wrote. I’ve heard this many times in my little life and I am to the point of being offended deeply by it.

Peter’s supposed ignorance is based on 2 Peter 3 where Peter says about Paul, “As also in all his [Paul’s] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood.”

Based on this, Paul-lovers say, “See? Peter was too stupid to understand Paul! Why read Peter then? He’s dumb.” This offends me for two main reasons, and about 35 smaller reasons, which I will skip.

1) Peter had some shortcomings in his life, no doubt about that. He had some fears of people. But Peter is cool. No Christian I’ve ever met has any right to bash Peter. Pentecost alone is enough to silence any critics.

2) Scripture has to be distorted to make this point. I’ve never heard anyone treat 2 Peter 3 expositionally and say Peter didn’t understand Paul. But I see a lot of people claim this and throw this verse in as a reference in parentheses.

Peter says who doesn’t understand Paul. He explains, “in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Peter is talking about genuinely stupid people, not himself! Notice he says “They” not “we” or “I.” Not only do they not get Paul, they don’t get the other Scriptures either!

To think that Paul’s stuff is deeper than anyone else’s stuff is to play fast and loose with this thing called “inspiration.” There’s one author of the whole book.

Based on how people handle the other scriptures, like Moses, Ezekiel, Solomon, Matthew, James, there’s no way you can convince me Paul is harder to understand than anyone else.

There’s one Author. Know Him and you’ll understand the Book.

Criticism, Rachael Ray, and Pastors.

My wife gets Rachael Ray magazine. I was looking through an issue today and saw the letter to the editor section and was amused to see that people have problems with Rachael Ray.

Rachael Ray exists to make being a woman more difficult, all the while convincing you she’s making it easier. But, honestly, she’s just trying to help. As a man who could eat spaghetti for supper every day, I have no use at all for her, but I am not her audience.

Anyone who reads the magazine is her audience and some of those people complain about Rachael Ray. One was upset because the last issue was all about grilling and “I don’t grill.” You write a letter about this?

People are  so self-absorbed it’s ridiculous. I have no need at all in my life for Rachael Ray, none at all. But I do understand that I’m not the only person in the world and apparently many other people have a Rachael Ray need.

Are we not aware that we are not the only people in the world? Are we not aware that most people are just trying to be helpful? Can we not give them a break even if they dared to talk about something you don’t care about or said it in a way you disagree with?

Relax people. Seriously. Relax. You can’t die on every hill, you can only die on one. Pick the right one. Grilling is not the right one.

And yes, I do understand the irony of criticizing how people criticize, I’m willing to die for this simple message–“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”

Listen to Your Father

When Solomon began as king, God asked him what he wanted. Solomon said that since he was just a kid, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad.”

God is pleased with this answer and makes Solomon the wisest man who ever lived. I have heard many people say that Solomon showed great wisdom in asking for wisdom! Where did Solomon get the idea to ask for wisdom?

From his dad! Before David dies he says to Solomon, “Only the LORD give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel.”

Solomon knew he needed wisdom because his dad told him he did! His mom probably just told him, “Hey, Solly, you’re super-duper.”

I have no major point. Just thought that was interesting. Dads rock.

Unbashing the KJV

2011 marks the 400-year birthday of the King James Version.

Apparently, the purpose of marking this date is to allow every self-professed CHristian the opportunity to bash to pieces the King James.

Sort of like how Easter is an excuse for media outlets to bash Jesus.

However, there are some logical defenses of the King James, which I appreciate. Here is one of the best I’ve read.

Your Dose of Heresy for the Day

One of the things I love about reading the actual Bible is that you see stuff you’ve never heard anyone ever say before. Much of the Bible is ignored. There’s lots of stuff in there that no self-respecting theologian would ever utter.

Here’s an example from Solomon’s dedication of the temple. See if you can spot the heresy!

“Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.”

Did you see it? Solomon wants God to “justify the righteous.” Whoa there Solomon! You can’t say that!

First off, I know Solomon is the smartest man in the world, but still, this doesn’t make sense. To “justify” means to make righteous. In essence he’s saying, “Make righteous the righteous.”

Secondly, no one else in Scripture has the nerve to state it the way Solomon does.

But maybe he’s on to something. Maybe, just maybe, even 1 Kings is inspired by God.

Proverbs says that it is an abomination to justify the wicked. This is supposed to be God’s great dilemma–how can sinners be justified then? Exodus 23:7 says that God will not justify the wicked.

But Paul says God justifies the ungodly. Do Paul, Moses and Solomon disagree?

Self-Control in an Age of Excess

Reason Magazine has a post about Self-Control in an Age of Excess. It shows how our best intentions are put off by the immediacy of distraction. Self-control is harder than ever and more vitally needed than ever.

Seems to me only the Holy Spirit can truly grant beneficial self-control. Greater is He that is in believers than he that is in the world. If a secular magazine sees the need for self-control, how much more should believers?

Be Ready To Give An Answer

“Be ready always to give an answer” is a verse that gets a lot of air time, little of which uses the verse in context. Often it is used as an encouragement to bolster people’s Bible studying so they can argue better. Sometimes it is used as an extremely happy example of evangelism.

The full verse says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

The verse has to do with giving a reason for why you have hope in you. This hope-filled life only occurs when we sanctify God in our hearts–set our hearts solely to Him.

We give an answer for when someone asks about the “hope that is in you.” So, what is this hope?

Colossians 1:27, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Christ is in you and Christ is the hope of glory. So if Christ is in you, then hope is in you. If Christ were truly lived in your life instead of your life, people would notice and you’d have some ‘splainin to do.

And, as the next verse makes clear, the answer of your hope will not be taken kindly, they will want to do evil to you. This verse has little to do with evangelism and much to do with suffering for “Christ in you” that is seen in our manner of life.

Giving an answer is not something we do when someone says, “How come you’re so smiley when you get sick? Tell me more about this hope I see in you.” Hardly.

Rather, you give an answer because people are trying to do evil things to you and discredit your testimony. If Christ is in you, the world will hate you. Be ready for it.

The Pain of A Cross

“The cross would not be a cross to us if it destroyed in us only the unreal and the artificial. It is when it goes on to slay the best in us that its cruel sharpness is felt.

“If it slew only our sins it might be bearable, even kind, as the knife of the surgeon is kind when it removes the foreign matter that would take our lives if allowed to remain; but when we must suffer the loss of things both precious and good, then we taste the bitterness of the nails and the thorns.”
A. W. Tozer–read the rest here.

Have You Not Read?

Pharisees and scribes get nailed by Jesus. You almost feel bad for them. They really had no shot. They had two huge problems in their dealings with Jesus:

1) They didn’t know what Scripture meant.
2) Jesus did.

They asked ridiculous questions and Jesus ran circles around them with Scripture by asking them a question from some obscure, hard to handle passage. He spoke to many people with disdain when they didn’t know how to answer. “Have you not read?” Jesus asked them with credulity.

How did you guys miss this stuff? Are you that stupid? The two guys on the road to Emmaus wondering if Jesus was Christ, Jesus says to them, “You fools!” And then proceeds to explain all things from Moses to the prophets to the Psalms concerning Him.

Jesus never gives people a break when it comes to understanding Scripture. At no time does He say, “Yeah, well, it’s OK you missed that point, it was hidden pretty well. The Law is tough sledding for anyone.”

At no point does He grant an excuse, He merely marvels at our stupidity. Pharisees and scribes have no monopoly on dumb.

Tozer on Decisionism

“Today all is made to depend upon the initial act of believing. At a given moment a “decision” is made for Christ, and after that everything is automatic.

“This is not taught in so many words, but such is impression inadvertently created by our failure to lay a scriptural emphasis in our evangelistic preaching.

“We of the evangelical churches are almost all guilty of this lopsided view of the Christian life, and because the foundations are out of plumb the temple of God leans dangerously and threatens to topple unless some immediate corrections are made.

“In our eagerness to make converts we allow our hearers to absorb the idea that they can deal with their entire responsibility once and for all by an act of believing.

“This is in some vague way supposed to honor grace and glorify God, whereas actually it is to make Christ the author of a grotesque, unworkable system that has no counterpart in the Scriptures of truth.”
–A. W. Tozer–go here to read the rest

The “If’s” of the NT

Another thing I hear all the time is that because we are under grace and God loves us, He gives us things without condition. Here’s a quote from the same book I quoted yesterday:

“The wonderful things we possess in Christ have no “if’s” or conditions, they are freely given to us by God.”

This is the opening sentence of a chapter. Three pages later he’s talking about how Paul builds believers up by encouraging them, not freaking them out with “if” statements. He has a block quote from Colossians chapter one in which he quotes four verses ending with verse 22.

It is fun to look up block quotes and check why they end the block quote where they do. Guess what the first word of verse 23 is. Go on, guess! Guess! I beg you to guess! I’ll quote Colossians 1:23 in full, note the first word:

“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.”

Boy, didn’t see that coming did ya?! All the encouragements that Paul gave, all the blessings in Christ he is talking about, are contingent upon an IF statement. You get them “IF YOU CONTINUE.”

This is classic human system over Scripture. Be careful out there.

The Spiritual Fruit of Freud

The Triumph of the Therapeutic, a book written in 1967, predicted psychology’s impact on Christianity. It made the following predictions, all of which are a reality in the “Church” today:

In the emergent culture, a wider range of people will have “spiritual” concerns and engage in “spiritual” pursuits.

There will be more singing and more listening.

People will continue to genuflect and read the Bible, which has long achieved the status of great literature; but no prophet will denounce the rich attire or stop the dancing.

There will be more theatre, not less, and no Puritan will denounce the stage and draw its curtains.

On the contrary, I expect that modern society will mount psychodramas far more frequently than its ancestors mounted miracle plays, with patient-analysts acting out their inner lives, after which they could extemporize the final act as interpretation. . . .

Commandments in the NT

Since many people think grace implies we can do whatever we want, and since God loves us now in the NT, unlike how He was itching to kill us all in the OT, we don’t think we need to obey God.

Furthermore, some go so far as to say that God no longer commands us to do anything because we are under grace, and grace does not make demands or command people. Here’s a quote I read from a book recently about Romans 12:1 as an example of grace and commands:

“Do we now have to resort to a “have to” method of living? Is God now commanding us to present our bodies a living sacrifice? No. He beseeches us! We know that Romans 12:1 is a great goal, but God is not working on a “have to” basis. Yes indeed, God has another way and it is the way of grace.”

Although not the dumbest thing I’ve ever read, it’s pretty close. He then goes on to talk about love, how does God try to get us to love, by commanding us? NO! By showing us and “encouraging” us to love.

Again, sounds good except for that Bible over there with all them words in it. “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”

Saying that God begs us now rather than commands us, makes us the ones with the power and God the one dependent on us. I can’t go there. God is the Lawgiver, the Judge, the Creator and Supreme Being. I am a breathing pile of dirt.

God does not beg us to listen, He commands us to listen. He may employ some beseeching from time to time, can’t deny that, but the beseeching is not pleeing for His benefit, but for ours.

When I tell my son to eat his stupid vegetables, that’s a command he must obey. If he does not there will be judgment–no dessert. If I know we are having ice cream I may say, “Jacob, just please, please, eat your vegetables, I don’t want to have to take away the treats, man.”

But I am not begging for my sake and begging is certainly not the main function I use to inspire my boy to obedience. There is nothing more pathetic than watching a parent beg their child to listen as a main tactic in their relationship.

Anyway, long post longer, God does want love to be a motivator and He does beseech us to obey, but the reason why is because He has commanded us to do things and He does not desire that any should perish. Obey the commands of God, you can’t go wrong.

The Law, Obedience and Love

Commonly I hear people say that under the Law people obeyed out of fear, whereas under grace we obey out of love. This is a nice happy notion but isn’t terribly consistent with Scripture.

The New Testament does invoke fear as a proper motivation for obeying God, most clearly in 2 Corinthians 7:1, a verse which most Pauline fans seemingly have never seen.

On top of that, the Law invokes love many times as a motivation for obedience. Deuteronomy is the second giving of the Law, a quick review of it before the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Here’s the motivation given to obey:

“And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,”

“Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.”

love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,”

“For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;”

“thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the LORD thy God, and to walk ever in his ways;”

“In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments,”

“That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days:”

Love and fear are not opposites, they fit together. When the Bible speaks of love it often ties it in with obedience or submission. “If you love me, keep my commandments,” is how our Lord and Savior put it. Paul says, “for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” “And husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.”

Love is doing what God says, it’s the most loving thing you can do for God, for you, and for others. These are the Words of Life! It’s stunning how stubborn our flesh is to simply do what God says.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”

Sanctification and Being a Sinner

Sanctification is a process of maturity in a believer, an increasing Christ-likeness. Sanctification is a guarantee of God, it is not an option; it is one of the many gifts of God’s grace.

Sanctification does not save a man. Sanctification is a result of salvation by grace through faith. If sanctification does not occur, one cannot still claim to be saved.

When this is said, the response is usually along the lines of, “So, truly saved people don’t sin? Truly saved people are sinlessly perfect?”

No, truly saved people are going through a process of sanctification. The process goes as long as the believer lives and is never done until the redemption of the body.

The doctrine of continuance is one that gets little play today, but it is prevalent in the New Testament. Paul does not tell us to run half the race, he tells us to press on toward the mark.

One test of salvation is whether a person is continuing to come after the Word and the things of God through Christ Jesus. There are no five-year lapses. There may be some falling and tripping, but there are no permanent face plants into sin.

“God considers no one holy for one particular act, but for a general course.

“A sinner in some few things may be very good: Judas repents, Cain sacrifices, the scribes pray and fast; and yet all were very false.
In the most deadly diseases, there may be some intermissions, and some good symptoms.

“A saint in some few acts may be very bad: Noah was drunk, David defiled his neighbour’s wife, and Peter denied his best friend; yet these persons were heaven’s favourites.

“The best gold may have some grains of alloy. Sheep may fall into the mire, but swine love night and day to wallow in it.

“A Christian may stumble, he may even fall, but he gets up and walks on in the way of God’s commandments; the bent of his heart is right, and the scope of his life is straight, and thus he is considered sincere.
—George Swinnock

Entertainment and God

“Entertainment is the Devil’s substitute for joy. The more joy you have in the Lord,
the less entertainment you need.”
–Leonard Ravenhill

We’re surrounded by options to entertain us. My computer continually beckons me to worlds of adventure, intrigue, competition and battle. These things are fun and captivating, sometimes even addicting.

Yet, as Solomon points out, when you get your fill, and you always do at some point, you look back and realize the vanity of it all.

Then there are the moments with God, the moments in the Word, the moments where you know God is teaching and leading you. priceless times.

When these are done, you are left with nothing more than longings for more.

Then I go play FreeCell.

J. C. Ryle on Pastors and Sanctification

  • For one thing, let us awake to a sense of the perilous state of many professing Christians.
  • For another thing, let us make sure work of our own condition, and never rest till we feel and know that we are “sanctified” ourselves.
  • For another thing, if we would be sanctified, our course is clear and plain—we must begin with Christ.
  • For another thing, if we would grow in holiness and become more sanctified, we must continually go on as we began, and be ever making fresh applications to Christ.
  • For another thing, let us not expect too much from our own hearts here below.
  • Finally, let us never be ashamed of making much of sanctification, and contending for a high standard of holiness. (pg. 39-40)
  • Church Without a Sermon

    Here’s a guy who has it all figured out: Braco, is his name. He gets paid $8 a person to look at them. He says nothing, he merely stands and looks at people. Apparently his gaze heals and gives people their hearts desire.

    One attendee said, “I feel warm and tingly all over.” Others attest to feeling calm. “He’s not selling anything, he’s not telling people how to live” is how his manager speaks of him.

    “The music is very soothing” as well. This is guy is more honest than most American churches, at least he just removes the sermon.

    How to Know if you Believe a Man-Made System more than the Bible

    1) You don’t know what a passage means until you look up what your guy says it means.

    2) When your guy leaves, your life falls apart.

    3) The first thing you learned was not the Bible, but your guy’s super-secret method of understanding the Bible.

    4) You think Scripture is dangerous, certain parts ought to be avoided. If you start reading in the wrong spot, you just might doom your soul.

    5) When you fall into sin and struggle you think, “If only my guy was here to help.”

    6) You recommend your guy way more than you recommend people read the Bible.

    7) You never read any verses in the Bible other than ones your guy mentions. And when you accidentally read some, you feel a little guilty.

    8) You begin arguments with “Thus saith my guy” rather than “Thus saith the Lord.”

    9) Although you would never admit you pray to your guy, you know you’ve had talks with him in your head.

    10) Holy Spirit? Who needs Him? I got my guy!

    11) Although you’d never actually say that only people who agree with your guy’s system are in heaven, you do have some verses that make you lean in that direction.

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