There is no finality to the Christian LIfe this side of eternity. Leonard Ravenhill

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Words of Gold 1

"What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more." Robert Murray McCheyne

"Crosses are all alike, but no two are identical." A.W. Tozer

"My preaching has occasioned persecution, but the want of it will, I fear, occasion worse."
                                                                                                               Donald Cargill

"It is perilous to study the Bible in any other light than its own." Octavious Winslow

"There is no limit to what God can do with a man, providing he does not touch the glory."
                                                                                                              Charles Cowman

"If you try to imitate Christ the world will praise you; if you become Christlike it will hate you."
                                                                                                      Martyn Lloyd Jones

"Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?" Leonard Ravenhill

"He alone will be Lord in our hearts, and none other; for Divine Love can admit of no rival."
                                                                                                   John Tauler

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Where Are You Going?

"...please which way ought I to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where," said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

" -so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.

"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

Life is a peculiar thing. Many of us pass through it without even realizing it. We work, we eat, we sleep, but we never get around to actually living. It seems we are always laboring for something more than the simple things of life. We work for extravagant vacations, bigger houses, nicer cars, and everything else that the rest of the world has. We live for the transient forgetting that some things are eternal. Too many of us are like Alice, aimlessly wandering trying to get somewhere, but really nowhere in particular.

 We dwell in a culture that is thoroughly infatuated with stuff. Most of the goals or visions that people have for their lives center around the material. While there is nothing wrong with having earthly possessions (we all own things) these should never be the focal point of our existence. The first of the Ten Commandments instructs us to have no other gods, other than the Lord. God is to be first in our life. I think the saints who wrote the Westminster catechism had it right when they began with, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." In essence they were saying your purpose in life as a man or woman created by God, is to bring Him glory, honor and praise in all that you do, and in this sort of lifestyle you will find peace, joy and satisfaction, that begins now and continues for all of eternity.

As Christians we need to be heading somewhere, or rather we need to be chasing after Someone. Christ should be our goal in life. We have no right to wander, we must live with our eyes set on the prize. The Apostle Paul explained his goals in Philippians 3, " Not that  I have already attained or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers,  I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

We do not have much time. Life even at its longest is very short. We have no time to waste. Treat this life as you would a precious jewel, because it is worth more than the finest of diamonds. Jonathan Edwards once said, "Time is very short, which is another thing that makes it very precious. The scarcity of any commodity occasions men to set a higher value upon it, especially if it be necessary and they cannot do without it... Time is so short and the work that we have to do in it is so great, that we have none of it to spare. The work which we have to do to prepare for eternity, must be done in time, or it can never be done; and it is found to be a work of great difficulty and labor, and therefore that for which time is the more requisite."

So where are you going? What are you living for? Don't just walk through life and not know where you are going.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The World Was All Before Them

"Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way."
                                                      Milton

Pause for a moment and think of that day that Adam and Eve were evicted from the beautiful garden called Eden...

It was an incredible place. Flowers bloomed endlessly. A veritable buffet of fresh, luscious fruit was everywhere. A cool tropical mist hung lazily in the air. A rainbow of color was splashed all around. Here the animals lived in perfection, never vengefully tearing one another apart, but peacefully existing together in a habitat of peace. Death did not exist, only life was here, perpetual and pure. It was paradise, it is no wonder that when God examined it His description was concise, but fitting, "It was good."

But even the most fertile imagination could not visualize this place as it actually was. Even the tongue replete with adjectives of wonder and mystery could not describe the beauty of Eden. Perfection is something we have never known. Completely unadulterated beauty is something our eyes have never seen. We dwell in a marred world, so a home without blemish is a foreign concept. We've never known anything but the fallen, the imperfect, the less than good. But still our minds can wonder as we imaginatively wander through a world better than our own.

The first time I read Milton's immortal lines, "The world was all before them", I inwardly shuddered. For although Adam and Eve had a big globe on which they could live, the crushing thing was, what they were leaving behind. The world with all of its vast opportunities was ahead of them but Eden was behind them. Though they were embarking on an incredible journey, they were leaving serenity, peace and fellowship, for an angel with a fiery sword to guard. Their sin opened their eyes but closed the gates of Eden. That one nibble from a good looking piece of fruit plunged the entire race of humanity into the abysmal blackness of separation from God, all because of a "little" sin.

So what's the lesson here?

While there are many directions we could go with this story, I want to emphasize the effects our decisions can have. When Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden, though their all their life was before them, they had actually begun to experience the reality of death. God had said in Genesis 2:17, "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." What God was saying here was not that the second their teeth sunk into the fruit they would drop dead; but that the instant they flouted His rule they would begin to die. Spiritual death would be immediate and physical death would begin to slowly, but relentlessly take its toll on mankind. Our souls would be lifeless and our bodies would steadily deteriorate.

When this couple left Eden they left all they had ever known to gain thorns, thistles and pain. Decisions have consequences. Sometimes we think a road before us will open up a world of opportunities, and sometimes they do. But what we must consider, is this gain we percieve at the cost of something far better? Are we gaining the world but losing Eden? Maybe an opportunity opens for career betterment, but pause and look at the situation circumspectly. Look at it with your eyes wide open in every direction. The fruit looked good to Eve but it cost her so much, more than she could have ever imagined. Your decisions just as Adam's, will affect others, your family namely. Think before you go on. Don’t consider your wants and desires primary in any situation. Your thoughtless bite from the tree of your own wants could drag others out of Eden. In all of life live with your eyes wide open and looking in evey direction, for all of the decisions that you make will have consequences, either good or bad.

"The world was all before them" but Eden was behind them.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Change Your Name or Change Your Act

He was just a young man, a soldier in the worlds most powerful army at the time. But he had failed in his service and had not been loyal to his country. He was now on trial before the great conqueror Alexander the Great for desertion. Alexander was a tough man, he was a commander who had conquered all of the known world by his courage and determination. He demanded complete allegiance from his subjects and was not compassionate to those who had disappointed him. But as Alexander sat there in judgment over the young man, he became touched by the soldiers pleas for mercy. All who were there anxiously awaited for the great conquerors verdict. Would he be released? Would mercy be shown? After a pause Alexander asked the young man, "What is your name?" The soldier feebly replied, "Alexander." The mighty monarch demanded once again, "What is your name?" The young man replied again, "Alexander, sir." The Macedonian ruler jumped from his seat grabbed the young soldier and threw him to the ground, he held him there and thundered angrily, "Either change your name or change your behavior."

If we are Christians our actions will coincide with the name we bear. It is not enough to be professors of Christianity we must live that faith out in our daily life. Christ must affect your character, and if He does not then you are not truly saved. If we claim to be Christians than there ought to be evidences of that profession. Jesus Christ should be the driving passion of our existence. We must, as Frances Schaeffer said, experience the Lordship of Christ in the totality of our life. We must not only talk Christian language we must live the Christian life day in and day out. As the book of James says, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing."(James 1:22-25)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

All Roads Lead to God

"We will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.' So then each of us will give an account of himself to God." Romans 14:10-12

Some religious theorists try to convince the populace that everyone regardless of spiritual persuasion will in the end get to Heaven. These pluralists preach that every man and woman on the face of this earth, in spite of their place in the religious marketplace, will get to God. Their basic theology is encapsulated in the old statement: All roads lead to God.

While such reasoning sounds warm and fuzzy, this line of thought is neither biblical nor rational. Jesus clearly stated in John 14:6 that He was the road to the Father and that no one no matter how hard they tried would get to God outside of Him. So we see that the "all roads lead to God" theory and the words of Christ are antithetical to each other. Secondly, this inclusive theology fails any standard of logic. How can all religions be right went they all believe very different things from one another? How can all roads lead to God when some religions don’t even believe in God? Does the Muslim get his hedonistic heaven when he dies, the Hindu his reincarnation, and the evangelical his golden streets and pearly gates? It just doesn't work!

Now having said all of that, let me say this, I do believe all roads in life do lead to God, but not in the traditional way. The Bible clearly teaches that every man and woman will stand before God at His judgment throne. This is far from something warm and fuzzy. God is a good judge and He will judge accordingly. The Word of God says we will all have to give an account of ourselves to God. This is everyone who has ever lived and everyone who will ever live, no one gets to skip the judgment.

It is here at "Jehovah's awful throne" that God Almighty will pronounce the verdict on our lives. If we stand before Him washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, cleansed from our sins and have been made new, our eternal destination in Heaven will be prepared.(Although we will still be accountable for how we have lived and should live every moment of our days in a way so that when we stand before Him, He will say "Well done") But if when you stand before God you stand alone as your own lawyer trying to defend your sin-stained self before a completely holy God, their is no hope for you, your eternal destination is also prepared. Heaven is a real place, it is the eternal home of those who have been saved from their sin by Jesus Christ. Hell is also a real place and it will be the eternal nightmare of all those who have rejected Christ.

The road that you are walking does lead to God; but not as a benevolent Santa Claus. The God you will meet is a perfect judge and He hates sin. So don't wait to get prepared to meet Him. (Amos 4:12) We get to live this life but once and then we have to face God. (Heb. 9:27) Don't depend on your own goodness, you won’t measure up. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. (Rom. 13:14)

Remember: Their is a judgment coming!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Good Intentions Aren't Good Enough

“The greatest enemy of the life with God is not sin but the good that is not good enough.”
Oswald Chambers

“It is only Jesus Christ Himself who is capable of living the Christian life.” Ian Thomas
 

The Christian life is impossible! We can’t live it. We can’t do it. We can try, but we will never make it. We can know the right stuff but never live it. The Christian life is impossible!

But it’s a good thing that we are the servants of a God who can always accomplish the impossible. Jesus summed it up well, when the disciples who were bewildered and confused had asked Him, “Who can be saved?” Jesus answered them, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26)

We can’t make ourselves good. We can’t build ladders to Heaven, we’d never make it. God knew of this dilemma and He did not leave us alone. He sent His Son to save us. There was no other way only a perfect sacrifice would do. Jesus wasn’t overpayment He was the only possible payment. Outside of Christ we cannot get to God. Doing good things, or trying our best to be good people will never bring us to Heaven’s gates. Paul explains this in Galatians 2:21, “If righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” If we could be made righteous though obedience to the Ten Commandments, then Christ didn’t need to die. But anyways, none of us regardless of how good we think we are could ever attain Heaven on our own merit. Because the truth is, we all fall short of God’s standard. That’s why we need Jesus.

But I think we also need to consider our life on the other side of the cross. Just as it is impossible for us to save ourselves, it is equally impossible to change ourselves after conversion. We must look to Christ for genuine revolution within our heart. I love the words of Bunyan’s Greatheart, “It is my duty to distrust mine own ability that I may have reliance on Him that is stronger than all.”

In Galatians 5:16 Paul says, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” You see, Biblically good intentions are never good enough. As a matter of fact good intentions most often turn out bad, because they reek of our flesh. We want to change ourselves but this is not Christ’s way. Our way says, “I won’t do this or that and therefore I am good.” But Christ says, “Only God is good.” Christ also tells us in John 15 that if we are not abiding in Him and He is indwelling us we can’t bear fruit.

Ian Thomas in his book The Saving Life of Christ explains our misinterpretation of Galatians 5:16. He says that we reverse the statement,

“The devil loves to invert the truth and turn it into a lie, and probably what he has been saying to you is this: ‘Try not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh, and then you will walk in the Spirit’, as though the latter were a reward for the former. He knows that in this way he will keep you preoccupied with yourself, instead of being preoccupied with Christ…

“You have been trying not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh in order to walk in the Spirit - fighting a battle already lost. What God has said to you is this, ‘Walk in the Spirit’, in an attitude of total dependence upon Him, exposing everything to Him, ‘and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh’ - for you will then be enjoying through Him the victory that Christ has already won. To walk in the Spirit is not a reward - it is the means! It is to enjoy the Saving Life of Christ!”

Remember this - good intentions are never good enough!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sorry We Don't Agree

The other day I had the privilege of sharing the truth of the Word of God to a Jehovah’s Witness. He came to our house inviting me to a meeting they were having at thier Kingdom Hall. After he gave me his invitation and finished his scripted speech he was ready to jump into his car and leave. But I wasn’t going to let him get away that easy.

So I began to engage him…

Our conversation centered mostly on whether Jesus was God or just a powerful angel. Although I presented Scriptures to him and tried to reason with him, he was unconvinced. Jesus is not God according to what he has been taught and the Trinity doesn’t make any sense to him. After some more discussion and attempts at persuasion it was clear that neither of us were going to budge in our beliefs. The gentleman reached out his hand to me, we shook hands and he said, “Well at least we both agree that Jesus is the ransom for our sins.” I couldn’t let the conversation end that way. So I said, “But it’s not the same, we don’t agree. Jesus doesn’t mean the same thing to you and me. You have to get this right; your eternity depends on it.”

In Jude 3-4 it says,

“Beloved, although I was very eager to right to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who were long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Jude begins his letter saying that he wanted to write of salvation, the glorious salvation we have been given by our Lord Jesus Christ. All Christians love to talk about this, and ponder it, and write about it. Like William Cowper we would all have Christ’s “redeeming love” be our theme until we die. But after some consideration Jude decides to shift gears, instead of writing about our salvation he warns them of those who would pervert this salvation. He tells the Christians he was writing “to contend for the faith.” To contend means - “to strive in competition or rivalry.” In the spiritual world we have enemies. They are those who would corrupt the faith. We are called by the Word of God to strive against these teachings.

Our warfare though should never be done in pride with the goal of gaining the upper hand and putting our opponent at our mercy. The battle is not ours. We are not fighting our cause. We are contending for the faith, we are to be faithful to the Bible. We defend Christianity not to prove ourselves superior, but with the intention of seeing a soul saved. Whether it is the Jehovah’s Witness deluded by deceivers. Whether it is the atheist denying the existence of God. Or whether it is the emergent church trying to kowtow to post-modern gurus. We must contend for the faith. Not attacking but contending. When men deny the truth and when they depart from the truth, we must stand our ground and fight for the truth.

So to the Jehovah’s Witness man I spoke to the other day, “I care about your soul. I want to see you saved. But if Jesus isn’t God then He can’t be the perfect sacrifice for our sin and we can’t be ransomed. You must understand that. Sorry, but we don’t agree.”