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

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.”

Saturday, March 24, 2012

No More Spare Time

Recently I went with my family to my favorite used bookstore. While there my Dad came across a thick, old, white book about the Scottish Covenanters. Knowing my interests in these saints he showed it to me. I flipped through its pages and decided this was a book for me. It is called A Cloud of Witnesses. As I have been reading it I have been fascinated by the stories of men and women who lived a courageous Christian life. One of these men was James Boig. Although little is known about this mans life, the book contains a letter he wrote to his brother the day before he was killed. The letter is typical; giving the reasons that he was to be martyred, his defense of his position, and his testimony of dependence on God for his salvation. At the end of the letter, he says, in light of what was to take place the next day, “I have no more spare time.” The next day a worthy man went to his reward.

I was really impressed with this statement about not having anymore spare time. James Boig was going to die, and so he saw all his life concentrated on this one purpose; going to meet his Maker. But as I thought about this, I realized that no Christian really has any spare time. We have not time to waste, no time to squander. Moses in Psalm 90 says, “Teach us to number our days that we might get a heart of wisdom.” Moses is asking God to remind him that life on earth will not last forever. Jonathan Edwards used to pray, “Oh God stamp eternity on my eyes.”

Friends, we have no spare time. No time to waste. Let’s live for a goal in life, that goal being Jesus Christ. Let us direct everything that we do toward the purpose of bringing glory and honor to our Lord. There is no such thing as down-time in the Christian life. Direct all that you do toward this purpose, to know Him more. Apply all of your energy for Him. Honor Him in your home, in your work, in your entertainment, and in your relationships. All of your life, every square inch of it must be under His Lordship.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Living In Harmony: The Sin of Spiritual Fratricide

Fratricide - the crime of killing a brother

“The ministries of all denominations are mine. Gain from them all.” Barclay Buxton

Thomas Jackson, better known as Stonewall Jackson was one of the Confederate States of America’s finest generals. He was well known for his sheer determination and dauntless courage. Fame, position, and honor were all his; but this would come to an abrupt end at the battle of Chancellorsville, 1863. Jackson went out after dark with a few other men on a reconnaissance mission close to the enemy’s lines. The night was black, tension was in the air, and the situation Jackson was putting himself into was quite precarious. As they galloped along shots broke the still night air and Jackson fell from his horse. He died a short time later, not even forty years old. Who shot him? Sadly it wasn’t the enemy. It was Jackson’s own pickets in the bushes who fired at him. The whole thing was an accident.

In the spiritual realm we have done the same as Jackson’s men did. Instead of fighting the enemy we have fought with each other. Instead of advancing the kingdom the kingdom of God we’ve torn it apart with our arguing. We're attacking each other with “friendly” fire instead of making war against the powers of darkness. We're tearing each other up. We're killing one another. We have much denominational division and theological wrangling. Many Calvinists hate Arminians. And many Arminians hate Calvinists. Many Pentecostals think the Baptists are hopelessly misguided. And many Baptists think Pentecostals are crazy. We are supposed to be united in Christ with one common goal of advancing a holy, righteous kingdom. But instead we bicker so much we don’t have time to advance God’s kingdom. Often we make disciples not of Christ, but of preachers, fallible humans. We are not called to be followers of John Wesley but Jesus Christ. We are not called to be the students of Calvin’s Institutes, but the Word of God. Whose disciples are we?

I must clarify that I am in no way trying to say that we cannot learn from others. I am not saying we shouldn’t read books or listen to sermons. The point I am trying to stress is that too often we appear to follow men and identify with men more than we do Christ. We are followers of Martin Luther. Or Menno Simons. But we are supposed to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Paul told the Philippian church to be, “of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention. Do nothing from factional motives or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead in the true spirit of humility let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself. Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this attitude and purpose and mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” (Php. 2:2-5 Amplified)

There should be abundant love and harmony within the body of Christ. We should be characterized by a humble spirit just as Christ was. We need to not be pursuing our own interests, our own agendas, and remember that we are the servants of Another. We need to stop “killing” one another and start building one another up. We must remember that men are just the instruments that God is using. They are just the pen He is writing with.

“When one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers.” (1 Cor. 3:4-9)

Let’s stop dividing over petty things. Certainly sin must be confronted within the church. A denial of basic Biblical theology must be countered with the truth. But the pettiness needs to be put aside. Though I am not reformed in my theology I have long been blessed by reading the Puritans, the Scottish Covenanters, and the Reformers. Though I may not agree with all they say; I do know this, those men knew God, and there is much that I can learn from them.

Let’s stop shooting at one another and unite as the body of Christ should be, in an aggressive attack on the gates of hell. Christ cannot be divided, His body is one. The hands are not better than the feet and the feet are not better than the hands. We must move forward as one harmonious body.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


He’s fire and fury; He’s passion and rage;

He’s kindness and love, and He’s goodness and grace.

He shakes the foundations and rattles the leaves;

He speaks in the stillness, whispers on the breeze.

He’s a flash of lighting and a thunder crack;

The God who pursues us to bring our souls back.

He’s wind; He’s waves and the mighty rushing tide;

The groom who would die for the love of His bride.

His voice rumbles the hills, He wakes every soul;

He sings a love song, like the minstrels of old.

He’s a flaming sword that calls us to decide,

But He gently woos us to His loving side.

He’s fair and He’s just, and He sits on the throne;

He’s our only hope, without Him were alone.

He’s holy and good like we can’t comprehend,

Bow at His feet, receive the grace that He sends.

And worship the One worthy of all our praise,

Bring Him glory and honor all of your days.

May all hail the One who sits enthroned above,

The Eternal King, God of fiery love.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

E.M. Bounds On Zeal

“Zeal is a contagious, but not a popular, element. Our fathers too their tea piping hot; we take ours iced. Iced Christianity is more popular and tasteful than iced tea. We can endure in our churches enough warmth to take the chill off, but more than this is offensive. We have added many good elements to our preaching, but these cannot make up for the loss of fervor. The average mind can only be moved to action by a flame. Some men may pull through to heaven on a cold collar, but they are the exception. A dwindling flame destroys the vital and aggressive forces in church life. God must be represented by a fiery church or he is not truly represented. God is all on fire, and his church, if it be like him, must also be aflame with the great and eternal interests of religion. Zeal need not be fussy to be consuming and forceful. Christ was as far removed as possible from nervous excitability, the very opposite of intolerant or clamorous zeal, and yet the zeal of God’s house consumed him.

“The lack of ardor in Christian profession or action is a sure sign of the want of depth and intensity. The lack of fire is a sure sign of the lack of God’s presence. To abate fervor is to retire God. God can tolerate many things in the way of infirmity or error. He can pardon much when one is repentant, but two things are intolerable to Him - insincerity and Luke warmness. Lack of heart and lack of heat are the things that he loathes. ‘I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth,’ is God’s judgment on our lack of fire in the Church. Fire is the motor that moves the Christian life. Christian principles that are not aflame have neither force nr perfume. Flame is the wing by which faith ascends, and fervency is the soul of prayer. Love is kindled in a flame, and fire is the air that true religion breathes. It feeds on fire. Christianity can stand anything better than a feeble flame.

“Christian character needs to be set on fire. Lack of heat makes more infidels than lack of faith. Not to be in earnest about the things of heaven is not to be about them at all. The fiery souls are the ones that win in the heavenly fight. Nothing short of red hot can keep the glow of heaven in these chilly times. We must grasp the live coal and covet the consuming flame.”