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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Defining Worldviews - Deism

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Isaiah 46:9
Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me...

Daily Scripture Reading - Psalm 19

Puritan Catechism
Question #14 - What is sin?
Answer - Sin is any want of conformity to, or transgression of the law of God (1 Jn. 3:4).

Devotional Thoughts

A worldview is “a set of fundamental assumptions about the most important issues in life.” - Ligon Duncan.

Today, we are going to begin an examintion of the foundational elements of the most predominant worldviews throughout recent history right up until today! We will look at a different system each day and then will end with a post devoted to Theism, or the Christian worldview.

This is where I hope most of us are in the way we see life and reality. But the truth is that there are plenty of worldviews that reject the Bible, absolute truth, the existence of God, and the reality of sin. Fallen man has no problem thinking about his world in a way that rejects the Bible and God and the differences between good and evil. So in the next few days we will look at these systems of thought and see what the Bible has to say about their main tenents.

We will start with the worldview identified as Deism.


A good summary of deism tells us that this worldview predicates a first cause, a divine maker who made this world like a clock and set it running and then let it go and left it all alone so that he might go and do whatever he was interested in doing, and he no longer interacts in this world in any way. The laws he set in motion are still in motion until they run down and creation comes to the end for which it was designed.

This worldview, this subconscious grid through which reality is viewed and interpreted, starts by saying that there is a God. He is viewed very much like a clockmaker. He has built His clock (the universe), put all the mechanisms in place that make it work (physical laws, etc), and now He has wound it up and set it off ticking. And He is no longer involved. The world runs on its own, needs no internvention from Him, and in fact, He is not interested, other than that He desired to build the "clock" in the first place.

This presents a very impersonal view of God doesn't it? There is no need to understand or know Him other than to study science to know what He has created. In this scheme, a better understanding of the world around us will help us manipulate things for our benefit. But beside scientific study, there is no salvation, no need for accountability, no personal responsibility beyond what we owe our fellow man. In fact, the truth, or knowledge, in this system is found through scientific discovery.

There is no revelation from God of Himself - hence the Bible is a book written by men with an agenda, and not inspired by the Holy Spirit, for God does not have any desire to reveal Himself to His creation. There is no possibility of a relationship with God, only the opportunity to study the world He has made. Science is knowledge, and hard provable facts are the only truth that exist in the universe.

This worldview was very widely accepted and taught in the 1600-1700s. As such it has affected most worldviews that come after it. In fact, if we look, we can see elements of Deism in our daily lives. So what else does this worldview lead one to believe and what does the Bible say about the conclusions to which it brings people?

The key element in this worldview is human reason. The things we can learn and determine and discover by our own reason are of prime importance and value.

Here are the five basic principles of Deism, as stated by the founder of this school of thought, Herbert of Cherbury:

1. There is one God who created the world but is no longer involved in it.
2. There is an objective difference between right and wrong.
3. It is the duty of mankind to support what is right.
4. Humans are immortal beings.
5. Our "eternity" is determined by how we live in this life here and now.

How do we determine then what is real and what is right in this system? What is real and what is right is determined by cause and effect. There are no miracles, no revelations from God, nothing supernatural, only perceivable natural laws in operation, bare cause and effect. If the effect is negative then the cause was wrong. If the effect is positive then the cause was right. The end justifies the means in this system. "If it feels good, do it!"

Further this is a system that since the supernatural is removed and God is not personal, salvation becomes a matter of works, not grace. It is man's ability to do what is right, that which brings about a positive effect, and not the working of God to save the sinner, that determines ones state in the next life.

As Dr. Duncan points out in his study of Deism (linked below), the perfect example today of a Deist is Mr. Spock from Star Trek. Vulcans are Deists, and everything is solved by logic! In this worldview the world is not fallen or marred. It is winding down, running in its intended entropic path. And we must try and make a positive difference in this world in order to have a good time in the next life.

The meaning of life then? To be the best man or woman that you can be! Cause and effect - do your part to make the world a better place.

The Bible

But what does the Bible say? Well, to the Deist it does not matter, because there are no miracles and God does not reveal Himself to us personally, so the Bible, while it may be a good book, is really a lie! How can a lie be good? Remember, if the end result is good - if the Bible is used to help people be better people, then the means are right. So even while they tell us that the Bible is a myth, it is still useful to cause people to do what is right for the benefit of others.

But as we understand it, in examining these worldviews, the Bible is not a myth. It is, as our Confession of Faith begins:

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.

Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God so much that man is left without any excuse, they are not sufficient to provide that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation.

Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in diverse manners to reveal Himself, and to declare His will to His church.

So the Bible is not just a useful myth. It is the Word of God, infallible, inerrant, inspired, and profitable for everything that we need to be thoroughly equipped for every good work in our service to God and each other.

So let us critically evaluate the claims of Deism in the light of Scripture. We will examine a few Scriptures to make the points necessary to show how bankrupt a system Deism really is.

The Purpose of Creation

Why did God create the world? To manifest His own glory! The first thing we notice is that the Bible is clear that God not only created the world but that He had a specific and personal purpose for doing so. Psalm 19:1-6 tells us that the heavens declare and proclaim the glory and goodness of God!

When we confound the Creator for His creation, thinking that we are supposed to get to know IT rather than Him in order to discover truth, we fall right into what is condemned in Romans 1:25. They:

exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.

And if we look at Romans 1:20-22, we see just how far they have missed the truth:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.

The Personal Nature of God

The truth is that God is involved, actively, in the world around us. He has not set the world off spinning, without any interaction at all. We see from the Bible that if it was not for the ACTIVE involvement of God in every detail of His creation then the world would not and could not exist.

Consider these verses as they reveal to us the very personal and involved nature of God in His creation:

Colossians 1:15-17 states:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

He made all things. He is involved in all things. They were made by Him for Him, and even in Him all things consist! He actively holds creation together so that it might complete His purposes for His own glory.

Further we see in Scripture that He causes and calms the storm (Psalm 107:25, 29), He sends the rain (Psalm 68:9), He directs the changing of the seasons and even the political events and kingdoms that rule on the earth (Daniel 2:21). And these are but a few examples of how involved He is in the everyday events of this world.

The Purpose of Divine Revelation

God has given us the Word in order to reveal Himself to us, of that we can be sure. It is the testimony of Scripture. See Galatians 1:11-12, Ephesians 3:1-7, Hebrews 1:1-4. These are but a few of the verses that show us why we have been given the Scriptures - to reveal to us the God who created us for His purposes so that we can come to know Him and fellowship with Him (John 17:3)!

The Purpose of the Gospel

Deism denies the gospel of grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 and Galatians 1:6-9 should be enough to convince us of the truth about this faulty system of human reason! Further, those who hold this view, or are influenced by it, deny the need for salvation by grace from the wrath of God. Clearly in Scripture the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). So the very reason this fallen world is winding down is because of our sin and need for a Savior.

Ultimately, when we examine this system we see that it is devised by men and that it rejects and rebels against the Word of God. It gives us a different God, a different gospel, a different set of rules for determining right and wrong, a different reason for our being here, and a different reason for living! Deism and all that it entails should be rejected and purged from our thinking. God is a personal God who has revealed Himself to us through the Incarnation of His Son and the giving and preservation of His Word so that we might know Him, love Him, serve Him , obey Him, and glorify Him.

The god of Deism is a false god, made by the imaginations of fallen men, a powerless impersonal god.

Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

Dr. James White on Biblical Inerrancy
Dr. Ligon Duncan on Deism
Dr. John MacArthur on The Doctrine of Scripture

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Monday, January 30, 2006

Faith and Your Worldview

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Hebrews 11:3
By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Daily Scripture Reading - Romans 1

Puritan Catechism
Question #14 - What is sin?
Answer - Sin is any want of conformity to, or transgression of the law of God (1 Jn. 3:4).

Devotional Thoughts

We are returing this week to follow up on the topic we began last week, namely the definition of faith. As we looked at Hebrews 11:1-3 we learned what faith is, what qualities it has, what effects it has, and how it sets our understanding, especially in regard to the formation of the world. By faith we understand the doctrine of Creation! Further, we see by faith that the Word of God informs us of the truth of creation ex nihilo (out of nothing) by God speaking what is into existence.

This then helps set our worldview. Remember that a worldview is defined as "a set of fundamental assumptions about the most important issues in life." (quote attributed to Dr. Ligon Duncan). So this week we will take a look at what a worldview is, learn how to discern whether or not ours is Biblical, and we will investigate the prominent worldviews of mankind throughout recent history.

Another, more detailed definition borrowed from Monergism.com states:

The composite set of presuppositions, beliefs, and values a person possesses that shape how he or she see reality and determines how he or she will act. It refers to the collective set of fundamental convictions people hold and on which they base their actions. A set of assumptions and perspectives that are true, partly true or completely false, which we hold consistently or inconsistently, consciously or unconsciously, through which we make sense of our lives and our world. This is the case for individuals and collectively for a society or culture, as well.

There, that makes perfect sense doesn't it? The truth be told, while we all have a worldview it is difficult to discuss, because so many people have such variations in their worldview that at times it is hard to know what a person believes about the fundamental things of life.

So what are the basics? What are the foundational elements that make up our worldview? What effect does our worldview have on how we think about life, the Bible, family, society, the church, etc? Everything we believe in fact is influenced by our worldview.

As Dr. Duncan states, a worldview is simply a "grid" through which we view all of life. It is the way we perceive the world around us. It influences our beliefs about basic everyday things. In fact, we really do believe (faith) and act (behavior) based on how we "see" reality.

We have to understand that everyone has a worldview, whether they are aware of it or not. It is basic to rational thought. We have a system in our head through which we filter decisions about what is right and wrong and what is good and bad. It motivates us to act like we do, talk like we do, and think like we do. It infiltrates every fiber of our being and defines for us how we see the world. Hence, "worldview."

Knowing then that we all already have a worldview will help us identify what we believe about the basic facts of life (and death), and it will help us to be aware of the logical grid we use to make decisions and formulate what we believe. It will also help us identify whether or not our worldview lines up with Scripture or blatantly stands in opposition to Divine Truth - in which case our worldview needs an overhaul!

So what forms our worldview? Part of it we find in Romans 1:28. The Bible tells us that all men have a knowledge of God. It has been shown to them through what we call natural revelation. In fact, God has revealed Himself to all men, writing His law on their hearts (Romans 2:15). All men have a knowledge of God, and sinners try to forget what they know! They try to blur what they have clearly seen in creation itself.

Some, in this attempt at denying God even begin to worship the creation that reveals the true Creator. They work hard at stifling the knowledge of God, for to admit the truth, that there is a God, who is holy and just, requires that this God holds us accountable. And the natural man hates nothing more than being held to account for his life and sin!

So part of our worldview is just intrinsic in that we were created with the knowledge of God.

Our worldview is also affected by our culture and the world around us. We are very prone, as sinful human beings, to desiring the praise and acceptance of others around us - it is called the fear of men! And many times, what the people around us think affects how we view the world and life.

Other elements of our worldview, other than the inate knowledge of God and His standards of righteousness, include questions that are basic to who we are.

Who is God? Is there a God? Can we know God? What is truth? What is right? What is wrong? How do we know what is right and wrong, true of false? What is the standard for determining these things? How did we get here? What is the meaning of life?

All of these questions, and the answers we give to them, inform our worldview, that system of thought, that mental grid through which we see all of life.

So these really are basic things. And we need to know what other people's worldview is so that we can see the assumptions that they have made about life, death, sin, God, salvation, etc. If we are to be salt and light and witness to people we also have to know what we believe. We need to be sure of our faith and certain about truth.

So our goal then is to see what a Biblical worldview is, where it comes from, and how we apply it in examining the other worldviews that exist all around us.

Here is a question to prepare you for the rest of this week's study:

How did the world and mankind come to exist?

Your answer to that simple question will tell us what the foundational elements of your worldview are. If you need help, by the way, a Biblical worldview agrees with Hebrews 11:3!!

Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

(The use of these links should not be taken as an endorsement without reservation of everything on a given site, or of everything believed or taught by the authors who have posted these resources. They do provide helpful articles relevant to this study and are given with that intent.)

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Building the Body

If you have listened to my sermons the last 3 weeks, we have been covering the Book of Haggai, examining what the Bible has to say about church growth. This morning the conclusion to this series was not from Haggai, but rather from Ephesians 4:11-16. The message Building the Body delves into how we are to do our part in building the church.

What is church growth? What tools have we been given to work with in serving one another? What is the ministry? What methods insure success when it comes to church growth?

Listen and learn!! Hear and DO!!


Spurgeon and the Seeker Sensitive Church

Here are a few brief quotes from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon dealing with the church and the power of the gospel. This sermon could be preached from many pulpits today as it denounces the foolish and heretical attempts by men to make the gospel more palatable for "seekers". In truth, the only One seeking is Christ, as He came to SEEK and save that which was lost!

Here is Spurgeon:

We cannot place too much reliance in the gospel; our weakness is that we are so diffident and so apt to look somewhere else for strength. We do not believe in the gospel as to its power over the sons of men as we should believe in it. Too often we preach it with a coward's voice. Have I not heard sermons commencing with abject apologies for the preacher's daring to open his mouth; apologies for his youth, for his assertions, for his venturing to intrude upon men's consciences, and I know not what else? Can God own ambassadors of this cowardly cringing breed, who mistake fear of men for humility! Will our Captain honor such carpet-knights, who apologise for bearing arms? Even thus, though we may well humble ourselves as men, yet as ambassadors of God we cannot crouch to the sons of men, to ask them what message would suite them best. It must not, shall not, be that we shall smoothe our tongues and tone our doctrines to the taste of the age. The gospel that we preach, although the worldly wise man despises it, in God's gospel for all that. "Ah," says he, "there is nothing in it: science has overthrown it." "And," says another, "this gospel is but so much platitude; we have heard it over and over again." Ah, sir, and though it be platitude to you, and you decree it to be contemptible, you shall hear it or nothing else from us; "for it is the power of God, and the wisdom of God." In its simplicity lies its majesty and its power. "We are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. "God forbid that we should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." We will proclaim it again with confidence; We will bring forth once more the selfsame truth as of old; and as the barley loaf smote the tent of Midian, so that it lay along, so shall the gospel overturn its adversaries. The broken pitcher, and the flaming torches, and the old war cry, "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon" shall yet fill the foeman with dismay. Let us but be bold for Jesus, and we shall see what his arm can do. The gospel is the voice of the eternal God, and has in it the same power as that which brought the world out of nothing, and which shall raise the dead from their graves at the coming of the Son of Man. The gospel, the word of God, can no more return to him void than can the snow go back to heaven, or the rain-drops climb again the path by which they descended from the clouds. Have faith in God's word, faith in the presence of the Holy Ghost, faith in the reigning Savior, faith in the fulfillment of the everlasting purposes, and you will be full of confidence, and like an army with banners.

Let us day hold of God's truth with iron grip, and never let it go. After all, there is a Protestantism still worth contending for; there is a Calvinism still worth proclaiming, and a gospel worth dying for. There is a Christianity distinctive and distinguished from Ritualism, Rationalism, and Legalism, and let us make it known that we believe in it. Up with your banners, soldiers of the cross! This is not the time to be frightened by the cries against conscientious convictions, which are nowadays nicknamed sectarianism and bigotry. Believe in your hearts what you profess to believe; proclaim openly and zealously what you know to be the truth. Be not ashamed to say such-and-such things are true, and let men draw the inference that the opposite is false. Whatever the doctrines of the gospel may be to the rest of mankind, let them be your glory and boast. Display your banners, and let those banners be such as the church of old carried. Unfurl the old primitive standard, the all-victorious standard of the cross of Christ. In very deed and truth — the atonement is the conquering truth. Let others believe as they may, or deny as they will, for you the truth as it is in Jesus is the one thing that has won your heart and made you a soldier of the cross.

It is no aim of ours to please our enemies in our mode of warfare, but the reverse; and if we have discovered a weapon which galls you, we will use that same arm more freely than ever." There is a story of an officer who was rather awkward in his manners, and, upon some great occasion, almost fell over his sword in his haste. His majesty remarked, "Your sword seems to be very much in the way." "So your majesty's enemies have very often felt," was the reply. So, when the enemies of the truth are finding fault with our procedure, we accept their verdict when we have turned it the other way upwards. If they do not admire our mode of warfare, we think; it is in all probability about the best method we could adopt. We would still, God granting us help, continue preaching the "foolishness" of the gospel, and deliver again and again the old truth, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. Instead of lifting up a new banner (which would better please our adversaries) it shall be the old banner still—"None but Christ." "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that out of yourselves: it is the gift of God." Salvation is by free favor, through the expiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Is there any power in my life that would convict a sinner? my holiness about me that would make a wicked man feel ill at ease in my company? Is there enough of Christ about my life to make me like a light in the midst of the darkness? or is it very likely that if I were to live in a house the inhabitants would never see any difference between me and the ungodly? Oh, how many Christians there are who need to wear a label round their necks: you would never know that they were Christians without it! They make long prayers and great pretences, but they are Christians in nothing but the name. May your life and mine never be thus despicable, but may we convince gainsayers that there is a power in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and make them confess, that they, not having it, are losing a great blessing.

What more can we say? Amen!


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Phillip's Phunnies - The Church

A merry heart does good, like medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Ten Things You Never Hear in Church

1. Hey! It's MY turn to sit on the front pew!

2. I was so enthralled, I never noticed your sermon went over time 25 minutes.

3. Personally, I find witnessing much more enjoyable than golf.

4. I've decided to give our church the $500.00 a month I used to send to TV evangelists.

5. I volunteer to be the permanent teacher for the Junior High Sunday School class.

6. Forget the denominational minimum salary: let's pay our pastor so he can live like we do.

7. I love it when we sing hymns I've never heard before!

8. Since we're all here, let's start the worship service early!

9. Pastor, we'd like to send you to this Bible seminar in the Bahamas.

10. Nothing inspires me and strengthens my commitment like our annual stewardship campaign!

Bulletin Bloopers

The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.

The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's "Hamlet" in the church basement Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

Due to the Rector's illness, Wednesday's healing service will be discontinued until further notice.

Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.

The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister's daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.

The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing "Break Forth Into Joy."

Ushers will eat latecomers.

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands.

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

The sermon this morning is "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight is "Searching for Jesus."

Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

Miss Charlene Mason sang "I Will Not Pass This Way Again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

The cost for attending this week's "Fasting and Prayer" conference includes meals.

Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Please use the back door.

Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch.

This evening there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack's sermons.

The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.

Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Don't let worry kill you. Let the Church help.

Thursday night—potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the alter.

A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

The associate minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge—Up Yours."

Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Alan in preparing for the girth of their first child.

Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

Church Signs (sigh)


"Try our Sundays. They are better than Baskin-Robbins."

"Searching for a new look? Have your faith lifted here!"

"Fight truth decay - study the Bible daily."

Now Taking Reservations for Eternity - Smoking or Non?

"Dusty Bibles lead to Dirty Lives"

God so loved the world that He did not send a committee.

Sign broken. Message inside this Sunday.

A family altar can alter a family.

A lot of kneeling will keep you in good standing.

Don't put a question mark where God put a period.

Man's way leads to a hopeless end! God's way leads to an endless hope!

Most people want to serve God, but only in an advisory capacity.

Nothing ruins the truth like stretching it.

To be almost saved is to be totally lost.

Sad but True

Some people are kind, polite and sweet-spirited --- until you try to get into their pew. [George Goldtrap]

Most of us spend the first six days of the week sowing wild oats, then we go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure. [Fred Allen]

Do you know the three times that most people are in church? When they are hatched, matched and dispatched. [Lowell B. Yoder]

A lot of church members who are singing "Standing On The Promises" are just sitting on the premises. [Sr. Monique Rysavy]

I don't know why some people change churches - what difference does it make which one you stay home from? [Rev. Denny Brake]

If a Savior leaves you as you are and where you are, from what has He saved you? [Rev. Denny Brake]

Some minds are like concrete, thoroughly mixed up and permanently set. [Rev. Denny Brake]

The No-Excuse Sunday
To make it possible for everyone to attend church next Sunday, we are going to have a special "No Excuse Sunday." Cots will be placed in the foyer for those who say, "Sunday is my only day to sleep in." There will be a special section with lounge chairs for those who feel that our pews are too hard. Eye drops will be available for those with tired eyes from watching TV late Saturday night. We will have steel helmets for those who say, "The roof would cave in if I ever came to church." Blankets will be furnished for those who think the church is too cold, and fans for those who say it is too hot. Scorecards will be available for those who wish to list all the hypocrites present. A prominent space will be alloted at the top of the card for the cardholder to write his own name down first on that list. Relatives and friends will be in attendance for those who can't go to church and cook dinner, too. We will distribute "Stamp Out Stewardship" buttons for those that feel the church is always asking for money. One section will be devoted to trees and grass for those who like to seek God in nature. Doctors and nurses will be in attendance for those who plan to be sick on Sunday. The sanctuary will be decorated with both Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who never have seen the church without them. We will provide hearing aids for those who can't hear the preacher and cotton for those who can! Hope to see you there! - Author Unknown.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.......


Friday, January 27, 2006

Faith and Understanding

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Hebrews 11:3
By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Daily Scripture Reading - Proverbs 2

Puritan Catechism

Question #13
Did our first parents continue in the state wherein they were created?

Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God, (Eccl. 7:29) by eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6-8).

Devotional Thoughts

Hebrews 11:3 tells us, "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." It is faith, this trust in God, that gives us understanding. Specifically here, we are told that by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God.

Whatever a person believes about the creation or beginning of the universe and life on earth, it is a matter of faith. Will we believe what the scientist tells us? Will we believe the Word of God? Will we believe the fossil record? Will we believe the facts? The truth is that whatever we believe, it is just that, a belief. What we think about the beginning of the world is determined by where we have placed our faith!

Of course, since we trust God and believe His Word, we understand how the world came to be. We know that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This belief, this matter of faith in the Word of God and in God as Creator, gives us the ability to understand creation. In short, by faith, by what we believe, we come to embrace our worldview. More on that in a minute, but first we need to answer some basic questions about faith and understanding.

From Whence Cometh Understanding?

The first question would be where do we get understanding? According to Psalm 119:104, the Psalmist writes, "Through Your precepts I get understanding." The "Your" here of course is God. So through God's precepts we gain understanding. Well then, what are His precepts? The word precept means literally a "charge, or command." So through the commands of God we gain understanding.

You see, the Law of God has been given to us for several reasons. According to Galatians 3:24 tells us that the Law is a guardian, it keeps us and brings us to Christ. The Law points to our sin and therefore to our need for salvation and a Savior. It points us to Christ.

Further, the Law reveals to us the character of God. The Law is after all rooted in His nature and His character. The Law tell us about what kind of God He is and what He expects of us as we strive to love and obey Him.

So through His Law we gain understanding. We understand His nature, His purposes for creation, and His expectation of us as we are empowered to obey His Law and manifest our love for Him through our obedience.

Psalm 119:130 also tells us that "The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." The entrance of the Word of God gives us understanding. What is He saying here? Reading, hearing, memorizing, and meditating on the Word of God - taking His Words in to our hearts and minds - that gives us understanding! So if we want to have understanding then we must be in the Word of God - reading it, hearing it faithfully preached, memorizing it, and meditating on it. In fact, the only time the word "success" is used in the Bible it is used when talking about the only path to true success being meditating on the Word of God.

Further, we gain understanding by heeding rebuke (Proverbs 15:32). When we listen to correction, to rebuke for wrongdoing, when we respond to that correctly, then we gain understanding. We learn what not to do! We learn what God expects of us. And we learn humility. By the way, what are some of the things that the Word of God is profitable for? For reproof and correction! The Word gives us the standard to use when rebuking sin in another's life. In doing so we help them understand holiness and obedience.

One last note here when it comes to getting understanding is that Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit gives us understanding. He opens our eyes to the truth, convincing and convicting us with the Word of God. It is not just a matter of the written Word, but the Living Word, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, our Lord gives us understanding so that we might better serve Him (Luke 24:45; 1 John 5:20).

What is Understanding?

Perhaps an even more relevant question woukd be to ask "What is understanding?" We know now how we get it. We know that the Living and Written Word of God gives us understanding. We know it is by faith that in the Word that we gain a proper perspective and understand what God has done and is doing for His own pleasure and glory. But what exactly is udnerstanding?

The best definition I have found in my studies (and I do not remember where I copied this from) is that udnerstanding is, "the mental disciplines and abilities to discern and obey the truth of the Word of God." It is the ability to hear and do the Word!

In the Proverbs we hear often about three things. Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. The three are necessary for godly living. Knowledge speaks of the facts, or truth. It is onformation. Information by itself puffs up and makes us proud (1 Cor 1:8). Wisdom, as we have discussed before, is having a right perspective. To see beyong the surface and see things as God sees them, with a view toward eternity, that is to be wise. In fact, we must have a right view of God in the first place if we are to have a right view of anything else (Proverbs 1:7)And understanding joins the two. Understanding takes our perspective, joins it to what we know, and as a result we know how to act and think, even in difficult circumstances! And all of this we get from God! (Proverbs 2:6).

Understanding How the World was Framed

According to our verse for the day, by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. So we have studied knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in order to arrive at this foundation truth for the Christian life. By trusting God, we understand how the world came into being. Here is where our faith informs our mind. We trust what the Word of God says and in believing Him we understand how He created all that is!

This helps us understand God's purposes for creation. And as we have already stated, your faith will determine what you believe about the beginning of the world.

So why is this important? Because we are speaking here from Scripture about ones worldview. How you view the world around you, its beginning, its purpose, its end - all of this determines how you relate to God and to others. It determines your values and how you make decisions. A worldview is part of who we are and establishes how we view creation and even what we think about God. Remember too, as we have learned this week, what we believe determines how we behave! So what we believe about creation very much works it way out in the way we live our lives.

The best definition of "worldview" that I have found is that a worldview is “a set of fundamental assumptions about the most important issues in life.” So will these assumptions be based on the Word of God or not? How will we inform our minds and our consciences when it comes to the fundamental truths about the creation of the world in which we live?

As Christians, we should have what is called a Biblical worldview, or a Christian worldview. Sadly though many Christians neglect the Word of God and live in complete ignorance when it comes to the truth given to us about the foundation of the world. Many have secular worldviews, worldviews that in reality reject the truth of God, even denying His existence. How can a Christian hold to such a worldview? Simple really. By rejecting the truth of God's Word and leaning on their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) instead of gaining understanding from the Word of God!

In the week to come we will examine briefly the dominate worldviews throughout history and see how they reject or interact with the Word of God. But before we are through today I want to give just a few selection of Scripture that we must believe in order to have a proper understanding of how the worlds were framed by the Word of God. The first is John 1:1-5, and the second Genesis 1. See also Exodus 20:11 where God writes with His own finger about how He created the world. Read these passages and see what God says about how the world was framed by the Word of God.

Puritan Voices
This week we will take a look each day at a section of a sermon from the text of 1 John 3:23 titled The Warrant of Faith by Charles H. Spurgeon.

Brethren, the command to believe in Christ must be the sinner's warrant, if you consider the nature of our commission. How runs it? "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." It ought to run, according to the other plan, "preach the gospel to every regenerate person, to every convinced sinner, to every sensible soul." But it is not so; it is to "every creature." But unless the warrant be a something in which every creature can take a share, there is no such thing as consistently preaching it to every creature. Then how is it put?—"He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." Where is there a word about the pre-requisites for believing. Surely the man could not be damned for not doing what he would not have been warranted in doing. Our reaching, on the theory of qualifications, should not be," Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;" but "Qualify yourselves for faith, be sensible of your sin, be regenerated, get marks and evidences, and then believe." Why, surely, if I am not to sow the good seed on the stony places and among the thorns, I had better give up being a sower, and take to ploughing, or some other work. When the apostles went to Macedonia or Achaia, they ought not to have commenced with preaching Christ; they should have preached up qualifications, emotions, and sensations, if these are the preparations for Jesus; but I find that Paul, whenever he stands up, has nothing to preach but "Christ, and him crucified." Repentance is preached as a gift from the exalted Saviour, but it is never as the cause or preparation for believing on Jesus. These two graces are born together, and live with a common life—beware of making one a foundation for the other. I would like to carry one of those who only preach to sensible sinners, and set him down in the capital of the kingdom of Dahomey. There are no sensible sinners there! Look at them, with their mouths stained with human blood, with their bodies smeared all over with the gore of their immolated victims—how will the preacher find any qualification there? I know not what he could say, but I know what my message would be. My word would run thus—"Men and brethren, God, who made the heavens and the earth; hath sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world to suffer for our sins, and whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." If Christ crucified did not shake the kingdom of Dahomey, it would be its first failure. When the Moravian missionaries first went to Greenland, you remember that they were months and months teaching the poor Greenlander about the Godhead, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the doctrine of sin and the law, and no converts were forthcoming. But one day, by accident, one of the Greenlanders happening to read that passage, "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God," asked the meaning, and' the missionary, hardly thinking him advanced enough to understand the gospel, nevertheless ventured to explain it to him, and the man became converted, and hundreds of his countrymen received the Word. Naturally enough, they said to the missionaries, "Why did not you tell us this before? We knew all about there being a God, and that did us no good; why did not you come and tell us to believe in Jesus Christ before?" O my brethren, this is God's weapon, God's method; this is the great battering-ram which will shake the gates of hell; and we must see to it, that it be brought into daily use.

I have tried, on the positive side, to show that a free-grace warrant is consistent with the text—that it accords with apostolic custom, and is, indeed, absolutely necessary, seeing the condition in which sinners are placed. But, my brethren, to preach Christ to sinners, as sinners, must be right; for all the former acts of God are to sinners, as sinners. Whom did God elect? Sinners. He loved us with a great love, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins. How did he redeem them? Did he redeem them as saints? No; for while we were yet enemies, he reconciled us unto God by the death of his Son. Christ never shed his blood for the good that is in us, but for the sin that is in us. "He laid down his life for our sins," says the apostle. If, then, in election and redemption, we find God dealing with sinners, as sinners, it is a marring and nullifying of the whole plan if the gospel is to be preached to men as anything else but sinners.

Again, it is inconsistent with the character of God to suppose that he comes forth and proclaims, "If, O my fallen creatures, if you qualify yourselves for my mercy, I will save you; if you will feel holy emotions—if you will be conscious of sacred desires after me, then the blood of Jesus Christ shall cleanse you." There would be little which is godlike in that. But when he comes out with pardons full and free, and saith, "Yea, when ye lay in your blood, I said unto you Live"—when he comes to you, his enemy and rebellious subject, and yet cries, "I have blotted out thy sins like a cloud, and like a thick cloud thine iniquities." Why, this is divine. You know what David said, "I have sinned." What did Nathan say? "The Lord has put away thy sin, thou shalt not die," and that is the message of the gospel to a sinner as a sinner. "The Lord has put away thy sin; Christ has suffered; he has brought in perfect righteousness; take him, trust him, and ye shall live." May that message come home to you this morning, my beloved.

I have read with some degree of attention a book to which I owe much for this present discourse—a book, by Abraham Booth, called "Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners." I have never heard any one cast a suspicion upon Abraham Booth's soundness; on the contrary, he has been generally considered as one of the most orthodox of the divines of the last generation. If you want my views in full, read his book. If you need something more, let me say, among all the bad things which his revilers have laid to his door, I have never heard any one blame William Huntingdon for not being high enough in doctrine. Now, William Huntingdon prefaced in his lifetime a book by Saltmarsh, with which he was greatly pleased; and the marrow of its teaching is just this, in his own words, "The only ground for any to believe is, he is faithful that hath promised, not anything in themselves, for this is the commandment, That ye believe on his Son Jesus Christ." Now, if William Huntingdon himself printed such a book as that, I marvel how the followers of either William Huntingdon or Abraham Booth, how men calling themselves Calvinistic divines and high Calvinists, can advocate what is not free grace, but a legal, graceless system of qualifications and preparations. I might here quote Crisp, who is pat to the point and a high doctrine man too. I mention neither Booth nor Huntingdon as authorities upon the subject, to the law and to the testimony we must go; but I do mention them to show that men holding strong views on election and predestination yet did see it to be consistent to preach the gospel to sinners as sinners—nay, felt that it was inconsistent to preach the gospel in any other way.

I shall only add, that the blessings which flow from preaching Christ to sinners as sinners, are of such a character as prove it to be right. Do on not see that this levels us all? We have the same warrant for believing, and no one can exalt himself above his fellow.

Then, my brethren, how it inspires men with hope and confidence; it forbids despair. No man can despair if this be true; or if he do, it is a wicked, unreasonable despair, because if he has been never so bad, yet God commands him to believe. What room can there be for despondency? Surely if anything Could cut off Giant Despair's head, Christ preached to sinners is the sharp two-edged sword to do it.

Again, how it makes a man live close to Christ! If I am to come to Christ as a sinner every day, and I must do so, for the Word saith, "As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him;" if every day I am to come to Christ as a sinner, why then, how paltry all my doings look! what utter contempt it casts upon all my fine virtues, m preachings, my prayings, and all that comes of my flesh! and though it leads me to seek after purity and holiness, yet it teaches me to live on Christ and not on them, and so it keeps me at the fountain head.

My time flies, and I must leave the last head, just to add, sinner, whoever thou mayst be, God now commands thee to believe in Jesus Christ. This is his commandment: he does not command thee to feel anything, or be anything, to prepare thyself for this. Now, art thou willing to incur the great guilt of making God a liar? Surely thou wilt shrink from that: then dare to believe. Thou canst not say, "I have no right:" you have a perfect right to do what God tells you to do. You cannot tell me you are not fit; there is no fitness wanted, the Command is given and it is yours to obey, not to dispute. You cannot say it does not come to you—it is preached to every Creature under heaven; and now soul, it is so pleasant a thing to trust the Lord Jesus Christ that I would fain persuade myself thou needest no persuading. It is so delightful a thing to accept a perfect salvation, to be saved by precious blood. and to be married to so bright a Saviour, that I would fain hope the Holy Spirit has led thee to cry, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Side Effects of Faith

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Hebrews 11:2
For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

Daily Scripture Reading - 3 John

Puritan Catechism

Question #13
Did our first parents continue in the state wherein they were created?

Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God, (Eccl. 7:29) by eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6-8).

Devotional Thoughts

We have seen this week that when it comes to the salvation of our souls, active and saving faith is faith that works. It is faith that is based upon a relationship of trust placed in Jesus Christ. It has Him as its object and gives the believer strong evidence and proof of the things he hopes for and cannot see.

Aside from faith affecting behavior though, what other side effects are present when we have faith? Does faith work its way out in other ways beside just our behavior?

Hebrews 11:2 states that by faith the elders obtained a good testimony. So by having faith their testimony was improved. What does it mean to have a good testimony?

These elders, those who have come before us in the faith, by trusting in God and the promised coming Messiah (by grace through faith of course), obtained a good testimony. It is interesting what many in the church today think of when we ask them to give their testimony. The typical testimony starts out with the believer talking about how he lived in sin before Christ, and usually the bigger teh sin the more sensational the testimony! Apparently it is more exciting for Christ to save a person from the BIG sins rather than being equally glorious in saving any sinner no matter their age or experience in this fallen world.

But as the testimony unfolds, we hear about all that they struggled with and all that God delivered them from and by the time they get to the point in the story that they were converted, they stop. As if the climax of a testimony is the moment of being born again.

But in reality, when the Bible talkes about testimonies is it talking about telling the story of right now today and the things God is doing in your life! It is a testimony rooted in the moment, not just a telling of everything that happened up until salvation. How often do we recount all that we did before being saved when God does not even remember those things? (Psalm 103:12; Micah 7:19). That to me is shocking. While we may remember and recount those things the true power of a testimony is seen in how our faith is working right now, today.

Yes, it is glorious that we have been saved from sin. But at times I fear that we revel in the depth of depravity before we glory in the unfathomable love and grace of God. As I stated, Biblically speaking, ones testimony may have some background given, but it is a testimony to what God is doing - present tense.

Another intersting fact here, especially from this verse in Hebrews 11, is that in the original language, the testimony is coming from someone else! This is not the elders talking about their testimony. It is a testimony from an outside source as to what their faith has accomplished in their lives - and this is a good testimony.

Literally, this verse says not that they worked to gain or obtain this testimony. It states that they were testified of, of had a witness given about them. We see in verses 4 and 39 that it is GOD who is giving this testimony. It is God who is testifying on their behalf, giving the ultimate approval to their lives of faith. So one side effect of faith is that God will testify to your obedience.

Do we ever think about our testimony from that perspective? What would God say about us if He were asked?? Certainly then a testimony could never be given to exalt the man instead of exalting Christ! But that is what matters most is it not? What does God know about us?

Del Fehsenfeld, Jr, the revivalist who founded Life Action Ministries, preached often that the only degree that really mattered was the AUG degree. Ever heard of an AUG? It is an "Approved Unto God" degree bestowed by God when we have a good testimony! Are we living right here and right now in a way that glorifies God and gives Him the opportunity to give a good testimony about us?

What other side effects are there from this faith that works? A few items from Romans 5:1-5 and James 1:2-8 are worth noting.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

By faith we have been justified. Because we are justified we have peace with God. As a result we rejoice in hope and even are able to glory in tribulations. Because tribulation produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope. And true hope does not let us down but testifies to us of the love of God!! Speaking about how faith holds us up under tribulation, consider James 1:2-8:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Here we see other side effects of faith. We see joy in the face of trials and tribulations. We see patience leading to maturity in the faith. Faith is foundational to the Christian life. It is how we enter new life and how we continue to grow. It is essential to our development and our maturity. Faith, complete trust in Christ that casts out fear and doubt, is required for peace, joy, and hope. It is necessary for patience and a right perspective and outlook on life. Faith in Christ carries us. It really does define who we are and what we do for Christ and what He accomplishes through us.

That is why through faith we are able to obtain a good testimony today. And it is also why without faith it is impossible to please God. Remember, anything we do that is not faith based is sin! Whatever we do that is faith based glorifies God, gives Him an opportunity to testify about what He is accomplishing in and through us, and gives us a good testimony in the church and in the world.

Today, what is your testimony? How is your faith working right now? What good is it accomplishing. And what side effects are present in the midst of struggles, trials, victories, and obedience as you continue to walk by faith?

Puritan Voices
This week we will take a look each day at a section of a sermon from the text of 1 John 3:23 titled The Warrant of Faith by Charles H. Spurgeon.

Yet again, I believe that the preaching of alarms of conscience and repentance as qualifications for Christ, is unacceptable to the awakened sinner. I will introduce one, as Saltmarsh does in his "Flowings of Christ's Blood Freely to the Chief of Sinners." Here is a poor brother who dares not believe in Jesus. I will suppose him to have attended a ministry where the preaching is "If you have felt this, if you have felt that, then you may believe." When you went to your minister in trouble, what did he say to you? "He asked me whether I felt my need of Christ, I told him I did not think I did, at least I did not feel my need enough. He told me that I ought to meditate upon the guilt of sin, and consider the dreadful character of the wrath to come, and I might in this way feel my need more." Did you do so? "I did; but it seemed to me as if while I meditated upon the terrors of judgment, my heart grew harder instead of softer, and I seemed to be desperately set, and resolved in a kind of despair to go on in my ways; yet, some-times I did have some humblings and some meltings of heart." What did your minister tell you to do to get comfort then? "He said I ought to pray much." Did you pray? "I told him I could not pray; that I was such a sinner that it was of no use for me to hope for an answer if I could." What did he say then? "He told me I ought to lay hold upon the promises." Yes, did you do so? "No; I told him I could not lay hold upon the promises; that I could not see they were meant for me, for I was not the character intended; and that I could only find threatenings in the Word of God for such as I was." What did he say then? "He told me to be diligent in the use of the means, and to attend his ministry." What did you say to that? "I told him I was diligent, but that what I wanted was not means, I wanted to get my sins pardoned and forgiven." What did he say then? "Why, he said that I had better persevere and wait patiently for the Lord; I told him that I was in such a horror of great darkness, that my soul chose strangling rather than life. Well then, he said, he thought I must already be truly penitent, and was therefore safe, and that sooner or later I should have hope But I told him, a mere hope was not enough for me, I could not he safe while sin lay so heavy upon me. He asked me whether I had not desires after Christ. I said I had, but they were merely selfish, Carnal desires; that I sometimes thought I had desires, but they were only legal. He said if I had a desire to have a desire, it was God's work, and I was saved. That did prop me up for a time, sir, but I went down again, for that did not do for me, I wanted something solid to rest on." And sinner, how is it now with you? where are you now? "Well, sir, I scarce know where I am, but I pray you, tell me what I must do?" Brethren, my reply is prompt and plain; hear it. Poor soul, I have no questions to ask you; I have no advice to give you, except this, God's command to you is, whatever you may be, trust to the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. Will you do it or no? If he rejects that, I must heave him; I have no more to say to him; I am clear of his blood, and on him the sentence comes, "He that believeth not shall be damned." But you will find in ninety-nine Cases out of one hundred, that when you begin to talk to the sinner, not about his repentings and his desirings, but about Christ, and tell him that he need not fear the law, for Christ has satisfied it; that he need not fear an angry God, for God is not angry with believers; tell him that all manner of iniquity was Cast into the Red Sea of Jesus' blood, and, like the Egyptians, drowned there for ever; tell him that no matter however vile and wicked he may have been, "Christ is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him;" and tell him that he has a right to come, be he who he may, or what he may, because God bids him come; and you will find that the suitability of such a gospel to the sinner's case, will prove a sweet inducement in the hand of the Holy Spirit, to lead that sinner to lay hold on Jesus Christ. O my brethren, I am ashamed of myself when I think of the way in which I have sometimes talked to awakened sinners. I am persuaded that the only true remedy for a broken heart is Jesus Christ's most precious blood. Some surgeons keep a wound open too long; they keep cutting, and cutting, and cutting, till they cut away as much sound flesh as proud flesh. Better by half heal it, heal it at once, for Jesus Christ was not sent to keep open the wounds, but to bind up the broken in heart. To you, then, sinners of every sort and hue, black, hard-hearted, insensible, impenitent, even to you is the gospel sent, for "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners," even the chief.

I might here pause, surely, but I must add yet one other point upon this negative mode of reasoning. Any other warrant for the sinner's faith than the gospel itself, is false and dangerous.

It is false, my brethren, it is as false as God is true, that anything in a sinner can be his warrant for believing in Jesus. The whole tenour and run of the gospel is clean contrary to it. It must be false, because there is nothing in a sinner until he believes which can be a warrant for his believing. If you tell me that a sinner has any good thing in him before he believes, I reply, impossible—"Without faith it is impossible to please God." All the repentings, and humblings, and convictions that a sinner has before faith, must be, according to Scripture, displeasing to God. Do not tell me that his heart is broken; if it is only broken by carnal means, and trusts in its brokenness, it needs to be broken over again. Do not tell me he has been led to hate his sin; I tell you he does not hate his sin, he only hates hell. There cannot be a true and real hatred of sin where there is not faith in Jesus. All the sinner knows and feels before faith is only an addition to his other sins, and how can sin which deserves wrath be a warrant for an act which is the work of the Holy Spirit?

How dangerous is the sentiment I am opposing. My hearers, it may be so mischievous us to have misled some of you. I solemnly warn you, though you have been professors of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for twenty years, if your reason for believing in Christ lies in this, that you have felt the terrors of the law; that you have been alarmed, and have been convinced; if your own experience be your warrant for believing in Christ, it is a false reason, and you are really relying upon your experience and not upon Christ: and mark you, if you rely upon your frames and feelings, nay, if you rely upon your communion with Christ, in any degree whatever, you are as certainly a lost sinner as though you relied upon oaths and blasphemies; you shall no more be able to enter heaven, even by the works of the Spirit—and this is using strong language—than by your own works; for Christ, and Christ alone, is the foundation, and "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Take care of resting in your own experience. All that is of nature's spinning must be unravelled, and everything that getteth into Christ's place, however dear to thee, and however precious in itself, must be broken in pieces, and like the dust of the golden calf, must be strawed upon the water, and thou wilt be made sorrowfully to drink of it, because thou madest it thy trust. I believe that the tendency of that preaching which puts the warrant for faith anywhere but in the gospel command, is to vex the true penitent, and to console the hypocrite; the tendency of it is to make the poor soul which really repents, feel that he must not believe in Christ, because he sees so much of his own hardness of heart. The more spiritual a man is, the more unspiritual he sees himself to be; and the more penitent a man is, the more impenitent he discovers himself to be. Often the most penitent men are those who think themselves the most impenitent; and if I am to preach the gospel to the penitent and not to every sinner, as a sinner, then those penitent persons, who, according to my opponents, have the most right to believe, are the very persons who will never dare to touch it, because they are conscious of their own impenitence and want of all qualification for Christ. Sinners, let me address you with words of life: Jesus wants nothing of you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as ye are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh to me I will in no Wise cast out." If thou believest in him thou shalt never be confounded.

2. But now, POSITIVELY, and as the negative part has been positive enough, we will be brief here. The gospel Command is a sufficient warrant for a sinner to believe in Jesus Christ. The words of our text imply this—" This is the commandment." My brethren, do you want any warrant for doing a thing better than God's command to do it? The children of Israel borrowed jewels of silver and jewels of gold from the Egyptians. Many, as they read the Bible, find fault with this transaction; but, to my mind, if God bade them do it, that was enough of justification for them. Very well; if God bid thee believe—if this be his commandment that thou believe—canst thou want a better warrant? I say, is there any necessity for any other. Surely the Lord's Word is enough.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Faith that Works

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Hebrews 11:6
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Daily Scripture Reading - Genesis 4

Puritan Catechism

Question #13
Did our first parents continue in the state wherein they were created?

Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God, (Eccl. 7:29) by eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6-8).

Devotional Thoughts

In Hebrews 11:4-16 we find a description of several individuals who had faith, and the thing to note here is that when they had faith, they acted in a certain way. We have already determined that faith directly affects behavior, that is to say, faith that is real, true, alive, and active is a faith that works.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God! Faith, taking God at His Word, is simply defined as believing that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Jeremiah 29:13). So we see here on the other side of the coin, while faith works, without faith we cannot do works that please God!

It's true. Faith in Christ is so vital, so necessary for living the Christian life, that we are told in Romans 14:23 that anything we do that is "not from faith is sin." If we do anything or say anything or think anything that is not motivated by our trust in God then that action, word, or thought is inherently sinful!

So let us examine these people of faith and see what kind of works their faith produced.

Abel Offered a Sacrifice – Heb 11:4

By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

By faith, because of his faith, because He believed God, Abel obeyed God and offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Abel knew what God expected. So did Cain. Abel gave God what God wanted! Cain offered God what he wanted to give. There is a huge difference there, is there not?

Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice. It was superb, unmatched, unequalled. Why? Because Abel acted by faith and gave God exactly what God asked of him. As a result Abel obtained this witness - God said he was righteous. What is it to be righteous? It means that God proclaimed that Abel was right with Him! On the basis of his faith, faith that worked its way out through his actions of obedience, God made Abel right with Him.

God testified to the goodness of this offering, his gifts to God. God was pleased. Remember, without faith it is impossible to please God, but with faith, all things are possible!

This is such a powerful result of faith working in his life that the Bible tells us that even though Cain out of jealousy murdered Abel, he being dead still speaks! We still hear his testimony. Abel has been declared righteous before God by God in the pages of Holy Scripture for every generation of Christians to hear the story about Abel's incredible faith.

So many people want to leave a legacy to those who come after them. Abel was not worried about any such thing. He just wanted to please God. He trusted God. And as a result he acted in a way that pleased God. He obeyed God. And God testified to his righteousness and continues to talk about him even today as we read this text.

Do you want a legacy that glorifies God? Have faith. You can read more about Abel in Genesis 4.

Enoch Pleased God – Heb 11:5-6

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Notice the same words that appear in the account of Enoch as we continue through our text? Faith, testimony, witness. They both pleased God.

In this account we see that Enoch did not die! Imagine that. The account of Enoch's life found in Genesis 5 tells us that he walked with God. He had this testimony - this is what they said about him - he pleased God. He had such fellowship with the Father and walked so closely with Him that one day God just took Enoch to heaven!

He did not die a physical death. He was not buried. He was taken directly to heaven to be in God's presence.

What a testimony. Pleasing God. Walking with God. Trusting God. And he was taken and was not on the earth any longer. He lived on earth 365 years, which actually was a short time at this time in human history. His father Jared lived 962 years. His son Methuselah, the oldest living human being recorded in Scripture, was born when Enoch was 65 years old and then lived to be 969 years old.

So while he had lived what could have been just a third of his life he was already walking with such faith and such obedience, pleasing God so abundantly, that God took him on to heaven and he was able to forego death!

Noah Had Godly Fear – Heb 11:7

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Noah, in Genesis 6 was warned by God of things about to happen as God was planning to judge sinful mankind. Noah responded with faith. He believed what God was telling him and the result, the action that followed, was that Noah moved with godly fear. He worshipped, loved, honored, respected, and feared God.

The outworking of that godly fear, which is really just having a right view of God was that Noah prepared the ark, preached to the lost, and saved his family!

Imagine if you will the scenario here. On the lighter side of this event, Bill Cosby in a very early routine of his, told the story about how the conversation between God and Noah on the day Noah was told to build an ark might have occured. The record my dad had that he played often went something like this:

God: "Noah."

Noah: "Who is that?"

God: "It's the Lord, Noah."

Noah: "Right. Where are ya? What do You want? I've been good."

God: "I want you to build an ark."

Noah: "Right. What's an ark?"

God: "Get some wood build it 300 cubits by 80 cubits by 40 cubits."

Noah: "Right. What's a cubit?"

God: "I'm going to destory the world."

Noah: "Right. How ya gonna do it?"

God: "I'm gonna make it rain for a 40 days and 40 nights and drown 'em right out."

Noah: "Right! What's rain?"

While this is a bit of comedy, it is true that Noah and the world had not even seen rain at this point! (Genesis 2:5-7). So Noah really was acting on faith. And he faithfully worked on that ark for 100 years, and preached to the people around him the whole time, yet he saw no conversions, no repetance, and no faith by the time it began to rain.

Because of his faith, because he took God at His Word, Noah and his family, and the human race were saved from extinction! He believed God, he feared God, he obeyed God, and the Bible says he became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Abraham Obeyed – Heb 11:8

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

By faith Abraham obeyed God! And what an act of obedience this was. God called Abrahan to go out of the place where he was, his homeland, the place he was born and raised and now had a wife, and go to a place God would show him. But God did not tell him right away where he was going! He just told him to go. And Abraham obeyed and went!! That is faith!

He did not question. He seems to have had no doubts. He got up and moved his family - taking his father and other members of the family with them, and he headed out to a place where he did not even know he was going!

The Bible has a lot more to say about Abraham and his faith. You can read about it in Genesis 12 and Romans 4.

Sarah Conceived Past Child Bearing Age (did the impossible) – Heb 11:11

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

As we look at the life of Abraham and the faith he had we are also told in the Scriptures that his wife Sarah had faith as well. So far we have seen that faith produces the works of obedience, godly fear and building an ark, pleasing God and walking with Him, and offering a more excellent sacrifice. At the root of these so far we see a common theme - faith worked its way out in obedience!

But now we come to Sarah, and we take a turn. Her story is different. By faith she received strength to conceive and bear a son. She took God at His Word, trusted that He was faithful and would do what He promised, and as a result of her faith received strength, the ability to have a baby although she had been barren and was now 90 years old! Lifespans had decreased at this point after the flood and Sarah lived to be 127 years of age. She had first been told about the promise of the birth if Isaac some 25 years before she conceived.

So her faith in God was present for 25 years to the point that she gave birth to a son at the age of 90. This was unheard of - for a barren woman of 90 years to give birth. And yet she did.

Now was her giving birth an act of obedience? No. Not really. She could no more control the conception and birth of her son that could Abraham. She was at a point in her life where it was naturally impossible for her to get pregnant.

So what did her faith work? It worked the impossible! When we take God at His Word we can see the impossible happen. Why is that? Because true, active, working faith is not faith placed in self or in other people. The object of this faith is GOD. And when we take God at His Word and trust Him, we must remember that He delights in doing the impossible!!

Many things that seem impossible to us are not even a challenge for God. For Him, nothing is impossible. And Sarah's faith gave her the strength to see God do the impossible through her!

You can read more about this impossibility becoming a reality in Genesis 17-18, and 22.

These All Had Assurance – Heb 11:13

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Another common theme here, and where we will close today, is this thread running throughout these people's lives that they did not just have faith, but they had assurance. True faith does not leave us doubting or fearing or worrying. True faith, truly taking God at His Word, leads to assurance and confidence.

So as we believe, we obey. We trust God for the impossible. And we are assured that He will do what He has promised! Think about it. How often do we claim to be walking by faith, but we are reluctant, and fearful, and full of worry or doubt? As Jesus responded often to His disciples, we are people of "little faith." Our faith is weak and insufficient.

Why is that? Because we are prone to trust what we see! We walk by sight instead of by faith. Peter is the perfect example. He trusted the reality of the howling winds and crashing waves around him instead of trusting the reality that Jesus had called him to walk on the water.

When we take our eyes off Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2) we lose heart, we lose faith, we lose hope, and we sink into the sea of doubt and fear.

If, on the other hand, we walk by faith, we know that faith in God is never a blind leap in the dark. We have His Word to assure us - and His Word in fact is the very tool He uses to give us more faith (Romans 10:17).

So today, remember these examples. Rememebr what faith looks like. Rememeber that faith works. And if your faith is not working, then you are not really trusting God - you are not believing Him, you are calling Him a liar! And we know that God cannot lie! So repent. Find new faith in the Word of God. And believe what He has said.

His Word is sure. His grace sufficient. His mercy new every morning and everlasting. And He can be trusted! Today, have faith that works!

Puritan Voices
This week we will take a look each day at a section of a sermon from the text of 1 John 3:23 titled The Warrant of Faith by Charles H. Spurgeon.

Again, any other way of preaching than that of bidding the sinner believe because God commands him to believe, is a boasting way of faith. For if my warrant to trust in Jesus be found in my experience, my loathings of sin, or my longings after Christ, then all these good things of mine are a legitimate ground of boasting, because though Christ may save me, yet these were the wedding-dress which fitted me to come to Christ. If these be indispensable pre-requisites and conditions, then the man who has them may truly and justly say, "Christ did save me, but I had the pre-requisites and conditions first, and therefore let these share the praise." See, my brethren, those who have a faith which rests upon their own experience, what are they as a rule? Mark them, and you will perceive much censorious bitterness in them, prompting them to set up their own experience as the standard of saintship, which may assuredly make us suspicious whether they ever were humbled in a gospel manner at all, so as to see that their own best feelings, and best repentances, and best experiences in themselves are nothing more nor less than filthy rags in the sight of God. My dear brethren, when we tell a sinner that foul and filthy as he is, without any preparation or qualification, he is to take Jesus Christ to be his all in all, finding in him all that he can ever need, when we dare on the spot to bid the jailor just startled out of sleep, "Believe in Jesus," we leave no room for self-glorification, all must be of grace. When we find the lame man lying at the temple gates, we do not bid him strengthen his own legs. or feel some life in them, but we bid him in the name of Jesus rise up and walk; surely here when God the Spirit owns the Word, all boasting is excluded. Whether I rely on my experience or my good works makes little difference, for either of these reliances will lead to boasting since they are both legal. Law and boasting are twin brothers, but free grace and gratitude always go together.

Any other warrant for believing on Jesus than that which is presented in the gospel is changeable. See, brethren, if my warrant to believe in Christ lies in my meltings of heart and my experiences, then if to-day I have a melting heart and I can pour my soul out before the Lord, I have a warrant to believe in Christ. But to-morrow (who does not know this?) to-morrow my heart may be as hard as a stone, so that I can neither feel nor pray. Then, according to the qualification-theory, I have no right to trust in Christ, my warrant is clean gone from me. According to the doctrine of final perseverance, the Christian's faith is continual, if so the warrant of his faith must be always the same, or else he has sometimes an unwarranted faith which is absurd; it follows from this that the abiding warrant of faith must lie in some immutable truth. Since everything within changes more frequently than ever does an English sky, if my warrant to believe in Christ be based within, it must change every hour; consequently I am lost and saved alternately. Brethren, can these things be so? For my part I want a sure and immutable warrant for my faith; I want a warrant to believe in Jesus which will serve me when the devil's blasphemy comes pouring into my ears like a flood; I want a warrant to believe which will serve me when my lustings and corruptions appear in terrible array, and make me cry out, "O wretched man that I am;' I want a warrant to believe in Christ which will comfort me when I have no good frames and holy feelings, when I am dead as a stone and my spirit lies cleaving to the dust. Such an unfailing warrant to belief in Jesus is found in this precious truth, that his gracious commandment and not my variable experience, is my title to believe on his Son Jesus Christ.

Again, my brethren, any other warrant is utterly incomprehensible. Multitudes of my brethren preach an impossible salvation. How often do poor sinners hunger and thirst to know the way of salvation, and there is no available salvation preached to them. Personally, I do not remember to have been told from the pulpit to believe in Jesus as a sinner. I heard much of feelings which I thought I could never get, and frames after which I longed; but I found no peace until a true, free grace message came to me, "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." See, my brethren, if convictions of soul are necessary qualifications for Christ, we ought to know to an ounce how much of these qualifications are needed. If you tell a poor sinner that there is a certain amount of humblings, and tremblings, and convictions, and heart-searchings to be felt, in order that he may be warranted to come to Christ, I demand of all legal-gospellers distinct information as to the manner and exact degree of preparation required. Brethren, you will find when these gentlemen are pushed into a corner, they will not agree, but will every one give a different standard, according to his own judgment. One will sa the sinner must have months of law work; another, that he only needs good desires; and some will demand that he possess the graces of the Spirit—such as humility, godly sorrow, and love to holiness. You will get no clear answer from them. If the sinner's warrant to come is found in the gospel itself, the matter is clear and plain; but what a roundabout plan is that compound of law and gospel against which I Contend! And let me ask you, my brethren, whether such an incomprehensible gospel would do for a dying man? There he lies in the agonies of death. He tells me that he has no good thought or feeling, and asks what he must do to be saved. There is but a step between him and death—another five minutes and that man's soul may be in hell. What am I to tell him? Am I to be an hour explaining to him the preparation required before he may come to Christ? Brethren, I dare not. But I tell him, "Believe. brother, even though it be the eleventh hour; trust thy soul with Jesus, and thou shalt be saved." There is the same gospel for a living man as for a dying man. The thief on the Cross may have had some experience, but I do not find him pleading it; he turns his eye to Jesus, saying, "Lord, remember me !" How prompt is the reply, "To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." He may have had onging desires, he may have had deep convictions, but I am quite sure he did not say, "Lord, I dare not ask thee to remember me, because I do not feel I have repented enough. I dare not trust thee, because I have not been shaken over hell's mouth." No, no, no; he looked to Jesus as he was, and Jesus responded to his believing prayer. It must be so with you, my brethren, for any other plan but that of a sinner's coming to Christ as a sinner, and resting on Jesus just as he is, is utterly incomprehensible, or, if it is to be explained at all, will require a day or two to explain it ill; and that cannot be the gospel which the apostles preached to dying men.

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