“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Miscellany

A few news notes, with a bit of commentary:

This week a Prestonwood Baptist pastor in Texas was arrested for attempting to consummate an illegal rendezvous with a 13-year-old girl. This was a shock to Pastor Jack Graham, the senior pastor of the church, and I would ask that you pray for that church and their staff.

Sadly, I have seen many comments that speak of Prestonwood as being full of ‘hypocrites’ and ‘unsaved’, and this from the Christian community. Many of the comments touch upon the fact that Prestonwood is a Mega-Church, with 26,000 congregants. While I am not a fan of the Mega-Church movement, I feel that these comments are not only unnecessary, but untrue.

While I agree that large churches enable people to be less accountable, painting the entire church with the brush of hypocrisy is wrong. Be in prayer for the staff, the family of the arrested pastor, and the pastor himself.

In another area – Christian Music has been touched with several deaths recently. The first was Dottie Rambo, who was killed in a bus accident in Missouri on May 11th. She was to be inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. She was a prolific writer, and has many songs to her credit. And just this morning, Steven Curtis Chapman’s 5-year-old daughter, Maria, was tragically struck and killed by one of her older brothers as he pulled into their driveway. Pray for these families.

Many have ‘celebrated’ the transition of Dottie Rambo from here to eternity, but I think that this is an unfortunate aspect of modern Christianity. We should grieve and allow the families to do so as well. Yes, when a believer ends their life here, they enter into eternity with the Savior, but to trivialize death, by ‘celebrating’ it is missing the point IMHO. We should rail against death – we should grieve; we should not ‘celebrate’. Death is the direct result of sin, and therefore we should not be comfortable with it. I am not saying that we should fear death, but we should understand that it is our enemy, and Christ has defeated death, sin and the grave. If anything should be celebrated, it should be that fact.

And finally, Ted Kennedy has just been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. While I disagree with virtually everything he stands for politically, I have been in prayer for him. I pray that Christ would move his heart, and that the reality of his mortality would draw him to Christ. I do not know the state of his soul, but whatever it is, I am in prayer for him.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Source of our Faith

I have posted on the necessity of faith, and the object of our faith, but now let me dwell for a moment on the source of our faith.

In the Heidelberg Catechism we read: "This faith, [saving faith], the Holy Spirit works in my heart by the gospel."

Sadly there are many who have been taught, directly, or indirectly, that they can grit their teeth and 'develop' faith. My friends, you cannot 'develop' your own faith; the source of our faith is God and God alone. Yes, we exhibit it, but it is given to us by the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, through the preaching of the Word of the Gospel.

One cannot work up saving faith – it is a gift from God, by grace. God, monergistically – that 25 dollar word meaning working alone - works in us to give us saving faith. It is not synergistically developed, with me adding a little something and God adding a little something.

Let me give you but two examples:

Ephesians 2:8, 9 -- But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Acts 16:14 -- One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

My friends, we were as dead as Jairus’ daughter when Christ arrived at the door of our heart – it was the blessed Holy Spirit that made us alive, like Lydia, to hear the word of the Lord, and believe! And by this belief we are saved.

Why would God do this? I don’t know, but what an awesome God we serve, one who sent His only begotten Son to die a horrific death on the cross for sins that I committed, providing a way for me to be made right before the Father. Not only did Christ die for our sin, but God puts in our hearts the very ability to believe this! Words fail me when I think of the greatness of salvation, and the amazing Grace of God!

Let me close out this post by saying this; the means that God has chosen for stirring the hearts of those being regenerated by the Holy Spirit is the Word of God – as Paul says in Romans 1, For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

My friends, the proclamation of the word is so vital! We must never forget that God uses the means of His Word to stir the hearts of one who is lost, and by the power of the Holy Spirit He brings them to Himself – let us never neglect the reading, studying and applying of God’s Word to our lives!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

State of the Union

Amidst the cries of 'Deeds not creeds", and the antagonism against any type of doctrinal discussions, we find this!

What is amazing is the final line in the article -- understand that this statement comes from a man whose daughters are still caught up in this cult. "I can't judge it," Sayer said. "Every person's got their own relationship with God."

This could have come from the lips of almost any modern 'evangelical' attending the largest churches in the land!

So we find here the result of Biblical illiteracy, doctrinal ignorance, and the whole 'personal jesus' cottage industry that is propagated by so many within the church today.

If anything and everything is right, and we all have our own 'personal relationship with God' that is torn loose from its Biblical moorings, then why are we surprised to find these types of things going on?

Sadly, the modern church is only a step away from this -- when you throw out orthodoxy, the Bible, doctrine and history -- preferring to 'experience' Jesus in an all new and totally personal way, then this church fits right in with many other, well-known, so-called churches out there.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Object of Our Faith

Having said that it requires faith we now come to the next point – the object of our faith. Today there are many have been taught that they were to ‘have faith’ and they would be healed, or if they mustered up enough faith, God would provide them with prosperity. Sadly, all too often, the object of this faith is left out of exhortations such as these. People come to believe that we must simply have strong enough ‘faith' and things will happen… Faith somehow becomes the object of our faith – which is not Biblical.

Everywhere in the Bible we are called to have faith IN someone – not in our own faith, or our own strength, but in Jesus Christ! The woman who was healed in Matthew 9 had faith IN Jesus Christ, the blind men who were healed had faith IN Jesus Christ – as a matter of fact, before He heals them, He asks a pertinent question – “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” He was saying “Do you have faith in Me?” The object of our faith is Jesus Christ, and Him alone – not our own strength, our own faith, our own anything, but casting ourselves upon the only Savior and Lord of our souls, Jesus Christ.

Paul in Acts 20 and 24 speaks of how he is constantly preaching about faith IN Christ. Not simply living a life of faith, but living a life of faith IN Christ. This is the great divider – many people will say, I am a ‘spiritual’ person, and I have a lot of faith…

But when pressed, they have faith in their own abilities, in their own faith, in something BESIDES Jesus Christ, and my friends, that IS NOT saving faith – saving faith originates in, and is focused on Jesus Christ! We can see in Romans 3:21, 22 that the righteousness of God is found through faith IN Jesus Christ! And in Galatians 2:16, a particularly poignant Scripture on this, we find Paul saying – “…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified…”

It is poignant because the Galatians believed in Christ, but had devolved into believing that they could only be FULLY justified by the addition of something else – by their keeping of the law. Friends, this is a great danger – we come to Christ empty handed, and understand that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, but somehow we fall back to believing that we stay saved by ‘doing’ something. It is all of faith – By faith you have been saved – the word speaks of a continuing event – you are being saved!

We must never let the object of our faith be overshadowed by the many 'get-rich' schemes that are touted by the snake-oil salesmen of our day -- telling us to have faith; a faith without an object, and all of our hopes and dreams will be answered.

By faith in Christ we are saved – He is the author and FINISHER of our faith – we are saved in no one else, save Christ!