December 31, 2009

On the Last Day

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, "if any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink." John 7:37.

Patience had her perfect work in the Lord Jesus, and until the last day of the feast He pleaded with the Jews, even as on this last day of the year He pleads with us, and waits to be gracious to us. Admirable indeed is the longsuffering of the Saviour in bearing with some of us year after year, notwithstanding our provocations, rebellions, and resistance of His Holy Spirit. Wonder of wonders that we are still in the land of mercy!

Pity expressed herself most plainly, for Jesus cried, which implies not only the loudness of His voice, but the tenderness of His tones. He entreats us to be reconciled. "We pray you," says the Apostle, "as though God did beseech you by us." What earnest, pathetic terms are these! How deep must be the love which makes the Lord weep over sinners, and like a mother woo His children to His bosom! Surely at the call of such a cry our willing hearts will come.

Provision is made most plenteously; all is provided that man can need to quench his soul's thirst. To his conscience the atonement brings peace; to his understanding the gospel brings the richest instruction; to his heart the person of Jesus is the noblest object of affection; to the whole man the truth as it is in Jesus supplies the purest nutriment. Thirst is terrible, but Jesus can remove it. Though the soul were utterly famished, Jesus could restore it.

Proclamation is made most freely, that every thirsty one is welcome. No other distinction is made but that of thirst. Whether it be the thirst of avarice, ambition, pleasure, knowledge, or rest, he who suffers from it is invited. The thirst may be bad in itself, and be no sign of grace, but rather a mark of inordinate sin longing to be gratified with deeper draughts of lust; but it is not goodness in the creature which brings him the invitation, the Lord Jesus sends it freely, and without respect of persons.

Personality is declared most fully. The sinner must come to Jesus, not to works, ordinances, or doctrines, but to a personal Redeemer, who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree. The bleeding, dying, rising Saviour, is the only star of hope to a sinner. Oh for grace to come now and drink, ere the sun sets upon the year's last day!

No waiting or preparation is so much as hinted at. Drinking represents a reception for which no fitness is required. A fool, a thief, a harlot can drink; and so sinfulness of character is no bar to the invitation to believe in Jesus. We want no golden cup, no bejewelled chalice, in which to convey the water to the thirsty; the mouth of poverty is welcome to stoop down and quaff the flowing flood. Blistered, leprous, filthy lips may touch the stream of divine love; they cannot pollute it, but shall themselves be purified. Jesus is the fount of hope.

Dear reader, hear the dear Redeemer's loving voice as He cries to each of us, "if any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink."


Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) was England's best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1854, just four years after his conversion, Spurgeon, then only 20, became pastor of London's famed New Park Street Church (formerly pastored by the famous Baptist theologian John Gill). The congregation quickly outgrew their building, moved to Exeter Hall, then to Surrey Music Hall. In these venues Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000—all in the days before electronic amplification. In 1861 the congregation moved permanently to the newly constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle.

Spurgeon's printed works are voluminous, and those provided here are only a sampling of his best-known works, including his magnum opus, The Treasury of David. Nearly all of Spurgeon's printed works are still in print and available from Pilgrim Publications, PO Box 66, Pasadena, TX 77501.

December 24, 2009

Immanuel - God with us

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14, KJV.

Immanuel - Hebrew ‘God with us’ - עמנואל ‛immânû'êl - from אל 'ĕl, "God," and עמנוּ ‛ımmânû, "with us." Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14, KJV.

Greek definitions of the following words:
  • dwelt - skēnoō (skay-no'-o), to tent or encamp.
  • among - en, a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state).
  • us - hēmin (hay-meen'), to (or for, with, by) us.
Matthew Henry's Commentary

The Messiah shall be introduced on a glorious errand, wrapped up in his glorious name: They shall call his name Immanuel - God with us, God in our nature, God at peace with us, in covenant with us. This was fulfilled in their calling him Jesus - a Saviour (Matthew 1:21-25), for, if he had not been Immanuel - God with us, he could not have been Jesus - a Saviour. Now this was a further sign of God's favour to the house of David and the tribe of Judah; for he that intended to work this great salvation among them no doubt would work out for them all those other salvations which were to be the types and figures of this, and as it were preludes to this. "Here is a sign for you, not in the depth nor in the height, but in the prophecy, in the promise, in the covenant made with David, which you are no strangers to. The promised seed shall be Immanuel, God with us; let that word comfort you (Isaiah 8:10), that God is with us, and (v. 8) that your land is Immanuel's land.

God came to dwell among men and become the penalty for their sin, yesterday, today and forever.

As the anticipation grows for the day to acknowledge His birth, the joy of the King that has come quickly fades away in the hearts and minds of men as soon as the festivities end. How sad this is?

When a child is born of a husband and wife, the new parents along with many others, rejoice a whole lot longer than just the day the child was born. But this child will be selfish, obstinate, rude, disrespectful, beligerent and test his/her parents constantly. Now this child will not be troublesome all of their life. They will certainly demonstrate love, compassion, humility, sorrow, honor, responsibility and respect too.

But the Christ has come and was the perfect Child, the perfect Son and is the perfect Savior. He will later become known as the one who knew no sin, so that we would be made righteous with God, through Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Sadly though, people still see no desireable beauty in him and they continue to reject him though He is very familiar with our sorrows and grief. Even when the Gospel of His life is spoken of before men, they turn away their faces as well as their ears, becoming deaf and blind to their Savior.

As a beautiful and precious baby that He was, He would grow up to be despised by many. There was no regard to honor Him at all. How selfish and insulting this is!

This Child will be the one that will be wounded for our sins and beaten for our violations of His law.

Yet, the only way to bring peace between sinful humanity and God, was to discipline His Son, whom had not committed these egregious offenses (Isaiah 53:1-6). We did.

Maybe when we look at Jesus in various settings around us, the cards we've received, commercials on television and in the messages proclaimed at church this weekend, it is my hope that you will see Christ more as a Savior, rather than just a baby in a manger, more than the gifts that have been given or received, Christ is a gift from God, the free gift that came to all men, unto justification of life (Romans 5:18).

I hope you will take notice of how often the words "free" and "gift" are referred to in the fifth chapter of Romans, which speaks of Jesus Christ, followed by the last two verses of this chapter and the explicit distinction between Adam's disobedience and resulting effect and Jesus' obedience and resulting reward.

Romans 5:15, But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Romans 5:16, And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

Romans 5:17, For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:18, Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Romans 5:19, For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Romans 5:20, Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.


Immanuel, God with us, has come and Jesus Christ is His gift of salvation and redemption to the world.

It is my hope that your heart and life would be as the shepherds did after witnessing the Savior, Christ the Lord, "the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them" (Luke 2:20).


O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1.


Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the King James Version. Public domain.

December 15, 2009

When Sport Becomes a god

I came across this post at The Informed Evangelist blog and it is with permission that I re-post this.

I like sports and I'm a fan of the game as well. My contention lies with those who place a devotion to the sport or an athlete, in a greater and higher esteem than they do of God.
While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Psalm 146:2.
Sadly though, many Americans on any given Sunday, or any day, or night of the week that a sporting event is broadcast, will these devoted fans lift their voices with immense passion and praise, just to see their favorite team win, or their favorite athlete score. And if they had attended a church service on a Sunday morning prior to the game, I would guess their praise to the King of kings was not even close to the praise given to their favorite team.

Just as the psalmist wrote, "while I live, I will praise the LORD;" not just on Sundays, but every day.

QUESTION: Will your praise for the LORD be more exalting because He gives you the breath to live, because you have been justified by His blood and saved from God's wrath through Christ (Romans 5:9), or will you give your highest praise and worship to your favorite team or player?

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; Exodus 20:3-5, KJV.

I [am] the LORD: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Isaiah 42:8, KJV.


We would do well, to obey these words from the LORD. Thank you to The Informed Evangelist for the permission to repost this.

When Sport becomes a god.

This article will appear in an upcoming edition of The Justin Texan:

Football season is in full swing. This means that high school, college and NFL teams are doing battle on the gridiron and fans are buying tickets, merchandise, paying for special packages on their cable and satellite services to see more games, and starting fantasy football leagues. Athletes are training, some are taking steroids, and parents are carting their first graders to football fields to don pads and helmets and learning how to crash into each other like miniature torpedoes.

I like football. I watch it now and then. I’m originally from Buffalo, NY and used to go to a few Buffalo Bills games a year. I’ve been to a few playoff games in sub-zero weather. I’ve even been to a home opener here in Dallas (which is tough for a die-hard Bills fan) when we got tickets for chump change. I used to be involved in a couple of fantasy leagues and even won a league once.

Here’s my question for myself and everyone else who likes football: at what point does our enjoyment of the game become idolatry? When do we cross the line from healthy enjoyment to outright obsession? Is it when we skip church to go to a game? When we pay more money for merchandise or football equipment than we give to a local church? When we care more about not missing a practice than whether or not our friends know Christ? When you know your team’s playbook better than you know the Bible? Where is that line?

I’ll leave the specific answer to that question to everyone who names the name of Christ and is involved with sport. But generally speaking, theologians agree that idolatry happens whenever something or someone becomes more important than God Himself. I think it’s safe to say that comparing the time, money, and energy we give to the Lord (lit. “Master”) and sport would be a good place to start.

Why do we do this? Why are we content with so little? We find more joy in watching a millionaire run across a chalk line carrying the skin of a pig than we do in the one, true living God! Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? We care more whether our kids, whose ages are measured in single digits, can hit, shoot a gap, throw a ball and make a play than we care whether they know Christ! We’d gladly trade their soul for a Super Bowl ring! “Dereliction of duty” does not begin to describe the father who would settle for such a trade. It’s spiritual child abuse.

Even while you are reading this, if you’ve read this far and not tossed this paper out in a fit of rage, you are accusing me of taking my Christianity too far. Oh really? How far are we supposed to take it? I seem to recall something about Jesus saying that if anyone wanted to come after Him, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him! In other words, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “He bids us come and die.” Pretty extreme, I know, but I don’t write the mail, I just deliver it.

What really mystifies me is that professing Christians idolize a false god. Could it be due to the fact that they can “see” football, games, sport and can’t physically see the living God that they claim to love, serve and adore? Augustine was once approached by a heathen who showed him his idol and said, “Here is my god. Where is yours?” Augustine replied, “I cannot show you my God; not because there is no God to show but because you have no eyes to see Him.”

Do you have eyes to see Him? Or are you blind to the beauty, the magnificence, the power of this living God that we claim to serve? Are you dazzled with Friday night lights or the glory of God? Posted by Jon Speed.

Fear and Awe

The prophets warn us that when we see God shaking the nations, and perilous times befall us, our natural man will fear greatly. Ezekiel asked, “Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee?” (Ezekiel 22:14).

When God warned Noah of his coming judgments and told him to build an ark, Noah was “moved with fear” (Hebrews 11:7). Even bold, courageous David said, “My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments” (Psalm 119:120). And when the prophet Habakkuk saw disastrous days ahead, he cried out, “When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble…” (Habakkuk 3:16).

Please click on the title above, to read the post in its entirety.

December 11, 2009

Unholy Trinity - John MacArthur

"Recently, however, while recovering from knee-replacement surgery, I decided to sample some of the current fare on TBN. From a therapeutic point of view it seemed a good choice: something more excruciating than the pain in my leg might distract me from the physical suffering of post-surgical trauma. And I suppose on that basis the strategy was effective."

John MacArthur


To read the full post by John MacArthur regarding the deception of ministers who purport themselves as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, when their words are examined and tested by the Word of God, one discovers they are not who they claim to be when money is the constant message that comes from their mouths.

Please click on the post title above, Unholy Trinity, to read the entire post from the Shepherd's Fellowship blog.

December 9, 2009

Exposing Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

John MacArthur has become one of my favorite preachers over the last several months. His thorough exposition of Scripture has helped me to attentively discover with clarity and detail, the deeper meaning of various passages in its context, which has also enabled me to explain other texts in a similar manner to others.

Scripture says that we, as Christians, should have no fellowship with those who engage is deceptive, dishonest, evil practices and it is also our responsibility to expose the deception too (Ephesians 5:11).

This responsibility does not exclusively rest upon the shoulders of the pastor, though hopefully he is not ashamed to acknowledge the deception and error of the prosperity gospel and those associated with this unbiblical form theology, but it should also be the responsibility of every believing Christian too, for the benefit of the body of Christ and to the honor of God.

To my knowledge, I have not read of anyone in the Bible that has been miraculously healed or supernaturally gifted because they had given any amount of money either to Jesus or any of the Apostles.

In fact, a man named Simon, a practioner of sorcery in the city of Samaria who did some amazing works that astonished its residents and who declared this man to be someone great, demonstrating the great power of God (Acts 8:9-10). He at some point however, heard the Gospel preached by Phillip, believed the message and was baptized (v. 13). Then as he watched the apostles lay hands on the people of Samaria to receive the Holy Spirit, he thought he could receive this gift as well, by offering money to the apostles (Acts 8:18).

What followed for Simon was a stern rebuke by the apostles for his desire to purchase and receive such a gift the apostles had so that he may possess it as well. Because of this, the apostles were able to clearly discern that Simon had an utterly wrong motive to possess such a gift and issued a command to repent of his wickedness and seek God's forgiveness (Acts 8:20-22).

Shouldn't the same be said of those that John MacArthur describes in this introductory post that do the exact same thing today? Absolutely.

Shouldn't we also expose the deceitfulness of those who declare that the power of God or a miracle from God, can be bequeathed to another for a price, or that a person can be blessed with abundance of finances if they "sow their most generous seed (money) offering?" The answer is unequivocally yes, they should be exposed, because no such power of God or miracle can ever be bought from God. The bottom line is, God cannot be bought to do anything for us in our lives.

Yet why does it continue take place and why aren't there more people outspoken about it?

The answer lies simply in the fact that many Christians do not diligently study their Bible, like the Bereans did, searching the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:10-15) rightlly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), to find out whether what a television evangelist, prosperity preacher or faith-healer has said or done that is in direct accord with the context of Scripture.

I think from the tone of this article, it seems as if John MacArthur is fed up with the deception as well as the ignorance of Christians not calling out these people who purport themselves as godly ministers or evangelists. They should be repeatedly exposed and called what they truly are: conniving, deceiving wolves in sheep's clothing.
The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things. Proverbs 15:28, King James Version.

The first quarter of this article by John MacArthur is posted and the remaining portion can be read at the link provided.


A Colossal Fraud
Monday, Dec 7, 2009
(By John MacArthur)


Former NASDAQ chairman Bernie Madoff ran a ponzi-scheme swindle for nearly 20 years, and he bilked an estimated $18 billion from Wall-Street investors. When the scam finally came to light it unleashed a shockwave of outrage around the world. It was the largest and most far-reaching investment fraud ever.

But the evil of Madoff's embezzlement pales by comparison to an even more diabolical fraud being carried out in the name of Christ under the bright lights of television cameras on religious networks worldwide every single day. Faith healers and prosperity preachers promise miracles in return for money, conning their viewers out of more than a billion dollars annually. They have operated this racket on television for more than five decades. Worst of all, they do it with the tacit acceptance of most of the Christian community.

Someone needs to say this plainly: The faith healers and health-and-wealth preachers who dominate religious television are shameless frauds. Their message is not the true gospel of Jesus Christ. There is nothing spiritual or miraculous about their on-stage chicanery. It is all a devious ruse designed to take advantage of desperate people. They are not godly ministers but greedy impostors who corrupt the Word of God for money's sake. They are not real pastors who shepherd the flock of God but hirleings whose only design is to fleece the sheep. Their love of money is glaringly obvious in what they say as well as how they live. They claim to possess great spiritual power, but in reality they are rank materialists and enemies of everything holy. Continue reading...

November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to make a quick post to say Happy Thanksgiving, from my wife and I, to the subscribers and passersby of this blog.

Today, we can remember and be thankful for God's abundant provision in our lives as we sit at the table, to eat a hearty meal. When put into perspective, His abundance has been, His continuous provision of food, clothing, shelter and in this economy, a job. Quantifying such abundance should not be too difficult either, though not necessary.

Even more though, is the thanksgiving of praise for the mercy and love God has shown toward us because, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Psalm 100:4.

"So long as we are receivers of mercy we must be givers of thanks. Mercy permits us to enter his gates; let us praise that mercy." Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David.


Let all that is within us, bless the Holy Name of the Lord, for the great things He has done for us.



Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

November 19, 2009

People are starving for the greatness of God

I recently started reading The Supremacy of God in Preaching and found this portion from the preface of the book, to be a great reminder not to preach superficially, but to proclaim the text of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, in a manner that is in accord with the truths of God found in the Scripture.

**********************

Preface to the First Edition

People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: “Show me thy glory!”

Years ago during the January prayer week at our church, I decided to preach on the holiness of God from Isaiah 6. I resolved on the first Sunday of the year to unfold the vision of God’s holiness founding the first four verses of that chapter:

In they year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
So I preached on the holiness of God and did my best to display the majesty and glory of such a great and holy God. I gave not a word of application to the lives of our people. Application is essential in the normal course of preaching, but I felt led that day to make a test: Would the passionate portrayal of the greatness of God in and of itself meet the needs of the people?

I didn’t realize that not long before this Sunday one of the young families of our church discovered that their child was being sexually abused by a close relative. It was incredibly traumatic. They were there that Sunday morning and sat under that message. I wonder how many advisers to us pastors today would have said, “Pastor Piper, can’t you see your people are hurting? Can’t you come down out of the heavens and get practical? Don’t you realize what kind of people sit in front of you on Sunday?” Some weeks later I learned the story. The husband took me aside one Sunday after a service. “John, these have been the hardest months of our lives. Do you know what has gotten me through? The vision of the greatness of God’s holiness that you gave me the first week of January. It has been the rock we could stand on.”

The greatness and the glory of God are relevant. It does not matter if surveys turn up a list of perceived needs that does not include the supreme greatness of the sovereign God of grace. That is the deepest need. Our people are starving for God.


John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007), 13-14.

November 8, 2009

Will Your Good Works Get You to Heaven?—Are You Sure?

Yesterday as I was coming home from seminary I met a young man who was mocking me as I was reading my Bible next to him on the bus. You never really know who you’ll meet or what they have to say on the LA metro. But anyway, I could tell he was mocking me and laughing at me as I was reading my Bible next to him. So finally he leaned over to me and said: “Are you a Mormon?” I answered: “No, I’m a Christian who believes the Bible to be true.” He laughed to himself again in a jeering sort of way. Then I said: “What about you? Are you a Christian?” He said: Well, I’m Catholic…so I’m both—Christian and Catholic.” I nodded.

To continue reading, click here.


For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 2 Corinthians 4:5, KJV.



John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible - 2 Corinthians 4:5

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves,.... These words contain a reason why the apostles behaved themselves in the manner described, 2 Corinthians 4:2 and serve to explain in what sense this inspired writer is to be understood, when he calls the Gospel our Gospel, 2 Corinthians 4:3 and most clearly proves the Gospel to be a glorious one, which he had asserted, 2 Corinthians 4:4 since Christ, and not themselves, is the subject of it, "for we preach not ourselves". They did not preach any doctrine of their own devising; they did not set up themselves as lords over the faith and consciences of men; nor was their view in preaching to set forth their learning, parts, and eloquence, or to amass wealth and riches to themselves; nor did they assert the purity of human nature, or the power of man to do anything of himself that is spiritually good; or that justification and salvation are by works of righteousness done by men. To do any, or each, or all of these, as did the false apostles, is to preach a man's self: but so did not these faithful dispensers of the word, but they


preached Christ Jesus the Lord; that is, the doctrines respecting the person, office, and grace of Christ; as that he is truly and properly God, the eternal and only begotten Son of God, God and man in one person, the only Mediator between God and man, and the Saviour and Redeemer of lost sinners; that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the true Messiah; and that this Christ is Jesus, a Saviour, the only able and willing one; and that this Jesus Christ is "Lord" of all, especially of the saints; not only as Creator, but as their head, husband, and Redeemer; that peace and reconciliation, pardon and righteousness, life and salvation, are only by him: and they also declared themselves the servants of the churches,

and ourselves your servants. The apostle does not say they were the servants of Christ, though they were, and esteemed it their greatest honour to be so; for he had no need to observe this, since this is included in their preaching him as "Lord": nor does he say they were the servants of men, or menpleasers, for then they would not be the servants of Christ; but he asserts them to be the servants of the churches: and which must be understood, not with respect to things temporal, with which they had no concern; but with regard to things spiritual, particularly to the ministration of the word, and administration of ordinances: and this they professed to be,

for Jesus' sake; either for the sake of preaching Christ unto them; or because they were chosen and called by him to this service, and in which they were willing to continue, for the sake of his honour and interest.

October 30, 2009

Who is He that saves to the uttermost?

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25.

uttermost: Greek - pantelēs (pan-tel-ace') full ended, that is, entire.

Matthew Henry's Commentary -

Here observe,

(1.) Our case, as sinners, needed a high priest to make satisfaction and intercession for us.

(2.) No priest could be suitable or sufficient for our reconciliation to God but one who was perfectly righteous in his own person; he must be righteous in himself, or he could not be a propitiation for our sin, or our advocate with the Father.


(3.) The Lord Jesus was exactly such a high priest as we wanted, for he has a personal holiness, absolutely perfect.


Observe the description we have of the personal holiness of Christ expressed in various terms, all of which some learned divines consider as relating to his perfect purity.

[1.] He is holy, perfectly free from all the habits or principles of sin, not having the least disposition to it in his nature; no sin dwells in him, though it does in the best of Christians, not the least sinful inclination.


[2.] He is harmless, perfectly free from all actual transgression, has done no violence, nor is there any deceit in his mouth, never did the least wrong to God or man.


[3.] He is undefiled, he was never accessory to other men's sins. It is a difficult thing to keep ourselves pure, so as not to partake in the guilt of other men's sins, by contributing in some way towards them, or not doing what we ought to prevent them. Christ was undefiled; though he took upon him the guilt of our sins, yet he never involved himself in the fact and fault of them.


[4.] He is separate from sinners, not only in his present state (having entered as our high priest into the holiest of all, into which nothing defiled can enter), but in his personal purity: he has no such union with sinners, either natural or federal, as can devolve upon him original sin. This comes upon us by virtue of our natural and federal union with the first Adam, we descending from him in the ordinary way. But Christ was, by his ineffable conception in the virgin, separate from sinners; though he took a true human nature, yet the miraculous way in which it was conceived set him upon a separate footing from all the rest of mankind.


[5.] He is made higher than the heavens. Most expositors understand this concerning his state of exaltation in heaven, at the right hand of God, to perfect the design of his priesthood.



John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost,....Because he continues ever, and has an unchangeable priesthood. This is to be understood not of temporal salvation, nor of providential favours, but of spiritual and eternal salvation; and includes a deliverance from all evil, here and hereafter, and an enjoyment of all good in this world, and in that to come: Christ was called to this work by his Father; he was promised by him to do it, and was sent by him to effect it, and has accomplished it; and this is the reason of his name Jesus, and was the end of his coming into this world, and which the Gospel always represents as such: this work required ability; here was a law to be fulfilled; justice to be satisfied; sin to be bore, removed, and atoned for; many enemies to engage with, and a cursed death to undergo: it was a work no creature, angels, or men, were able to undertake and perform; the priests under the law could not; men cannot save themselves, nor can any creature work out salvation for them: but Christ is able; as appears from the help his Father laid on him, who knew him to be mighty; from his own undertaking it, being mighty to save; and from his having completely effected it; and he must needs be able to do it, since he is the mighty God: and he is able to save to the uttermost; "to the utmost perfection", as the Arabic version renders it; so as nothing can be wanting in the salvation he is the author of, nor anything added to it; or "for ever", as the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions render it; to the utmost of time, even to eternity, as well as to the utmost of men's wants: the persons he is able to save, are such

that come to God by him; Christ is able to save all the world, were it his will; but not his absolute power is designed by his ability, but that power which by his will is put into act; and reaches not to all men, for all are not saved; and those that are, are described by special characters, as here; they are such who come to God, not essentially considered, but personally, or in the person of the Father; and not as an absolute God, but as in Christ; not as on a throne of justice, but as on a throne of grace and mercy; not only as Christ's Father, but as theirs; and not only as the God of nature and providence, but as the God of grace: and this act of coming to him is a fruit of his everlasting love; an effect of Christ's death; is peculiar to regenerate persons; takes in the whole service of God, especially prayer; is not local but spiritual, it is by faith; and supposes spiritual life, and implies a sense of need, and of God's ability and willingness to help: the medium, or mean, by which such come to God, is Christ. Man had access to God in his state of innocence, but sinning, was not admitted; there is no approaching now unto him without a middle person; Christ is the Mediator, who having made peace, atoned for sin, satisfied justice, and brought in an everlasting righteousness, introduces his people into God's presence; in whom their persons and services are accepted, and through whom all blessings are communicated to them:

seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them; Christ ever lives as God, he is the living God; and though he died as man, he is risen from the dead, and will not die again, but live for evermore; and he lives as Mediator and Redeemer, and particularly as a priest; one branch of whose office it is to intercede for his people: this he does now in heaven; not by vocal prayer and supplication, at least not as in the days of his flesh; or as if he was supplicating an angry Judge; nor as controverting, or litigating, a point the court of heaven; but by the appearance of his person for them; by the presentation of his sacrifice, blood, and righteousness; by declaring his will, that such and such blessings be bestowed on such and such persons; and by recommending the prayers of his people, and removing the charges and accusations of Satan: the things he intercedes for are, the conversion of his that are in a state of nature; the consolation of distressed ones; fresh discoveries of pardoning grace to fallen believers; renewed strength to oppose sin, exercise grace, discharge duty, and bear up under temptations, and deliverance out of them; perseverance in faith and holiness, and eternal glorification; and he intercedes for these things; not for all the world, but for all the elect, even though transgressors; and he is very fit for this work, as the following verse shows; he is the one and only Mediator; and he is a very prevalent intercessor, he always succeeds; and he does this work readily, willingly, cheerfully, and freely; and all this proves him to be able to save; for though the impetration of salvation is by his death, the application of it is owing to his interceding life; had he died and not lived again, he could not have saved to the uttermost; his life is the security of his people's, and he lives for them, and as their representative; the blessed, effects of which they constantly enjoy.


Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

October 23, 2009

I will declare mine iniquity

For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. Psalm 38:18.


Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David.
"To be sorry for sin is no atonement for it, but it is the right spirit in which to repair to Jesus, who is the reconciliation and the Saviour. A man is near to the end of his trouble when he comes to an end with his sins."


Matthew Henry's Commentary
Note, If we be truly penitent for sin, that will make us patient under affliction, and particularly under unjust censures. Two things are required in repentance: -

(1.) Confession of sin: "I will declare my iniquity; I will not only in general own myself a sinner, but I will make a particular acknowledgment of what I have done amiss." We must declare our sins before God freely and fully, and with their aggravating circumstances, that we may give glory to God and take shame to ourselves.

(2.) Contrition for sin: I will be sorry for it. Sin will have sorrow; every true penitent grieves for the dishonour he has done to God and the wrong he has done to himself. "I will be in care or fear about my sin" (so some), "in fear lest it ruin me and in care to get it pardoned."


Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

October 22, 2009

Columbian pastor martyred by guerillas

Pastor Manuel was shot and killed by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in San Jose del Guaviare, Colombia on September 21....Read more"


When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. Revelation 6:9.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary.

"Persecutors can only kill the body; after that there is no more they can do; the soul lives. God has provided a good place in the better world, for those who are faithful unto death. It is not their own death, but the sacrifice of Christ, that gives them entrance into heaven. The cause in which they suffered, was for the word of God; the best any man can lay down his life for; faith in God's word, and the unshaken confession of that faith. They commit their cause to Him to whom vengeance belongs. The Lord is the comforter of his afflicted servants, and precious is their blood in his sight. As the measure of the sin of persecutors is filling up, so is the number of the persecuted, martyred servants of Christ. When this is fulfilled, God will send tribulation to those who trouble them, and unbroken happiness and rest to those that are troubled."

October 9, 2009

Today's Promise from the Bible

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV.


Reflection
We are saved through the grace of God and only the grace of God. There is no other way for us to get to heaven. If we think the good we do will earn us a hope in heaven, then we shall be deeply dismayed when Jesus says, "Depart from me, I never knew you." Let us not take pride in ourselves in thinking that our works will get us into heaven. Let us rather praise the Lord for His marvelous grace!

http://promises.blueletterbible.org/

"Able to keep you from falling." — Jude 1:24

In some sense the path to heaven is very safe, but in other respects there is no road so dangerous. It is beset with difficulties. One false step (and how easy it is to take that if grace be absent), and down we go. What a slippery path is that which some of us have to tread! How many times have we to exclaim with the Psalmist, "My feet were almost gone, my steps had well nigh slipped." If we were strong, sure-footed mountaineers, this would not matter so much; but in ourselves, how weak we are! In the best roads we soon falter, in the smoothest paths we quickly stumble. These feeble knees of ours can scarcely support our tottering weight. A straw may throw us, and a pebble can wound us; we are mere children tremblingly taking our first steps in the walk of faith, our heavenly Father holds us by the arms or we should soon be down. Oh, if we are kept from falling, how must we bless the patient power which watches over us day by day! Think, how prone we are to sin, how apt to choose danger, how strong our tendency to cast ourselves down, and these reflections will make us sing more sweetly than we have ever done, "Glory be to Him, who is able to keep us from falling." We have many foes who try to push us down. The road is rough and we are weak, but in addition to this, enemies lurk in ambush, who rush out when we least expect them, and labour to trip us up, or hurl us down the nearest precipice. Only an Almighty arm can preserve us from these unseen foes, who are seeking to destroy us. Such an arm is engaged for our defence. He is faithful that hath promised, and He is able to keep us from falling, so that with a deep sense of our utter weakness, we may cherish a firm belief in our perfect safety, and say, with joyful confidence,

Against me earth and hell combine,
But on my side is power divine;
Jesus is all, and He is mine!

October 9th morning devotional reading written by Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

October 5, 2009

An Open Letter to Pastors

Dear Man of God,

You’ve been given a great and fearful job by Almighty God. As I sit before you week after week, I hunger for spiritual meat. I can no longer stand a cotton candy diet. Teach me the deep things of God. I want the truth about myself: I am a sinner and all of my “good-deeds” are but filthy rags before the Lord. My efforts are nothing and will never be enough to take me to heaven. I need you to explain what you have spent so long studying. Tell me how to please Him, how to obey Him, how to honor Him. I don’t want to hear a single word about how to secure a good life. If I need motivating, I will turn to my husband.

Stop talking to me about God’s love exclusively. I know He loves me. Jesus’ death on the cross proves that. I need to know that He is holy and a consuming fire. I need to know that He demands holiness from His followers. To explain only His love is to make Him sound like Santa Claus. He isn’t. He is amazingly powerful and all-together beautiful God Who sacrificed His only Son for me! Tell me that. Tell me what I must now do to honor that sacrifice. Don’t be afraid to step on toes–Jesus never was afraid to do so. As loving and kind as He was, Jesus was also very confrontational when the need arose. He never once told someone that they needed to think more of themselves or strive to be happier. He told them that they were sinners who were defiling God’s laws. When He saw faith, He commended it and He gave His followers everything that they needed in order to grow spiritually; however, when He saw disbelief, He wasn’t ever shy about saying so.

Many in the church live in practical disbelief. We say we are followers of Christ, but we act as if we are living for ourselves. For the true follower of Christ, life will not be easy. We must die daily. We must take up our cross daily. We must die to self, to sin and to the world. The world, Jesus said, will hate us. Have you taught me how to live so that I will be hated? Have you taught me to obey God even when it hurts me? Have you taught me that His holiness is His first attribute and the one through which all of His other attributes must be seen and understood? Don’t comfort me or pretend that everything is okay. It isn’t okay. People are dying everyday without Jesus. That’s true in the world, of course, but it’s also true in the church. Too many of our churches have become nothing more than a social club pandering to the lifestyle of comfort and ease that we Americans seem to expect. People are sitting in your pews every Sunday who believe with all of their heart that they have been saved and that they have a “ticket” to heaven. After all, they said a prayer or they accepted Jesus into their hearts. You told them that was what they had to do. Did you also tell them that it had to be accompanied by repentance? Did you tell them that Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him? Did you tell them that followers of the Way will be hated and persecuted and that if life isn’t harder for them in someway? That if someone doesn’t hate them for who they are and what they represent–it may mean that there isn’t enough of a difference between them and the world to measure so no one feels threatened by them? If we aren’t reminding folks of Jesus, can it be said that we truly belong to Him?

Don’t be afraid to teach that we must separate from the world, that we will have different motivations when we belong to God. Don’t be afraid to tell us ladies that we must return to dressing modestly if we are going to please God. Tell us what we are doing to our brothers in Christ when we show up at church in halter tops and mini-skirts. Tell us what it does to our witness when we go out into the world dressed in a way that draws attention to our bodies rather than our character. Teach us the boldness that it takes to stand alone for and with God. Teach me how to obey God out of a heart of love rather than by following a legalist formula. Teach me that claiming “Christian liberty” and talking about God’s grace doesn’t mean that I have a right to live anyway I want to. “Shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid.” That was Paul’s answer. It is still the answer today.

If we are not here to obey God, why are we here? Tell me, please. Remind me that we are here to obey God and grow in Christ-likeness, to edify the believers and to reach the lost. Help me to remember that amid the rush of my daily life. Help me to have my priorities straight so that I might be pleasing to Jesus in all that I do. Teach me to focus on heaven so that my life here on earth might make sense. Help me to know that I am made for another, better World. Help me to love God enough to want to live and die for Him. Tell me the truth about hell: a place prepared for the devil and his followers also awaits those who do not bow before an Almighty and Holy God in repentance and obedience. Help me to live in such a way that I might be prepared for heaven and may never hear those awful words, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”

Preacher, you’ve been called by God to preach His Word. Now is the time to start really doing just that. As you do so, my everlasting thankfulness and my prayers will go with you.


God bless you,
Anna Wood


Soli Deo Gloria
The Cross Is All at http://annawood.wordpress.com

October 1, 2009

Even though he forsakes God

"To him who is afflicted, kindess should be shown by his friend, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty." Job 6:14.

If there is any place where kindness should be shown, it is when a man is sinking under accumulated sorrows to the grave (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible).

The greatest kindness the Christian can show to another who is in a hospital and afflicted physically or spiritually, is to visit them (Matthew 25:36) and bring to them, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our lives should be an example of the compassion of Christ when we visit them, hoping their hearts would no longer continue to be hardened toward God's great mercy and everlasting love, because of Christ's death on the cross.

Like the Samaritan man who showed compassion for the one who was beaten and robbed on the road to Jericho, we too should show the same compassion for others who are afflicted.

As Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), so too should we, even if they have forsaken the Almight yesterday, maybe they won't today.

The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. Psalm 145:8.


Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

September 15, 2009

Why Moralism Is Not the Gospel -- And Why So Many Christians Think It Is

One of the most amazing statements by the Apostle Paul is his indictment of the Galatian Christians for abandoning the Gospel. "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel," Paul declared. As he stated so emphatically, the Galatians had failed in the crucial test of discerning the authentic Gospel from its counterfeits.

His words could not be more clear: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, he is to be accursed!" [Gal. 1:6-7]

This warning from the Apostle Paul, expressed in the language of the Apostle's shock and grief, is addressed not only to the church in Galatia, but to every congregation in every age. In our own day -- and in our own churches -- we desperately need to hear and to heed this warning. In our own time, we face false gospels no less subversive and seductive than those encountered and embraced by the Galatians.

In our own context, one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this -- the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.

Sadly, this false gospel is particularly attractive to those who believe themselves to be evangelicals motivated by a biblical impulse. Far too many believers and their churches succumb to the logic of moralism and reduce the Gospel to a message of moral improvement. In other words, we communicate to lost persons the message that what God desires for them and demands of them is to get their lives straight.

In one sense, we are born to be moralists. Created in God's image, we have been given the moral capacity of conscience. From our earliest days our conscience cries out to us the knowledge of our guilt, shortcomings, and misbehaviors. In other words, our conscience communicates our sinfulness.

Add to this the fact that the process of parenting and child rearing tends to inculcate moralism from our earliest years. Very quickly we learn that our parents are concerned with our behavior. Well behaved children are rewarded with parental approval, while misbehavior brings parental sanction. This message is reinforced by other authorities in young lives and pervades the culture at large.

Writing about his own childhood in rural Georgia, the novelist Ferrol Sams described the deeply-ingrained tradition of being "raised right." As he explained, the child who is "raised right" pleases his parents and other adults by adhering to moral conventions and social etiquette. A young person who is "raised right" emerges as an adult who obeys the laws, respects his neighbors, gives at least lip service to religious expectations, and stays away from scandal. The point is clear -- this is what parents expect, the culture affirms, and many churches celebrate. But our communities are filled with people who have been "raised right" but are headed for hell.

The seduction of moralism is the essence of its power. We are so easily seduced into believing that we actually can gain all the approval we need by our behavior. Of course, in order to participate in this seduction, we must negotiate a moral code that defines acceptable behavior with innumerable loopholes. Most moralists would not claim to be without sin, but merely beyond scandal. That is considered sufficient.

Moralists can be categorized as both liberal and conservative. In each case, a specific set of moral concerns frames the moral expectation. As a generalization, it is often true that liberals focus on a set of moral expectations related to social ethics while conservatives tend to focus on personal ethics. The essence of moralism is apparent in both -- the belief that we can achieve righteousness by means of proper behavior.

The theological temptation of moralism is one many Christians and churches find it difficult to resist. The danger is that the church will communicate by both direct and indirect means that what God expects of fallen humanity is moral improvement. In so doing, the church subverts the Gospel and communicates a false gospel to a fallen world.

Christ's Church has no option but to teach the Word of God, and the Bible faithfully reveals the law of God and a comprehensive moral code. Christians understand that God has revealed Himself throughout creation in such a way that He has gifted all humanity with the restraining power of the law. Furthermore, He has spoken to us in His word with the gift of specific commands and comprehensive moral instruction. The faithful Church of the Lord Jesus Christ must contend for the righteousness of these commands and the grace given to us in the knowledge of what is good and what is evil. We also have a responsibility to bear witness of this knowledge of good and evil to our neighbors. The restraining power of the law is essential to human community and to civilization.

Just as parents rightly teach their children to obey moral instruction, the church also bears responsibility to teach its own the moral commands of God and to bear witness to the larger society of what God has declared to be right and good for His human creatures.

But these impulses, right and necessary as they are, are not the Gospel. Indeed, one of the most insidious false gospels is a moralism that promises the favor of God and the satisfaction of God's righteousness to sinners if they will only behave and commit themselves to moral improvement.
The moralist impulse in the church reduces the Bible to a codebook for human behavior and substitutes moral instruction for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Far too many evangelical pulpits are given over to moralistic messages rather than the preaching of the Gospel.

The corrective to moralism comes directly from the Apostle Paul when he insists that "a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus." Salvation comes to those who are "justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified." [Gal. 2:16]

We sin against Christ and we misrepresent the Gospel when we suggest to sinners that what God demands of them is moral improvement in accordance with the Law. Moralism makes sense to sinners, for it is but an expansion of what we have been taught from our earliest days. But moralism is not the Gospel, and it will not save. The only gospel that saves is the Gospel of Christ. As Paul reminded the Galatians, "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." [Gal. 4:4-5]

We are justified by faith alone, saved by grace alone, and redeemed from our sin by Christ alone. Moralism produces sinners who are (potentially) better behaved. The Gospel of Christ transforms sinners into the adopted sons and daughters of God.

The Church must never evade, accommodate, revise, or hide the law of God. Indeed, it is the Law that shows us our sin and makes clear our inadequacy and our total lack of righteousness. The Law cannot impart life but, as Paul insists, it "has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith." [Gal. 3:24]

The deadly danger of moralism has been a constant temptation to the church and an ever-convenient substitute for the Gospel. Clearly, millions of our neighbors believe that moralism is our message. Nothing less than the boldest preaching of the Gospel will suffice to correct this impression and to lead sinners to salvation in Christ.

Hell will be highly populated with those who were "raised right." The citizens of heaven will be those who, by the sheer grace and mercy of God, are there solely because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Moralism is not the gospel.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

August 20, 2009

We Must Deliver The Whole Counsel of God

...let us not be guilty of editing the Gospel.

We must have the full message... 'deliver the whole counsel of God'... It starts with the Law. The Law of God... the demands of a righteous God, the wrath of God. That is the way to bring men and women to conviction; not by modifying the Truth... We must confront them with the fact that they are men and that they are fallible men, that they are dying men, that they are sinful men, and that they will all have to stand before God at the Bar of Eternal Judgment...

And then we must present to them the full-orbed doctrine of the Grace of God in Salvation through the sinless, risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must show that no man is saved 'by the deeds of the Law', by his own goodness or righteousness, or church membership or anything else, but solely, utterly, entirely by the free gift of God in Jesus Christ His Son...

We must preach the full-orbed doctrine leaving nothing out-conviction of sin, the reality of Judgment and Hell, free grace, justification, sanctification, glorification. We must also show that there is a world view in the Bible... that here alone you can understand history-past history, present history, future history. Let us show this great world view, and God's Eternal purpose...

Let us at the same time be very careful that we are giving it to the whole man... the gospel is not only for a man's heart, that you start with his head and present Truth to it... Let us show that it is a great message given by God which we in turn pass on to the mind, to the heart, to the will. There is ever this danger of leaving out some part or other of man's personality... Let us be certain that we address the whole man-his mind, his emotions and his will.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Weapons of our Warfare pg. 21-22

Posted by SJ Camp - CAMPONTHIS

August 9, 2009

Sanctification Starts with Your Pastor

Thanks to a fellow blogger at Truth Matters, this post was found and is reposted.

"Sanctification starts with the pastor. His responsibility is to feed and protect his flock. As a pastor, I'm not called to be a stand-up comedian, a self-help guru, or a sex therapist. My job is to teach the Bible, thoroughly and accurately. I'm responsible to encourage and catalyze the spiritual growth of God's people. Anything else is a distraction.

Too many pastors today neglect the priority of sanctification for their congregations. Instead of helping God's people feast on the riches of His Word, they throw their efforts into attracting nonbelievers. Shrouding their teaching in pop-culture references and comedy routines designed to appeal to unbelievers, they withhold the only true source of spiritual nourishment from the Christians there who are hungry. Often the people in the pews don't even realize what they're missing, content instead to be entertained into spiritual starvation.

It's my prayer that you're in a church that does stress the importance of holiness - where your sanctification is encouraged and stimulated, and where you're fed throughout the week on the riches of God's Word. If you are, let me urge you to thank your pastor and church leaders for being faithful to their calling and in the example they set for your congregation. Let them know you're thankful for their commitment to God's Word, and that you're praying for the Lord to bless and sustain them." - John MacArthur

*******************************************************
Widely known for his thorough, candid approach to teaching God’s Word, John MacArthur is a fifth-generation pastor, a popular author and conference speaker, and has served as pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California since 1969. John and his wife, Patricia, have four grown children and fourteen grandchildren.

John’s pulpit ministry has been extended around the globe through his media ministry, Grace to You, and its satellite offices in Australia, Canada, Europe, India, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa. In addition to producing daily radio programs for nearly 2,000 English and Spanish radio outlets worldwide, Grace to You distributes books, software, audiotapes, and CDs by John MacArthur. In thirty-six years of ministry, Grace to You has distributed more than thirteen million CDs and audiotapes.

John is the president of The Master's College and The Master's Seminary, and he has written hundreds of books and study guides (see below), each one thoroughly biblical and practical. Best-selling titles include The Gospel According to Jesus, The Second Coming, Ashamed of the Gospel, Twelve Ordinary Men, and The MacArthur Study Bible, a 1998 ECPA Gold Medallion recipient.

What is sanctification? What is the definition of Christian sanctification?

July 31, 2009

Sick Call at the Bronx VA

I received an email on Monday, asking if I might be able to help make a visit to someone who was recently admitted to the Veterans Administration Hospital in the Bronx. A friend of the gentleman’s son, attends Times Square Church, where I also attend weekly services. The gentleman asked one of the pastors if someone could pray for the son’s father, maybe even to visit him at the hospital, and so, I received the email request.

After work on Tuesday, I was able to make a visit to the VA Hospital to see Anthony Hayes, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran and this I learned from his son, Kevin, whom I spoke to Monday afternoon on the phone.

Anthony just had surgery within the last day or two to remove cancer from his throat and he was sedated quite well upon my arrival to his room in the ICU/CCU (Cardiac Care Unit) at approximately 7:30 p.m. I was fortunate to receive a brief update on his condition from one of the doctors on duty that evening too.

Anthony eventually woke up and looked over at me to figure out whom I was, so I approached his bedside and introduced myself. I let him know that I am the Chaplain for the Marine Corps League and that I was asked by Times Square Church to make a visit to see him. I also mentioned that a friend of his son Kevin, had asked one of the pastors at the church, if someone could visit and I was asked.

It was not easy for Anthony to communicate since he has a trachea tube inserted in his neck. He tried to though and I tried even harder to understand what he was trying to say. I did learn that he was a veteran of the Vietnam war and that he had served for four years in the Corps and was a Corporal when he was discharged. He also whispered to me that he had three sons and five daughters, eight children altogether!

Anthony had asked how long I served in the Corps and I told him four years also and got out as a Corporal too. He wanted to know what I did while in the Marines and I hesitated briefly knowing what was coming, but said to him, “I was a pogue. I did admin work with a grunt battalion.” Well, as soon as he heard that I was a pogue, Anthony’s face lit up with a smile and he laughed, which is what usually happens when a Marine says they did admin work and was not a regular grunt like the rest of the Marine Corps. I am glad he was able to smile and laugh a bit at my expense and it was well worth it too for this man.

It was difficult for Anthony to talk and I noticed on his monitor that it was showing an irregular heart rate and I guessed that it was probably due to his effort to try and converse with me, yet feeling frustrated that he could not.

Seeing that, I suggested that Anthony relax and just nod his head if he understood what I was saying to him, which he clearly did.

I then proceeded to explain to Anthony that the reason I was there was because his son was concerned about him and that his friend had asked someone from Times Square Church to pray for him and maybe even visit him. I mentioned to him that I was there to share the Gospel with him and that people from Times Square Church as well as others, were praying for him that he might be forgiven of his sins through faith in Jesus Christ.

Since Anthony could not speak clearly due to the trachea tube in his throat, I explained to him that I was going to ask him a few questions and if he would just nod his head if he understood what I was saying. I asked again, if he clearly understood what I was saying right now, to which, he nodded that he did.

I began to say to Anthony that the cancer that was removed from his throat, may be completely removed or the doctor’s were not able to get it all. Either way, there is going to come a time where we are individually going to face God in judgment. I then proceeded to share with Anthony, consciously how every man has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Where man has sinned against God by using His name in vain, stealing anything that does not belong personally to us, or if we have ever hated someone, God considers that to be murder and is deserving to receive the punishment of condemnation in hell. Each of those sins may be valid in you too, as they were to me, until I had understood that Jesus Christ died on a cross for my sins. He suffered a punishment and a death that I deserved, but that God had punished Him, instead of me, where if I had placed my faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins I would be saved from going to hell for eternity.

I asked Anthony if it was a concern to him that his sins were not forgiven by God and he nodded yes. I then asked him if he wanted to receive the forgiveness of his sins and have a clear conscience regarding that tonight, and he nodded yes. I then asked him if he believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, who lived a perfect and sinless life, who was crucified on a cross and rose again three days later, and he nodded yes again.

At this time I shared with Anthony that based on his cognizance and affirmation of what he agreed and believed the Scriptures say concerning Jesus Christ, that evening Anthony Hayes was born again and made into a new creation in Christ, where the old has passed and the new has come.

I then prayed for Anthony trusting God and His Holy Spirit to seal his cognizant affirmation of faith in Jesus Christ.

I do not even remember what time it was either but felt that it was time to leave and I wanted Anthony to get back to gaining some rest from his surgery. So I said to him that I would be back again and asked if there was anything I could bring for him on my return visit and he asked for, a black cup of coffee with three sugars. I’ll see if he’s allowed to have that and I’ll bring it the next time I visit him.

To make the night even better, I saw one of our Marine Corps League members Don Shelton, in the ICU/CCU of the Bronx VA Hospital. As I neared walking by his room, I looked in and recognized him and said, “Don, Don Shelton! It’s Kurt Michaelson, the Chaplain from the Marine Corps League.” It didn’t take Don long to remember me and he was quite happy to see me too, as I was to see him.

Don had recently survived a nasty fall at the VA Hospital in Virginia, where he cut his head and nearly bled to death. He went through quite an ordeal back then and there was a time where it looked like he wasn’t going to make it. But thankfully, he has and it has caused him to reflect on that tonight.

Don and I were able to catch up a little bit and he asked me if I could get him two cookies to eat from a package on the counter. I wasn’t sure if he could have cookies so I asked him again and he said it was ok and I checked him again, asking if I should check with the nurses and he said no, that it was ok. So I got him two cookies to snack on, which he dearly enjoyed.

As I knelt down, next to his bed, he said that there was something he wanted to ask me, but couldn’t remember. I asked was it about communion because he had asked about that the last time I was there? He remembered that, but that wasn’t what was on his mind.

I asked him gently, “Is it about death and eternity?” and he looked at me and with a sigh of relief in his voice, he gently said, “Yes.”

I had basically repeated to Don what I had said to Anthony, explaining how we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory by sinning against Him. I then added reading 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 to him as I said, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, do you believe this Don?” Don’s reply was yes.

I asked Don the same questions that I asked Anthony and Don’s reply was identical to Anthony’s. He too wanted peace with God and the forgiveness of his sins, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And so, Don prayed and I followed up with a prayer for him and the salvation of his soul this evening.

Don’s vision is not that great and if the room lights are on, his eyes are often closed because his pupils are so dilated, but the joy he now felt lit up his face as bright as the sun that night and you could hear it in his voice too.

One thing that Don said to me was this, “I’m not afraid anymore because I know that when I take that next step into heaven, I’m going to be alright.” And I said to him, “That is absolutely true Don. Scripture says that when a person becomes born again, a new creation in Christ, they have passed spiritually from death to life and one day, for you Don, you will leave the death of this world and enter life in eternity, in heaven.”


We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 1 John 3:14.
Don and I were holding hands as this was being said and he said to me, “You have no idea how good I feel right now. I feel like a weight has been lifted from me and it feels so good. I’m so glad you were here tonight. Your words were powerful.”

I did not say this to Don, but those were not my words that I spoke to him, it was the Word of God that was spoken to him, as well as to Anthony tonight that brought about the salvation of their souls.

Before I left his room, Don said, “Can I ask one more thing of you?” and I said sure. He said, “Could you get one more cookie for me before you leave?” With joy and a little bit of laughter, I said, “Of course!”

If either of these men were to die that night after I left, they were truly saved by His grace. Both of them will feel so incredibly grateful to God that through repentance and faith in Christ, they have been forgiven of their sins, but also that others were burdened for them and the eternity that awaits them.

I am humbled by what God has done with me and through me Tuesday evening and it just creates a deeper love within me for Him and what He has called me to do and that is win souls to Christ.

I shared this with Kristi that evening as I left the hospital and she was equally excited for the work God had done too. I was just a messenger and there was nothing special about what I said, just that there is something special about what God has said.

I said to Kristi that there was more joy in heaven over these two sinners who repented than a multitude of those who think they do not have to repent before God (Luke 15:7).

As I neared the end of my travel across the Tappan Zee Bridge tonight, I began to think of Scripture that would exemplify what happened tonight and this is what the Holy Spirit reminded me of,

“for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:35-36,40, NKJV.

Semper fi in Christ.

July 22, 2009

"I am married unto you." Jeremiah 3:14

Since I am 30 days away from getting married, today's devotional reading from Charles Spurgeon is very appropriate and so I share it with you.

Christ Jesus is joined unto his people in marriage-union. In love he espoused his Church as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of bondage. Full of burning affection he toiled, like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid, and now, having sought her by his Spirit, and brought her to know and love him, he awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Not yet hath the glorious Bridegroom presented his betrothed, perfected and complete, before the Majesty of heaven; not yet hath she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as his wife and queen: she is as yet a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar; but she is even now the bride, the spouse of Jesus, dear to his heart, precious in his sight, written on his hands, and united with his person. On earth he exercises towards her all the affectionate offices of Husband. He makes rich provision for her wants, pays all her debts, allows her to assume his name, and to share in all his wealth. Nor will he ever act otherwise to her. The word divorce he will never mention, for “He hateth putting away.” Death must sever the conjugal tie between the most loving mortals, but it cannot divide the links of this immortal marriage. In heaven they marry not, but are as the angels of God; yet there is this one marvellous exception to the rule, for in Heaven Christ and his Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials. This affinity as it is more lasting, so is it more near than earthly wedlock. Let the love of husband be never so pure and fervent, it is but a faint picture of the flame which burns in the heart of Jesus. Passing all human union is that mystical cleaving unto the Church, for which Christ left his Father, and became one flesh with her.

Morning devotional reading written by Charles Spurgeon.

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