Sunday, February 27, 2011

Richard Baxter On Fallen Man

"Every man is naturally an idolater. Our hearts turned from God in our first fall; and, ever since, the creature hath been our god. This is the grand sin of our nature. Every unregenerate man ascribes to the creature divine prerogatives, and allows it the highest room in his soul; or, if he is convinced of misery, he flies to it as his savior. Pleasure, profit and honor, are the natural man's trinity and his carnal self is these in unity. It was our first sin to aspire to be as gods and it is the greatest sin that is propagated in our nature from generation to generation.

 When God should guide us, we guide ourselves; when he should be our Sovereign, we rule ourselves: the laws which he gives us, we find fault with, and would correct and, if we had the making of them, we would have made them otherwise. When we should study and love, trust and honor God, we study and love, trust and honor our carnal selves. Instead of God, we should have all men's eyes and dependence on us, and all men's thanks returned to us, and would gladly be the only men on earth extolled and admired by all. Thus we are naturally our own idols."

-Richard Baxter (The Saints Everlasting Rest)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Fear of the Lord in Scripture

As you read through the Bible, you find that one of the great themes of Scripture is the fear of God. I have to say, however, that it wasn't until I starting reading through the Bible systematically that this doctrine was really pressed upon me. I realized that the fear of the Lord is immensely important; it is the beginning of all knowledge!! What I simply want to do in this post is to give some verses throughout different sections of the Bible where the fear of the Lord is present. Let us see what the Bible says about the fear of God.

The Pentateuch: “Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:20) In other words, the purpose of all of the commandments that God had given the Israelites is in two words: fear God. Deuteronomy 4:10 “Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth.”

The Historical Books: “For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever." Joshua 4:23, 24
In 1 Samuel 12 we have the requirements of a successful kingdom: “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart” (1 Samuel 12:24).

The Wisdom Literature
In Ecclesiastes Solomon gives us the only thing that matters in life: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
“Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day” (Proverbs 24:17).

The Major Prophets
Jeremiah gives us the marks of the people of the new covenant: “I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me” (Jer. 32:39, 40)

The Minor Prophets
In Malachi we have a description of those who will escape the wrath of God in the great day of the Lord: “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings” (Malachi 4:2).

The Gospels
Jesus says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

The Epistles
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1)
The apostle Peter learned well, “Fear God” (1 Peter 2:17).

What can we conclude from all these Scripture verses?
1. Since all throughout Scripture God testifies that the fear of God is a great theme; we should strive to fear God will all our being.
2.The more we fear God, the more godly we are. The reverse is also true, the less we fear God, the less we know of true godliness.
3. We all know that we have failed in this area; therefore the fear of the Lord runs us to the gospel. There is One who did fear the Lord His God every second of His great life, therefore run to the great Savior Jesus Christ!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: A Call to Prayer

My review on Amazon is here.

This book on prayer by J.C. Ryle written around a hundred years ago contains a weighty, heart searching message addressed to Christians and non Christians about a most important, yet much neglected spiritual discipline. J.C. Ryle writes with humility, he writes urgently, powerfully, and effectively. Ryle's whole thesis of the book is a question, "Do you pray"? Ryle starts off the book with giving seven reasons why he asks this important question, highlighting several important things about prayer. I thought his last reason was great, "I ask whether you pray because prayer is one of the best means of happiness and contentment." Ryle explains well that the testimony of both the Old and New Testament is that we must bring everything to God in prayer if we want happiness in this sin cursed world. Ryle then moves on to address those who do not pray, he humbly explains that these prayerless people are in a position of fearful danger. Ryle concludes with a very helpful exhortation to encourage and instruct those who do pray.

This precious book on prayer has helped me a great deal and encouraged me. In my opinion, this book is one of the best I have ever read on prayer, and sadly has not been read like it should be read. Don't think that because it is an old book, or a short book, that it will not do you much good, rather, much benefit will be gained from those who read it and therefore practice what Ryle says. I will say with Ryle, "I want the times we live in to be praying times. I want the Christians of our day to be praying Christians." Amen. 

Book Review: Martyn-Lloyd Jones biography

In this biography of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones written by Iain Murray we have an account of the life of a godly man used by God. This book is part one of two volumes, and contains the first forty years of Lloyd-Jones' life. In the first three chapter's Murray writes about Martyn's childhood, his joys, sorrows, struggles, schooling, and concluding with events about his promising medical career. Chapter four deals with his conversion, and his early convictions about the current state of Christianity in Wales, with Chapter five dealing with his call to the ministry, and the majority of the rest of the book reveals to us Lloyd- Jones' ministry in Aberavon.

Reading through these pages I learned that Dr. Jones was a gifted, humble man who desired not to make a name for himself, but to lead people to the Savior whom he so loved. He believed in the sufficiency of Scripture, the doctrine of the new birth, doctrinal preaching, the importance of reading the Puritans, and that God alone was the sole author of revival.

This biography should be required reading for anybody thinking about going into the ministry, and also many Christians would enjoy reading about the glory of God revealed through this man. With that said, I think Lloyd-Jones would want us to say the following after reading this biography, "Don't talk about me, talk about my Saviour" (page 226). 

You can find my review on Amazon here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

E.M. Bounds Quote on Prayer

“Praying, true praying, costs an outlay of serious attention and of time, which flesh and blood do not relish.” E.M. Bounds

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Satan's Devices

This is an excerpt from Thomas Brooks' classic book "Precious Remedies for Satan's Devices".
Satan Presents The Bait and Hides The Hook

"Satan's first device to draw the soul into sin is, to present the bait-and hide the hook; to present the golden cup-and hide the poison; to present the sweet, the pleasure, and the profit that may flow in upon the soul by yielding to sin-and to hide from the soul the wrath and misery that will certainty follow the committing of sin. By this device he deceived our first parents, "But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:4-5) Your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods! Here is the bait, the sweet, the pleasure, the profit. Oh- but he hides the hook-the shame, the wrath, and the loss that would certainty follow!"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount Book Review

You can find my review on Amazon here.

This monumental work by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Sermon on the Mount is incredible to say the least. Lloyd-Jones preached sixty messages on this sermon by the Lord Jesus Christ; it is expository preaching at its best. A very important point that Lloyd-Jones makes repeatedly throughout this work is that it is vital to examine the whole theme of the particular chapter or section, before you get into the specific verses. When I first read this I was amazed the way that Lloyd-Jones arranged this sermon, for example, he suggests that the whole of chapter seven is, "an account of the Christian as one who lives always under the judgement of God, and in the fear of God." (pg. 19) Often when you have a work of this size, it's very difficult to summarize or review. I want to highlight five things that I especially learned after reading this book, and I think these things will summarize the great themes of the book. 

1.We must be born again to live this sermon out. When you consider the commands that Jesus Christ gave in this sermon, you realize that, "to expect Christian conduct from a person who is not born again is heresy." (pg. 17) I am very thankful for the righteousness of Christ, for without His righteousness I am undone as I look at this sermon. 

2.Self is the root of all our problems. According to Martyn Lloyd-Jones self, "makes man glorify himself and set himself up as a god. He protects this self all along and in every way." (pg. 246) As you read this book you realize that sin is ultimately self worship, and it affects us in every way possible, in fact, more than we often know. 

3.The world today is looking for, and desperately needs, true Christians. Lloyd-Jones says that practicing this sermon would be the best means of evangelism (pg.13), in other words the church does not impress the world by being like the world, but by living the Christian life according to Jesus. 

4.The Christian should always live life in the presence of God, to please God, and to fear God. The whole trouble of the Pharisees was that they only wanted to be seen by men, they practiced their righteousness in front of men, so that they could get glory. Christians, on the other hand, are to be concerned only about pleasing God. 

5.One of our great problems as Christians is we forget that God is our Father. Why do we worry when God is our Father? God is for us, he is caring for us, and he will give us all that we need to live our pilgrimage in this world. 

This is one of the few books that are this long that I have read where I have read through the whole book. Right now this book is probably my favorite outside of Scripture, and I have no doubt it will remain in my top five as I get older. I thank God for the grace that he gave to Dr. Lloyd-Jones to preach these sermons and my prayer is that the church would obey Jesus, so that the world will see the glory of Christianity above all else there is in this fallen world!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Christ Alone

Prayer from Valley of Vision
Christ Alone
Your main plan and the end of your will
is to make Christ glorious and beloved in heaven
where he is now ascended
where one day all the elect will behold his glory
and love and glorify him for ever
Though here I love him but little
may this be my portion at last
In this world you have given me a beginning
one day it will be perfected in the realm above
You have helped me to see and know Christ, though obscurely
to take him, receive him,
to possess him, love him,
to bless him in my heart, mouth, life
Let me study and stand for discipline
and all the ways of worship
out of love for Christ
and to show my thankfulness
to see and know his will from love
to hold it in love
and daily to care for and keep this state of heart
you have led me to place all my nature and happiness
in oneness with Christ
in having heart and mind centered only on him
in being like him in communicating good to others
This is my heaven on earth
But I need the force, energy, impulses of your Spirit
to carry me on the way to my Jerusalem
Here, it is my duty
to be as Christ in this world
to do what he would do,
to live as he would live
to walk in love and meekness;
then would he be known
then would I have peace in death.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What is the Gospel?

I have lately been thinking about the best way to present the gospel to the lost. I used to do what Ray Comfort teaches at "Way of the Master," but have noticed a couple things that I do not like. So here is my attempt to write out the gospel, and I want to credit Thabiti Anyabwile for helping me understand the gospel better.

A good way to present the gospel is in four categories: God, man, Christ, response.

1. The gospel declares that there is a God, there is none like Him. He is eternal, infinite, righteous, all wise, all knowing, and He is Creator. We as creatures, owe our Creator all love, praise, adoration, and honor. So, this holy God made us in His own image for fellowship with us, and he is angry with us because we are sinners.

2. All have disobeyed God, all have dishonored God, all have turned away from Him, and therefore all deserve to die separated from God for all eternity in hell.

3. God is not only holy and righteous he is also a God of love. So God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, who took upon Himself our flesh, our likeness, and lived a perfectly righteous life to satisfy the holy requirements of God. Jesus died, suffering the wrath of God to pay the penalty for the sins of the world on Calvary's Cross, so that the wrath of God would be removed. He was buried, resurrected three days later, ascended into heaven, and He will come again.

4. Everyone who repents of sin, and trusts in Christ have Jesus' righteousness credited to their account, and has their sin nailed to the Cross with Christ, so that they bear it no more. They are justified, a miracle happens, they are made new creatures in Christ Jesus, they are united to Christ, and all the benefits of Christ become theirs through faith, who in the promise of everlasting life, receive the joy of being in the presence of God's love and glory throughout all eternity!

Our appeal to the lost is that they would first hear this message, understand it, trust in Christ, call upon his name, for everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.