Monthly Archives: February 2011

New Push to Universalism

 

The Reformed blogosphere has had much to say in the last few days about a new book by one of  America’s most popular ‘pastors’  (Rob Bell) in which he denies the reality of  hell.   On one post a man quoted our esteemed friend, Mr. Ryle.  His words, as is so often the case, are powerful:

“Beware of new and strange doctrines about hell and the eternity of punishment. Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none.”


A note from the Doctor

Dr. Martyn Lllyod-Jones, that is!

I came across this quotation from Llyod-Jones while reading a blog post by Pastor Kevin DeYoung this past week.  He was dealing with the controversial issue of  having a “multi-site” church and in the midst of the discussion he quoted our esteemed brother’s words about preaching.  I share these words taken from Preaching and Preachers as an encouragement to all who hear the preaching of the word.  How you hear will not only affect your  own soul, it will affect the preacher’s preaching as well.

Here are the wise words from Dr. Lloyd-Jones:

Another element to which I attach importance is that the preacher while speaking should in a sense be deriving something from his congregation. There are those present in the congregation who are spiritually-minded people, and filled with the Spirit, and they make their contribution to the occasion…The preacher–though he has prepared, and prepared carefully–because of this element of spiritual freedom is still able to receive something from the congregation, and does so. There is an interplay, action and response, and this often makes a very vital difference. (page 84).  The preacher then is a man who for these reasons and in these ways makes contact with the people who are listening to him. Far from being detached, there is rapport. This comes out in his voice, in his manner, in his whole approach; everything about him shows that there is this intimacy of contact between the preacher and his congregation. (page 90).


At The Same Time!

The bible contains no contradictions, but does it contain many paradoxes.   One definition of a paradox is: a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a truth.  And so it is that the believer is totally at peace and engaged in warfare, at the same time.    The Christian is content and yet striving, at the same time.

Over the past several years when folks have asked me how things are going at church, my reply has been, “There is ample evidence that Christ loves us and that the devil hates us, at the same time.”   There have been few, if any times, over the years when I thought that God  had abandoned his people.   Whenever there have been difficulties and confusion and tears, there have at the same time been tokens of  His love and mercy and nearness.

And I can also say that during the sweetest times, the times when God was most clearly and patently at work blessing the labors of our hands there have been at the same time reminders that we are involved in warfare with an enemy seeking to destroy us.  I have come to realize that this will be the case throughout my pilgrimage.  There is coming a day when Satan will be fully and finally and forever crushed under our feet, just as the Savior drove His pierced heel into his head on Calvary.  The day of full and uninterrupted rest and blessing is coming.  Till then, even as we shelter under the shadow of  His wings it is because the storm is raging outside.  Safe, secure, at peace, threatened, and under assault at the same time.


 


Love really is all you need (God’s that is!)

Another gem from Winslow!

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. – 1 John 4:10

“Herein is love!” as though John would say, “And nowhere else but here!” That God should punish the innocent for the guilty- that He should exact the blood of His Son to cancel the guilt of His rebels- that He should lay an infinite weight of wrath on His soul, in order to lay an infinite weight of love on ours- that He should sacrifice His life of priceless value for ours- worthless, forfeited, and doomed- that He should not only give His Son, but should bruise Him, put Him to grief, afflict Him, should make His soul an offering for sin- that the ‘Lord of Glory’ should become a ‘man of sorrows’, the Lord of Life should die, and the Heir of all things should be “as him that serves.” Oh depth of love unfathomable! Oh height of love unsearchable! Oh length and breadth of love unmeasurable! Oh love of God, which passes knowledge!


Those Made Righteous Act Righteously

By sovereign grace and the imputation of the righteousness of   Jesus, sinners are made righteous before God.  We speak of this at times as “positional righteousness”.  The apostle John tells us that all those who practice righteousness are righteous.  How do we know that God has made us righteous?  We practice righteousness!  Here are some thoughts from Octavius Winslow concerning this truth:

Every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. – 1 John 2:29

Negative holiness- the abstaining from outward sins- does not always describe a regenerate soul; associated with this there must be the positive evidence- “Every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” Where there is life, there is action, motion, energy. The life of a regenerate man is a life of the highest activity. The principles that influence him are divine and heavenly; their tendency is to holy action. The more we resemble Christ “in righteousness and true holiness,” the stronger the evidence to ourselves and to others that we are born again. We possess, professedly, and, if not self-deceived, actually, the life of Christ. That life is holy in its tendency and vigorous in its acting. The renewed soul longs for holiness. He pants for divine conformity. He rests not in the mere longing; he arises and labors for the blessing; he “works out his salvation with fear and trembling.” He prayerfully and diligently uses the means the Lord of sanctification has given him for the attainment of holiness; he is active in his pursuit of the blessing.


It’s Worse (and better) Than You Think!

We’ve all heard a lot in recent years about the great obstacles that faces us in reaching our generation. We are seeking to reach a generation raised in a post-modern setting, where the old values and ideas are no longer meaningful. We simply can’t present things as we once did or assume certain common ground as before. This new generation is suspicious of religion, has no appreciation for authority, has an evolutionary bias, and is biblically illiterate. Different remedies are being suggested to reach this generation. We must become post-modern in our approach, some say. Others say that we must engage the culture by becoming more relevant and in touch. We must watch the movies and the televisions programs; we must seek common ground through music, etc. Others have said that we must transform the way that church is to be done. Though I am exaggerating in what I say here, you could get the impression that the biggest stumbling block to the gospel is a tie, a piano, and hymnbook.
But you see the problem is much worse than that. The problem cannot be solved by drinking more beer, watching more R-rated movies, spending hours before perverse television programs, opening our collars, untucking our shirts, piercing our ears, getting “ink”, playing electric guitars, and beating drums. The obstacles cannot be overcome by turning the worship of God into a night club and using dirty language to tell Bible stories. You see, the problem is far worse than post-modernism. The problem is not with my neighbor’s liberal education or entertainment. The problem is with his soul. You see my neighbor is dead in sins and trespasses. He is at enmity with God. He is not subject to the law of God and in fact, cannot be! No matter how I seek to present the gospel (clearly, persuasively, passionately, and lovingly); it is either foolishness to him or a stumbling block. If he is dead, a newer tune, power-point, and showing clips from the latest Hollywood blockbuster isn’t’ going to cut it.

We need to remember that the gospel has come to other cultures were the outer obstacles were surely as great if not greater. What if our neighbors were not simply the university educated, Oprahized, porn-addicted, post-modern hedonist…but let’s say the citizen of a city that was built around the worship of a goddess, or the center of immorality, let’s say that he was a homosexual who ate things sacrificed to idols and partied with male Temple prostitutes? What if they knew nothing of the Bible and had never heard the name of Jesus? What could possibly reach such? Or let’s say that they were the product of years of apostasy from true religion given over to cold legalism and self-righteousness? Sounds pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? Sounds like we’ve got a lot to overcome! But it was into just such environments that the gospel came with power. Thriving congregations were left in Ephesus and Corinth and Jerusalem .

The old ideas of preaching the gospel, with the solid foundation of holy living (pursued in the fear of God), Christ-like love in our churches, and benevolent mercy to the lost, may seem lame and old fashioned in light of the many new ideas promoted today. Nevertheless, God has used plain gospel preaching in the past, empowered by the Word and the Spirit to reach the lost, and I am confident that He will bless it in the future.


Are you struggling with sin?

I sure hope so!  I know that you sin.  Every day.  Many times in a day.  In thought, or word, or deed  you sin and continue to fall short of the glory of God.  John tells us that if  any man says that he does not sin he makes God out to be a liar.   The question is not whether you sin and the question is not even do you grieve over your sins or do you confess your sins.  I hope you do!!  My question is do you ‘struggle’ with sin?  Are you at war with sin (see 1 Peter 2:11)? I have been reading a lot lately about ‘struggles’ with sin, especially as it relates to the scourge of  pornography in the church (among males and females, young and old).  I see this term over and over again–struggle.   What does a struggle look like?

It looks something like this!

Are you at war with sin?

War looks something like this:

Too often professings saints look more like this in their ‘struggle’ and in their ‘warfare’:

If we are looking for opportunities to sin (which pornography entails), if we are harboring and bringing up bitter thoughts, if we are refusing to forgive,  if we are making provisions for the flesh, we may be grieved by our actions, but we are not struggling.  Let us struggle and let fight as well as grieve!