Monthly Archives: September 2011

Loving the World

 

From Octavius Winslow:
The world, and the love of it, and conformity to it, may please and assist the life of sense, but it is opposed to, and will retard, the life of faith. Not more opposed in their natures are the flesh and the Spirit, darkness and light, sin and holiness, than are a vigorous life of faith and a sinful love of the world. Professor of the gospel! Guard against the world; it is your great bane: watch against conformity to it in your dress, in your mode of living, in the education of your children, in the principles, motives, and policy that govern you. Grieve not, then, the Holy Spirit of God by any known inconsistency of conduct, any sinful conformity to the world, any inordinate pursuit of its wealth, its honors, its pleasures, its friendships, and its great things. Pray against the sin of covetousness, that canker-worm that feeds at the root of so many souls; pray against the love of dress, that sin that diverts the mind of so many professors from the simplicity of Christ, and takes the eye off from the true adornment; pray against a thirst for light and trifling reading, that strange and sinful inconsistency of so many, the certain tendency of which is to starve the life of God in the soul, to engender a distaste for spiritual aliment, for the word of God, for holy meditation, and for Divine communion and fellowship-yes, pray against the spirit of worldly, sinful conformity in everything, that the Holy Spirit do not be grieved, and that Christ do not be dishonored and crucified afresh in and through you. It is to be feared that much of the professed Christianity of the day is of a compromising character. The spirit that marks so many is, “What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” There is a betraying of Christ before the world-a bartering of Christianity for its good opinion, its places of honor, and influence, and emolument. The world, the flesh, and Satan are ever on the alert to frame a bargain with a Christian professor for his religion. “What will you give me in return?” is the eager inquiry of many. Oh, awful state! Oh, fearful deception! Oh, fatal delusion! Reader! Are you a professing Christian? Then guard against the least compromise of your principles, the least betrayal of Jesus, the first step in an inconsistency of walk; above all, pray and watch against a worldly Christianity-a Christianity that wears a fair exterior, so far as it is composed of attendance upon sanctuary services and sacraments and religious institutions, but which excludes from it the cross of the meek and lowly Lamb of God-a Christianity which loves the world and the things of the world, “makes a fair show in the flesh,” speaks well of Christ, and yet betrays Him with a kiss. Let not this be the model of your religion. The world is the sworn enemy of your Savior; let it not be your friend. No; come out of it, and be you separate.

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No Surprises Here….

Imagine someone swimming choosing to swim in a sewer for 50 hours a week.  Every week.  They then go to a place where they get ‘hosed’ off for two hours per week.  What will mark them?  Will it be the cleansing or the sewage?  When those professing to follow Jesus willfully indulge in the pollution of the world (what they choose to put into their ears, before their eyes, and into their hearts and affections) is it any wonder that the world has a greater grip on them than He does?   Folks who indulge in the world never take a week off, but they do (often) take a week off from church.  What is the effect of all this?

Grace to You posted this on their blog.  It is worth pondering.

 

It should be clear that modern church marketers cannot look to the apostle Paul for approval of their methodology or claim him as the father of their philosophy. Although he ministered to the vilest pagans throughout the Roman world, Paul never adapted the church to secular society’s tastes. He would not think of altering either the message or the nature of the church. Each of the churches he founded had its own unique personality and set of problems, but Paul’s teaching, his strategy, and above all his message remained the same throughout his ministry. His means of ministry was always preaching—the straightforward proclamation of biblical truth.

By contrast, the “contextualization” of the gospel today has infected the church with the spirit of the age. It has opened the church’s doors wide for worldliness, shallowness, and in some cases a crass, party atmosphere. The world now sets the agenda for the church.

This is demonstrated clearly in a book by James Davison Hunter, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia. Hunter surveyed students in evangelical colleges and seminaries, and concluded that evangelical Christianity has changed dramatically in the past three decades. He found that young evangelicals have become significantly more tolerant of activities once viewed as worldly or immoral—including smoking, using marijuana, attending R-rated movies, and premarital sex. Hunter wrote,

The symbolic boundaries which previously defined moral propriety for conservative Protestantism have lost a measure of clarity. Many of the distinctions separating Christian conduct from “worldly conduct” have been challenged if not altogether undermined. Even the words worldly and worldliness have, within a generation, lost most of their traditional meaning.… The traditional meaning of worldliness has indeed lost its relevance for the coming generation of Evangelicals. (Hunter, Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation, 63)

What Hunter noted among evangelical students is a reflection of what has happened to the entire evangelical church. Many professing Christians appear to care far more about the world’s opinion than about God’s. Churches are so engrossed in trying to please non-Christians that many have forgotten their first duty is to please God (2 Cor. 5:9). The church has been so over-contextualized that it has become corrupted by the world.


Sunday is not another Saturday

Some good thoughts from Ray Ortlund at the Gospel Coalition (I’m betting some will cry legalism!)

If we would stop treating Sunday as a second Saturday, one more day to run to Home Depot, one more day for the kids’ soccer games, another day for getting ready for Monday, if we would rediscover Sunday as The Lord’s Day, focusing on him for just one day each week, what would be the immediate impact between today and one year from today?

By one year from today, we will have spent 52 whole days given over to Jesus.  Seven and a half weeks of paid vacation with Jesus.

He’s a good King.  Maybe we should put him first in our weekly schedules.  Not fit him into the margins of our busy weekends, but build our whole weekly routine around him.

Just a thought.


Dirty Words?

There has been a lot of talk lately about ‘shock’ preachers–those who use what is typically regarded as filthy language to gain the ears of their hearers.  Society has a general “list” of words and phrases which are deemed inappropriate.  There are words that children are not supposed to say.  There are words which will bump up your movie rating from G to PG, from PG to PG13 to R.    In most churches if these words were used there would still be a sense of shock.

I want to talk about some other ‘dirty words’.  Words that when they come up nowadays seem to earn the frown–not from the dull and stodgy, but from the hipsters themselves.  I am thinking of words like, “A godly man will….a godly man must…a godly man will not…a Christian is one who can….”  Will?  Must? Can?  How legalistic!  I am thinking of  new dirty words like laws, commands, duties, responsibilities.    To suggest that there are such things and to actually say them from the pulpit and give the idea that God expects and demands that His people live a certain way is more shocking and more offensive to some in our day than four letter words.


Ah, perspective!

 “Oh, what are crosses and the discomforts of this present world, if at last we are kept out of hell! And oh, what are the riches, and honors, and comforts of this life, if at last we are shut out of heaven!”

Octavius Winslow


Blessed Are The Fearful!

From my old friend, Mr. Spurgeon:

Happy is the man that feareth alway. (Proverbs 28:14)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning and the foundation of all true
religion. Without a solemn awe and reverence of God there is no foothold for the
more brilliant virtues. He whose soul does not worship will never live in
holiness.

He is happy who feels a jealous fear of doing wrong. Holy fear looks not only
before it leaps, but even before it moves. It is afraid of error, afraid of
neglecting duty, afraid of committing sin. It fears ill company, loose talk, and
questionable policy, This does not make a man wretched, but it brings him
happiness. The watchful sentinel is happier than the soldier who sleeps at his
post. He who foreseeth evil and escapes it is happier than he who walks
carelessly on and is destroyed.

Fear of God is a quiet grace which leads a man along a choice road, of which
it is written, “No lion shall be there, neither shall any ravenous beast go up
thereon.” Fear of the very appearance of evil is a purifying principle, which
enables a man, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to keep his garments
unspotted from the world. Solomon had tried both worldliness and holy fear: in
the one he found vanity, in the other happiness. Let us not repeat his trial but
abide by his verdict.


The Unremembered Life

When one comes to the close of their life’s work the question is often raised, “How do you want to be remembered?”   What legacy, if any, do we want to have?  This question is not only asked in the realm of business but in ministry as well.  Let me ask a more fundamental question–should we want to be remembered?  And if so, why?  Outside of our families and our churches, why should we expect anyone to call our deeds to mind?    The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of those whose lives and deeds will be remembered before God have passed through this world with little to no notice.  These men lived and labored and died in obscurity.  No one outside of their churches listened to their sermons or read their writings.  The word (secular and sacred) built them no monuments.  Many have been laid to rest without even a headstone to mark the brevity of their lives.    A pastor friend of mine recently wrote these words to me, “If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be a servant and shut up, be content with faithfulness and relative obscurity, stay the course, fight the good fight, find out what God says for pastors to do then do it till you can’t, then die and enjoy glory.”

Sounds good to me.


Do you love holiness as much as Jesus does?

Christ is so in love with holiness, that at the price of his blood he will buy it for us. —John Flavel

 

HT:  challies.com


The “M” Word

When Prophets of the Old Covenant and New Covenant wanted to shock their Jewish readers in exposing their sin and hardness of heart all they had to do was to employ the “G” word…you know, Gentile.   To be likened to the Philistines or the Babylonians or the Egyptians was to say that they lived and acted as those who had never received revelation from God.  They lived and acted as though they had never been redeemed by God nor entered into covenant with God.   There is a similar title given to New Covenant believers who are acting contrary to their profession.  They are said to act like “men”.  People.  Natural men. Carnal men.  People who have no revelation, no new heart, no new power.   Sometimes we want to excuse our sins and factions by saying, “After all, I’m only human.”  The bible says that you are more than that if you are in Christ. The grace of God does something so wonderfully powerful in the lives of God’s people that we are more than ‘mere men’.  The next time you are tempted to be proud, divisive, indulgent, or lazy remember who are in Christ.  Stop acting like a human and start living a new man.