CHRIST ALONE

O GOD,

Thy main plan, and the end of thy 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 thou hast given me a beginning,
  one day it will be perfected in the realm above.
Thou hast 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 seek and know his will from love,
  to hold it in love,
  and daily to care for and keep this state of heart.
Thou hast led me to place all my nature
    and happiness
  in oneness with Christ,
  in having heart and mind centred 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 thy 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.

– THE VALLEY OF VISION

O THOU MOST HIGH,

Creator of the ends of the earth,
    Governor of the universe,
    Judge of all men,
    Head of the church,
    Saviour of sinners;
      thy greatness is unsearchable,
      thy goodness infinite,
      thy compassions unfailing,
      thy providence boundless,
      thy mercies ever new.
We bless thee for the words of salvation.
How important, suitable, encouraging
  are the doctrines, promises, and invitations
    of the gospel of peace!
We are lost: but in it thou hast presented to us
    a full, free and eternal salvation;
  weak: but here we learn that help is found in
    One that is mighty,
  poor: but in him we discover unsearchable riches,
  blind: but we find he has treasures of wisdom
    and knowledge.
We thank thee for thy unspeakable gift.
Thy Son is our only refuge, foundation, hope,
    confidence;
We depend upon his death,
  rest in his righteousness,
  desire to bear his image;
May his glory fill our minds,
  his love reign in our affections,
  his cross inflame us with ardour.
Let us as Christians fill our various situations
    in life,
  escape the snares to which they expose us,
  discharge the duties that arise from our
    circumstances,
  enjoy with moderation their advantages,
  improve with diligence their usefulness,
And may every place and company we are in
    be benefited by us.

– Valley of Vision

THE NATIONAL ANTHEM OF HELL IS ” I DID IT MY WAY “

“What do you do to go to hell? Nothing! Just do nothing that’s all! You don’t have to thumb your nose at God, You don’t have to be an adulterer. Just coast on! FOR THE GREATEST SIN IN THE WORLD IS NOT ADULTERY! THE GREATEST SIN IN THE WORLD IS ‘I CAN MANAGE MY LIFE WITHOUT GOD’. THAT’S THE GREATEST SIN”

Eternal, Almighty, and most gracious God: heaven is your throne, and earth is your footstool; holy and reverend is your name; you are praised by the angels of heaven, and in the gathering of your church on earth. Despite our unworthiness, you have invited us through our mediator, Jesus Christ, to present ourselves and our prayers to you. Receive us graciously. Help us by your Spirit. Let us stand in awe of you. Put your law into our hearts, and write it on our minds. Let your word come to us in power, and help us receive it in love, with attentive, reverent, and teachable minds. Through your word, allow us to taste the flavor of eternal life. Make us fervent in prayer and joyful in praise. Help us serve you this day without distraction, that we may find that a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere, and that it is good for us to come near to God; through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.

PRAY FOR THE UNCTION IN THE PULPIT!

    It requires neither top bracket intelligence nor yet super-spirituality to curse the darkness. It does require God-fashioned, God-filled and God-fired men to bring revival! We need some lion-hearted, wise-as-a-serpent prophets, Spirit-unctionized, Spirit-actioned, Spirit-directed and Spirit-operated men for the dying moments of this dispensation.

    The church is living on borrowed capital. She has to get out the family album to show us Wesley and Huss, covenanters and confessors to help us whistle to keep up our courage. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

    If the Bible said pay without ceasing we would be very near revival. The church is swept at this moment with a dollar fever, but the fingers of finance are impotent to relieve the impasse we are in. There IS a way out, only one, a well-tried one, a never failing one; it is the way of prayer!

    The offense of prayer is that it does not essentially tie in to mental efficiency. That is not to say that prayer is a partner to mental sloth. But in these days – or should it be daze? – efficiency and smartness are at a premium. Prayer pertains to one thing alone, and that is to spirituality.

    One does not need to be spiritual to preach, that is, to make and deliver sermons of homiletical perfection and exegetical exactitude. By a combination of memory, knowledge, ambition, personality, plus well-lined book shelves, self-confidence and a sense of having arrived, brother, the pulpit is yours almost anywhere now.

    Preaching, of this type, affects men. Prayer affects God. Preaching affects time, prayer affects eternity. The pulpit can be a shop window to display our talents. The prayer closet speaks death to display.

    The tragedy of this later hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people.

Preacher Brother! In All Thy Getting – Get Unction!

    There is a strange thing I have observed even in fundamental circles. It is preaching without unction. Preaching without unction kills, instead of giving life. The word does not burn unless unction is upon the preacher.

    Preaching is a spiritual business. A sermon born in the head reaches the head. A sermon born in the heart reaches the heart. A spiritual preacher will under God produce spiritually-minded people. Unction is not a gentle dove beating her wings outside the bars of the preacher’s soul; rather, divine unction must be pursued and won.

Unction Is God’s Knighthood for His Soldier-Preacher

    Unction cannot be learned, only earned by prayer. Unction is God’s knighthood for the soldier-preacher who has wrestled in prayer and gained the victory. Victory is not won in the pulpit by firing intellectual bullets or wisecracks but in the prayer closet. The meeting is won or lost before the preacher’s foot enters the pulpit.

    Unction comes not by a bishop’s ordination, neither does it mildew when the preacher is cast into prison. Unction will pierce and percolate, it will sweeten and soften. When the hammer of logic and the fire of human zeal fail to open the stony heart, unction will succeed.

    Without unctionized preachers church altars will never see anxious penitents. Supposing that we saw fishing boats with the latest in radar equipment and fishing gear launched month after month and then put out to sea only to return without a catch, what excuse would we take for this barrenness?

    Yet thousands of churches see empty altars week after week and year after year and cover this sterile situation by misapplying the Scripture “My Word…shall not return unto Me void” (Isa. 55:11).

    The ugly fact is that the altar fires are either out, or burning very low. The prayer meeting is dead or dying. By our attitude to prayer we tell God that what was begun in the Spirit we can finish in the flesh. What church ever asks its candidating ministers what time they spend in prayer? Ministers who do not spend significant time each day in prayer are not worth a dime a dozen, degrees or no degrees.

    Who now “earnestly contends for the faith once delivered to the saints”? (Jude v. 3). Where is there unction in the pulpit? Preachers who should be fishing for men are now too often fishing for compliments from men. Preachers used to sow seed. Now they string intellectual pearls. Imagine a field sown with pearls!

Born in a Tomb Instead of a Womb

    Away with this palsied, puerile, powerless preaching which is unmoving because it was born in a tomb instead of a womb, and nourished in a fireless, prayerless soul. We may preach and perish, but we cannot pray and perish. If God called us to the ministry, dear brethren, then I contend that we should be unctionized. With all thy getting, get unction, lest barren altars be the badge of our unctionless intellectualism.

    The old masters of the pulpit got their texts on their knees, soaked them with their tears, groaned over them with a travailing spirit, warmed them with strivings in prayer – then delivered the message as a living thing, warm from God’s heart, burning in the preacher’s heart to make warm the heart of the listeners. There is no substitute for prayer. We cannot tell this highbrow generation with science-soaked intellects what our God can do. We must demonstrate the Gospel!

    A praying church is a womb; a prayerless church is a tomb. A prayerless pastor is a successful failure. Revival is God’s will. The churches’ greatest need and the world’s only hope, apart from the return of our Lord is revival.

    Revival can neither be taught nor bought. The Bible reveals the method. The church supplies the men. Holy Ghost intercession supplies the channel through which it comes. The delay in revival is not from God’s side. “He is able,” but we are deficient, the Spirit is limited in us – “according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20). Unless the power is in, it cannot work out. “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (Acts 19:2).

The Gospel

Four Things You Need to Know About God

1. GOD IS HOLY AND JUST

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face.” (Psalm 89:14)

In civil law, a good judge must punish crime. If he turns a blind eye to injustice, then he is corrupt and he himself should be punished.

In one ten-year period in the United States, 100,000 murderers were never brought to justice. These were unsolved crimes. If God turns a blind eye to those murderers, then He is corrupt by nature. It makes sense that if He is good and just, He should be angry with those who have taken the lives of others, and He should punish murderers, rapists, etc. This is the teaching of the Bible—that God will “by no means clear the guilty.” He “will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” “God is angry with the wicked every day.”

2. HIS WORD SAYS “THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH”

“Sin is transgression of the Law.” (1 John 3:4)

Let’s look briefly at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), and see if we have kept God’s Law:

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me
  2. You shall not make yourself a graven image
  3. You shall not take God’s name in vain
  4. Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. You shall not murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery
  8. You shall not steal
  9. You shall not lie
  10. You shall not covet

Before we say we have obeyed the Commandments, this is what someone would be like if he kept the Law—he would always love God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his strength, and with all his mind, and love his neighbor as much as he has loved himself. He has never made a god to suit himself (either with his hands or in his mind).

He has always given God’s name reverence, kept the Sabbath holy, honored his parents implicitly, and never once has he been “angry with his brother without a cause.” He has never hated anyone, had lust in his heart, or had illicit sex. He has never stolen even a paper clip or ballpoint pen, or told as much as a “white” lie, and not once desired anything that belongs to someone else. He is, and always has been “pure in heart,” perfect in thought, word, and deed.

The truth is, we are not like that. We have all “sinned” many times, and therefore we have stored up God’s wrath, which will be revealed on Judgment Day. The proof that we have sinned will be our death, and after death we must face God in judgment.

Think of it—if He has seen our every thought, word, and deed, and if He is going to bring all of our sins out as evidence of our guilt on the Day of Judgment, we will all be found to be guilty. Our conscience has shown us right from wrong; we will be without excuse. God will give us justice, and Hell will be the place of our eternal punishment. “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.”

3. GOD IS RICH IN MERCY TO ALL THAT CALL UPON HIM

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…” (Ephesians 2:4)

A youth once borrowed a fast car, and in a drunken stupor, sped through his hometown at 120 m.p.h. Since everything was horse-drawn in his country town, there were no laws against speeding. So the council passed a law saying that 30 m.p.h. was the maximum speed, and that any transgressors would be fined $100 for every m.p.h. over the speed limit.

On his way back through the town, the speedster decided to pull the same prank. He was apprehended, tried, and found guilty by his father, who was the town’s only judge. He was fined $9,000, and because he had no money and no words of defense, the youth was led off to prison. As he sat in despair behind bars, his father appeared at the door, and told him that he had sold all his own prized possessions and paid the fine for him. The son couldn’t believe that he loved him that much. They embraced as they never had before, and walked off in a new-found relationship, bonded together with love.

That’s a picture of what God did for us through the gospel

We have all broken God’s Law a multitude of times, but God came to this earth in the person of Jesus Christ, and paid the fine—”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jesus satisfied eternal justice, and then rose from the dead, defeating death. Hundreds saw Him after His resurrection; it’s no fairy tale. Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies about the promised Savior, written in the Holy Scriptures hundreds of years before His birth. But just as we cannot earn a gift, so we cannot earn eternal life by our good works—”For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

4. GOD OFFERS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST

“He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24)

Life’s greatest mystery, death, was destroyed by the One who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” The Bible says, “He who has the Son has life…”

To find the way to God, to understand the truth of God’s Word, and to receive the gift of eternal life, begin by repentance and faith through a prayer like this: “Dear God, I understand that I have broken Your Law and sinned against You. Please forgive my sins. Thank you that Jesus suffered and died on the cross in my place and rose again. I now place my trust in Him as my Savior and Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you have repented and trusted in Jesus, then your sins are forgiven and you can now partake in the blessings of “the New Covenant.” Here are just ten of God’s exceedingly great and precious promises:

  1. You have passed from death into life (Jn. 5:24).
  2. God will supply all of your needs according to His riches (Phil. 4:19).
  3. Jesus will be with you in trials, promising never to leave nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5).
  4. The Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth, and give you the power to live a holy life (Jn. 16:13).
  5. You are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ—God has removed your sins as far as the East is from the West (Ps. 103:12).
  6. As you abide in Christ, you will see the “fruit” of His Spirit begin to manifest in your life (Gal. 5:22-25).
  7. As you read the Bible daily, it will come alive to you and cause you to grow in your faith (1 Pet. 2:1-3).
  8. When you pray, God will hear you and answer your prayers (1 Jn. 5:15).
  9. The cross will be continual evidence of God’s love for you (Rom. 5:8).
  10. God “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24).

Search the Scriptures daily, and see what God has in store for those that love Him. Honor Christ’s command to be baptized, and find yourself a Jesus-centered, Bible-teaching church and commit yourself to it.

May God continue to bless you as you obey Him

FAITH HAS SUCH WONDEROUS POWER THAT IT MAKES US REJOICE EVEN IN TRIAL AND TO BE GLAD EVEN IN THE MIDST OF SORROW

Romans 5:1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

My Friend, are these words true concerning you? Can you put your finger on this verse, and say, “this is true of me, ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have-I have-peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’”? We who have believed in Jesus enjoy that peace, a deep, profound calm is upon our spirit whenever we think of God. We are not afraid of him; we are not afraid to meet him even on his judgment-seat: “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Have you peace with God? Are you sure that you have it? If not, mayhap you are not justified by faith, for that is the root of it: “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 5:2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

This is a golden staircase, justification brings peace, and peace brings access into this grace wherein we are established; and then comes the joy of hope, and that hope fixes its eye on nothing less than the glory of God. Grace is the stepping-stone to glory; and they who are justified by faith shall in due time be glorified by love.

Continue reading “FAITH HAS SUCH WONDEROUS POWER THAT IT MAKES US REJOICE EVEN IN TRIAL AND TO BE GLAD EVEN IN THE MIDST OF SORROW”

WHAT NEEDS MORE PREPARATION -THE SOWER OR THE GROUND?

In most churches, a significant proportion of the budget is assigned to ensure the preaching pastor has sufficient time and resources to prepare sermons. On average, it takes around twenty hours to prepare an expository sermon. When it is a difficult passage or topic, that time allotment increases. Now twenty hours is a big chunk of the pastor’s week, and yet we are prepared to free him up for that commitment, because we believe the sermon is one of the most important weekly activities we undertake. But is our commitment to pastoral-preparation matched by our own congregational preparation? I’m not saying that every parishioner should give twenty hours a week to prepare to listen to a sermon, but there should be some preparation in order to listen well.

What needs more preparation—the sower or the ground? Charles Spurgeon’s comments are appropriate:

We are told men ought not to preach without preparation. Granted, but we add, men ought not to hear without preparation. Which, do you think, needs the most preparation, the sower or the ground? I would have the sower come with clean hands, but I would have the ground well-plowed and harrowed, well-turned over, and the clods broken before the seed comes in. It seems to me that there is more preparation needed by the ground than by the sower, more by the hearer than by the preacher.

Of course, we are not downplaying the effort required from the preacher, but we listeners should consider our efforts too.

This week, I’ll present four pre-sermon spiritual preparations, and then next week, five physical preparations.Here we go with the spiritual preparations . . .

Throughout the week, we should daily be confessing sin (1 John 1:8–10). This is especially important as we approach the sermon event. It will be impossible to listen enthusiastically to God if we are harboring sin in our hearts. In 1 Peter 2:1–3, we are commanded to thirst for the pure milk of the Word, but a prerequisite is listed in that passage—namely, if we do not first put aside “all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” then we will not be able to develop that insatiable, baby-like appetite for the pure milk of the Word. So our first spiritual preparation is to ensure that unconfessed sin is brought into the open. We are to spend time with God in prayer, acknowledging the specific sin, seeking His forgiveness, pleading for a pure heart, and making a commitment to live righteously. If your sin has affected others, you will need to go seek their forgiveness also. Don’t wait until Sunday to do this. Take it seriously, and deal with personal sin as soon as it is brought to your attention.

Second, look up next Sunday’s Bible passage and read it at home during the week. Get your family involved in the process. Meditate on the passage during your quiet time. Write down questions that arise from the text. Fill your mind with the passage, so that when you listen to the sermon you will have a head-start and will already know where the sermon is going. You will be more engaged and your heart will already have been challenged with the spiritual truths that passage contains.

Third, pray for next Sunday’s preacher in the middle of the week. His job is difficult and his responsibility is weighty. Ask a preacher what he wants from his congregation, and most will answer this way: “Please pray for me” (1 Thess 5:252 Thess 3:1Heb 13:18). So ask the Lord to give your pastor grace and wisdom, strength and clarity in his study, so that when he comes to deliver the Lord’s message, he will come with humility and confidence, truth and grace, and integrity and knowledge.

Fourth, pray often for yourself, that God will grow in you a heartfelt expectation of all that will take place in your mind and heart during the sermon experience. Cultivate humility by anticipating spiritual change. Expect God to speak. Expect Him to assault your earthly hangovers. As you walk into church on Sunday morning, deliberately quiet your mind and heart before the sermon and say to yourself: “This is when God speaks to me.”  Pray: “Lord, speak to me. I am listening.” Pray for the work of God’s Spirit to enable you to submit to what the Bible clearly says, and to help you to change.

These four spiritual preparations will be aided greatly by the five practical preparations I’ll post next week.

FOR A SOUL IS OF COUNTLESS PRICE!

If there existed only one man or woman who did not love the Saviour, and if that person lived among the wilds of Siberia, and if it were necessary that all the millions of believers on the face of the earth should journey there, and every one of them plead with him to come to Jesus before he could be converted, it would be well worth all the zeal, labour, and expense. If we had to preach to thousands year after year, and never rescued but one soul, that one soul would be full reward for all our labour, for a soul is of countless price.

On Acts 18:10 – This should be a great encouragement in proclaiming the Gospel, since among the people in our communities—the disinterested, the rebellious, the careless—God has an elect people who must be saved. When you take the Word to them, you do so because God has ordained you to be the messenger of life to their souls, and they must receive it, for so the decree of predestination runs. They are as much redeemed by blood as the saints before the eternal throne. They are Christ’s property, and yet perhaps they are lovers of selfish pleasures and haters of holiness; but if Jesus Christ purchased them, He will have them. God is not unfaithful to forget the price that His Son has paid. He will not suffer His substitution to be in any case an ineffectual, dead thing. Tens of thousands of redeemed ones are not regenerated yet, but regenerated they must be; and this is our comfort when we go to them with the quickening Word of God.

Spurgeon’s best wishes for the new year

I pass on a Spurgeonic, Pyromaniacal, set of prayerful best wishes for the new year: Southey, in his “Solemn Thoughts for New Year’s-day,” bids the melancholy moraliser gather a dark and wintry wreath to engarland the sepulchre of time, “for” saith he, “I pour the dirge of the departed days— For well the funeral song […]

Spurgeon’s best wishes for the new year