En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Archive for November, 2007

Fads Fade, but the Word Stands Forever!

Posted by Scott on November 29, 2007

Fads Fade, but the Word Stands Forever

Bible House(By Phil Johnson)

This concludes Phil’s series on the fad-driven church. For those who missed any of the earlier portions of this series, here are links to the previous posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

As we have seen in the last two posts, the Word of God is both powerful and penetrating. Third—

3. The Word of God is precise.

Notice how this verse describes the ministry of the Word of God as precision surgery, not wanton destruction: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Now, obviously, surgery is ordinarily done with a scalpel, not a sword. Scalpels are small and precise, and razor sharp—just like the Word of God:  “sharper than any twoedged sword.” The surgeon uses a scalpel with great care to cut precisely, sometimes dividing fine layers of tissue with remarkable precision.

That is exactly what is described here. The Word of God divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and it is capable of great discrimination. It discerns “the thoughts and intents of the heart”—something that is not even visible to the human eye.

We cannot look upon the heart—the innermost part of the human soul. First Samuel 16:7: “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but [only] the LORD looketh on the heart.”

We can’t even correctly discern the thoughts and intents of our own hearts.  Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” We are all subject to self-deception and blindness when it comes to judging our own hearts. But the Word of God reveals what is really in our hearts, and it correctly assesses our thoughts and intentions. It shows our motives and our imaginations for what they really are. And that is why it is capable of such precision surgery—even in the deepest recesses of our souls.

Some people misread this phrase “the dividing asunder of soul and spirit”  and imagine that this describes two completely separate parts of the immaterial makeup of our beings. I don’t believe that’s what it is teaching. I realize there  are good Bible teachers who teach that man is a tripartite creature, consisting of body, soul, and spirit. But I don’t think that’s the point of this verse. Scripture often uses the expressions “soul” and “spirit” interchangeably. It is difficult to make any meaningful division between soul and spirit, and that is the whole point.

Just like the “joints and marrow” of your bones and the “thoughts and  intentions” of your heart, these things are so inextricably linked that it’s impossible to separate them without destroying one or the other. They aren’t  separate entities that exist apart from each other. They aren’t distinct human faculties. There is overlap and interdependence. But the Word of God is precise  and exact, and it cuts with painstaking accuracy. It divides what cannot otherwise be divided. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, and yet more precise than any surgeon’s scalpel.

Here’s the point: We ought to make better use of the Word of God in our ministry, and ignore all the evangelical fads that come and go. After all, only the Word of God has the powerful, penetrating precision that is necessary to reach and revitalize hearts that are cold and dead because of  sin. And this is also our clear biblical mandate: “Preach the word . . . in season, out of season”—no matter which way the winds of doctrine are blowing and no  matter how many fads and fashions come and go.

Obey that mandate, and God will bless your ministry. Chase every bandwagon that comes down the road, and you will regret it on that day when you give account for your ministry.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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The Awkward Irony of the Atheist Sunday School!

Posted by Scott on November 29, 2007

Dr. Mohler’s Blog

 

Incongruous as it sounds, atheists are now organizing Sunday Schools. TIME magazine reports that many non-believing parents are concerned that their children are not adequately grounded in secular thought and feel left out of experiences like Sunday School that are common among their friends.

Reporter Jeninne Lee-St. John understands that the idea seems a bit strange. “On Sunday mornings, most parents who don’t believe in the Christian God, or any god at all, are probably making brunch or cheering at their kids’ soccer game, or running errands or, with luck, sleeping in. Without religion, there’s no need for church, right?”

Well, not exactly. Lee-St. John explains this new development:

But some nonbelievers are beginning to think they might need something for their children. “When you have kids,” says Julie Willey, a design engineer, “you start to notice that your co-workers or friends have church groups to help teach their kids values and to be able to lean on.” So every week, Willey, who was raised Buddhist and says she has never believed in God, and her husband pack their four kids into their blue minivan and head to the Humanist Community Center in Palo Alto, Calif., for atheist Sunday school.

Packing the kids in the minivan for atheist Sunday School is likely to sound more than a little strange to those accustomed to more traditional Sunday Schools (that teach children about God) but it is fascinating that atheists are concerned that their children need secular instruction.

It seems that many atheist parents are concerned that their children should learn at an early age how to deal with the challenge of living among Christian believers. Furthermore, these parents want to ensure that their children and teenagers learn their own secular values.

The report explains that the growing number of atheists and non-believers in the nation are becoming more concerned about their children, and are establishing both Sunday Schools and atheist youth camps in order to inculcate secular beliefs and morality within the next generation.

The magazine offers a very interesting description of what goes on at a model atheist Sunday School:

The Palo Alto Sunday family program uses music, art and discussion to encourage personal expression, intellectual curiosity and collaboration. One Sunday this fall found a dozen children up to age 6 and several parents playing percussion instruments and singing empowering anthems like I’m Unique and Unrepeatable, set to the tune of Ten Little Indians, instead of traditional Sunday-school songs like Jesus Loves Me. Rather than listen to a Bible story, the class read Stone Soup, a secular parable of a traveler who feeds a village by making a stew using one ingredient from each home.

Down the hall in the kitchen, older kids engaged in a Socratic conversation with class leader Bishop about the role persuasion plays in decision-making. He tried to get them to see that people who are coerced into renouncing their beliefs might not actually change their minds but could be acting out of self-preservation–an important lesson for young atheists who may feel pressure to say they believe in God.

My guess is that these atheist Sunday Schools will not be as successful as these parents hope. “I’m Unique and Unrepeatable” just can’t really compete with “Jesus Loves Me.” Children have not yet developed cynicism and, in general, are quite eager to believe in God. Children taught from the Bible in Sunday School learn that they were made by a loving God who cares for them — and then move on to learn much more about what the Bible teaches. No “secular parable” can compete with that.

In a strange way, the rise of atheist Sunday Schools illustrates the central dilemma of atheism itself. Try as they may, atheists cannot avoid talking about God — even if only to insist that they do not believe in Him. Now, atheist parents are organizing Sunday Schools as a parallel to the Christian practice. In effect, atheists are organizing themselves in a way similar to a local church. At least some of them must sense the awkward irony in that.

By Dr. Mohler Jr.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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-From A Dad: Devotional For Dads/Psalm 119:1-8 One

Posted by Scott on November 29, 2007

All of us dads have times in our lives when we feel like we are being chased and persecuted by our enemies.  It does not matter how spiritual we seem to be or our devotion to God…the enemy will attack without notice.  Sometimes it depresses us, causes us ulcers, gives us a headache that seems to never go away, drives us to anger, and at other times it creates in our minds a sense of helplessness.  Psalm 119 has been instrumental through my trials and tribulations as I long to experience the fullness of God Himself and deal with each issue that thrust its way into my life.  In my in-depth look into the heart and mind of God I have found a place of solitude that surpasses anything I have experienced in my life.  In the midst of praying through Psalm 119 a divine devotion has grown from the fertile ground that God placed His word in….my heart!

I will share with you on a daily basis the verses and devotion that God so poetically engraved into the soul of my being.  I encourage you to glean from the passages and testimony the encouragement, instructions, promises, and restful peace that is found there.

-Day One-

Psalm 119:1-8 (1599 Geneva Bible Translation):

Blessed are those that are upright in their way, and walk in the Law of the Lord.” 

-Those are blessed that keep their conversation and ways without hypocrisy.  They are not blessed who think themselves wise by their own judgement with no regard for God’s wisdom.  Nor is this blessedness for those that think themselves with a certain kind of high holiness.

“Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and seek Him with their whole heart.”

“Surely they work none iniquity, but walk in His ways.”

-These are under God’s rule and embrace no other doctrine but His.

“Thou hast commanded to keep thy precepts diligently.”

“Oh that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!”

-Here David is acknowledging his imperction, but he desires that God reforms his life and conforms it to God’s word.

“Then should I not be confounded, when I have respect unto all my commandments.”

“I will praise thee with an upright heart, when I shall learn the judgements of thy righteousness.”

-True religion stands in serving God without hypocrisy.  In God’s precepts is His perfect righteousness.

“I will keep thy statutes, forsake me not overlong.”

-David refuses to be tried by these temptations, however, he fears that he may faint if God does not aid him in his troubles in time.

_________

Integrity is a hard characteristic to develop, but our joy is found in the law and instruction of the Lord.  This integrity will be challenged on a daily basis by our enemies.  As we are obedient to His commands and search diligently for Him with our whole heart we will discover Him in ways we never could have imagined.  Sometimes in prayer I find myself groaning from the depths of myself that I did not know existed.  This groaning comes during times of great distress and even in times of deep depression.  The Holy Spirit takes those groanings to the very throne of our merciful Majesty in heaven and turns it into words that God will understand and has been waiting to hear.  Psalm 34:18-19 (NLT) says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, He rescues those who are crushed in spirit.  The righteous face many troubles, but the Lord rescues them from each and every one.” When we are at our lowest point and groanings begin to growl out of our mouths from our hearts that are broken, God is there to rescue us and pick up the pieces of our lives that have been left shattered in the wake of the storm.  The Lord tells us that we will encounter many troubles…it does not give us an option in that.  However, He will rescue us from each and every trouble…guaranteed!  It will be according to His graciousness and richness, but whatever way God chooses to rescue us will be the best way and we can all rest assuredly in that.

As a father of 10 children I find that I must stay the course and not compromise with evil doers or compromise my integrity for anything.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect by any means and fail daily, but the goal is to stay on course and correct known mistakes immediately.  No amount of money, wealth, or instant gratification is worth lowering my standards for.  Praise Him always and rejoice in the Lord.  We will not be disgraced no matter what people may try to do to us as long as we keep His commandments and word.  It has been my goal daily to consistently be a reflection of principles of my heavenly Father.  So, as always I ask the Lord not to give up on me even though I may fail from time to time.  I cry out daily for new mercies, so I can make it through another day.  I am guaranteed that He keeps His promises always.  Jesus has told those of us that are weary and heavy hearted to place all our cares upon Him and take His rest.  So, rest in the peace that God will give and believe that He will see you through.  We will never know the depths to which God may draw His peace, rest, encouragement, rescue, wealth, healing, and more from…He has already charted a trail for us to follow in His word and I intend to do my best within the power of the Holy Spirit to stay on that trail…bumps, cliffs, trees, tall weeds, beast, and all.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007

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-From A Dad: Praying Dads Through Psalm 119-Week One!

Posted by Scott on November 29, 2007

Each day of our lives takes on new meaning.  As a dad of 10 children, each day for me is heavily weighed upon my back. In my efforts to make sure I pray according to God’s will I started using Psalm 119 as my guide.  I can identify with David in so many ways as he had a time in En Gedi running for his life from false accusers and slanderers.  This prompted me to pray through different sections of Psalm 119 each day in my words as I pray using Psalm 119 as a basic guide.  So, the prayers are based on the passages, but many of the words come from a groaning deep within my heart as the Spirit influenced them to be uttered.  I encourage any reader to use this as a simple guideline to utter your own prayers.  Remember, the prayer Jesus uses that is call “The Lord’s Prayer” is a model of prayer, not a prayer that needs to be recited word for word all the time, but as Christ said “pray like this”.  All the honor and glory belong to our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Psalm 119:1-8

-Day One-

“Lord Most High, how joyful I am as You grow my integrity through the troubles of life You draw me into and as I strive to follow your word.  Anyone that obeys your commands and decrees will be happy and joyful all the days of our life.  Heavenly Father, I search for You with all my mind and heart.  Each day I work hard not to compromise with evil, for my hearts desire is only to walk the trails You have set before me.  Sovereign Lord, you have charged me to keep Your commandments carefully.  I pray that my actions and choices will consistently reflect Your principles.  When I compare my life to Your commands I will not be disgraced.  As I learn of Your righteous laws each day, Lord, I want to thank You by living as I am suppose to as I am now free to do.  I want to be to the praise of Your glory all the days of my life.  Gracious Father, I will obey Your principles, so, please don’t give up on me.  Lord, I look for Your new mercies each day.  AMEN.”

____________________

Psalm 119:9-16

-Day Two-

“O Glorious Lord, how can a young person stay pure?  By being obedient to Your word and following each of Your instructions carefully.  I am seeking after You with all my heart and soul.  Father, please, never let me wander away from Your commands and Your word.  It is daily I hide Your word deep into my heart, so that I can fight off the sin that wants to prevail against You, my Lord.  Bless You, my King, please, keep teaching me Your principles.  I recite each and everyday in my heart all the scripture You have hidden there.  I am rejoicing in Your mighty promises and instructions more than even in great wealth.  Sovereign Father, I will continue to meditate on Your ways.  It is so wonderful to be delighted in Your principles, Your instruction, and help me, O Lord, to not forget Your infallible word.  AMEN.”

____________________

Psalm 119:17-24

-Day Three-

“Almighty God, please be gracious to Your humble servant, so that I can  llive and obey Your word.  Please, help me to open the eyes to my heart and see Your wonderful truths that are all throughout the scriptures.  As a chosen child of Yours, my heavenly Father, I am a stranger in this world.  Daily I am in great need  of Your guidance from the commands in Your word.  O my Providential God, please never hide Your word from me.  Today, I am so overwhelmed with a deep desire for Your word.  Lord, You are holy to the point of rebuking those proud people who have rejected Your word and Your truth.  My Lord, please don’t let them ridicule and insult me, for I have labored to obey Your commands.  Although people in high places may speak out against me, even so I will continue to meditate on Your truth and Your principles.  Sovereign Father, Your word is pleasing to my soul.  Your word gives me the wise advice I need on a daily basis.  AMEN.”

____________________

Psalm 119:25-32

-Day Four-

Merciful Father, I set here as though in a heap of ashes and dust completely discouraged and depressed.  Please, revive me with Your comforting word.  My plans have been revealed to You from within my own heart and You have answered me.  O Lord, teach me Your principles and truth.  Help me to understand what You are saying within Your word and I will meditate on Your wonderful miracles of the past along with each beautiful event.  This day, I just caught up with tears and grief over my current troubles.  Lord, please send me encouragement by Your wonderful word.  Keep me from beating myself up everyday, and grant me the privilege of knowing and experiencing Your truth.  I have chosen in my mind to be faithful, I have decided to live by Your awesome instructions as I cling to Your every word.  Glorious Father, please, don’t let me be put to shame.  If You will give me the help I need, I will certainly run with all my might and speed to follow Your commands.  AMEN!”

____________________

Psalm 119:33-40

-Day Five-

“My Majesty on high, teach me to follow closely after You.  Teach me to follow every single one of Your principles and instructions.  Lord, please help me to understand Your commands, so, I will be obedient to You; For I strive to practice Your ways with my whole heart.  Push me along the trails of Your commands, this is the place I will find true joy.  Father, I want a desire and eagerness for Your word that cannot be quenched.  Help me not to seek out after money and materialism so that nothing can come between our relationship!  Lord, place blinders on my eyes so that I cannot focus on worthless worldly ideas, but do grant me a life that is solidly founded on Your holy word.  Father, show me with reassurance of Your ways, which will bring about honor to Your name.  My gracious Lord, I do not want to live in my former selfish ways with shameful desires.  All I desire is to live in accordance to Your clear instructions.  Father, I so long to be obedient to Your commands.  Please, renew my life today with all of Your graciousness and goodness that is in You.  May the life I live be to the praise of Your glory always. AMEN!”

____________________

This is the first week of prayers in Psalm 119:1-40.  The second week is forth coming.  I do hope that someone can be blessed by it and that it may in some way help you to pray when words are hard to come by.  I have been through the dry spells before when words just were not there and I did not know what to pray.  I understand what it is like to set there early in the morning wanting to speak wtih God, but nothing comes out…our Lord understands this as well.  The Holy Spirit can draw prayers out of us and God’s word is full of model prayers to help us get out what we are trying to say or to simply get started.  Do not be discouraged, God is there waiting to hear from you when your heart is so inclined to speak with Him.  May the Lord bless and answer each prayer.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007

 

 

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The Bible-Better Than Any Fad!

Posted by Scott on November 28, 2007

New Article from Pulpit Magazine

Better Than Any Fad

 

God's Word is better than any fad(By Phil Johnson)

This is continued from last Tuesday’s series on the ”fad-driven” church. This article is adapted from the transcript to Phil’s 2005 Shepherds’ Conference seminar on this topic.

We left off, in the last post with this thought:

Scripture is better than any fad. Preaching the Word of God is more effective than any new methodology contemporary church experts have ever invented. I don’t care who thinks preaching is “broken.” If we would get back to the clear proclamation and exposition of God’s Word, everything that’s broken about contemporary preaching would be fixed.

The nature of God’s Word guarantees that. And that’s exactly what I want to do in the time we have remaining in this session. I want to preach to you about the superiority and the excellence of Scripture.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

That’s a rich text, full of meaning, but let me take a few minutes to try to isolate what seem to me the three main qualities of the Word of God that are highlighted in this text, and let’s carefully consider what they mean.

First of all, it teaches us that—

1. The Word of God is powerful.

The King James Version says, “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” Quick, of course, is the old English word for “living.” I was surprised in reading John Owen’s commentary on Hebrews that even though he wrote in the 1600s, he had to explain the word quick to his readers. He referred to the word quick as an improper translation, because, he said, “that word doth more ordinarily signify ‘speedy,’ than ‘living.’” So I don’t know when the word quick stopped meaning “alive,” but it was apparently before John Owen’s time.

I grew up in a church where we used to recite the traditional version of the Apostles’ Creed, which says, Christ “ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” And that made perfect sense to me. I figured “the quick” were those who made it through the crosswalk, and “the dead” were those who didn’t.

But, of course, quick in this kind of context just means “alive” or “living,” and that is what this text is saying. “The Word of God is living.” That’s the correct sense. It speaks of vitality, life, activity, energy. The Word of God has a life-force that is unlike any merely human book. It is not only alive; it has the power to impart life to those who are spiritually dead. Jesus said in John 6:63: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” First Peter 1:23: “[We are] born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” James 1:18: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.” Psalm 119:50: “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” “Your word has given me life.”

You can take all the great books and all the great literature in the world combined, and they do not have this life-giving power. No book changes lives like the Word of God. You might occasionally hear a person say, “that self-help book transformed my life”; or “that diet book was revolutionary”; or “that book on philosophy changed the way I think.” Rick Warren makes a promise in the introduction to The Purpose Driven Life that his book will change your life.

But the life-giving and life-changing power of the Bible is something far deeper than any other book can legitimately claim. The Word of God renews the heart by giving spiritual life to the spiritually dead. It changes our character at an essential, fundamental level. It transforms our desires and impacts us at a moral level no human literature can touch. It brings a kind of cleansing and renewal and sanctification that no other book could ever claim to offer. It resurrects the soul. It has the same creative power in the command of God when He said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”

The Word of God is inherently powerful. It has a kind of life and vitality that is unlike merely human words. Proverbs 6:22–23 says this about the Word of God: “When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” And a familiar passage, 2 Timothy 3:16–17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

No other book has that effect. It rebukes us. It chastens us. It comforts us. It guides us and gives light to our path. It preaches to us. It restrains our foot from evil. It frowns on us when we sin. It warms our hearts with assurance. It encourages us with its promises. It stimulates our faith. It builds us up. It ministers to our every need. It is alive and dynamic.

And the vitality of Scripture is eternal and abiding. In John 6:68, Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” The eternality of divine life is perfectly embodied in the Word of God. Again, Jesus said (Mark 13:31), “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” Psalm 119:89: “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” First Peter 1:25: “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”

Every page of the Bible has a life-changing power that is just as fresh as the day it was written. We don’t have to make it come alive; it is both alive and active. It is always relevant, eternally applicable, speaking to the heart with a power that is unlike even the greatest of human works. The thoughts and opinions of men come and go. They fall from fashion and fade from memory. But the Word of God remains “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.”

And what is true of the whole is true of the parts. Every part of Scripture is alive and powerful. Proverbs 30:5: “Every word of God is pure.” Jesus said “Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” gives life and sustenance. That’s why Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”

I’m always amazed at the passages of Scripture that have been instrumental in bringing people to Christ. I’ve told you before how I came to saving faith in Christ by reading 1 Corinthians as a senior in high school. The passage that drew me to Christ is not one you would necessarily think of as an evangelistic text. First Corinthians 3:18: “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” But it rebuked my sin and turned me to Christ.

I have heard people tell how they were awakened to eternal life by verses from the gospels, the epistles, the psalms, and even some of the obscure parts of the Old Testament. I doubt there’s a page anywhere in Scripture that has not at some time or some place been used by the Spirit of God to convert a soul. None of it is superfluous. Second Timothy 3:16 again: “All scripture is . . . profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

My friend Joe Aleppo, who is here this week, introduced me to a man in Sicily who came to Christ during a severe paper shortage after World War II because of a single page of Scripture from a Bible someone had thrown away. Paper was almost impossible to come by, so merchants used old newspapers and other scrap paper to wrap whatever they sold in the marketplace. This man went to the fish market and bought a fish. When he unwrapped it at home, one of the papers used to make the package was a page from a discarded New Testament. He read it, and this man who had been a lifelong Roman Catholic and had never before read a verse of the Bible for himself became a believer. That man’s conversion was the beginning of the first significant Protestant movement on the island of Sicily.

The Word of God is powerful. The Greek word translated “powerful” in Hebrews 4:12 is energes, which is the source of our English word “energetic.” It’s translated “active” in some versions, and that’s a good translation. It speaks of something that is dynamic, operative, and effectual. The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:13): “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”

The Word of God always works effectually. It always accomplishes its intended purpose. In Isaiah 55:11, God says, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

Sometimes God’s purpose is rebuke and correction; sometimes it is instruction and edification. Sometimes it is blessing; sometimes it is judgment. The gospel is “the savour of death unto death” for some; for others, it is “the savour of life unto life.” Either way, the Word of God is effectual, productive, powerful. It always produces the effect God intends.

That’s why preachers ought to preach the Word instead of telling stories and doing comedy. That’s where the power for ministry resides: in the Word. It’s not in our cleverness or our oratorical skills. The power is in the Word of God. And our task is simple: all we have to do is make the Bible’s meaning plain, proclaim it with accuracy and clarity. And the Spirit of God uses His Word to transform lives. The power is in the Word, not in any technique or program.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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The Bounty of the Destitute!

Posted by Scott on November 28, 2007

My Utmost for His Highest

The Bounty Of The Destitute

Being justified freely by His grace…

Click link below to study this verse: Romans 3:24
http://www.studylight.org/desk/?query=ro+3:24

The Gospel of the grace of God awakens an intense longing in human
souls
and an equally intense resentment, because the revelation which it
brings
is not palatable. There is a certain pride in man that will give and
give,
but to come and accept is another thing. I will give my life to
martyrdom,
I will give myself in consecration, I will do anything, but do not
humiliate me to the level of the most hell-deserving sinner and tell me
that all I have to do is to accept the gift of salvation through Jesus
Christ.

We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God; we
must
either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest blessing
spiritually is the knowledge that we are destitute; until we get there
Our
Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us if we think we are
sufficient
of ourselves, we have to enter into His Kingdom through the door of
destitution. As long as we are rich, possessed of anything in the way
of
pride or independence, God cannot do anything for us. It is only when
we
get hungry spiritually that we receive the Holy Spirit. The gift of the
essential nature of God is made effectual in us by the Holy Spirit, He
imparts to us the quickening life of Jesus, which puts “the beyond”
within, and immediately “the beyond” has come within, it rises up to
“the
above,” and we are lifted into the domain where Jesus lives. (John
3:5.)

————————————————————————-

Taken from ‘My Utmost for His Highest’, by Oswald Chambers. © l935 by
Dodd
Mead & Co., renewed &copy; 1963 by the Oswald Chambers Publications
Assn.,
Ltd., and is used by permission of Barbour Publishing, Uhrichsville,
Ohio
.
All rights reserved.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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TULIP-Calvinism!

Posted by Scott on November 28, 2007

 Calvinism


The Five Points of Calvinism


This system of theology was reaffirmed by the Synod of Dordt in 1619 as the doctrine of salvation contained in the Holy Scriptures. The system was at that time formulated into “five points” in answer to the unscriptural five points submitted by the Arminians to the Church of Holland in 1610.


According to Calvinism:

Salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the Gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation.


The Five Points of Calvinism are easily remembered by the acrostic TULIP


An Estimate of:
   • Calvin’s Character – A must read!
   • Calvin’s Work 
     _________________
   • The Closing Scenes of Calvin’s Life
   • The Will of John Calvin
   • Calvin’s Commentaries

T

Total Depravity (Total Inability)

Total Depravity is probably the most misunderstood tenet of Calvinism. When Calvinists speak of humans as “totally depraved,” they are making an extensive, rather than an intensive statement. The effect of the fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of his personality — his thinking, his emotions, and his will. Not necessarily that he is intensely sinful, but that sin has extended to his entire being.

The unregenerate (unsaved) man is dead in his sins (Romans 5:12). Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel (Mark 4:11f). This is why Total Depravity has also been called “Total Inability.” The man without a knowledge of God will never come to this knowledge without God’s making him alive through Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5).


U

Unconditional Election

Unconditional Election is the doctrine which states that God chose those whom he was pleased to bring to a knowledge of himself, not based upon any merit shown by the object of his grace and not based upon his looking forward to discover who would “accept” the offer of the gospel. God has elected, based solely upon the counsel of his own will, some for glory and others for damnation (Romans 9:15,21). He has done this act before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4-8).

This doctrine does not rule out, however, man’s responsibility to believe in the redeeming work of God the Son (John 3:16-18). Scripture presents a tension between God’s sovereignty in salvation, and man’s responsibility to believe which it does not try to resolve. Both are true — to deny man’s responsibility is to affirm an unbiblical hyper-calvinism; to deny God’s sovereignty is to affirm an unbiblical Arminianism.

The elect are saved unto good works (Ephesians 2:10). Thus, though good works will never bridge the gulf between man and God that was formed in the Fall, good works are a result of God’s saving grace. This is what Peter means when he admonishes the Christian reader to make his “calling” and “election” sure (2 Peter 1:10). Bearing the fruit of good works is an indication that God has sown seeds of grace in fertile soil.


L

Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption)

Limited Atonement is a doctrine offered in answer to the question, “for whose sins did Christ atone?” The Bible teaches that Christ died for those whom God gave him to save (John 17:9). Christ died, indeed, for many people, but not all (Matthew 26:28). Specifically, Christ died for the invisible Church — the sum total of all those who would ever rightly bear the name “Christian” (Ephesians 5:25).

This doctrine often finds many objections, mostly from those who think that Limited Atonement does damage to evangelism. We have already seen that Christ will not lose any that the father has given to him (John 6:37). Christ’s death was not a death of potential atonement for all people. Believing that Jesus’ death was a potential, symbolic atonement for anyone who might possibly, in the future, accept him trivializes Christ’s act of atonement. Christ died to atone for specific sins of specific sinners. Christ died to make holy the church. He did not atone for all men, because obviously all men are not saved. Evangelism is actually lifted up in this doctrine, for the evangelist may tell his congregation that Christ died for sinners, and that he will not lose any of those for whom he died!


I

Irresistible Grace

The result of God’s Irresistible Grace is the certain response by the elect to the inward call of the Holy Spirit, when the outward call is given by the evangelist or minister of the Word of God. Christ, himself, teaches that all whom God has elected will come to a knowledge of him (John 6:37). Men come to Christ in salvation when the Father calls them (John 6:44), and the very Spirit of God leads God’s beloved to repentance (Romans 8:14). What a comfort it is to know that the gospel of Christ will penetrate our hard, sinful hearts and wondrously save us through the gracious inward call of the Holy Spirit (I Peter 5:10)!


P

Perseverance of the Saints

Perseverance of the Saints is a doctrine which states that the saints (those whom God has saved) will remain in God’s hand until they are glorified and brought to abide with him in heaven. Romans 8:28-39 makes it clear that when a person truly has been regenerated by God, he will remain in God’s stead. The work of sanctification which God has brought about in his elect will continue until it reaches its fulfillment in eternal life (Phil. 1:6). Christ assures the elect that he will not lose them and that they will be glorified at the “last day” (John 6:39). The Calvinist stands upon the Word of God and trusts in Christ’s promise that he will perfectly fulfill the will of the Father in saving all the elect.


This description of the Five Points of Calvinism was written by Jonathan Barlow who acknowledges that not all those bearing the name “Calvinist” would agree with every jot and tittle of this document.-Scott Bailey 2007

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Ten Great Christian Biographies!

Posted by Scott on November 28, 2007

Dr. Albert Mohler Jr. recommends: 

  

 We read biographies because worthy portraits of our fellow human beings help us to make sense of the world. We are especially fascinated by the lives of those who have made a difference in the world — whose mark remains visible even now. The lives of the famous and the infamous make for compelling reading.

As Benjamin Disraeli, a famous author as well as Queen Victoria’s favorite Prime Minister, once remarked, biography is “life without theory.” In other words, at their best biographies take us into the real lives of real persons as they were really lived. No life can be reduced to a written biography, of course, and no biography can consider all aspects of even a single life. Every biographer picks and chooses from the available data of a life. Nevertheless, we are drawn into these lives as we read compelling biographies.

Reading the biographies of persons whose lives represent a significant influence on the Christian church is especially enriching. Each of the biographies listed below invites the reader into an adventure that is both literary and theological. These are ten of the biographies I consider most important from recent decades. They are listed in chronological order rather than by ranked importance.

Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (Berkeley: University of California Press), 1967, revised edition 2000.

Brown’s rendering of Augustine is essential reading for the Christian serious about the history of the church. His revised edition makes use of valuable materials discovered since the book’s first edition was published in 1967. Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University, Brown reveals the genius of Augustine and takes us into his inner life and historical context. One cannot understand the Reformers without understanding the influence of Augustine on their theology and, specifically, their understandings of sin and grace.

Excerpt:

Not every man lives to see the fundamentals of his life’s work challenged in his old age. Yet this is what happened to Augustine during the Pelagian controversy. At the time that the controversy opened, he had reached a plateau. He was already enmeshed in a reputation that he attempted to disown with characteristic charm: “Cicero, the prince of Roman orators,” he wrote to Marcellinus in 412, “says of someone that ‘He never uttered a word which he would wish to recall.’ High praise indeed! — but more applicable to a complete ass than to a genuinely wise man . . . . If God permit me, I shall gather and point out, in a work specially devoted to this purpose, all the things which justly displease me in my books: then men will see that I am far from being a biased judge in my own case. . . . For I am the sort of man who writes because he has made progress, and who makes progress — by writing.”

G. K. Chesterton, Saint Thomas Aquinas — “The Dumb Ox” (New York: Doubleday, 1933/1956).

Chesterton’s biographical portrait of Aquinas is masterful — as such because Chesterton wrote it as well as because it is about the most significant figure in medieval Christianity. This is a brilliant exercise in biography, and the most accessible way to understand Aquinas and his thought.

Excerpt:

Of the personal habits that go with the personal physique, we have also a few convincing and confirming impressions. When he was not sitting still, reading a book, he walked round and round the cloisters and walked fast and even furiously, a very characteristic action of men who fight their battles in the mind. Whenever he was interrupted, he was very polite and more apologetic than the apologizer. But there was that about him, which suggested that he was rather happier when he was not interrupted. He was ready to stop his truly Peripatetic tramp: but we feel that when he resumed it, he walked all the faster.

Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1950).

If just starting to read Christian biography, start here. Bainton has written what must be the last century’s most popular and accessible biography of a Christian figure — at least among evangelicals. Luther comes alive through Bainton’s words, and in Here I Stand we find Luther in all his greatness, warts and all.

Excerpt:

Katie soon had more than Luther to think about. On October 21, 1525, Luther confided to a friend, “My Katherine is fulfilling Genesis 1:28.” On May 26, 1526, he wrote to another, “There is about to be born a child of a monk and a nun. Such a child must have a great Lord for a godfather. Therefore I am inviting you. I cannot be precise as to the time.” On the eighth of June went out the news, “My dear Katie brought into the world yesterday by God’s grace at two o’clock a little son, Hans Luther. I must stop. Sick Katie calls me.” When the baby was bound in swaddling clothes, Luther said, “Kick, little fellow. That is what the pope did to me, but I got loose.” The next entry in Han’s curriculum vitae was this: “Hans is cutting his teeth and beginning to make a joyous nuisance of himself. These are the joys of marriage of which the pope is not worthy.” On the arrival of a daughter Luther wrote to a prospective godmother, “Dear lady, God has produced from me and my wife a little heathen. We hope you will be willing to become her spiritual mother and help make her a Christian.”

David Daniell, William Tyndale: A Biography (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994).

This is a remarkable biography of a remarkable man. As Daniell recounts, we all stand in Tyndale’s debt in ways most of us never consider. A martyr for the faith, a translator of incalculable genius, and a life at the center of a great epoch — in William Tyndale we meet a man who literally gave his life for the furtherance of the Word. Incredibly, no biography of Tyndale emerged in the six decades prior to Daniell’s work. His biography was worth the wait.

Excerpt:

That is Tyndale’s first page; it is possible for a late twentieth-century reader to see it as unexceptional, even mild, and ever rather over-obvious, and to begin to patronise Tyndale. Yet the page, printed in English in 1525, contained high explosive. Inside the reasonableness of tone, stating the need for a New Testament in English as, to borrow a phrase, a truth universally acknowledged; a truth so obvious that it would be superfluous to explain, and only those who were blind or malicious or mad could deny it, as it would be mad to say that the Bible in English would cause evil, darkness and lying — inside that mildness was an attack on the Church so dangerous that it could only be countered by the most vicious burnings, of books and men and women. These first sentences of Tyndale have a calm that suggests that Tyndale himself does not understand yet that this work, and he himself, will be answered with hatred and burning.

Alister E. McGrath, A Life of John Calvin (London: Blackwell, 1993).

Oddly enough, John Calvin has not attracted the same volume of biographical attention that has collected around Martin Luther. This is a lack that cries out for attention, especially given the grotesque distortions of Calvin’s life and thought that prevail in so many quarters. Alister McGrath’s A Life of John Calvin is the best biography available at present, and it is well crafted for both academic and non-academic readers.

Excerpt:

His importance lies primarily, but by no means exclusively, in his being a religious thinker. To describe him as a ‘theologian’ is proper but misleading, given the modern associations of the term. A theologian is one who is generally seen to be marginalized as an irrelevance by church and academy alike, whose public is limited to a severely restricted circle of fellow theologians, and whose ideas and methods are generally derived from other intellectual disciplines. The originality, power and influence of Calvin’s religious ideas forbid us to speak of him merely as a ‘theologian’ — though that he certainly was — in much the same way it is inadequate to refer to Lenin as a mere political theorist. Through his remarkable ability to master languages, media and ideas, his insights into the importance of organization and social structures, and his intuitive grasp of the religious needs and possibilities of his era, Calvin was able to forge an alliance between religious thought and action which made Calvinism a wonder of its age.

George M. Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003).

Yale University Press continues its invaluable service in publishing the collected works of America’s greatest theologian — a project that continues to amaze, volume by worthy volume. With George Marsden’s biography of Edwards, the press has now published the most important biographical work on Edwards to be released in recent decades as well. The work is massive (How could it be otherwise?) and bold.

Excerpt:

Jonathan’s exhilarating reading of Locke, Newton, and a host of other modern thinkers convinced him that he stood at a pivotal point in New England’s history. This sense grew out of his personal experience. During the early years of such reading, his orthodoxy stood on shaky ground. Almost all modern thinkers professed a defended Christianity; yet virtually all, like Locke, endorsed a broader, more tolerant, and more “reasonable” religion than Jonathan had learned in Connecticut. As a young teenager he had thought of many reasons to doubt the Calvinist teaching of the total sovereignty of God, and these new authors may have reinforced those doubts.

Soon, however, the effect became almost the opposite. Somehow in the midst of his study and his agonizing spiritual searching, his doubts about divine sovereignty dissolved without his quite knowing why. By the time of the electrifying ecstasies of his conversion experience in the spring of his first graduate year, he was also enthralled by a sense of a special calling. He felt called to use the new learning in defense of God’s eternal word.

Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, 2 volumes (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1970).

Dallimore’s biography of Whitefield is among the greatest in terms of sheer inspiration and the urgency of Whitefield’s example. Lessons from Whitefield are worth this two-volume biography and more, and Dallimore takes his readers into the heart of Whitefield’s life and ministry.

Excerpt:

Open-air preaching is now so commonplace that it is difficult to realize how outlandish it seemed then.  There had long been propaganda to the effect that any display of spiritual earnestness might lead to trouble — even to civil disorder — and the generality of Englishmen believed it.  Public opinion confined the clergyman to a narrow area of activity, and though this might include such things as drunkenness and gambling, it left no room for evangelistic fervor.  Whitefield knew that were he to preach in the fields his enemies would make loud outcry, hurling the word enthusiast, ridiculing him personally and using his action as a means of bringing the whole revival movement into disrepute.

But, being soon to return to America, Whitefield could not long delay his decision.  Accordingly, shortly after his correspondence with Harris, he made up his mind:  he would take the momentous step, making at least one attempt at the open-air preaching.

Robert Moats Miller, Harry Emerson Fosdick: Preacher, Pastor, Prophet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).

A biography of twentieth-century America’s most notorious liberal pastor belongs on this list?  Yes — precisely for that reason.  Evangelicals need to understand why Modernism and Liberalism attracted so many followers, and what happened to the liberal churches and denominations as a result.  All of the other figures on this list would be in agreement in judging Harry Emerson Fosdick to be a heretic — and they would be right.  In his fascinating biography of Fosdick, Miller takes us into the culture and mind of liberal Protestantism through the life of its most influential preacher.  Evangelicals reading this biography will recognize that many of Fosdick’s most dangerous ideas are appearing once more, sometimes from the mouths and pens of some who claim to be evangelicals — as Fosdick also claimed to be.

Excerpt:

For Fosdick, the Bible cannot always be taken literally, but it should always be taken seriously.  For Fosdick, the Bible is not a revelation from God, but it is a revelation of God.  He maintained that the Bible contains the Word of God, but not that it is the Word of God.  It is an “invaluable laboratory manual which records all phases of man’s life with God and God’s dealing with men.”  It is “a priceless treasury of spiritual truth, and from it have come the basic ideas and ideals on which the best of our democratic culture is founded.”  It is “an amazing compendium of every kind of situation in human experience with the garnered wisdom of the ages to help in meeting them.”  Many critics found these statements appallingly sub-Christian.

D. G. Hart, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 1994).

Gresham Machen is the perfect character to follow Harry Emerson Fosdick, for in Machen we find orthodoxy’s greatest defender against the Modernist assault.  D. G. Hart provides a brilliant analysis of Machen’s life and impact in this interpretive biography.  Most importantly, Hart places the life of Machen in the context of Machen’s times and the crisis that conservative Protestantism faced in the early twentieth century — and in so many ways faces still.

Excerpt:

An extreme example of Machen’s concern for language came in the sermon that sent Henry Van Dyke looking for another church.  Here Machen parodied the liberal notion that each generation had to interpret the Bible or the creed according to its own time and place.  Did not the modernist preacher, Machen wondered, hold to a static view of language when it came to such questions as whether six times nine equaled fifty-four or whether the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia? Why, then, was the theological affirmation of Christ’s resurrection any different?  According to Machen, the standard liberal response was “Of course we accept the proposition that ‘the third day he arose again from the dead'” but because each generation has a right to interpret the creed in its own way “we interpret that to mean ‘the third day He did not rise again from the dead.'”  Machen’s own rejoinder was to fear for the future of language.  “If everything that I say can be “‘interpreted’ to mean its exact opposite, what is the use of saying anything at all?”

Iain H. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years, 1899-1939 and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith, 1939-1981 (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1982, 1990).

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, for decades pastor at London’s Westminster Chapel, was one of the greatest expositors of the twentieth century.  Beyond this, he stood at the center of the century’s great events and controversies.  In Iain Murray’s wonderful two-volume biography “The Doctor” and his ministry are presented and interpreted by one who worked alongside Dr. Lloyd-Jones and knew him well.

Excerpt:

Parallel with Lloyd-Jones’ observance of the world around him, but ultimately more decisive, was the growing recognition which came to him of his own sinfulness.  He began to recognise that sin was much more profound than such acts are commonly recognised as immoral: there is a wrongfulness in man’s very desires.  What the Apostle Paul calls ‘the lusts of the mind’ — pride, jealousy, envy, malice, anger, bitterness –are all part of the very same disease.  Even in the mind, his highest faculty, man has become a fool.  As this fact slowly dawned on Lloyd-Jones at about the age of twenty-three, his estimate of his own life was changed.  The very debates which he had so enjoyed on religious subjects he discovered to be nothing but evidence of his own depravity. Preaching in later years on the ‘lusts of the mind,’ he made one of his rare personal allusions when he declared:  ‘As I was preparing this sermon it filled me with a loathing and a hatred of myself.  I look back and I think of the hours I have wasted in mere talk and argumentation.  And it was all with one end only, simply to gain my point and to show how clever I was.

More lists to follow.  Read, learn, enjoy . . . and suggest yet other biographies worthy of the serious Christian’s attention and reading.

ALSO RECOMMENDED READING BY SCOTT BAILEY 2007

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Thinking Christianly!

Posted by Scott on November 28, 2007

Thinking Christianly

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: 2 Timothy 3:14-17

. . . continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of . . . (2 Timothy 3:14b).

Timothy acted upon what he had learned. You do not really believe something until you practice it. James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). It does not do a bit of good to say you believe the Bible from cover to cover, like some people do. Do what it says. Practice the truth; act on it; take it to heart. The process begins with the mind’s being instructed, then the heart’s being fully convinced. Then you practice what you believe.

I do not know what it was that may have helped Timothy, but I am sure that when he read a statement like, “Do not lie to each other” (Colossians 3:9), he was careful to watch his words and stop lying, if that was what he was doing. When he read, “Bless those who persecute you” (Romans 12:14), he realized that even though he, like everyone else, felt anger rising within him and he wanted to strike back when he was mistreated, that was the wrong thing to do. The Word of God taught that it was necessary for him to lean on the grace of God, to pray for people and find a way to do something good rather than evil in return. The apostle suggests two factors here that helped Timothy believe the Scriptures.

First, the Scriptures came to him through certain loved and trusted people. “You know those from whom you learned it,” Paul says. One of the things that makes believing the Bible much easier is when it comes to us through people we trust. In Timothy’s case, his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, were the channels by which he was taught the Word of God. Being of Jewish background, they may have followed the exhortation of Deuteronomy 6, where Moses taught the people how to teach their children. Moses did not say to have a classroom in the home where children were to learn something by rote. Rather, he said, “Teach them when they rise up (when they get up in the morning), when they sit down (at mealtime), and when they go to bed at night.” Those are the teachable moments. Use the experiences of a young child’s day to reflect truth from the Scriptures that will lock itself into their hearts. What a powerful impact this mighty apostle made upon Timothy! He never forgot what he had learned, because it came through one whom he deeply respected, one whom he saw had answers to the difficulties and problems of life.

The second factor is that this came to Timothy at a very early age. “From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures,” Paul says. Parents should not miss that emphasis. It indicates that childhood is a wonderful time to get the truth of the Scriptures into a young person’s heart. As a young boy, ten or eleven years old, I was given many memory verses in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School that I committed to memory. I remember those verses yet today. What a wonderful thing to have learned from early childhood the truth of the Word of God through those most precious and trusted.

Father, I thank You for this amazing book. I confess to You how infrequently I open it up and let it speak to me. Help me to let this book minister to my heart and mind.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “Thinking Christianly” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Preach the Word! By Ray Stedman

Posted by Scott on November 28, 2007

Preach The Word

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: 2 Timothy 4:1-4

Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 4:2).

This verse speaks of the great essentials that must be carried on to fulfill the prayer of our Lord and to advance the kingdom of God, to bring to fulfillment that amazing work that began by His first appearing upon the earth. When we read the phrase “Preach the Word,” however, most of us think that this is addressed to preachers like myself, that one has to do this in church, on a platform, or behind a pulpit.

This word is not addressed to preachers only. It includes all the people of God, for Paul does not merely mean to preach; the word is really “announce, proclaim, set it forth, deliver the truth, make it known.” It is not something you argue about; you declare it because God Himself has said it. This can be done over a cup of coffee, in an office, or in a car while you are driving to work. It is something that can come up any place, any time. Where human hearts are open, seeking, longing, and hurting, there is the place, there is the opportunity to “preach the word.”

“Proclaim the good news,” Paul says. It is not news of what we have to do for God. That distortion has been widely peddled across the world and in this country, and it has resulted in a phony Christianity. The gospel is the story of what God has already done for us. That is what ministers to the aching heart. The gospel is the news that God loves us, pities us, and sees us in our hurt, our agony, our failure, and our weakness. The gospel is that He sees us in our strutting boldness and pride, and still He loves us. And He has already done something about it–through the death and resurrection of Jesus. In that amazing series of events that came through Jesus’ appearing on earth, He broke the stranglehold of evil upon human hearts–He found a way to set aside His own just sentence of death. Through those who open their hearts to the Savior, He has found a way not only to die for us but to come and live in us and start the process of renewing us, remaking us, and restoring us to our lost inheritance. That is the word we are to proclaim. That is to be done by every Christian in every conceivable circumstance of life.

I hope that comes through clearly, because this is what the apostle Paul is seeking to bring to Timothy’s mind. Against this impressive background of the watching heavens and in view of the paramount importance of continuing the redemptive work of Christ, Paul lays this solemn charge on Timothy’s heart as he does upon us: “Preach the Word.”

Grant to me that I will commit myself afresh to be a purveyor of the truth, preacher of the Word, and herald of the good news that is in Jesus Christ.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “The Majesty of Ministry” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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