En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘godliness’

A good name is more desirable than great riches!

Posted by Scott on September 9, 2009

In today’s society, our children hardly hear anything about keeping a good name.  I grew up understanding that the preservation of my name was important.  We are to correct the ills that have infected our names from the past if we can.  Our kids today may think, “What does having a good name have to do with anything?”  Well, I can tell you that God says is should be more desirable than silver or gold, more desirable than great riches.  A good name requires training, sacrifice, and daily discipline.

Four areas I will touch on that come to mind on keeping a good name:

1) Do not settle to do something illegal or unethical in order to gain great riches.

2) Strive to improve the family name and honor as we represent not only our family, but also the name of Jesus Christ.

3) Guard our testimonies with our good names.  Guard the reputation in all family affairs both in pleasure and in business.

4) Guard the gospel as a great treasure as Paul instructed Timothy (2 Tim 1:13-14) with a good name.  Do not allow our names to be tainted if possible, so that people will listen to us as we share the good news.

In light of these four points, it takes a lifetime sometimes to have a good name, but it only takes one mistake, one moment in lapse of judgement to destroy decades of work.  Many times we can never recover the name for many generations when this happens. 

Our children need to be trained that the choices they make in life have consequences that attach themselves to their name and can survive even death.  It is important that our children be taught this from a very young age not to compromise their integrity and honor not just for their preservation, the family name, but the honor and integrity of the Lord Jesus of whom we serve and claim as our Lord and Savior. 

Keeping a good name is important.  God has given us each a name and placed us in a particular family in order to serve Him to greater heights within that family.  Before the beginning of time our names were chosen and written in His book of life.  So, guard the name to which God has given you.  John 10:3 tells us:

“…He (Jesus) calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.”

As a part of God’s elect or sheep as it states here, when Jesus comes calling for us to believe and place our trust in Him, He calls us by name.  How awesome is that?  The name given to us is very important to God and should be important to us.

Kids today are being drawn over to a very evil side of the world.  Constantly being encouraged to do activites that may not be illegal, but are very unethical.  Finding money or a valuable of someones and keeping it, because they can.  Petty theft is huge in our young peoples lives today, lying in order to stay out of trouble, cheating on test and homework, etc.  Great riches are exploited constantly on the television and radio.  Our professional athletes lead the way in showing what power great instant wealth can provide for a person, but also the destructive power that has as well.  Use these moments to train the kids that setting their eyes on being rich and famous is not God’s plan.  Money and fame are something God can give to them, but that is not the ultimate goal and most are not ready for it for decades to come.  Our ultimate goal as parents should be to train our kids to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, mind, and actions.  God will promote each of the kids as He has ordained, but the focus should be to serve the Lord at a greater capacity in order to keep themselves away from boredom of an idle hand and the lure of a harlot named “money”.  It is tough for parents today as the information highway means we have to be on our guard at every turn, no time for relaxation as long as our little ones are awake.

” A good name, like good will, is got by many actions and lost by one.”  -Lord Jeffery

Train the children to build a good name and guard it from the enemies desire to destroy it.

Scott Bailey (c) 2009

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Serious Holiness in an Unholy World!

Posted by Scott on September 23, 2008

God takes worship towards Him from us very seriously.  The Israelites found this out some 2500 years ago.  In Malachi 3:16-18 God is stating His promise to return to His people if we will return to Him in unabashed holiness before Him.

Malachi 3:6, “I am the Lord, I do not change”.

God does not like to be cheated, lied to, lied about, or talked badly about from anyone.  Today we have many inside and outside the church that think God is an old man with a hearing and seeing problem.  However, I testify to you today that God is no old man with a hearing or seeing problem.  He is seeing and hearing everything we do for Him and against Him.  Rest assured, our heavenly Father will not be mocked.

16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

 17 “They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. [a] I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.   Malachi 3:16-18

What is God calling us to do today?  “Repent of wickedness, habitual sinful life styles, filthy minds and mouths, our prideful attitudes, money hungry habits, our spoiled selfishness, and the theft of what is rightfully His.”  His calling is to return to Him in holiness, purity, righteousness, and all godliness.  God will return to us in favor if we will return to Him in holiness.  God is looking for us to honor Him with our very best, not our rags.  He wants us to serve Him with our very best, not what is left over. 

The Lord has promised mercy for those that remain solidly pure and holy before Him as we walk this land today.  This is a time of great defection from the ways of God and towards a philosophy of man centered salvation.  God has always preserved a remnant that will stoke the fires of holiness for His chosen people.  In these final days, we will witness a return from the few to holiness and purity.  As that desire planted long ago is stirred into a raging inferno of godliness in the midst of a vile and crooked land.

Even as the judgement and wrath of God falls down upon our country and people around us, God’s protection will be magnified even more.  Those caught up in desparate turmoil will wonder how and why we come through unscathed.  The testimony of the saints will find greater opportunities to be exposed. 

As Ezekial 18:1-32 tells of the contract between God’s holy people who will live verses the wicked who will die…7 points emerge for the righteous men of God to observe:

The righteous man….

1….does not worship idols!  The righteous man lives each moment of every day to honor and glorify God with his all.  Money, cars, houses, vacations, loose women, Vegas, clothes, retirement plans, jobs, businesses, travelling, sports, etc…..anything that can become an idol, the righteous man forces himself to be focused on God.

2….is not an adulterer!  He does not sleep around with other women other than his wife.  This is that simple.  The righteous man is a one woman man with eyes and heart for his wife only.

3….is merciful in all things.  The righteous man is merciful is the way he extends credit to people.  He does not take advantage of people especially the poor.  He acts with dignity and integrity at all times with people.  He exudes grace upon the people he deals with.

4….does not rob from the poor.  He seeks to feed and cloth the poor if financially capable.  His heart has sympathy or empathy for those with less than him.  He does not seek out to take from them as easy prey.

5….when capable and asked to loan something to someone, he does so without interest.  The righteous man does not loan money to his brother and charge him interest…he extends grace to his brother in need without charging him into the poor house. 

6….is honest and fair when passing judgement on someone.  The righteous man looks at the entire circumstances, listens to the person and renders a judgement based on the truth and wisdom given to him.  The righteous man has a gift called discernment empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to sift through what is being said to see what is really being done.

7….faithfully obeys the commands or decrees of his God.  The righteous man is like a well trained soldier receiving his commands from his General and carrying them out without wavering.

As our times get grossly worse the holy ones of God will become even more obvious to all those around.  As God draws us to Himself the desire in our hearts to be holy will become stronger.  I can sense that in my own life and many of those around me.  God takes His hand and places it upon my head and turns me in the direction He desires….that direction is towards Him.  

In this time of great apostasy us men need to remember a few things:

1. Be careful not to live closely to the world’s ways.  Yes, we live here, but we are to be a strange people.  We are to be looked upon like we are aliens from another planet.  Living too closely to the world will alter our minds to thinking like the world and ultimately killing our zest for Christ and a life of holiness.

2. Commit to serve God and Him alone.  Choose truth over philosophical lies of this worldly system.  This takes commitment like you have never experienced. 

As Thomas Watson has written, “Hypocrites are good only out of worldly designs.  They embrace the gospel for secular advantage and these will in time fall away.” 

This commitment to serving God starts within our family first.  We have a living breathing mission field within our home’s walls, yet, we usually neglect it in order to travel to some foreign land (nothing wrong with foreign missionaries).  When we arrive in heaven before our Lord He will not mention at first the ministry outside our home….He will address our success or failure within our home.  It is important to Him that we nurture, teach, and father our children in the ways of God.  Living out the holiness we are called to live before their young eyes.  They will know us warts and all, but they need to an example of their heavenly Father shining through towards them daily.

3. Be sincere in our faith in Jesus Christ.  Speak the truth, but also live it out before the world.

4. Love the Lord with the same kind of love that held Him on the cross.  This is a love that carries the believer beyond the fear of death and is the deliverer of true life.  The love mentioned here is a love that is not deterred by suffering if it will honor and glorify God.

5. Harden our hearts towards evil and wicked desires.  The devil will throw out “reproaches” in our path.  These are temptations that are to draw us in. 

Thomas Watson puts it this way:  “Reproaches are but assulae crusis, splinters of the cross.”

These failed temptations or reproaches upon the believer are as “crowns around our heads”.  Remember it is far better that men condemn us for holy and righteous than to have God damn us to hell for being wicked and vile like the unbelieving world.

6. Become a solid wall of grace.  This is an exciting grace that is contagious to other believers around us.  This type of grace is firm yet on the truth, but gracious in its delivery to others.

Men, we have only two real choices in this short life on earth:

Godliness or Worldliness

Which one will we choose.  As Joshua stated in 24:15:

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

The calling is clear, but will you choose to serve the Lord?

Great 2 part message on the holiness of God by Pastor Paul Washer (enjoy)!

(c) Scott Bailey 2008

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The “Hound of Heaven”!

Posted by Scott on July 2, 2008

By: Greg Herrick Th.M., Ph.D.

The Hound of Heaven and a Young Russian Agnostic

Andrea Wolfe, on staff with the CoMission office in Raleigh, North Carolina tells the following story:

In the 1930’s Stalin ordered a purge of all Bibles and all believers. In Stavropol, Russia, this order was carried out with vengeance. Thousands of Bibles were confiscated, and multitudes of believers were sent to the gulags-prison camps-where most died, unjustly condemned as “enemies of the state.”

The CoMission once sent a team to Stavropol. The city’s history wasn’t known at that time. But when the team was having difficulty getting Bibles shipped from Moscow, someone mentioned the existence of a warehouse outside of town where these confiscated Bibles had been stored since Stalin’s day.

After the team had prayed extensively, one member finally mustered up the courage to go to the warehouse and ask the officials if the Bibles were still there. Sure enough, they were. Then the CoMissioners asked if the Bibles could be removed and distributed again to the people of Stavropol. The answer was “Yes!”

The next day the CoMission team returned with a truck and several Russian people to help load the Bibles. One helper was a young man-a skeptical, hostile agnostic collegian who had come only for the day’s wages. As they were loading Bibles, one team member noticed that the young man had disappeared. Eventually they found him in a corner of the warehouse, weeping.

He had slipped away hoping to take a Bible for himself. What he did not know was that he was being pursued by the “Hound of Heaven.” What he found shook him to the core.

The inside page of the Bible he picked up had the handwritten signature of his own grandmother. It had been her personal Bible. Out of the thousands of Bibles still left in that warehouse, he stole the very one belonging to his grandmother-a woman, who throughout her entire life, was persecuted for her faith.

No wonder he was weeping-God had powerfully and yet tenderly made Himself known to this young man.1 Such was his divinely appointed meeting with the sovereign Lord of the universe, the “Hound of Heaven” who had tracked him down to that very warehouse! Remember Jeremiah’s words: “`Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord. `Do not I fill both heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.” (Jer 23:24).

The “Hound of Heaven” and You

Jesus is truly the ever-present, all-seeing “Hound of Heaven.” He can track us down wherever we’re hiding! And once on the trail, he sets his heart with relentless zeal and undivided focus to the pursuit-a zeal that originally led him directly to the ignominy of a Roman cross!

Choosing to leave behind the luxuries of Heaven’s golden palaces and the unrivaled joy of the Father’s presence, Jesus willingly descended into the ghetto of this present world-the realm of sin and Satan-in order to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Through the brutality of his suffering, climaxing in his voluntary death, he secured a startling triumph over hostile forces arrayed in battle against Him (and us). Having earned a once-for-all victory for His people, and having been resurrected to an indestructible life, He has returned to Heaven and His Father, where he continues to seek and to save that which was lost (Heb 7:25). The young Russian man knows what this means. So does his grandmother. Do you?

You see, Jesus is still pursuing people through the message of the cross. The message of the cross rises above the myriad of voices and the noise in our culture, seizing our consciences by the throat and laying bare the depth of our selfishness and estrangement from God. If Jesus Christ was God Almighty incarnate, and His death was necessary to quell my rebellion, then I guess I know God’s estimate of my sinfulness. “Oh wretched man that I am,” says the apostle (Rom 7:24). But the good news is-for those who love Him-that all our filth has been transferred to Christ who willingly bore the guilt and pollution of our sin, death, and shame.

Thus, the message of the cross not only instructs me concerning the disastrous consequences of my rebellion, it also faithfully imparts the priceless knowledge of God’s “other worldly,” all conquering love-a love that changes “rebel” into “reconciled” and whose intensity can only be likened to a blood hound hot on the trail.

Like a major landmark enroute to the place where God lives, the cross shows you and me the way home into the arms of our Father. It does not repel us from Him; on the contrary, it leads us confidently into His presence. Surely if He would suffer to this extent for us, then He must love us thoroughly.

In short, the cross calms my agitated, nervous heart and is like a smiling, gracious butler, who sees plainly that I am not clothed properly, but who nonetheless incessantly pleads with me to enter God’s home where the real party never ends. Through the cross God himself has provided the wardrobe appropriate for the festivities! He called our young Russian friend and now he calls you. Won’t you come in?

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Hell…Eternal Torment or Annilation?

Posted by Scott on July 2, 2008

(Author: John Piper)

Resolved 08, which I spoke at a couple weeks ago, had a sobering theme: Heaven and Hell. In my preparation, I dug up this contrast between Clark Pinnock and Dorothy Sayers.

Clark Pinnock, a Canadian theologian who has moved far from his evangelical roots, wrote:

I was led to question the traditional belief in everlasting conscious torment because of moral revulsion and broader theological considerations, not first of all on scriptural grounds. It just does not make any sense to say that a God of love will torture people forever for sins done in the context of a finite life…. It’s time for evangelicals to come out and say that the biblical and morally appropriate doctrine of hell is annihilation, not everlasting torment. (Theological Crossfire: An Evangelical/Liberal Dialogue, 226-7)

Dorothy Sayers, who died in 1957, speaks a wise and faithful antidote to this kind of abandonment of truth.

There seems to be a kind of conspiracy, especially among middle-aged writers of vaguely liberal tendency, to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. One finds frequent references to the “cruel and abominable mediaeval doctrine of hell,” or “the childish and grotesque mediaeval imagery of physical fire and worms.” …

But the case is quite otherwise; let us face the facts. The doctrine of hell is not “mediaeval”: it is Christ’s. It is not a device of “mediaeval priestcraft” for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ’s deliberate judgment on sin. The imagery of the undying worm and the unquenchable fire derives, not from “mediaeval superstition,” but originally from the Prophet Isaiah, and it was Christ who emphatically used it…. It confronts us in the oldest and least “edited” of the gospels: it is explicit in many of the most familiar parables and implicit in many more: it bulks far larger in the teaching than one realizes, until one reads the Evangelists through instead of picking out the most comfortable texts: one cannot get rid of it without tearing the New Testament to tatters. We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ. (A Matter of Eternity, 86)

by John Piper www.desiringGod.org

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If You Can Be Godly and Wrong, Does Truth Matter?

Posted by Scott on July 2, 2008



DadsDevoted!

Since there are some Arminians who are more godly than some Calvinists and some Calvinists who are more godly than some Arminians, what is the correlation between true knowledge of God and godliness?

The best of both groups have historically admired the godliness of those in the other group. Whitefield, the Calvinist, said of Wesley, the Arminian, “Mr. Wesley I think is wrong in some things; yet I believe…Mr. Wesley, and others, with whom we do not agree in all things, will shine bright in glory” (Wesley and the Men Who Followed, 71).

But the sad thing about our day, unlike the days of Whitefield and Wesley, is that many infer from this that knowing God with greater truth and fullness is not important, since it doesn’t appear to be decisive in what produces godliness. Those who know what the Bible says will be protected from that mistake.

Paul correlates knowing and doing in a way that shows that knowing profoundly influences doing. Fourteen times Paul implies that our sinful behavior would be different if we knew the truth more fully. For example,

  • You yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? (1 Corinthians 6:8–9)
  • Flee from sexual immorality…. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? (1 Corinthians 6:18–19)
  • Each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God. (1 Thessalonians 4:4–5)

All godliness is owing to truth, that is, to God as he is truly known. Truth, known with the mind and loved with the heart, is the way God produces all godliness. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

When a more godly person believes something erroneous about God, among other true things, it is not the error that God uses to produce the godliness.

And when a less godly person believes something true about God, among other false things, it is not the truth that his sin uses to produce the ungodliness. 

There are various reasons why a person with a more true view of God may be less godly, and the person with a less true view of God may be more godly:

1. The person with a less true view of God may nevertheless be more submissive and more powerfully influenced by the smaller amount of truth that he has, and the person with more truth may be less submissive and less influenced by the truth he has. The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of truth) always makes truth an instrument in his sanctifying influences, but he does not always do it in proportion to the amount of truth present in the mind.

God’s revealed will is that we grow in the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18), because in that way the Spirit can make our holiness the manifest fruit of what we know of Christ, so that Christ is more clearly honored (John 16:14). But the Spirit is free to make little knowledge produce much holiness, lest those with much knowledge be proud.

2. Two persons with radically different personalities and backgrounds may have more or fewer obstacles to overcome in the process of sanctification. Therefore, the one with fewer obstacles may respond in godly ways to less truth, while the one with more obstacles may struggle more, even though he has more truth.

3. A person with much truth may lag behind in godliness because there are hindrances that arise between the truth in the mind and the response of the heart to that truth. These hindrances may include loss of memory; ease of distraction; blind spots that keep one from seeing how a truth applies to a long-held pattern of behavior; mental disorders (mild or profound) that create disconnects between thoughts and volitions; confusion and ignorance about the way sanctification is meant to work; or hidden rebellion of the heart that covers itself with a veneer of orthodoxy.

Therefore, let us humble ourselves. There are views so obscured by error that the God on the other side of the glass is not the true God. So the measure of truth in our views matters infinitely. But also, there is no guarantee that right thinking will produce right living. There is more to godliness than having clear views of God. Trusting him and loving him through those views matters infinitely.


© Desiring God

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

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Interpreting Scripture!

Posted by Scott on March 5, 2008

Interpreting Scripture (Hermeneutics)

Hermeneutics is defined in one dictionary as “the art of finding the meaning of an author’s words and phrases, and of explaining it to others.” When applied to Scripture, accurate hermeneutics would require the scholar to:

  • Study the context of the passage and the theme of the book.
  • Look up the actual meaning of each word in the original languages.
  • Note the verb tenses, the cases, and other grammatical determinants.
  • Learn the cultural setting of the passage.
  • Determine what the original readers understood it to mean.
  • Check out cross-references to see how the words are used in other contexts.
  • See how the first mention of the word or topic is presented in the Bible.
  • Confirm an interpretation with two or three similar passages.

These are all proven study methods. However, it has always puzzled me how Bible scholars who claim to follow all of them arrive at totally opposite interpretations of the same passage.

For example, in a seminary in the Northwest, two professors wrote on the topic of divorce and remarriage. Each one assured his readers that he was following sound rules of Biblical interpretation. Yet, each one arrived at a view that was opposite of the other.

One day, I called up my former Greek professor at Wheaton Graduate School. He had written on the subject of hermeneutics, and I asked him if he could summarize the rules of hermeneutics in a concise list. His answer startled me. He said, “Bill, there is no such list.” I asked how we would know if we are breaking hermeneutical rules if there are no rules. He explained that there are certainly guidelines of interpretation. However, they cannot be confined to one set of rules.

So, what are the additional factors of correct Biblical hermeneutics?

1. Spiritual Perception Over Intellectual Understanding

The first factor of interpreting Scripture is to approach it as an exercise in spiritual discernment rather than just an intellectual pursuit. Paul emphasized this in his letter to the Corinthian believers. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14). Jesus Himself confirmed that Biblical understanding does not come from human reasoning but from spiritual enlightenment. He said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25).

The Holy Spirit is the One Who inspired the writing of Scripture, and He is the most qualified One to interpret its meaning to each reader. Jesus assured us that the Holy Spirit would indeed guide us into all truth. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

This being the case, it is also reasonable to conclude that if a person who wants to interpret Scripture has sinful habits or practices in his life that grieve the Holy Spirit and quench His power, the Holy Spirit will not reveal the truth of Scripture to such a person. In fact, God warns that such individuals will take Scripture out of context to their own destruction. (See II Peter 3:16.) This result supports the axiom that a man’s morality will dictate his theology and his philosophy.

2. God’s Revelation Over Human Reasoning

In the final analysis, accurate Biblical interpretation is based on the revelation of Jesus Christ throughout the Scriptures. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than on that walk on the road to Emmaus. The disciples had been personally taught by Jesus for three years. However, they still did not understand the Scriptures from which He taught. They were distracted by the conflicting interpretations of contemporary scholars. It was not until Jesus began with Moses and all the prophets and explained how they revealed Him that they understood the true meaning of Scripture. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). They later recalled, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).

The scholars of Jesus’ day carried out heated debates over the correct interpretation of Scripture, but Jesus counseled them to search the Scriptures on the basis that they testified of Him. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).

3. Genuine Love Rather Than Justification of Selfishness

Since the Scriptures reveal the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, it also follows that the primary theme of the Bible is the love of God and how we are to live out His love in our daily words and actions.

When a clever lawyer tried to involve Jesus in a wordy battle, He began his forensic sparring with the question “Which is the greatest commandment?” The reply that Jesus gave is a profound principle for Biblical interpretation. All the Law and prophets are based on the command to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Therefore, we must interpret Scripture on the basis of how it teaches us to love God and to love others. Love is the theme of the Bible. All good character qualities are simply practical expressions of genuine love. When the Pharisees used the Law of Moses to justify their harsh and unloving treatment of wives, Jesus reproved them for hardness of heart and took them back to the Creation design of one man and one woman becoming one flesh for the rest of their lives.

The lawyer who tried to engage Jesus in debate then tried to justify himself by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” to which Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan.

4. Christ’s Commands Over Man’s Theology

Every interpretation of Scripture is based on some foundational structure of reasoning. Jesus provides the structure of truth in the commands that He gave to His disciples during His earthly ministry, and they are the guiding lights for correct Biblical interpretation. They clarify what was written in the Old Testament and are further explained in New Testament teaching. Jesus promises that if we keep His commands before our eyes, He will reveal more of Himself to us. This was the great goal of Paul: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). Jesus further promises, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32).

It is customary for a Bible scholar to base his interpretation of a passage on the theological position that he has accepted. The problem with this approach is that no theological system is totally without some human error, because it is not inspired. It is man’s explanation of Biblical truth.

This is not to say that theology is unimportant. Wrong doctrine leads to wrong behavior. No one was more concerned about false doctrine than the Apostle Paul. He maintained a continual battle against false teaching. However, he did not base sound doctrine on the theological views of his day but on the words of Jesus Christ and that which leads to Christlike living.

He explains this in his epistle to Timothy. “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (I Timothy 6:3–5).

5. One Interpretation and Many Applications

The Bible makes it clear that there is only one interpretation of Scripture. However, there can be many applications. It is the Holy Spirit Who guides us not only to the right interpretation of a passage but also to the precise application of Scripture to our daily lives. If our lives are in harmony with the Lord, we can expect the Holy Spirit to illuminate certain passages of Scripture for our personal application. When this happens, it is God giving us a “rhema” of Scripture.

In the New Testament, the Word of God is generally referred to by the Greek word logos. Jesus is identified as the Living Word (logos). However, there are many references that use the Greek word rhema to define the Word of God. A rhema is a precise direction of Scripture for a particular person or circumstance. When Jesus told Peter to cast his net on the other side of the boat, Peter replied, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word [rhema] I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5). Jesus did not tell every one to cast their nets on the other side of the boat—only Peter.

It is on the point of the Holy Spirit applying a passage of Scripture to a decision that critics often rise up and claim that this is not acceptable hermeneutics. Their quarrel is not with believers who know in their spirits that God is directing them by the witness of two or three rhemas, but with the Holy Spirit Who confirms the application of rhemas.

Jesus used rhemas in overcoming Satan’s temptations, and one of the passages He used affirms rhemas. “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

6. Correct Divisions of Truth Versus Truth Out of Balance

Paul gave Timothy wise instruction in hermeneutics when he wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

Scripture is a living, powerful instrument in the hand of God. It functions on what appears to us to be paradoxes. In a similar fashion, the muscles in our bodies are only able to function by opposing tensions.

On the one hand, Scripture presents the Law of God, but then it contrasts this with the grace of God. Scripture teaches the need for justice, but then it counters this with mercy. We are told to cease from our own labor and enter the rest that is in Christ. At the same time, we are commanded to work for the night is coming when no man can work and to labor for the Lord. We have freedom in Christ. However, we are to make ourselves servants to all people.

If we emphasize only one side of God’s Biblical equation, we can certainly support it with verses of Scripture, but we will come out with the wrong answer. Truth out of balance leads to heresy. For example, if we emphasize the “rest” that a believer has and fail to give equal and primary emphasis to the “labor” of a believer, we will view any emphasis on working for the Lord as legalism.

Paul put labor and rest together when he wrote, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:9–11). Similarly, there is certainly freedom in Christ. However, if we focus on freedom, we will react to God-ordained authority as being oppressive and cultish.

Proper hermeneutics requires diligent use of all the above factors under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Copyright © 2002–2006, William (Bill) Gothard. All Rights Reserved.

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-Fierce Warriors in the Hands of God!

Posted by Scott on January 5, 2008

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth”
–Psalm 127:4

You may be thinking right now that I am crazy for using Spartan Warrior within Christianity, but read the entire piece before passing judgment.  Spartan Warriors were fierce fighters.  They would fight to the death for their family, king, and kingdom.  They were ruthless and unconventional in their process and training.  However, my research on Spartan Warriors turned up better qualities for these fighters that many of us as Christian men need to pay attention to. These warriors were trained from the very young age of 7 to be fierce in battle.  The meaning of Spartan is to be “totally devoted to one cause, self-deprived or stripped down to nothing, but the bare essentials, undoubting and courageous”.  They were trained to give their lives without hesitation.  These warriors did not think anything about danger and always expected to win or die trying to win.  These were dreaded men in battle. 

 Gentlemen, I am here to inform you that if you did not know this before now, we are in the battle of our lives and the lives of our families…time to wake-up!  I am afraid that unless we as Christian fathers do not began to train our young men to be like these Spartan Warriors, the future looks very dim.  We need to be training up our boys to be fierce when in battle and this battle takes place daily.  Young men that will not back down from authority that makes rulings in direct conflict with the scriptures.  We need young men that do not mind being ridiculed when they stand up for the under-dog or under-privileged or as they share the gospel to a neighbor or friend.  In some cases this may mean taking up arms to defend our nation and our families from the enemies abroad or even within our midst.  On a daily basis, we need to equip these young fighters with the Truth of God’s Holy Word above all else… God’s Holy Word is not found in the Koran! 

Within the pages of the Bible are many fierce warriors who fought bravely like King David as one example.  The Lord helped him fight with full control of himself and bravely.  David fought mightily with the hand of God on his life…”And David became greater and greater, for the Lord God of hosts was with him.”  2 Samuel 5:10 (NAS)  He as a warrior for the Kingdom of God and Spartan Warriors in ancient Greece were courageous and self-sacrificing.  The crusade I am speaking of today is for the minds and hearts of our young people.  Many Christians have already given up this crusade long ago and have decided to just blend in with the rest of the world in order to have peace.  They may go to church and bible study, but nothing  is different in their lives or the lives of their kids.  We have bought into the society belief that we can be immersed in the life style of the world and still maintain an effective evangelical witness. 

 Titus 2:12(NIV) says, “It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”  In John 15:9(NIV)  it states, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”   

Just hoping our kids will turn out alright is not the answer.  Our adversary, Satan, would like nothing else than for parents to take this approach.  Of course by the grace of God some do turn out alright and frankly that is how we all turn out alright. However, these kids are placed in our hands for a short time for training and preparation for the future and we do not want to let them down if at all possible.  The battle for the heart and mind of our children today include homosexuality, pornography, drunkenness, illegal drug usage, over eating, moral relativism, unfaithfulness, theft, lying, and so on.  This corruptness is being taught in nearly every public forum and institution in America as being “right”.  Our children are being taught that there is no sin and there is no right or wrong.  Their cry is that we all need to be more tolerant of each other.  They are taught that Adam can marry Robert and Eve can marry Laura and it is “ok”.  The truth is that homosexuality is sin and it is not “ok”.  This sin is as forgivable as over eating, as is drunkenness and so on. Glory to God that they are forgivable, but I do not want this deviant trash taught to my children and grandchildren as being “ok”.  Pornography is down played as just a natural thing that men and women desire and it is “ok”.  Christian men are not immune to this.  Men it is not “ok” even in the privacy of your own home.  What we put in our minds has a direct impact on what comes out of our life each day.  Much of the violence against women today stems from pornography.  If this kind of trash goes into the mind then I can guarantee you that vile trash will come out in some form of your life.  Drunkenness is very accepted these days as well, although it is nothing new to the ages.  Drunkenness is mind altering and you will do and say things that will not honor God in any way and will bring shame upon your family. 

Psalm 23:33 says about too much wine, “Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind will utter perverse things.” 

God has always spoken out against drunkenness in His Word.  I said here, “drunkenness”, not a glass of wine at dinner…I just wanted to clarify that.  A trendy activity nowadays is to go to church on Sunday and raise your hands and sing in what is perceived to be praising and worshipping God.  Then the rest of the week live as you wish and on the weekend get stumbling drunk with your buddies and come to church on Sunday to be holy again.  Is this truly grace in action?  What a mockery to the glory of Jesus Christ!  Does this show a deep love for our Savior?  Does raising our hands to the “bouncy” music in the churches today that stirs up the emotions really make us spiritual and holy?  I am not attacking praise worship music entirely, but in observing the true impact of this movement that has forgotten the testimony of the hymns of old, I have witnessed people actually growing more vile in their lives rather than a closeness to the Lord as the music stirs up emotions rather than a deep seeded devotion to worshipping Christ in the music and message of the pastor. 

Men, take a hard look into your heart….is that burning desire to know Jesus and love Jesus really there?  What is your reason for going to church or reading your Bible?  Another hot trend within the world today is embracing the Muslim or Hindu or Buddhism religion as another way to heaven…that we should be tolerant.  We are told that there are many ways to God. 

 Matthew 7:13-14 speaks of those broad roads and narrow gates, “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” 

We are taught to believe they should have equal access to the minds of our children, our culture, and we should move over for their ways and embrace their teachings.  I will make this statement as clear as I can, men, NO ONE has the right to access the mind and heart of my children other than God Himself.  God gave those children to me and my wife to love, nurture, train and protect.  The liberal left does not have the right to them, the Communist left wingers do not have a right to them, the Muslims, Hindu’s, or Buddhist do not have rights to them, the homosexuals do not have rights to them or the legalist within the church today do not have the rights to them, or any other kind of evil that permeates this dark world we live in today.  If I sound a bit combative in this, I am combative.  This is no powder puff football game we are in, people. 

So, I am declaring today that we must start raising our sons ,as the Spartan Warriors of the 21st century, that will carry on these truths that are in God’s Word and do it unashamedly.  We need a crusade where young men will give their lives so that our future generations can survive without having to bow to the vile images that are so prevalent in our culture today or be subject to the horrific views and taunting by the homosexual leftist agenda.  A desire must exist for young men to train themselves to be satisfied with only the bare essentials as Spartan Warriors were disciplined to be and not raised under pampered lives like so many of the Christian and worldly kids of today.  These young men need training to buffet their bodies and keep their actions under control regarding women, children, money, alcohol, politics, and the things of this world.  Our world is groaning for young men who have a deep seeded desire to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

   Can we train up young men that will carry as their motto, “Give me Christ and Christ alone”?  We long for young men who are willing to die for the cause of Christ.  This does not come naturally…it comes as we battle forward immersing ourselves in God’s word and let Him develop in our hearts and minds a “biblical world view”.  God is sovereign!  He has never moved or changed His mind.  He is not surprised by the darkness that envelops the world we live in today.  He created this universe and every living or non-living being in it.  He is not bashful about war, battle, death or even love.  So, our challenge today as fathers of sons is to bring up a new generation of young men that will fit the image of God, like a warrior for truth, justice and become a loving family man.  Steve Farrar put it very plainly with this quote from his book, “Standing Tall”:

“Gentlemen, we are raising our kids in this sewer of moral relativism.

If your kids buy into this philosophy, it will ruin their lives.

Here’s the deal, guys.  Our kids won’t know anything unless they see it in our lives.  Our kids won’t know that there are moral absolutes unless they absolutely see those truths lived out in our lives.”

-Steve Farrar, “Standing Tall” 1994

 

This is what I am talking about.  The training is about walking and talking God’s truth daily.  It does not mean we are perfect, but that we are able to show our weaknesses as well as our strengths.  We need to show our kids that God creates strength from our weaknesses.  There is a loud voice trying to wake up our countries Christian fathers.  I am afraid though we have ear plugs in or are ignoring this loud call.

“The Christian world is in a deep sleep. 

Nothing but a loud voice can waken them out of it.”

-George Whitefield, 1739

 

Guys, I cannot tell you what to do or how to raise your kids.  I cannot make you do anything you are not entirely willing to do from your heart.  This is not a legalistic set of rules or point of view even though it is my opinion.  I abhor legalism in all of its form when it comes to the scriptures and the life God would have each of us live.  However, I am simply challenging you to rethink how you are training your children, especially the boys and how you are living as an example for them today.  Is it with sacrifice or from a life of pure luxury?  At the age of 7, are you training warriors to do battle for their future wives, children, countrymen, and ancestry or just over educated athletes in hopes of landing that multi-million dollar contract so they can buy more boats, larger houses, more jewelry and filthier women?  What is their view of supporting the ministries that abound in their area today?  Do they have a worldly view or a biblical world view?  Can you see a servant’s heart or a future adult that will be demanding and hard to live with?  Think about what is important in this life that enhances your eternal life and the eternal life of others.  Out of your actions and training which of those give glory to the Lord?  Does baseball, football, basketball, the finest schools, dances, an exotic vacation, or other activities like these have an eternal purpose?  They could have, but just think for a moment how it is coming across to the kids.  Does giving them every single toy they ask for prepare them for the battles ahead in life?  Does saying yes to their every plea really give them a proper outlook on the future?  Does taking their side in every argument truly help them in preparation for debating the liberal left wing of this world?  Do they see you react to a problem with prayer and digging into your Bible or do they observe you speaking harshly of that person or problem and vow your revenge? 

Men, I am not bringing this message from an attitude of having all the answers or that I always do it right, because that would be a bold face lie.  I battle the same sins and problems you do.  I battle the same pride and ego that every man fights.  But the truth is what it is, guys.  I cannot speak totally from example, but simply from God’s truth.  We need fighters, warriors, kids that grow up knowing the Bible and believing that the Bible is completely true as the inspired word of God and fall in love with their Lord Jesus Christ.  Our world can stand young men that will be devoted to their wives, children, and country and see them as a blessing upon their lives rather than a curse. 

 Today, I encourage you to pray sincerely about all that you have read here.  Reach down deep into the pit of your heart to find that which God placed in your heart years ago.  Lift up your family, co-workers, in-laws, and enemies in prayer.  Dress down spiritually and put it all on the table, guys.  Leave it with the Lord…all of it…the hurt, the pain, the tears, the stress, the financial problems, sexual problems, weaknesses, family problems…all of it.  Leave nothing behind to carry on with you.  Then take a long deep breath and set there for a while in silence to listen to hear if God will speak to you.  It may take Him days, weeks, months or years to speak, but He will speak to you.  See if He speaks, not audibly, but spiritually, through His word, through His people, and through the circumstances.  It is better to not move a muscle until you hear God speak then to do anything that would be in direct disobedience to His calling upon your life. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.”    Philippians 4:8-9 (NAS)

 

Guys think on a few questions this very day:

-Would the Lord have you change anything about your life, the treatment of your wife and children and then the training of your children?

-What change can you make today that would be positively noticeable to your family when you got home from work that would inspire them to want to follow you and serve the Lord more? 

What changes would bring glory to Christ today?

-Do you have a servant’s heart like Christ or is pride and ego in the way?

-Why do you go to church, bible studies, and other “religious” functions?

-What kind of men do you hang around with everyday?

-Most importantly, do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or are you just playing church or religion because it is the cultural thing to do? 

This is serious guys…your life and the lives of our children and grand-children depend on the decisions we make today….tomorrow may be too late.

Scott Bailey 2007 ©  

*Disclaimer:  In no way am I against sports, athletes, vacations, or money.  Joe Lewis, the late great boxer, once said that “no, money isn’t everything, but it sure ranks right up there with air…try to live without for a day.”  Each of us have a God given purpose in life and is according to what God’s desire for our lives are and we should be obedient to Him in that purpose if we want to live a successful life.  That could mean a pro baseball career for example or using your income to provide for families in need that live around you.  So, please reread this with an open heart and mind and look at it from God’s side as to what He might be seeing in us right now.  He wants us to be completely devoted to Him in all things and my heart felt belief is that we have missed this as dads on nearly all accounts…I am as convicted of this in my heart as anyone else. 

May God bless you as you go out each day to provide for your family and as you work hard to make that much needed time to spend with your wife and children.

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A Quest For Godliness by J I Packer!

Posted by Scott on November 9, 2007

“Why We Need the Puritans:  A Quest For Godliness” 

 

Later, the word gained the further, political connotation of being against the Stuart monarchy and for some sort of republicanism; its primary reference, however, was still to what was seen as an odd, furious, and ugly form of Protestant religion. In England, anti-Puritan feeling was let loose at the time of the Restoration and has flowed freely ever since. In North America it built up slowly after the days of Jonathan Edwards to reach its zenith a hundred years ago in post-Puritan New England.
For the past half-century, however, scholars have been meticulously wiping away the mud, and as Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel have unfamiliar colours today now that restorers have removed the dark varnish, so the conventional image of the Puritans has been radically revamped, at least for those in the know. (Knowledge, alas, travels slowly in some quarters.) Taught by Perry Miller, William Haller, Marshall Knappen, Percy Scholes, Edmund Morgan, and a host of more recent researchers, informed folk now acknowledge that the typical Puritans were not wild men, fierce and freaky, religious fanatics and social extremists, but sober, conscientious, and cultured citizens: persons of principle, devoted, determined, and disciplined, excelling in the domestic virtues, and with no obvious shortcomings save a tendency to run to works when saying anything important, whether to God or to man.
At last the record has been put straight. But even so, the suggestion that we ‘need’ the Puritans – we late twentieth-century Westerners, with all our sophistication and mastery of technique in both secular and sacred fields – may prompt some lifting of eyebrows. The belief that the Puritans, even if they were in fact responsible citizens, were comic and pathetic in equal degree, being naive and superstitious, primitive and gullible, superserious, overscrupulous, majoring in minors, and unable or unwilling to relax, dies hard. What could these zealots give us that we need, it is asked. The answer, in one word, is maturity. Maturity is a compound of wisdom, goodwill, resilience, and creativity. The Puritans exemplified maturity; we don’t. We are spiritual dwarfs. A much-traveled leader, a native American (be it said), has declared that he finds North American Protestantism, man-centered, manipulative, success-oriented, self-indulgent and sentimental, as it blatantly is, to be 3,000 miles wide and half an inch deep.
The Puritans, by contrast, as a body were giants. They were great souls serving a great God. In them clear-headed passion and warm-hearted compassion combined. Visionary and practical, idealistic and realistic too, goal-oriented and methodical, they were great believers, great hopers, great doers, and great sufferers. But their sufferings, both sides of the ocean (in old England from the authorities and in New England from the elements), seasoned and ripened them till they gained a stature that was nothing short of heroic. Ease and luxury, such as our affluence brings us today, do not make for maturity; hardship and struggle however do, and the Puritans’ battles against the spiritual and climatic wildernesses in which God set them produced a virility of character, undaunted and unsinkable, rising above discouragement and fears, for which the true precedents and models are men like Moses, and Nehemiah, and Peter after Pentecost, and the apostle Paul. Spiritual warfare made the Puritans what they were. They accepted conflict as their calling, seeing themselves as their Lord’s soldier-pilgrims, just as in Bunyan’s allegory, and not expecting to be able to advance a single step without opposition of one sort or another.
Wrote John Geree, in his tract ‘The Character of an Old English Puritane or Noncomformist (1646)’: ‘His whole life he accounted a warfare, wherein Christ was his captain, his arms, praiers and tears. The Crosse his Banner and his word [motto] Vincit qui patitur [he who suffers conquers].‘ The Puritans lost, more or less, every public battle that they fought. Those who stayed in England did not change the Church of England as they hoped to do, nor did they revive more than a minority of its adherents, and eventually they were driven out of Anglicanism by calculated pressure on their consciences. Those who crossed the Atlantic failed to establish new Jerusalem in New England; for the first fifty years their little colonies barely survived. They hung on by the skin of their teeth. But the moral and spiritual victories that the Puritans won by keeping sweet, peaceful, patient, obedient, and hopeful under sustained and seemingly intolerable pressures and frustrations give them a place of high honor in the believers’ hall of fame, where Hebrews 11 is the first gallery.
It was out of this constant furnace-experience that their maturity was wrought and their wisdom concerning discipleship was refined. George Whitefield, the evangelist, wrote of them as follows: ” Ministers never write or preach so well as when under the cross; the Spirit of Christ and of glory then rests upon them. was this, no doubt, that made the Puritans… such burning lights and shining lights. When cast out by the black Bartholomew-act [the 1662 Act of Uniformity] and driven from their respective charges to preach in barns and fields, in the highways and hedges, they in an especial manner wrote and preached as men having authority. Though dead, by their writings they yet speak; a peculiar unction attends them to this very hour….” Those words come from a preface to a reprint of Bunyan’s works that appeared in 1767; but the unction continues, the authority is still felt, and the mature wisdom still remains breathtaking, as all modern Puritan-readers soon discover for themselves. Through the legacy of this literature the Puritans can help us today towards the maturity that they knew, and that we need
In what ways can they do this? Let me suggest some specifics. First, there are lessons for us in the integration of their daily lives. As their Christianity was all-embracing, so their living was all of a piece. Nowadays we would call their lifestyle holistic: all awareness, activity, and enjoyment, all ‘use of the creatures’ and development of personal powers and creativity, was integrated in the single purpose of honoring God by appreciating all his gifts and making everything ‘holiness to the Lord’. There was for them no disjunction between sacred and secular; all creation, so far as they were concerned, was sacred, and all activities, of whatever kind, must be sanctified, that is, done to the glory of God. So, in their heavenly-minded ardour, the Puritans became men and women of order, matter-of-fact and down-to-earth, prayerful, purposeful, practical. Seeing life whole, they integrated contemplation with action, worship with work, labour with rest, love of God with love of neighb our and of self, personal with social rest, love of God with love of neighbour and of self, personal with social identity, and the wide spectrum of relational responsibilities with each other, in a thoroughly conscientious and thought-out way.
In this thoroughness they were extreme, that is to say far more thorough than we are, but in their blending of the whole wide range of Christian duties set forth in Scripture they were eminently balanced. They lived by ‘method’ (we would say, by a rule of life), planning and proportioning their time with care, not so much to keep bad things out as to make sure that they got all good and important things in – necessary wisdom, then as now, for busy people! We today, who tend to live unplanned lives at random in a series of non-communicating compartments and who hence feel swamped and distracted most of the time, could learn much from the Puritans at this point.
Second, there are lessons for us in the quality of their spiritual experience. In the Puritans’ communion with God, as Jesus Christ was central, so Holy Scripture was supreme. By Scripture, as God’s word of instruction about divine-human relationships, they sought to live, and here, too, they were conscientiously methodical. Knowing themselves to be creatures of thought, affection, and will, and knowing that God’s way to the human heart (the will) is via the human head (the mind), the Puritans practised meditation, discursive and systematic, on the whole range of biblical truth as they saw it applying to themselves. Puritan meditation on Scripture was modeled on the Puritan sermon; in meditation the Puritan would seek to search and challenge his heart, stir his affections to hate sin and love righteousness, and encourage himself with God’s promises, just as Puritan preachers would do from the pulpit.
This rational, resolute, passionate piety was conscientious without becoming obsessive, law-oriented without lapsing into legalism, and expressive of Christian liberty without any shameful lurches into license. The Puritans knew that Scripture is the unalterable rule of holiness, and never allowed themselves to forget it. Knowing also the dishonesty and deceitfulness of fallen human hearts, they cultivated humility and self-suspicion as abiding attitudes, and examined themselves regularly for spiritual blind spots and lurking inward evils. They may not be called morbid or introspective on this account, however; on the contrary, they found the discipline of self-examination by Scripture (not the same thing as introspection, let us note), followed by the discipline of confessing and forsaking sin and renewing one’s gratitude to Christ for his pardoning mercy, to be a source of great inner peace and joy.
We today, who know to our cost that we have unclear minds, uncontrolled affections, and unstable wills when it comes to serving God, and who again and again find ourselv es being imposed on by irrational, emotional romanticism disguised as super-spirituality, could profit much from the Puritans’ example at this point too.
Third, there are lessons for us in their passion for effective action. Though the Puritans, like the rest of the human race, had their dreams of what could and should be, they were decidedly not the kind of people that we could call ‘dreamy’! They had no time for the idleness of the lazy or passive person who leaves it to others to change the world! They were men of action in he pure Reformed mould – crusading activists without a jot of self-reliance; workers for God who depended utterly on God to work in and through them, and who always gave God the praise for anything they did that in retrospect seemed to them to have been right; gifted men who prayed earnestly that God would enable them to use their powers, not for self-display, but for his praise.
None of them wanted to be revolutionaries in church or state, though some of them reluctantly became such; all of them, however, longed to be effective change agents for God wherever shifts from sin to sanctity were called for. So Cromwell and his army made long, strong prayers before each battle, and preachers made long, strong prayers privately before ever venturing into the pulpit, and laymen made long, strong prayers before tackling any matter of importance (marriage, business deals, major purchases, or whatever). Today, however, Christians in the West are found to be on the whole passionless, passive, and, one fears, prayerless; cultivating an ethos which encloses personal piety in a pietistic cocoon, they leave public affairs to go their own way and neither expect nor for the most part seek influence beyond their own Christian circle.
Where the Puritans prayed and laboured for a holy England and New England, sensing that where privilege is neglected and unfaithfulness reigns national judgement threatens, modern Christians gladly settle for conventional social respectability and, having done so, look no further. Surely it is obvious that at this point also the Puritans have a great deal to teach us. Fourth, there are lessons for us in their program for family stability. It is hardly too much to say that the Puritans created the Christian family in the English-speaking world. The Puritan ethic of marriage was to look not for a partner whom you do love passionately at this moment, but rather for one whom you can love steadily as your best friend for life, and then to proceed with God’s help to do just that. The Puritan ethic of nurture was to train up children in the way they should go, to care for their bodies and souls together, and to educate them for sober, godly, socially useful adult living. The Puritan ethic of home life was based on maintaining order, courtesy, and family worship. Goodwill, patience, consistency, and an encouraging attitude were seen as the essential domestic virtues. In an age of routine discomforts, rudimentary medicine without pain-killers, frequent bereavements (most families lost at least as many children as they reared), an average life expectancy of just under thirty years, and economic hardship for almost all save merchant princes and landed gentry, family life was a school for character in every sense, and the fortitude with which Puritans resisted the all-too-familiar temptation to relieve pressure from the world by brutality at home, and laboured to honor God in their families despite all, merits supreme praise.
At home the Puritans showed themselves (to use my overworked term) mature, accepting hardships and disappointments realistically as from God and refusing to be daunted or soured by any of them. Also, it was at home in the first instance that the Puritan layman practised evangelism and ministry. ‘His family he endeavoured to make a Church,’ wrote Geree, ‘...labouring that those that were born in it, might be born again to God.‘ In an era in which family life has become brittle even among Christians, with chicken-hearted spouses taking the easy course of separation rather than working at their relationship, and narcissistic parents spoiling their children materially while neglecting them spiritually, there is once more much to be learned from the Puritans’ very different ways.
Fifth, there are lessons to be learned from their sense of human worth. Through believing in a great God (the God of Scripture, undiminished and undomesticated), they gained a vivid awareness of the greatness of moral issues, of eternity, and of the human soul. Hamlet’s ‘What a piece of work is man!’ is a very Puritan sentiment; the wonder of human individuality was something that they felt keenly. Though, under the influence of their medieval heritage, which told them that error has no rights, they did not in every case manage to respect those who differed publicly from them, their appreciation of man’s dignity as the creature made to be God’s friend was strong, and so in particular was their sense of the beauty and nobility of human holiness.
In the collectivised urban anthill where most of us live nowadays the sense of each individual’s eternal significance is much eroded, and the Puritan spirit is at this point a corrective from which we can profit greatly.
Sixth, there are lessons to be learned from the Puritans’ ideal of church renewal. To be sure, ‘renewal’ was not a word that they used; they spoke only of ‘reformation’ and ‘reform’, which words suggest to our twentieth-century minds a concern that is limited to the externals of the church’s orthodoxy, order, worship forms and disciplinary code. But when the Puritans preached, published, and prayed for ‘reformation’ they had in mind, not indeed less than this, but far more. On the title page of the original edition of Richard Baxter’s ‘The Reformed Pastor’, the word ‘reformed’ was printed in much larger type than any other, and one does not have to read far before discovering that for Baxter a ‘reformed’ pastor was not one who campaigned for Calvinism but one whose ministry to his people as preacher, teacher, catechist and role-model showed him to be, as we would say, ‘revived’ or ‘renewed’. The essence of this kind of ‘reformation’ was enrichment of understanding of God’s truth, arousal of affections God-ward, increase of ardour in one’s devotions, and more love, joy, and firmness of Christian purpose in one’s calling and personal life.
In line with this, the ideal for the church was that through ‘reformed’ clergy all the members of each congregation should be ‘reformed’ – brought, that is, by God’s grace without disorder into a state of what we would call revival, so as to be truly and thoroughly converted, theologically orthodox and sound, spiritually alert and expectant, in character terms wise and steady, ethically enterprising and obedient, and humbly but joyously sure of their salvation. This was the goal at which Puritan pastoral ministry aimed throughout, both in English parishes and in the ‘gathered’ churches of congregational type that multiplied in the mid-seventeenth century. The Puritans’ concern for spiritual awakening in communities is to some extent hidden from us by their institutionalism; recalling the upheavals of English Methodism and the Great Awakening, we think of revival ardour as always putting a strain on established order, whereas the Puritans envisaged ‘reform’ at congregational level coming in disciplined style through faithful preaching, catechising, and spiritual service on the pastor’s part.
Clericalism, with its damming up of lay initiative, was doubtless a Puritan limitation, and one which boomeranged when lay zeal finally boiled over in Cromwell’s army, in Quakerism, and in the vast sectarian underworld of Commonwealth times; but the other side of that coin was the nobility of the pastor’s profile that the Puritans evolved – gospel preacher and Bible teacher, shepherd and physician of souls, catechist and counselor, trainer and disciplinarian, all in one. From the Puritans’ ideals and goals for church life, which were unquestionably and abidingly right, and from their standards for clergy, which were challengingly and searchingly high, there is yet again a great deal that modern Christians can and should take to heart. These are just a few of the most obvious areas in which the Puritans can help us in these days.
The foregoing celebration of Puritan greatness may leave some readers skeptical. It is, however, as was hinted earlier, wholly in line with the major reassessment of Puritanism that has taken place in historical scholarship. Fifty years ago the academic study of Puritanism went over a watershed with the discovery that there was such a thing as Puritan culture, and a rich culture at that, over and above Puritan reactions against certain facets of medieval and Renaissance culture. The common assumption of earlier days, that Puritans both sides of the Atlantic were characteristically morbid, obsessive, uncouth and unintelligent, was left behind. Satirical aloofness towards Puritan thought-life gave way to sympathetic attentiveness, and the exploring of Puritan beliefs and ideals became an academic cottage industry of impressive vigour, as it still is. North America led the way with four books published over two years which between them ensured that Puritan studies could never be the same again. These were: William Haller, ‘The Rise of Puritanism’ (Columbia University Press: New York, 1938); A.S.P. Woodhouse, ‘Puritanism and Liberty’ (Macmillan: London, 1938; Woodhouse taught at Toronto); M.M. Knappen, ‘Tudor Puritanism’ (Chicago University Press: Chicago, 1939); and Perry Miller, ‘The New England Mind Vol I; The Seventeenth Century’ (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, 1939).
Many books from the thirties and later have confirmed the view of Puritanism which these four volumes yielded, and the overall picture that has emerged is as follows.
Puritanism was at heart a spiritual movement, passionately concerned with God and godliness. It began in England with William Tyndale the Bible translator, Luther’s contemporary, a generation before the word ‘Puritan’ was coined, and it continued till the latter years of the seventeenth century, some decades after ‘Puritan’ had fallen out of use. Into its making went Tyndale’s reforming biblicism; John Bradford’s piety of the heart and conscience; John Knox’s zeal for God’s honor in national churches; the passion for evangelical pastoral competence that is seen in John Hooper, Edward Dering and Richard Greenham; the view of Holy Scripture as the ‘regulative principle’ of church worship and order that fired Thomas Cartwright; the anti-Roman, anti-Arminian, anti-Socinian, anti-Antinomian Calvinism that John Owen and the Westminster standards set forth; the comprehensive ethical interest that reached its apogee in Richard Baxter’s monumental ‘Christian Directory’; and the purpose of popularising and making practical the teaching of the Bible that gripped Perkins and Bunyan, with many more.
Puritanism was essentially a movement for church reform, pastoral renewal and evangelism, and spiritual revival; and in addition – indeed, as a direct expression of its zeal for God’s honor – it was a world-view, a total Christian philosophy, in intellectual terms a Protestantised and updated medievalism, and in terms of spirituality a reformed monasticism outside the cloister and away from monkish vows. The Puritan goal was to complete what England’s Reformation began: to finish reshaping Anglican worship, to introduce effective church discipline into Anglican parishes, to establish righteousness in the political, domestic, and socio-economic fields, and to convert all Englishmen to a vigorous evangelical faith. Through the preaching and teaching of the gospel, and the sanctifying of all arts, sciences, and skills, England was to become a land of saints, a model and paragon of corporate godliness, and as such a means of blessing to the world. Such was the Puritan dream as it developed under Elizabeth, James, and Charles, and blossomed in the Interregnum, before it withered in the dark tunnel of persecution between 1660 (Restoration) and 1689 (Toleration). This dream bred the giants with whom this book is concerned.
The present chapter is, I confess, advocacy, barefaced and unashamed. I am seeking to make good the claim that the Puritans can teach us lessons that we badly need to learn. Let me pursue my line of argument a little further. I must by now be apparent that the great Puritan pastor-theologians – Owen, Baxter, Goodwin, Howe, Perkins, Sibbes, Brooks, Watson, Gurnall, Flavel, Bunyan, Manton, and others like them – were men of outstanding intellectual power, as well as spiritual insight. In them mental habits fostered by sober scholarship were linked with a flaming zeal for God and a minute acquaintance with the human heart. All their work displays this unique fusion of gifts and graces. In thought and outlook they were radically God-centered. Their appreciation of God’s sovereign majesty was profound, and their reverence in handling his written word was deep and constant. They were patient, thorough, and methodical in searching the Scriptures, and their grasp of the various threads and linkages in the web of revealed truth was firm and clear. They understood most richly the ways of God with men, the glory of Christ the Mediator, and the work of the Spirit in the believer and the church.
And their knowledge was no mere theoretical orthodoxy. They sought to ‘reduce to practice’ (their own phrase) all that God taught them. They yoked their consciences to his word, disciplining themselves to bring all activities under the scrutiny of Scripture, and to demand a theological, as distinct from a merely pragmatic, justification for everything that they did. They applied their understanding of the mind of God to every branch of life, seeing the church, the family, the state, the arts and sciences, the world of commerce and industry, no less than the devotions of the individual, as so many spheres in which God must be served and honored. They saw life whole, for they saw its Creator as Lord of each department of it, and their purpose was that ‘holiness to the Lord’ might be written over it in its entirety. Nor as this all. Knowing God, the Puritans also knew man. They saw him as in origin a noble being, made in God’s image to rule God’s earth, but now tragically brutified and brutalised by sin. They viewed sin in he triple light of God’s law, Lordship, and holiness, and so saw it as transgression and guilt, as rebellion and usurpation, and as uncleanness, corruption, and inability for good. Seeing this, and knowing the ways whereby the Spirit brings sinners to faith and new life in Christ, and leads saints, on the one hand to grow into their Savior’s image, and, on the other, to learn their total dependence on grace, the great Puritans became superb pastors.
The depth and unction of the ‘practical and experimental’ expositions in the pulpit was no more outstanding than was their skill in the study of applying spiritual physic to sick souls. From Scripture they mapped the often bewildering terrain of the life of faith and fellowship with God with great thoroughness (see ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ for a pictorial gazetteer), and their acuteness and wisdom in diagnosing spiritual malaise and setting out the appropriate biblical remedies was outstanding. They remain the classic pastors of Protestantism, just as men like Whitefield and Spurgeon stand as its classic evangelists. Now it is here, on the pastoral front, that today’s evangelical Christians most need help. Our numbers, it seems, have increased in recent years, and a new interest in the old paths of evangelical theology has grown. For this we should thank God. But not all evangelical zeal is according to knowledge, nor do the virtues and values of the biblical Christian life always come together as they should, and three groups in particular in today’s evangelical world seem very obviously to need help of a kind that Puritans, as we meet them in their writings, are uniquely qualified to give.
These I call restless experientialists, entrenched intellectualists, and disaffected deviationists. They are not, of course, organised bodies of opinion, but individual persons with characteristic mentalities that one meets over and over again. Take them, now, in order.
Those whom I call restless experientialsts are a familiar breed, so much so that observers are sometimes tempted to define evangelicalism in terms of them. Their outlook is one of casual haphazardness and fretful impatience, of grasping after novelties, entertainments, and ‘highs’, and of valuing strong feelings above deep thoughts. They have little taste for solid study, humble self-examination, disciplined meditation, and unspectacular hard work in their callings and their prayers. They conceive the Christian life as one of exciting extraordinary experiences rather than of resolute rational righteousness. They well continually on the themes of joy, peace, happiness, satisfaction and rest of souls with no balancing reference to the divine discontent of Romans 7, the fight of faith of Psalm 73, or the ‘lows’ of Psalms 42, 88, and 102. Through their influence the spontaneous jollity of the simple extrovert comes to be equated with healthy Christian living, while saints of less sanguine and more complex temperament get driven almost to distraction because they cannot bubble over in the prescribed manner. In her restlessness these exuberant ones become uncritically credulous, reasoning that the more odd and striking an experience the more divine, supernatural, and spiritual it must be, and they scarcely give the scriptural virtue of steadiness a thought. It is no counter to these defects to appeal to the specialised counselling techniques that extrovert evangelicals have developed for pastoral purposes in recent years; for spiritual life is fostered, and spiritual maturity engendered, no by techniques but by truth, and if our techniques have been formed in terms of a defective notion of the truth to be conveyed and the goal to be aimed at they cannot make us better pastors or better believers than we were before. The reason why the restless experientialists are lopsided is that they have fallen victim to a form of worldliness, a man-centered, anti-rational individualism, which turns Christian life into a thrill-seeking ego-trip. Such saints need the sort of maturing ministry in which the Puritan tradition has specialised. What Puritan emphases can establish and settle restless experientialists? These, to start with.
First, the stress on God-centeredness as a divine requirement that is central to the discipline of self-denial.
Second, the insistence on the primacy of the mind, and on the impossibility of obeying biblical truth that one has not yet understood.
Third, the demand for humility, patience, and steadiness at all times, and for an acknowledgement that Holy Spirit’s main ministry is not to give thrills but to create in us Christlike character.
Fourth, the recognition that feelings go up and down, and that God frequently tries us by leading us through wastes of emotional flatness.
Fifth, the singling out of worship as life’s primary activity.
Sixth, the stress on our need of regular self-examination by Scripture, in terms set by Psalm 139:23-24.
Seventh, the realisation that sanctified suffering bulks large in God’s plan for his children’s growth in grace. No Christian tradition of teaching admin isters this purging and strengthening medicine with more masterful authority than does that of the Puritans, whose own dispensing of it nurtured a marvellously strong and resilient type of Christian for a century and more, as we have seen.
Think now of entrenched intellectualists in the evangelical world: a second familiar breed, though not so common as the previous type. Some of them seem to be victims of an insecure temperament and inferiority feelings, others to be reacting out of pride or pain against the zaniness of experientialism as they have perceived it, but whatever the source of their syndrome the behaviour-pattern in which they express it is distinctive and characteristic. Constantly they present themselves as rigid, argumentative, critical Christians, champions of God’s truth for whom orthodoxy is all. Upholding and defending their own view of that truth, whether Calvinist or Arminian, dispensational or Pentecostal, national church reformist or Free Church separatist, or whatever it might be, is their leading interest, and they invest themselves unstintingly in this task. There is little warmth about them; relationally they are remote; experiences do not mean much to them; winning the battle for mental corr ectness is their one great purpose.
They see, truly enough, that in our anti-rational, feeling-oriented, instant-gratification culture conceptual knowledge of divine things is undervalued, and they seek with passion to right the balance at this point. They understand the priority of the intellect well; the trouble is that intellectualism, expressing itself in endless campaigns for their own brand of right thinking, is almost if not quite all that they can offer, for it is almost if not quite all that they have. They too, so I urge, need exposure to the Puritan heritage for their maturing. That last statement might sound paradoxical, since it will not have escaped the reader that the above profile corresponds to what many still suppose the typical Puritan to have been. But when we ask what emphases Puritan tradition contains to counter arid intellectualism, a whole series of points springs to view.
First, true religion claims the affections as well as the intellect; it is essentially, in Richard Baxter’s phrase, ‘heart-work’
Second, theological truth is for practice. William Perkins defined theology as the science of living blessedly for ever; William Ames called it the science of living to God.
Third, conceptual knowledge kills if one does not move on from knowing notions to knowing the realities to which they refer – in this case, from knowing about God to a relational acquaintance with God himself.
Fourth, faith and repentance, issuing in a life of love and holiness, that is, of gratitude expressed in goodwill and good works, are explicitly called for in the gospel.
Fifth, the Spirit is given to lead us into close companionship with others in Christ.
Sixth, the discipline of discursive meditation is meant to keep us ardent and adoring in our love affair with God.
Seventh, it is ungodly and scandalous to become a firebrand and cause division in the church, and it is ordinarily nothing more reputable than spiritual pride in its intellectual form that leads men to create parties and splits. The great Puritans were as humble-minded and warm-hearted they were clear-headed, as fully oriented to people as they were to Scripture, and as passionate for peace as they were for truth. They would certainly have diagnosed today’s fixated Christian intellectualists as spiritually stunted, not in their zeal for the form of sound words but in their lack of zeal for anything else; and the thrust of Puritan teaching about God’s truth in man’s life is still potent to ripen such souls into whole and mature human beings.
I turn finally to those whom I call disaffected deviationists, the casualties and dropouts of the modern evangelical movement, many of whom have now turned against it to denounce it as a neurotic perversion of Christianity. Here, too, is a breed that we know all too well. It is distressing to think of these folk, both because their experience to date discredits our evangelicalism so deeply and also because there are so many of them. Who are they? They are people who once saw themselves as evangelicals, either from being evangelically nurtured or from coming to profess conversion with the evangelical sphere of influence, but who have become disillusioned about the evangelical point of view and have turned their back on it, feeling that it let them down. Some leave it for intellectual reasons, judging that what was taught them was so simplistic as to stifle their minds and so unrealistic and out of touch with facts as to be really if unintentionally dishonest. Others leave because they were led to expect that as Christians they would enjoy health, wealth, trouble-free circumstances, immunity from relational hurts, betrayals, and failures, and from making mistakes and bad decisions; in short, a flowery bed of ease on which they would be carried happily to heaven – and these great expectations were in due course refuted by events.
Hurt and angry, feeling themselves victims of a confidence trick, they now accuse the evangelicalism they knew of having failed and fooled them, and resentfully give it up; it is a mercy if they do not therewith similarly accuse and abandon God himself. Modern evangelicalism has much to answer for in the number of casualties of this sort that it has caused in recent years by its naivet of mind and unrealism of expectation. But here again the soberer, profounder, wiser evangelicalism of the Puritan giants can fulfill a corrective and therapeutic function in our midst, if only we will listen to its message. What have the Puritans to say to us that might serve to heal the disaffected casualties of modern evangelical goofiness? Anyone who reads the writings of the Puritan authors will find in them much that helps in this way. Puritan authors regularly tell us,
first, of the ‘mystery’ of God: that our God is too small, that the real God cannot b put without remainder into a man-made conceptual box so as to be fully understood; and that he was, is, and always will be bewilderingly inscrutable in his dealing with those who trust and love him, so that ‘losses and crosses’, that is, bafflement and disappointment in relation to particular hopes one has entertained, must be accepted as a recurring element in one’s life of fellowship with him. Then they tell us,
second, of the ‘love’ of God: that it is a love that redeems, converts, sanctifies, and ultimately glorifies sinners, and that Calvary was the one place in human history where it was fully and unambiguously revealed, and that in relation to our own situation we may know for certain that nothing can separate us from that love (Rom.8:38f), although no situation in this world will ever be free from flies in the ointment and thorns in the bed. Developing the theme of divine love the Puritans tell us,
third, of the ’salvation’ of God: that the Christ who put away our sins and brought us God’s pardon is leading us through this world to a glory for which we are even now being prepared by the instilling of desire for it and capacity to enjoy it, and that holiness here, in the form of consecrated service and loving obedience through thick and thin, is the high road to happiness hereafter. Following this they tell us,
fourth, about ’spiritual conflict,’ the many ways in which the world, the flesh and the devil seek to lay us low;
fifth, about the ‘protection’ of God, whereby he overrules and sanctifies the conflict, often allowing one evil to touch our lives in order thereby to shield us from greater evils; and, sixth, about the ‘glory’ of God, which it becomes our privilege to further by our celebrating of his grace, by our proving of his power under perplexity and pressure, by totally resigning ourselves to his good pleasure, and by making him our joy and delight at all times. By ministering to us these precious biblical truths the Puritans give us the resources we need to cope with ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’, and offer the casualties an insight into what has happened to them that can raise them above self-pitying resentment and reaction and restore their spiritual health completely.
Puritan sermons show that problems about providence are in now way new; the seventeenth century had its own share of spiritual casualties, saints who had thought simplistically and hoped unrealistically and were now disappointed, disaffected, despondent and despairing, and the Puritans’ ministry to us at this point is simply the spin-off of what they were constantly saying to raise up and encourage wounded spirits among their own people I think the answer to the question, why do we need the Puritans, is now pretty clear, and I conclude my argument at this point. I, who owe more to the Puritans than to any other theologians I have ever read, and who know that I need them still, have been trying to persuade you that perhaps you need them too. To succeed in this would, I confess, make me overjoyed, and that chiefly for your sake, and the Lord’s. But there, too, is something that I must leave in God’s hands. Meantime, let us continue to explore the Puritan heritage together. There is more gold to be mined here than I have mentioned yet.

by J I Packer

-Scott Bailey 2007

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-From A Dad-A Challenge: Raise A Warrior for Christ!

Posted by Scott on August 10, 2007

spartan_warrior_by_akairisu.jpg 

A Challenge:  Raise A Warrior For Christ!

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth”
–Psalm 127:4

You may be thinking right now that I am crazy for using Spartan Warrior within Christianity, but read the entire piece before passing judgment.  Spartan Warriors were fierce fighters.  They would fight to the death for their family, king, and kingdom.  They were ruthless and unconventional in their process and training.  However, my research on Spartan Warriors turned up better qualities for these fighters that many of us as Christian men need to pay attention to. These warriors were trained from the very young age of 7 to be fierce in battle.  The meaning of Spartan is to be “totally devoted to one cause, self-deprived or stripped down to nothing, but the bare essentials, undoubting and courageous”.  They were trained to give their lives without hesitation.  These warriors did not think anything about danger and always expected to win or die trying to win.  These were dreaded men in battle. 

 Gentlemen, I am here to inform you that if you did not know this before now, we are in the battle of our lives and the lives of our families…time to wake-up!  I am afraid that unless we as Christian fathers do not began to train our young men to be like these Spartan Warriors, the future looks very dim.  We need to be training up our boys to be fierce when in battle and this battle takes place daily.  Young men that will not back down from authority that makes rulings in direct conflict with the scriptures.  We need young men that do not mind being ridiculed when they stand up for the under-dog or under-privileged or as they share the gospel to a neighbor or friend.  In some cases this may mean taking up arms to defend our nation and our families from the enemies abroad or even within our midst.  On a daily basis, we need to equip these young fighters with the Truth of God’s Holy Word above all else… God’s Holy Word is not found in the Koran! 

Within the pages of the Bible are many fierce warriors who fought bravely like King David as one example.  The Lord helped him fight with full control of himself and bravely.  David fought mightily with the hand of God on his life…”And David became greater and greater, for the Lord God of hosts was with him.”  2 Samuel 5:10 (NAS)  He as a warrior for the Kingdom of God and Spartan Warriors in ancient Greece were courageous and self-sacrificing.  The crusade I am speaking of today is for the minds and hearts of our young people.  Many Christians have already given up this crusade long ago and have decided to just blend in with the rest of the world in order to have peace.  They may go to church and bible study, but nothing  is different in their lives or the lives of their kids.  We have bought into the society belief that we can be immersed in the life style of the world and still maintain an effective evangelical witness. 

 Titus 2:12(NIV) says, “It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”  In John 15:9(NIV)  it states, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”   

Just hoping our kids will turn out alright is not the answer.  Our adversary, Satan, would like nothing else than for parents to take this approach.  Of course by the grace of God some do turn out alright and frankly that is how we all turn out alright. However, these kids are placed in our hands for a short time for training and preparation for the future and we do not want to let them down if at all possible.  The battle for the heart and mind of our children today include homosexuality, pornography, drunkenness, illegal drug usage, over eating, moral relativism, unfaithfulness, theft, lying, and so on.  This corruptness is being taught in nearly every public forum and institution in America as being “right”.  Our children are being taught that there is no sin and there is no right or wrong.  Their cry is that we all need to be more tolerant of each other.  They are taught that Adam can marry Robert and Eve can marry Laura and it is “ok”.  The truth is that homosexuality is sin and it is not “ok”.  This sin is as forgivable as over eating, as is drunkenness and so on. Glory to God that they are forgivable, but I do not want this deviant trash taught to my children and grandchildren as being “ok”.  Pornography is down played as just a natural thing that men and women desire and it is “ok”.  Christian men are not immune to this.  Men it is not “ok” even in the privacy of your own home.  What we put in our minds has a direct impact on what comes out of our life each day.  Much of the violence against women today stems from pornography.  If this kind of trash goes into the mind then I can guarantee you that vile trash will come out in some form of your life.  Drunkenness is very accepted these days as well, although it is nothing new to the ages.  Drunkenness is mind altering and you will do and say things that will not honor God in any way and will bring shame upon your family. 

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Psalm 23:33 says about too much wine, “Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind will utter perverse things.” 

God has always spoken out against drunkenness in His Word.  I said here, “drunkenness”, not a glass of wine at dinner…I just wanted to clarify that.  A trendy activity nowadays is to go to church on Sunday and raise your hands and sing in what is perceived to be praising and worshipping God.  Then the rest of the week live as you wish and on the weekend get stumbling drunk with your buddies and come to church on Sunday to be holy again.  Is this truly grace in action?  What a mockery to the glory of Jesus Christ!  Does this show a deep love for our Savior?  Does raising our hands to the “bouncy” music in the churches today that stirs up the emotions really make us spiritual and holy?  I am not attacking praise worship music entirely, but in observing the true impact of this movement that has forgotten the testimony of the hymns of old, I have witnessed people actually growing more vile in their lives rather than a closeness to the Lord as the music stirs up emotions rather than a deep seeded devotion to worshipping Christ in the music and message of the pastor. 

Men, take a hard look into your heart….is that burning desire to know Jesus and love Jesus really there?  What is your reason for going to church or reading your Bible?  Another hot trend within the world today is embracing the Muslim or Hindu or Buddhism religion as another way to heaven…that we should be tolerant.  We are told that there are many ways to God. 

 Matthew 7:13-14 speaks of those broad roads and narrow gates, “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” 

We are taught to believe they should have equal access to the minds of our children, our culture, and we should move over for their ways and embrace their teachings.  I will make this statement as clear as I can, men, NO ONE has the right to access the mind and heart of my children other than God Himself.  God gave those children to me and my wife to love, nurture, train and protect.  The liberal left does not have the right to them, the Communist left wingers do not have a right to them, the Muslims, Hindu’s, or Buddhist do not have rights to them, the homosexuals do not have rights to them or the legalist within the church today do not have the rights to them, or any other kind of evil that permeates this dark world we live in today.  If I sound a bit combative in this, I am combative.  This is no powder puff football game we are in, people. 

So, I am declaring today that we must start raising our sons ,as the Spartan Warriors of the 21st century, that will carry on these truths that are in God’s Word and do it unashamedly.  We need a crusade where young men will give their lives so that our future generations can survive without having to bow to the vile images that are so prevalent in our culture today or be subject to the horrific views and taunting by the homosexual leftist agenda.  A desire must exist for young men to train themselves to be satisfied with only the bare essentials as Spartan Warriors were disciplined to be and not raised under pampered lives like so many of the Christian and worldly kids of today.  These young men need training to buffet their bodies and keep their actions under control regarding women, children, money, alcohol, politics, and the things of this world.  Our world is groaning for young men who have a deep seeded desire to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

   Can we train up young men that will carry as their motto, “Give me Christ and Christ alone”?  We long for young men who are willing to die for the cause of Christ.  This does not come naturally…it comes as we battle forward immersing ourselves in God’s word and let Him develop in our hearts and minds a “biblical world view”.  God is sovereign!  He has never moved or changed His mind.  He is not surprised by the darkness that envelops the world we live in today.  He created this universe and every living or non-living being in it.  He is not bashful about war, battle, death or even love.  So, our challenge today as fathers of sons is to bring up a new generation of young men that will fit the image of God, like a warrior for truth, justice and become a loving family man.  Steve Farrar put it very plainly with this quote from his book, “Standing Tall”:

“Gentlemen, we are raising our kids in this sewer of moral relativism.

If your kids buy into this philosophy, it will ruin their lives.

Here’s the deal, guys.  Our kids won’t know anything unless they see it in our lives.  Our kids won’t know that there are moral absolutes unless they absolutely see those truths lived out in our lives.”

Steve Farrar, “Standing Tall” 1994

 

This is what I am talking about.  The training is about walking and talking God’s truth daily.  It does not mean we are perfect, but that we are able to show our weaknesses as well as our strengths.  We need to show our kids that God creates strength from our weaknesses.  There is a loud voice trying to wake up our countries Christian fathers.  I am afraid though we have ear plugs in or are ignoring this loud call.

“The Christian world is in a deep sleep. 

Nothing but a loud voice can waken them out of it.”

-George Whitefield, 1739

 

Guys, I cannot tell you what to do or how to raise your kids.  I cannot make you do anything you are not entirely willing to do from your heart.  This is not a legalistic set of rules or point of view even though it is my opinion.  I abhor legalism in all of its form when it comes to the scriptures and the life God would have each of us live.  However, I am simply challenging you to rethink how you are training your children, especially the boys and how you are living as an example for them today.  Is it with sacrifice or from a life of pure luxury?  At the age of 7, are you training warriors to do battle for their future wives, children, countrymen, and ancestry or just over educated athletes in hopes of landing that multi-million dollar contract so they can buy more boats, larger houses, more jewelry and filthier women?  What is their view of supporting the ministries that abound in their area today?  Do they have a worldly view or a biblical world view?  Can you see a servant’s heart or a future adult that will be demanding and hard to live with?  Think about what is important in this life that enhances your eternal life and the eternal life of others.  Out of your actions and training which of those give glory to the Lord?  Does baseball, football, basketball, the finest schools, dances, an exotic vacation, or other activities like these have an eternal purpose?  They could have, but just think for a moment how it is coming across to the kids.  Does giving them every single toy they ask for prepare them for the battles ahead in life?  Does saying yes to their every plea really give them a proper outlook on the future?  Does taking their side in every argument truly help them in preparation for debating the liberal left wing of this world?  Do they see you react to a problem with prayer and digging into your Bible or do they observe you speaking harshly of that person or problem and vow your revenge? 

Men, I am not bringing this message from an attitude of having all the answers or that I always do it right, because that would be a bold face lie.  I battle the same sins and problems you do.  I battle the same pride and ego that every man fights.  But the truth is what it is, guys.  I cannot speak totally from example, but simply from God’s truth.  We need fighters, warriors, kids that grow up knowing the Bible and believing that the Bible is completely true as the inspired word of God and fall in love with their Lord Jesus Christ.  Our world can stand young men that will be devoted to their wives, children, and country and see them as a blessing upon their lives rather than a curse. 

 Today, I encourage you to pray sincerely about all that you have read here.  Reach down deep into the pit of your heart to find that which God placed in your heart years ago.  Lift up your family, co-workers, in-laws, and enemies in prayer.  Dress down spiritually and put it all on the table, guys.  Leave it with the Lord…all of it…the hurt, the pain, the tears, the stress, the financial problems, sexual problems, weaknesses, family problems…all of it.  Leave nothing behind to carry on with you.  Then take a long deep breath and set there for a while in silence to listen to hear if God will speak to you.  It may take Him days, weeks, months or years to speak, but He will speak to you.  See if He speaks, not audibly, but spiritually, through His word, through His people, and through the circumstances.  It is better to not move a muscle until you hear God speak then to do anything that would be in direct disobedience to His calling upon your life. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.”    Philippians 4:8-9 (NAS)

 

Guys think on a few questions this very day:

-Would the Lord have you change anything about your life, the treatment of your wife and children and then the training of your children?

-What change can you make today that would be positively noticeable to your family when you got home from work that would inspire them to want to follow you and serve the Lord more? 

What changes would bring glory to Christ today?

-Do you have a servant’s heart like Christ or is pride and ego in the way?

-Why do you go to church, bible studies, and other “religious” functions?

-What kind of men do you hang around with everyday?

-Most importantly, do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or are you just playing church or religion because it is the cultural thing to do? 

This is serious guys…your life and the lives of our children and grand-children depend on the decisions we make today….tomorrow may be too late.

Scott Bailey 2007 ©  

*Disclaimer:  In no way am I against sports, athletes, vacations, or money.  Joe Lewis, the late great boxer, once said that “no, money isn’t everything, but it sure ranks right up there with air…try to live without for a day.”  Each of us have a God given purpose in life and is according to what God’s desire for our lives are and we should be obedient to Him in that purpose if we want to live a successful life.  That could mean a pro baseball career for example or using your income to provide for families in need that live around you.  So, please reread this with an open heart and mind and look at it from God’s side as to what He might be seeing in us right now.  He wants us to be completely devoted to Him in all things and my heart felt belief is that we have missed this as dads on nearly all accounts…I am as convicted of this in my heart as anyone else. 

May God bless you as you go out each day to provide for your family and as you work hard to make that much needed time to spend with your wife and children.

**It is rumored that young kids about 7 years old that are chosen to be a Spartan Warrior and subjected to homosexuality.  This was not the custom, but I am sure it happened and there was most likely homosexuality in the ranks as at anytime during the years…sin is sin and has been around since the Garden of Eden…God hates sin as much today as He did at this time or any other time.  However, there is no evidence that Spartan Warriors were homosexual as a whole nor has sufficient effidence been provided that concludes these young men were trained to be homosexual.  I conclude this information is a rumor and lie.  However, the main point is that we are to be raising solid warriors that are willing to lay down their lives for others not matter what the task…not raising homosexual men….I am not advicating homosexuality at all.

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