En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘sheep’

The distinctives of the Lord Jesus-Christ in the Koran!

Posted by Scott on June 18, 2008

What Does the Koran Say about Jesus?

 

 

1. Jesus was the only person to be born of a virgin, distinguished from all humans and prophets without any exception: “She said, How shall I have a son, whom no mortal has touched, neither have I been unchased. He said, Even so thy Lord has said: Easy is that for Me; and that We may appoint him a sign unto men and a mercy from Us. It is a thing determined.”(19) (Mary 16-24).

2. Jesus Christ alone was distinguished from all humans by being the Word of God, who is the very expression of the Self of God end His eternal Being: “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, God’s Messenger, and His Word…” (4)The Women 171; (3)House of Imran 40).

3. Jesus Christ alone emanated from the spirit of God; for this reason He did not need a sexual, genetical birth. “The Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, God’s Messenger, and His Word that He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him.” (4)The Women 169)

4. Jesus Christ alone, in exception to all humans, spoke while in the cradle (19)Mary 22-32). The Koran tells us that Christ needed no one to teach Him anything, not even how to speak. The Bible says: “Who hath directed the spirit of the Lord, or being His counselor hath taught Him knowledge and showed to Him the way of understanding.” (Isaiah 40:1,13-14). Naturally, no one can teach the One who emanated from God’s Spirit for He is the All-knowing.

5. Jesus Christ alone was distinguished from all prophets with His infallibility and was the only one to be singled out for His perfection; for all the prophets had sinned, and their sins were mentioned in the Koran. However, Christ was the only exception, for “High honored shall be in this world and the next.” (3)House of Imran 45). Also, the Arab prophet (El-Bukhari) testified for the perfection of Christ and His infallibility, saying: “Satan pokes with his finger the side of every human at birth, except Jesus, son of Mary; when he went to poke Him, he poked the curtain.”

6. Jesus Christ alone was distinguished from all others in the sense that He was the Creator: “I will create for you out of clay as the likeness of a bird; then I will breathe into it and it will be a bird.” (3)House of  Imran 42).

7. Jesus Christ alone was uniquely incomparable in knowing men’s secrets: “I will inform you too of what things you eat, and what you treasure up in your houses. Surely, in that is a sign for you if you are believers.” (3)House of Imran 48).

8. Jesus was matchless in making the miracles and the wonders which no other could make: “And I will also heal the blind and the leper…” (3)House of Imran 48).

9. Jesus Christ alone could raise the dead with the word of His blessed mouth: And I will bring life to the dead…”  (3)House of Imran 48; (5)The Table 110).

10. Jesus Christ alone exclusively enjoyed the prophetical title of “the Messiah”: “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was God’s Messenger, and His Word committed to Mary…” (4)Women 169). The Old Testament made known the real identity of the Messiah, saying: “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth… and this is the name whereby He shall be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:5-6)

11. Jesus Christ alone exchanged responsibility of authority with God: “And I was a witness over them, while I remained among them; but when thou didst take me to thy self, Thou wast Thyself the watcher over them.” (5)Table 117).

12. Jesus was the only one to become a Sign unto men and Mercy from God (19)Mary 20) unto men who fell under the burden and the shackles of sin; for which, God’s justice and holiness condemned them to eternal perdition. For this reason the only Savior, who can offer eternal salvation to men came to be a Mercy from God.

13. Only Jesus Christ could give His followers high honors and assurances concerning the day of Resurrection: “I will cause thee to die, and I will raise thee to Me, and I will purify thee of those who believe not. I will set thy followers above the unbelievers till the resurrection Day,”  (3)House of Imran 55)

14. Only Jesus will be the Judge who will come to this world to judge the living and the dead; the Arab prophet (El-Bukhari) confirmed this fact, saying: “The Last Hour will not come until the Son of Mary come down as the just Judge.”

 

Who is Christ Indeed?

If you meditated on any of the Koran verses that portray the Lord Jesus Christ, you find that they are inherent attributes that are exclusively distinctive of God; and that He did not share any of them with any human at all. Moreover, you find that the Lord Jesus Christ did not enjoy only one of these attributes, but He included all of them in His blessed person, so that He may leave no doubt concerning His deity and divinity.

The New Testament recorded that the All-mighty God became a perfect man (something that was easy for Him to do) and came from heaven to our earth to save men. The Bible says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God … and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14). Then the Bible continues the portrayal of Christ, saying:”And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16).

 

The Doctrine of the “SON OF GOD” in the Old Testament.

The Jews believe, as many of the Muslims do, that the idea of “The Son of God” was an innovation of Christianity, brought as a heresy against the faith in the One God. But if you study the Tenach, which is the Jewish Torah or Old Testament, you will find that the doctrine of God’s Son is braided, fused, and embedded in the very foundations of the Tenach. And in these few coming lines, we will present the strongest proofs that support this doctrine and prove that the Jews have rejected the very doctrine of their Holy Tenach concerning God’s Son. The second Psalm says: “Now therefore be wise, O ye kings: Be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve Jehovah with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, For his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all they that take refuge in him.” (Psalms 2:10-12).

Who is this Son that God is admonishing the kings, the judges, and the people of the earth to give Him loyalty, honor, homage, and reverence? Which human son is worthy of having the whole world putting their trust in him? For certainty, there is no human who is worthy or capable to accept the responsibility of all humans putting their trust in him. For this reason, the wisest human that ever lived, king Solomon, made known that that Son is the Son of the Omni-potent Creator to whom nothing is impossible: “Who hath ascended up into heaven, and descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in his garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou knowest? ” (Proverbs 30:4)

Salomon excelled in proclaiming the truth when God revealed to him that that Son who became unto us wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:31), and who is the Word of God, was with God since the beginning, exactly as the Asharite group deducted in their argument concerning the Word or God and the eternality thereof; he said: ” The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, Before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, Before the earth was … While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, Nor the beginning of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there: When he set a circle upon the face of the deep, When he made firm the skies above, When the fountains of the deep became strong, When he gave to the sea its bound, That the waters should not transgress his commandment, When he marked out the foundations of the earth; Then I was by him, as a master workman; And I was dailhis delight… ” (Proverbs 8:22-30)

Then came Isaiah, the greatest of the Jewish prophets, to dissipate all the clouds of doubts concerning the identity of the Son of the All-mighty God, he said: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel; [which is, being interpreted, God with us.]”(Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6-7). Who is this Son who is worthy of homage, loyalty and honor as well as being entitled to be called The mighty God, the Everlasting Father? No one except the only and unique One, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was born of a virgin, in exception to all humans for genetical birth did not become to Him.

If you studied the Tenach in depth, you find that the central theme of its entirety is the Lord Jesus Christ. It also contains more than three hundred prophecies about the expected Messiah. The prophets were given the privilege of predicting the details of every aspect of His birth, life, death, and resurrection. All those prophecies were precisely fulfilled in Jesus’ birth, its time, its place, and the events that related to it; and in His forerunner, and in His life, ministry, miracles, preaching, disciples, the Jews treating Him, crucifixion, burial, the period of His staying in the grave, glorious resurrection from the dead, and ascension to heaven. All that was done so that He could prove to men that He was not an ordinary human, but the God who forged history and fashioned the events so that the prophecies could be fulfilled, to prepare men to meet the True God who loved them.

 

Why Did Christ Come?

Christ came to save us from our sins and from the eternal torment that our sins brought upon us. We are sinners by nature and by choice: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:10-23). Moreover, we cannot save ourselves neither by our money nor by our good works, for the Lord’s salvation is by the grace of God; and there fore, it is a free gift: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Whereas God is most holy and pure, and whereas His holiness does not accept sin, our sins brought upon us the wrath of God, and we have become worthy of eternal perdition: “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). Furthermore, we cannot save ourselves with self efforts, nor can we buy our eternity with a fistful of money or good works no matter how good they are. If a man condemned to death for breaking human laws cannot satisfy human justice with a fistful of money nor can he settle his debt by performing good works, how then can we expect to satisfy the absolute justice of God with a handful of money and some good works? God’s justice requires the most severe punishments, which led man to the fire of hell.

But the love of God for us is far greater than what we can imagine. Consequently, He sent His only Holy and Pure Son, to satisfy the divine justice which cannot accept other than the most severe punishment. For without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sin. For this reason, God demanded of man to offer the sacrifices for sins; but all those sacrifices would have meant nothing, nor would they have any effect, had they not been the symbol of the precious blood that was shed on the cross upon Mount Calvary: “… the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins … Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”(Hebrews 10:11; 9:12).

“The Great Sacrifice” that was mentioned by the Koran in (The Rangers 37:109), quoting the Torah, and telling the story of Abraham, when he was about to offer his son as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, but God stopped him and gave him a lamb to redeem his son; was but a symbol of the redemptive work of Christ on Calvary. Here, we see the Koran calling it “the Great Sacrifice”, because that lamb was not an ordinary lamb, similar to the other lambs that were offered daily; but was a unique lamb, a gift from heaven to Abraham to redeem his son who was under the judgement of a sure death. Also, because God wanted to teach us, that: what happened on Mount Moriah (which is Mount Calvary), was but a symbol; first, of man’s situation and his sins that brought God’s judgement of eternal death in the fire of hell, upon him. Secondly, of the love of God who sent the Gift of Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). Then Christ died on the same spot where Abraham offered the lamb to redeem his son; symbolizing the death of Christ for man to forgive the sins of everyone that believes: “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:18).

Therefore, Abraham’s “Great Sacrifice” which was offered by Christ with His own blood, to redeem man and to nullify all other sacrifices, seeing that we need them no more: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God … For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (1 Peter 3: 18; John 3:16). And whereas Jesus Christ is the Word of God and His Spirit; i.e., His Son, He could not be held back by death in the grave; but He arose the third day from the dead with great glory, to prove His clam, and to establish His message: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25).

 

Who is a Christian?

 

 

 

 

Not everyone that is labeled as a Christian is a Christian. A person might be pious, or religious, but not a real Christian; the Bible says: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7 :21). Unfortunately, most of those who are labeled as Christian, are not even religious let alone real Christians. Moreover, in real Christianity, no nation can be considered a Christian nation, because Christianity is a personal relationship between God and the individual: “For many be called, but few chosen… Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 20:16; 7:13-14).

Therefore, a true Christian is a Christian neither by birth nor by heritage, nor by coercion, nor by force. But rather, he is the person who responds to God’s call and the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart, inviting him to eternal salvation. For this reason God excluded governments, states, and organizations from His salvation plan; because man always tends to abuse his powers, and then tries to justify his oppressive actions by claiming that he is acting on God’s behalf (And that is an excuse worse than the misdeed); as if God is unable to avenge. We should never forget what the almighty God said: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19). In contrast, Christ sent his followers as lambs in the midst of wolves. However, this does not mean that kings, governors and statesmen do not have the same chance like everyone else to be saved, for they are born sinners like the rest of us, and they surely need God’s salvation: (God) Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4). Moreover, the true Christian lives the godly life, in obedience to god, so he may be a light in the midst of this world of darkness. Also, the true Christian obeys the Lord’s commandment concerning baptism. A follower of Christ would find a fundamental group of believers with whom he would have fellowship, for mutual edification.

 

 

 

Necessity of Faith!

Even though God has completed the work of salvation and offered it to us as a free gift, we cannot enjoy God’s salvation unless we repent from our sins, and accept the lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior: “Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions… But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (Ezekiel 18:30; Acts 3:19; John 1:12).

Here we find that the calling of God unto repentance was built upon love, compassion and mercy, with no intimidation, scare, unnerving or coercion, whatsoever. For the love of God inspires a respect to man and gives him the opportunity to make an important decision for himself. Consequently, God says: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life…” (Deut. 30:19-20).

The Bible stresses upon the center of faith, saying: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31). Without this faith in Christ, there is no possibility to please God, nor receive eternal salvation or eternal bliss. Therefore, the answer to the most important question that faces man concerning the place where he will spend his eternity, is based in its entirety upon the individual’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. The Bible says: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9,13).

Therefore, as a sinner who desires and seeks to receive the forgiveness of your sins, eternal life, and the assurance of your eternity, [you can pray something like this]: “Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. [I know that I am a dreadful sinner condemned unclean a part from Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.  Now I am praying asking you to forgive my sins once and for all and to give me eternal life. Thank you because you have heard [my] prayer.  In [the name above every name-Jesus Christ] I pray.  Amen.”

 

An Imperative Word

How may a guilty man have any hope from the justice of the legal code if he is brought before a judge who happened to be his opponent? The Bible confirms the fact that Christ will come as the Judge, saying: “The Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” (2 Tim.4:1). Islam has supported this fact as Mohammed said: “The Last Hour will not come until the son of Mary come down as the just Judge.” Then the Bible says that the Lord Jesus Christ “will judge the world in righteousness… For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” (Acts 17:31; John 5:22). Therefore, we see here a fact that does not allow questioning or argument; first, that “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27); secondly, that the Lord Jesus Christ will come back as the righteous Judge of the living and the dead.

Here, we have to ask what is the account that man would give before the Judge? As the Bible teaches, Christ died for our sins, to give us complete forgiveness. But what happens if we reject that forgiveness? The Bible says: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18). Therefore, the most serious charge that man will face before the Great Judge is the answer we will give in response to the redemptive work of Christ for you. What will your answer be to His question: “Did you accept the redemptive work that I accomplished on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins?” The Bible replies, saying: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:7-12).

Therefore, the great case before the righteous Judge is based upon the fact whether you accepted or rejected God’s testimony concerning His son and His redemptive work on the cross. This means that if you rejected that testimony, you have discredited the testimony of God concerning His Son, and you will find yourself without excuse in the hands of an angry Judge, reaping the wrath that you have treasured for yourself against the Day of Wrath, whereon the righteous judgement of god will be given against every one that had decided not to believe the Word of God nor to accept His testimony. The prayer of my heart is that you have accepted the redemptive word of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins, and have received Christ as your personal Savior, so that you will be found among the saved and the faithful. God Bless you. Amen.

Excerpt from: The gospel of Christ Jesus according to Saint John – As reviewed by the Koran and Muslim scholars, By: Dr. Ben Malik Jamil

Prepared for the Internet by:

www.TheGrace.com

 

 

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“Whosoever will….”

Posted by Scott on June 11, 2008

Just a response to things I have heard for nearly 40 years in the church:

I have heard many pastors, teachers and evangelist make statements when asked about Election…”What do you do with ‘Whosoever will…’?”  The claim is that “Whosoever will…” is the balancing act of “You did not choose me, but I-God chose you”.  There is no balancing act in this…both of these are on the same side.  I have read and heard stated a comment C.H. Spurgeon made one time…it goes something like this and may be paraphrased:  “we enter heaven through a door that says “Whosoever will come..” then as we enter we look on the other side and above the door it says “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…”  They ask this as though it is in conflict with Reformed Theology (Calvinism).  The fact is “Whosoever will come…and God chose us” is not in conflict with the Calvinist Theology at all…this is the same door, they are both on the same side, not some balancing act. 

As preachers, pastors, evangelist, and teachers we are to simply present the entire gospel truth found in God’s word to all.  The ears that hear and hearts that are regenerated (Born Again) is up to the Holy Spirit…whosoever hears the word of God and comes to God for salvation may come.  Where is the conflict there?  Fact is that the ears that hear and act upon what they have heard with a regenerated heart will come and those that act in this fashion are of the Elect (Chosen)!  Those that come with a repentant heart, given faith by the Lord, ready to believe, may come to God for salvation…whosoever!  I have never found the conflict that so many seem to have with John 3:16 and the Calvinist Theology….nothing in conflict at all.  The call goes out to all, but only those chosen will come.  It is a narrow way that leads to the narrow gate to access to our heavenly Father…this narrow gate is Jesus Christ alone taught by scripture alone!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“For God…” salvation starts with God.  God is the initiator of our salvation!  As sinful depraved men we will not come to God unless He starts the process first.  He will draw us to Himself.

“…so loved…” this was His design not mans.  This love is a special kind of love for a special kind of people…His chosen people from all parts of the world.  His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts our thoughts.  God designed this before the foundations of the Universe came into existence.

“…the world…” this was His design for His people from all over the world.  It was a call to all kinds of people…Jews and Gentiles alike.  This salvation message was not just for the Jews, but for all who hear His call to salvation.  His people are all over the world not just in Israel, Jerusalem, America, or any other part, but all over.

“…that He gave His only begotten Son…” this is Jesus Christ the only Son of God…not an adopted son or daughter as we are.  This was a special and most important distinction so that we would not confuse Christ sacrifice on the cross as being just anyone on the cross…it was the one and only Son of the living God…God the Son Himself on that cross!  This was also fulfillment of prophecy from the Old Testament.

“…that Whosoever believes in Him…” those that hear His calling and act in true belief will be saved.  This belief cannot occur without being Born Again (regenerated) first, repentance of sins, then faith and belief.  This is not the free will of man, but the Sovereign Will of a gracious God.  This is not a cheap statement…God’s grace shown in this simple verse is not cheap nor should we cheapen it by dumbing it down so that anyone who blurbs out a few words can think he is saved…the true believer’s life will change in the direction of God not man’s desires.  Not everyone will come to a true faith and belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Many will pray a prayer, walk an isle, get dunked ’til they bubble in some Baptistery, many will claim they are saved because their family was “Christian”, but they are just as lost as any atheist, agnostic, or skeptic.  Actually it is even worse to have come so close to Christ yet be so far from Him to not be known by Him though one may have went to church all their life, sung in the choir, taught Sunday School, prayed out loud in church, etc.  

“…shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  this is a promise.  As a chosen child of God we can rest upon this promise that if we sense the openness in our hearts to receive the Word of God, humbly come before an awesome God in true repentance at our sinful depraved life absolutely torn that we have acted this way before God, prayerfully ask for forgiveness of our sinful being, and believe in Jesus Christ that He is Who He says He is..this is a life changing belief that permeates our entire being, then we can live on that promise that we are saved…permanently saved!  We can live on the fact that we will not perish in hell, but will live on forever with God in heaven someday.  We can stand firm on this fact although millions will tell us we are stupid and uneducated to believe in such…count this as joy! 

To be chosen by God without any effort on my part is the most awesome fact in scripture.  This is true grace.  The fact that I was wondrously miserably going through life without God.  Yet, in God’s Sovereign plan I had been chosen before the beginning to be saved.  He knew that my depraved sinful evil wicked heart would not desire Him nor would it ever come to Him on its own…so, the Holy Spirit went to work on me years ago to regenerate my heart, so that at the proper time of His choosing and for His purposes I would receive the Word of God in my heart and accept the fact that I was and am a sinful person.  The fact that the only way out of such bondage was to ask for God to forgive me of this sinful state of being and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  Without God going to work on me first I would still be wondering aimlessly through life rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell.  You see, man loves his sin.  Think about it…before God radically saved you or someone you know, the love of this sinful life permeated every part of them or us.  Only God can changed that.  This was the life of being a dead man spiritually walking through life…a dead man cannot revive himself…God must grant the spark of spiritual regeneration. 

This is where people jump off the good ship….this spiritual regeneration will only be sparked in those to whom God has Elected!  We do not know who these people are, but God knows His own and He will not allow one of His chosen ones, His sheep to be lost.

“Election is the act of God whereby in eternity past He chose those who will be saved.  Election is unconditional, because it does not depend on anything outside of God, such as good works or foreseen faith (Romans 9:16).  This doctrine is repeatedly taught in the Bible, and is also demanded by our knowledge of God.”    John MacArthur “Considering Election”

Remember this, God will not give up His Sovereign Will at anytime in order to give way to man’s free will if He so intends to save a particular man.  If God gives man over to his own depraved free will that is tragic and means that the man is hell bound without hope.  Man’s free will is at war with God’s Sovereign Will, yet by the grace of God, man’s free will is beaten down in order for God to save His own. 

-Scott Bailey (c) 2008

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Starving at the Father’s Table!

Posted by Scott on May 3, 2008

from The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” –John 21:15

There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.

I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real. Milton’s terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it did to his: “The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed.” It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table. The Pursuit of God, 8.

“Lord, I trust I’m not being critical, but it seems to me that there are more and more churches where people are starving at the Father’s table. I sense the lack in our pulpits of which Tozer speaks, and pray that You might bring a refreshing. Amen.”

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He Leads Me Beside Still Waters!

Posted by Scott on March 28, 2008

Psalm 23:1-6 is a short chapter.  However, the Lord has it jam packed with meat that each of us guys can live on.

We have a God that is our Shepherd.  This means He watches over us as sheep.  Whether we like to think about it this way or not we are all like sheep prone to wonder away and get into trouble unless our Shepherd keeps us in line.  A Shepherd makes sure we are in the right places to eat and drink, so we will want for nothing.  This does not mean we will have everything we want, but everything we need…there is a difference.

Our great God gives us green lush pasture grass to lie down in…nothing greater to a sheep than tall luscious green grass in the morning with a bit of cool watery dew on top, yum-yum.  With us it is the same way.  Our gracious Lord gives us a place to lie down in peace at night.  It is our Shepherd that gives us this sweet rest. 

Then we are lead by the crystal clear calm waters that are quiet and peaceful.  These can be described like small ponds with not even a ripple across them, like looking at glass.  Come to think of it I have not seen sheep drink from a running brook or stream…as sheep they are probably too scary to drink from such a source.   Mostly I have seen sheep drink from is a still, quiet, pond or lake only.  Could it be this way for real..I will have to research further on that?  Anyway, in the middle of a hard day, God will calm us and quiet us with His presence.  Just knowing He is beside me is all I need to know in order to gain a steady hand with my problems.  Even if my issues are not going my way just having my Jesus beside me is all I need.  It is in this moment beside the calm quiet waters that He restores my aching troubled soul.   My Lord brings about the stability in my soul so that rest and peace can take place.  He gives us the steady hand to accomplish our work.  He gives us the steadiness to calm our families during the storm.  As Jesus leads us we can lead our families as well.  It is our job as dads and husbands to help our families to drink from these calm quiet ponds and find rest there.  We are to lead our families to the Shepherd.

You know guys, God is our personal guide leading us on the right paths in this life.  It is for His glorious name that He guides us back over to a righteous road away from the treacherous way we can be headed.  You know us sheep are prone to wonder and not recognize when we are going the wrong way that leads to our tragic end…God as our Shepherd knows this.  Thankfully we can count on His beautiful guidance each and every day.  It is hard for any man to give up ourselves in order to allow God to rule our lives, but guys, we must.  We must be the example of obedience to His word to show our families it is “ok”.  They will gain trust in our Shepherd if they see us trusting and obeying Him.

Throughout life each one of us will walk through the deepest darkest valley.  As the scripture puts it “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”.  It is appointed that every man die once a physical death.  However, in this instance we can apply this “darkest valley” as death, financial ruin, spiritual upheaval, major health issues, etc.  In our lifetime we will walk through many dark valleys in order to get to the next mountain top and we have to climb this huge mountain just to get there.  Mountain tops are not that long compared to the valley below them and the sides leading up to them.  This is why we see far more valleys and find ourselves climbing mountains most of the time than we experience standing on top of the mountain.  Each mountain top experience I have had was absolutely wonderful…I never wanted to leave there, however, in order to continue to grow closer to my Lord and be obedient to His calling, I had to leave the mountain top and begin that long decent down the other side towards yet another valley.  This is tough to do.  God never promised us it would be an easy life, but that it would be one worth living in the end.  You see, we can count on our Lord to walk with us through these darkest valleys.  We need not fear any kind of evil since He is with us.  He has two big sticks to beat off anything that might try to keep us in that valley or ruin our time there…it is His rod and staff.  We can take great comfort in knowing this as we follow God along the right path through the valley.  Guys, these valleys are never where we want to stay, but the wisdom gained there is absolutely irreplacable.  I like to be beside a calm lake, with beautiful greenery all around.  I love watching the birds fly in and animals roam around those areas.  It can be great sometimes.  If we are not careful, guys, we will get accustom to living in the valley and not want to start climbing the mountain again.  These valleys have tremendous purpose, but we must continue on.  That mountain top is still the best place to be even if for a short period of time.  You see, it is there we can actually see all of God glorious wonder.  It is there we can shout the praises of our great King and see where it is we have been.  It is hard to see where we have been in the valley, but on the mountain top we can see it all that is behind us and much of what we have coming before us.  This is not saying we can see each trouble still to come…we can see much of the terrain we have to cross in order to get to the other side.  Hey, like my kids, I love a good adventure and in that valley below is adventure guaranteed.

Each of us no matter how gracious or good we are will have enemies.  Even if this enemy is satanic in nature, it is still our enemy.  As a matter of fact if anyone is against God they are an enemy of God making them our enemy as well.  So, regardless how hard we work to make sure no one is our enemy, we will still have enemies.  Our gracious Lord prepares a table that is fit for a king to eat at right in the presence of our enemies.  He intends that the enemy see that we belong to Him.  God wants our enemies to know that He is our God, our Guide, our Shepherd, Our Leader, and our Redeemer.  At the same time He anoints us or honors us before our enemies, which is one of the highest forms of affection and honor He will bestow on us.  Our cup will run over with the affection of our great sovereign Lord.  While the enemy can only grumble and look on…God is loving us and taking care of us each step of the way. 

Finally, we find ourselves with goodness, mercy, and love following us all the days of our lives.  This is a promise.  Men, understand that we can live off the promises of God…this t-bone steak for us!  This promise is not that we will spend our entire lives on the mountain peaks, but that even in the darkest valleys goodness and mercy and love will follow us there.  We can count on our God to provide that for us.  In the end of it all is really no end at all.  For we will live in the house of God forever.  For all eternity we will rest with our great God in heaven livign life to the fullest in thegreatest sense that God intended us to live.  These valleys, the shadow of death, the financial turmoil, the marital problems, the health issues, the pain, the suffering, the depression, the unclear direction, the uncertainty..this will all pass away someday into a new morning that is crystal clear with the light of the glory of our Lord Jesus with His hands open wide for each of us.  As God has said, “though I walk THROUGH the valley”.  It does not say we are staying there or how long we will be there.  We are only walking through it…there is another mountain peak coming…there is a new day dawning.  His mercies are fresh and new each morning, guaranteed!  After all is said and done in this life, we have eternity waiting…stop and imagine eternity or forever…what will that be like?  What a glorious picture we can make of this.  Those without Christ have no picture to visualize.  Those of us in Christ, oh what a wonderful day it will be.  AMEN!

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Listen Up Guys….Appropriate Relationships!

Posted by Scott on February 3, 2008

Appropriate Relationships

Guys, if you’re going to succeed in living a God-pleasing life, keep your distance from women apart from your wife. 

I’m not saying that you become rude to women or stand-offish. What I am saying is that we keep an appropriate distance in our relationships with the women with whom we work and associate. You know what I’m talking about. We must keep our distance emotionally, and we must keep our distance physically. And if we will do that, we’ll be just fine. 

One of the reasons a vast majority of guys don’t finish strong can be found right here. Why? Because Satan takes them out with his all-time, numero-uno, time-proven tactic for snaring men and keeping them from living successfully: sexual immorality. Be on the alert and remember, ministry begins at home. My first responsibility before God is to my wife.

–Steve Farrar

Steve Farrar is the author of ten books, including the
best-sellers Point Man and Finishing Strong.
Learn more at SteveFarrar.com

-Scott Bailey 2008

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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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-From A Dad: Devoted to Christ!

Posted by Scott on November 5, 2007

Years ago a reformation started in the church.  For those of us that hold to the fact that the bible is the inspired infallible word of God, that God is sovereign over all things, and we must take God seriously see the reformation as a great blessing.  This may not be the view of others, but it happens to be my belief.

In my growing devotion to Christ I have found the reading of the messages by many of the great theologians of the past refreshing and challenging.  Especially in light of the fact that many of today’s churches receive no such theology or doctrine from their pulpits.  I have enjoyed getting to know B.B. Warfield, Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, Thomas Bouston, Thomas Watson, Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Hugh Binning, Martin Luther, A.W. Tozer, Warren Weirsbe, John Calvin, and Ray Stedman.  I have also enjoyed setting under the education and ministry of Dr. Charles Swindoll and Dr. Steve Farrar.  That enjoyment has not stopped there, but has expanded to several other men that are keeping the torch of the true church alive such as R.C. Sproul, John Piper, John MacArthur, the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, and John Stott.   These men have had a huge impact on my self-education (God directed) in the scriptures. 

Never have I experienced in the course my Christian life a love and devotion for Christ as I do now.  I am experiencing the hymns of old like I have never before.  Many of these hymns make sense to me now after digging deeply into God’s word and I can recognize the theology that is written there for our singing praise to God.   This may be one of the many issues that Christians and church goers that have fallen into the emerging church movement so ardently.  The scriptures and the love of the scriptures is where you development the interest in the things of God.  The hymns are dripping rich with the theology of God to the point that truly amazing worship can take place each time they are presented when the words are read and understood.  I understand it is difficult to know the meaning of these hymns if you cannot understand their meaning.  The challenge is to get involved in the study of God’s word to help you grasp the rich theology and doctrine that is presented as inspiration by God in these hymns. 

Many of the old hymns are personal testimonies that are presented to us in song.  One such hymn is by Martin Rinkart written in the 1600’s:

“Now thank we all our God,

with heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things hath done,

in Whom this world rejoices;

Who from our mother’s arms

hath blessed us on our way

with countless gifts of love,

and still is ours today.”

Martin Rinkart had lived out a rough period in his life when in the end this particular trial the Lord inspired within him this hymn.  Much of the hymn writers experiences are of suffering.  Amazingly they all have nothing but praise for our God.  His mercies new each morning and His grace abounds forever more.  Many of the hymns are a far cry from the prosperity and good feeling worship services seen today.  Christians will experience suffering if they are living for the Lord.  Charles Spurgeon gave a wonderful little bit of advice for each day:

“Wash your face every morning in a bath of praise.”  -C.H. Spurgeon

Each day we are breathing here on this earth is worthy of praise.  Yes, I know heaven would be far better, but God has an appointed time for each us in regard to death, so for now we are to enjoy living here to be to the praise of God’s glory.

Another great hymn written in our historical past was by William Cowper:

“God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.

You fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds you so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace,

Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work is vain;

God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.”

-William Cowper 1774

You understand that God in His providential power pulls us into each crisis we find ourselves in.  The order of the day is to follow Him into the canyon and as He lead you in He will certainly lead you out.  As Psalm 34:19 tells us that “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; But the Lord delivers them out of them all.”  We can prepare our hearts that afflictions are coming, but can also set our hearts on the fact that God made a promise her to deliver us from them all.  The deliverance may not be as we would have chosen, but it will work directly into the plan God has for us.  

In my devotion to Christ I take it very seriously.  After years of playing the part of a Christian…playing at church I found my Lord patiently preparing me for a love of Him that I never knew could be found.  “He is the first and the last and we are gathered up between, as in great arms of eternal loving-kindness” by Amy Carmichael.  This devotion has increased over time and with the daily help of my wife and kids who challenge me to grow and grow deeply.  As our ministry to husbands and wives grow this devotion to Christ grows as well. 

Would you like to be devoted beyond your current level?  I challenge you to go beyond the norm in your relationship to Christ Jesus.  This does not come easy or over night.  Reading the bible daily, meditating on it, and prayer are the major keys to this growing devotion.  Challenge anyone that preaches a different message other than what the bible tells us.  Read about the past theologians, their messages, and be encouraged…these guys have gone on before us and have traveled down the same paths we are now experiencing.  God’s sovereign will is already ahead of us and He knows what this heart really needs. 

Challenge yourself to study more heart-felt, pray God’s word, listen to God’s word, sing the hymns prayerfully, read the hymns, study the testimony of the hymns, read and study the great theologians of the past, and be obedient to the calling no matter where that takes you.

-Scott Bailey (c) 2007

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What Mean These Stones?

Posted by Scott on November 5, 2007

‘What mean these stones?’

(Joshua 4.21)

by: Dr D MARTYN LLOYD-JONES

Words spoken at the dedication of a church building. I would like to call your attention, on this occasion, to the words that are to be found in the book of Joshua, in chapter 4, beginning to read at verse 21 and going on to the end of the chapter. ‘And he spoke to the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then you shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until you were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us, until we were gone over. That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you might fear the Lord your God for ever.’

Now these words come in this chapter which, of course, is a very important and vital chapter in the history of the children of Israel. You remember how the children of Israel had had to go down to Egypt because of a famine that had arisen in their land and they had dwelt there. For a while they had been very prosperous. But times had changed and they had become slaves in the land of Egypt and were completely helpless.

But God had raised a man called Moses and he had led them out of the bondage and the captivity. It was a very precarious enterprise because they were soon face to face with the Red Sea. They had to cross it and they could not do so. There was the Red Sea before them and the armies of Pharaoh behind them, and the situation seemed not only desperate but impossible. And God worked a miracle. He divided the Red Sea, as we are reminded here, and the children of Israel crossed on dry land. But the moment that Pharaoh, his hosts and chariots and horses, tried to do the same, the waters closed in again and they were all drowned and finally discomfited.

Then God had led these people for forty years through a wilderness, and had fed them in a miraculous manner, by giving them the manna. And now here comes in many ways the climactic point. They are on the verge of entering Canaan, the chosen land, but they have got to cross the river of Jordan and it seems to have been in flood at this particular time. But God again worked a miracle. He divided the river Jordan exactly as he had divided the Red Sea and the people were able to cross over on dry land and enter into the Promised Land.

But God did a very interesting thing here. He commanded Joshua to call out twelve leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. He was to command these men, each one of them, to pick up a stone from the middle of the bed of the river Jordan, and each man was to carry this stone on his shoulder into the new land, Canaan. Then they were to set up these stones as pillars outside a place called Gilgal. And this was done.

In the verses I am going to consider with you we are given the reason why this was to be done. The reason why these men were to take up a stone each and why these twelve stones were to be set up outside Gilgal. The reason is this. It was to be done because ‘when your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then you shall let your children know, saying, Israel come over this Jordan’ (which was quite near there) ‘on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until you were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us, until we were gone over.’ Why? ‘That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you might fear the Lord your God for ever.’

Well now I feel that this is an appropriate incident in the life and the story of the children of Israel for us to consider on this interesting occasion. Here is a new building, and people will be walking round here and passing by and in a few days probably and in the years to come people will stand outside and look at the building and at the notice board and they will say, ‘What is this? What is this building? What does it mean? What is it about?’ There are many buildings in Emgland, and there are many new buildings that have been put up in England in these last years. And people pass by and they look and they say ‘Well, what is this for?’ One is called a Masonic Lodge, another is called an Institute, and so on. But here is this building, this new building, and they will ask the question, ‘What mean these stones? What is the message of this building?’ If any of you who are members here should be asked by somebody passing by ‘What mean these stones?’, what is to be the answer?

Well I suggest that the answers are these, and they are all here. I am not going to import any. I am simply going to expound what we are told in these verses. For I believe that what we are told here is exactly what we should be saying in reply to the same question that is put to us at this present time. What does this building represent?

Well, the first answer is exactly like those stones outside Gilgal, they point to history, to certain historical events and happenings. And this, I sometimes think, is perhaps one of the most important things of which we need to remind ourselves at the present time. Our Christian faith is based entirely upon history. This is where the Christian faith differs from everything else that is being offered to men and women in the midst of our modern troubles.

Let me put it to you like this. Christianity is not a philosophy. What is a philosophy? Well, a philosophy is made up of ideas put forward by men, in an attempt to try to understand life and our problems and how to deal with them and how to solve them. It is a matter of ideas, of thoughts and of teachings. My point is that while there is obviously a teaching and a doctrine which is a vital part of Christianity, that is not the first thing. What differentiates this is that it is first and foremost a record of historical events and historical facts.

What mean these stones outside Gilgal? All that they mean is that certain things happened to these people – history. Let us be clear about this. There are so many people today who talk about the Christian attitude towards war and peace, a Christian attitude towards education, a Christian attitude towards art, drama and literature. Now all that tends to turn it into a philosophy, into a teaching, into a theory, into a point of view. But that is really not to be true to our position. So Christianity, we must remember, is not one of a number of theories and ideas and philosophies with respect to life. It is quite unique because it is teaching which is based on history.

I can go further and I can say this. That this is the thing that differentiates the Christian faith from religion, from any kind of religion. You take these religions that people, some of them, are turning to at the present time. Buddhism or Confucianism or Hinduism, or any one of these ‘isms’. What are they? Well, they are all something invented by men. They are all teachings. They involve a kind of worship, but they are not based upon facts and upon events. They are all based upon ideas – and they are ideas that are supposed to lead you and to help you to arrive at the particular deity that you want to worship.

Now here again, you see, our Christian faith is entirely different. It calls attention to facts. And that is why this building in a sense is going to do exactly the same as the bread and the wine do in a communion service. They again are calling attention to facts. So, we must start with this all important matter, this principle, and realise that it is vital to our whole situation. The uniqueness of the Christian faith depends upon a series of historical facts and events and the teaching which results from them.

But let me hurry to the second point, which is this. These facts, these events, on which our whole position is based, are not the result of man’s action but God’s action. You see, the stones outside Gilgal are not to call attention to anything the children of Israel did. They are to call attention to what God did with the children of Israel. They are memorials – pointing people, reminding people, of actions, events, historical happenings, which have been produced by Almighty God. The whole emphasis is upon that.

And so, you see, we need to be reminded of this and we need to remind others of this. People still persist in thinking that you can make yourself a Christian, and that it is as the result of certain good actions and deeds that you have done that you become a Christian. That if a man is going to arrive in Heaven, well, it is going to be the result of the life he has lived and what he has done.

This, of course, is the great characteristic of the age in which we live. It not only forgets and does not believe in God – it does not believe in the supernatural at all. The whole emphasis is upon man and the achievements of man. We are glorying in what man does scientifically. Putting people on the moon, these wonderful discoveries. Man, great man!-and what man has done!

That is the whole trouble with the world today, is it not? That it is only interested in man and interested in what man has done and what man is doing and what man can do and what man, we hope, is going to do. The whole emphasis is upon man and his actions. The uniqueness of our position, the unique message of this building, is this, that though men have erected this building, what it is pointing to is what God has done, what the Almighty has done, not man. It is a record of the activities of God. So the Bible, you see, starts by saying ‘In the beginning, God’. Not ‘In the beginning, man’ but ‘In the beginning, God’. And the Bible is really nothing but a great record of what God has done. So this building is to point to that.

And you see this building can be a very powerful evangelistic force, therefore, if we only give the right answer to the questions. When the man or the boy asks outside, ‘What is the meaning of this building? What mean these stones?’ ‘Ah’, you say, ‘this is a monument to what God has done!’ The activity of God, in the midst of this evil present world, as in the past!

But let us go further. Let us go on, let us analyse what we are told in our statement. It is a record in particular of God’s redemptive acts. Not only His acts in general. It does, as I have just quoted, it does tell you about creation, but you know the real theme of the Bible is not creation, it is redemption! You have the preliminary account, of course, of creation and the Fall, as I am going to show you, in order, in a sense, that you might know why redemption has ever become necessary. The glory of the message in this book, and what this building is going to proclaim, is God’s acts of redemption, deliverance and of salvation.

That is what we are told here. ‘Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over.’

What does it mean? Well, as I told you in my brief synopsis at the beginning, it is the story of the deliverance and the redemption of the children of Israel from the bondage of the captivity of Egypt. It is customary, and rightly so, for us to regard that story as a kind of picture and a fore-shadowing of the great redemption in Christ Jesus. You remember the essence of that story. Here, as I say, were these children of Israel. They had become slaves. They were suffering under a cruel bondage. The cruel taskmasters with their whips were whipping them, getting them to produce more and more bricks without providing the straw that was necessary. It was a sad, it was a sorry condition. They were helpless and they were hopeless, they could do nothing at all.

They were under a very powerful monarch, the Pharaoh, with all his chariots and his horses and his military men and all their great culture. Here were these poor people, the children of Israel, completely helpless, absolutely hopeless. But the story is that God intervened. God did something. What He did was to deliver them and to bring them out of that and to take them through the Red Sea and the Jordan and to put them in the land of promise, the land flowing with milk and honey.

Now then, that is what these stones are saying outside Gilgal, and you and I must make clear that people understand that that is what this building is announcing. This building is a proclamation of the fact that God has acted and intervened in this world in the salvation of men and women.

But we do not merely make a statement. We have got to start by saying why has God done this? Why was it ever necessary that it should be done at all? It is no use just going to people and saying ‘Jesus loves you. Jesus saves you.’ They do not know that they need to be saved. The Bible is very careful to tell us this. You know how the children of Israel had got into their miserable condition of bondage and of captivity, and it is our business to tell the modern man why he is in such grievous trouble. Why his world is tormented this afternoon. Why we are in a state of great crisis. What is it due to?

Well, our answer is that all this is due to the fact that men and women are the slaves of the Devil, that they are being governed and controlled by ‘the god of this world’, ‘the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.’

How have they ever got into this condition? For this is their condition. Men and women are not free. They talk about freedom. Never have they been such slaves! Slaves to the newspapers. Slaves to the television. Slaves to the radio. Slaves to the thing to do. Slaves to advertising. Like sheep all doing the same thing. That is sheer slavery!

Well how did they ever get into that condition? The history gives us the answer. It was because man, whom God had created in His own image and likeness, in his folly, in his arrogance and pride, rebelled against God and wanted to be equal with God, and thereby fell and put himself in bondage to Satan. He listened to the suggestion and the temptation of Satan and so he became the slave of Satan. The whole of humanity is born in sin and shapen in iniquity. This has been the sad story of the human race, conscious of some strange bondage, anxious to get out of it but never able to do so. The whole world is in slavery to the Devil and sin. The world, the flesh and the Devil!

We must tell them further that we, by nature, are all as helpless as the children of Israel were in their physical bondage in Egypt. No man can conquer the Devil. Our Lord describes him as ‘the strong man armed who keepes his goods at peace’! Men have tried to liberate themselves from the Devil. Men try to put an end to bad habits and practises. You can make your New Year resolutions but you cannot keep them. We are weak. None of us can do this. The law was given to the children of Israel but they could not keep it. The law could not do what it should because it was weak in the flesh. Try as it will mankind cannot emancipate itself. Oh the tragedy of the last hundred years when people in their folly thought that education would set us free, that emancipation was to be found in greater knowledge and greater travel facilities and so on. But it has all proved to be useless. The slavery and the bondage are as great this afternoon as they have ever been!

Well, now, here is a world in an apparently hopeless condition. Governed by what? Greed and envy and jealousy. We are seeing it today! It is true of everybody. It is not true of one class of society only. There are politicians who would have us believe that it is only the working man and woman who are greedy and want more money. The others at the other end are equally guilty! They all love money. The millionaire loves money. The man who would like to be a millionaire loves money also! And the whole trouble is that we are in bondage to sin and to Satan. We are slaves to the lusts and the passions of the flesh and of the mind and we cannot set ourselves free!

What is this building for, what is it announcing? The message of this building is this, that God has done something about this bondage of ours, exactly as he did with the physical bondage of the children of Israel of old. This is Christianity. God’s acts of redemption. God’s eruptions into time. God coming in and delivering us there amongst the fleshpots of Egypt and in the utter hopelessness of our spiritual despair. And this is the great message, of course, and the great record of the Bible, as I have said.

Let me just note to you some of these great acts of God. What mean these stones? Oh, what these stones mean is this, that God brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry land. He has brought them through this Jordan on dry land. God has done it. The facts!

What are the facts of God’s redemption in a spiritual sense? Well, the first of course, happened in the garden of Eden itself. The woman and the man have listened to the subtle temptation of the devil and they have acted and they have rebelled, and at once they know that they are wrong. Then they suddenly hear the voice of the Lord God in the garden in the cool of the day. And He called out to them ‘Adam, where are you?’ God has come down to man in his folly, his shame, his misery, his bondage. God has come down. He did not leave it there. He did not say ‘Very well, carry on. Let things go on as they are!’ They would have festered to putrefaction! God came down!

Why did He come down? Well He came down, not only to tell them the punishment He was going to mete out upon their sin and their folly. He came down to tell them that He had got a plan of redemption for the whole race. There was not only going to be warfare and strife between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. The great promise, the Protevangel, the first intimation of God’s salvation, ‘the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.’ God came down. He came into history to make the declaration. Now that is the first one. I am only going to pick out some of the most striking ones.

Do you remember the history of the flood? That is fact. That is history. The ancient world had got into such a state that God said there is nothing to be done but to judge it. And the whole world was condemned and destroyed apart from eight souls, one family. God condemned, destroyed. Then God gave a new start, a new beginning in this great story. And on it goes. Think then of what happened at the Tower of Babel. When men thought again they were going to be equal with God and they could arrive in heaven, God shattered it all and confused their languages, and the whole world was in a state of confusion.

But God again did an amazing thing. He acted, He intervened. He took hold of a man whose name was Abram, who lived in Ur of the Chaldees and who was a pagan. He took hold of this man and He said ‘I am going to turn you into a nation. I am going to make my own people out of you and you are going to represent Me. You are going to bear a message and ultimately through you and your seed, all the nations of the world are going to be blessed!’ God intervening! This is salvation. This is Christianity. God is now going to form a nation, so that through this nation He can teach all other nations, and condemn them, and eventually offer them His great salvation. So it is again, you see, an act and an action of God. This is Christianity, not some vague philosophy or some ideas or some attitude, but God coming down and coming in. I am simply picking out the salient features.

The children of Israel came into being – God’s people. They were different from every other nation. But as I have reminded you, in their folly they did not appreciate that. They wanted to be like the others, and they became like the others. The result of that was that God not only abandoned them, but He raised an enemy to conquer them and they were carried away as captives to Babylon. There they are again in utter and complete helplessness and hopelessness and bondage-slaves in Babylon. You would have thought that that was the end of them, and it would have been, were it not that God acts. God delivered them. He brought back a remnant. It is the action of God once more. Then He raised those great prophets to encourage them and to tell them that a great Deliverer was going to come.

God sent them. These men did not have a sudden idea. The prophets were not philosophers. They did not suddenly have a brilliant theory. God gave them a message, ‘the burden of the LORD came to me.’ This is what they all say. It is God acting, and it leads up, of course, to that amazing man, John the Baptist. Do you remember the way in which the Bible introduces John the Baptist, emphasising the point I made at the beginning, that we are dealing with history, my friends? This is how John the Baptist is introduced: ‘In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…’

This is not a theory, this is not a story, this is not a fairy-tale or a romance. It is something that happened in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, ‘…Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea…,’ and you get all these other men, tetrarchs in Galilee, Ituræa and Trachonitis, ‘…the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.’ God spoke. It is God acting. He gave that man that message. He was the great fore-runner.

But that is entirely eclipsed by something else. ‘When the fullness of the time was come, God…’ -it is always God – ‘God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.’ We are not here to say what man has arrived at in his thinking and theorising, as to how we can serve God and please Him. It is the exact opposite. It is God seeking lost men. It is God bringing and putting into operation His plan of redemption and of salvation. And here is the supreme act. He sends His own Son into the world ‘in the fullness of the time.’ It was all predetermined, but it has arrived. God so loved the world that He gave – He sent into it – His only begotten Son. I must not keep you, my friends, but I am so anxious that we should realise that our whole position depends on these facts. It is not a teaching. It is facts, primarily, historical events, which inevitably have their teaching.

So you must go through all the facts about our Lord. When a man asks what is the meaning of this building, what is the meaning of the word ‘Evangelical’? Ah, you say this is the only hope of the world today! It is all about that man called Jesus of Nazareth. Do you know who He was? This was the only begotten Son of God. This was the perfect likeness and image of God, the eternal Father. This was God’s own Son. This is the most amazing thing that has ever happened in the whole course of human history, that God has been manifest in the flesh and has dwelt among us. This is fact. That is why you call this 1979. It is a fact. And the facts of His perfect life, His miracles, His teaching. Yes, but above all the fact of the Cross. The event that took place on a hill called Calvary. What is that?

‘Ah,’ says the world, ‘that was the death of a pacifist, wasn’t it? He was a pure man and He didn’t believe in war, or in force, or in strife. The world did not understand Him, as they had not understood Socrates, as they never understand their own greatest men. And they put Him to death. The death of a great pacifist or a great teacher. ‘

No, no! ‘God has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.’ What was happening? ‘God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ It was God acting on Calvary. It was men with their hands who actually nailed Him, but He did not die because of that! It was God. He was ‘the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world’. It was God smiting Him instead of us. It was God reconciling the world to Himself. It is God acting on Calvary – as He acts everywhere. Ah, but He died and they took down His body and they buried it in a grave. And it would have been the end of the story, but for one thing. God raised Him from the dead! God raised Him! Then He ascended into Heaven and took His seat at the right hand in the Glory everlasting.

Well, now, these you see are the facts to which this building is to bear witness. That is its purpose – to tell men and women that this has happened, and why it has happened. It is a part of God’s way of delivering us and of saving us and of giving us a new life. But you know, it did not stop even there.

There was a great event on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. And we must not forget this. The Christian Church in a sense was inaugurated on the day of Pentecost. What happened then? Well, here were these men. They had got the message, and they knew who He was. God sent the Spirit on them! They had met together to pray; that was what they could do. But, you know, we are here this afternoon because of this. While these men were praying and were waiting, suddenly, there was the sound of a mighty, rushing wind! What is this? Oh, it is God! It is the Spirit coming. God has shed forth His Spirit, sent forth His mighty power. He had promised to do so and He does so. And so the Spirit came down on the Church and these simple ignorant men were enabled to preach with authority and power. Three thousand converted in one day, on the day of Pentecost, and added to the church. The joyful story of the early Christian Church!

It did not stop at that. They got into difficulties. God came in, intervened, and the miracles follow – the miraculous escapes from prisons and various other places. And the whole thing is alive with the activity of God. ‘The Acts of the Apostles’, we say. In a sense it is right, but I agree with the man who suggested that that book should be called ‘The Acts of the Holy Spirit’! The Spirit came on Peter and he spoke, and with authority. The Spirit came on Paul and he healed a man. It is the action of God.

We do not stop even at the end of the New Testament canon. Do you know why we are here this afternoon? I can tell you. It is entirely due to the activity of God. The church, like the children of Israel of old, constantly goes astray. They forget their origin; they forget their message. They even deny it! They want to become like the world and we have known that in this century. Churches having whist drives and dances and wanting to be like clubs and institutions. And the church would long ago have ceased to exist were it not for one thing. What is that? The interventions of God in history in what we call revivals.

Look at it! The Protestant Reformation! Suddenly into the midst of the chaos and deadness God comes, raises up a Martin Luther, and many others. This is how the cause has been kept going and I say that is why we are here this afternoon. It is this series of interventions of God. He has come in and He has carried on these great acts of redemption. And so we find ourselves here this afternoon. That is what these stones are saying. That is the message of this building.

But let me say just a word about the character of these acts of God. It is emphasised here. They are the acts of God. ‘The wonderful works of God’ that the Apostles were speaking about on the day of Pentecost. And the people could hear them in their various languages. But think of the character of the acts, – and here this is emphasised, – miraculous, supernatural.

What mean these stones? The answer is ‘Israel came over this Jordan on dry land’. What? Can you come over a river on dry land? Israel, came through the Red Sea on dry land? Impossible! Yes, with men. But it happened! Why? Because it was a miracle. The acts of God are supernatural and they are miraculous acts. These were phenomena and we are to tell people that our faith is based upon phenomena and it is a phenomenon in and of itself.

What does this mean? Well, we have got to tell people this quite plainly. Our position as Christians differs from that of everybody else. Your politician, he addresses a company of people, and he puts his programme before them and he appeals to their reason and asks them to vote for it. He has demonstrated it. He has shown it to them and they are capable of understanding and following the argument, and they vote for him.

We have got to start by telling people that our message is such that they cannot understand it! It is entirely different from everything that is confronting mankind this afternoon. It is a spiritual message, a supernatural message. We say to them, Look here, you won’t understand this. A great man called Nicodemus thought he could understand it and he went to see our Lord to have an explanation of it. The Lord answered him at once, and said, ‘ Verily, verily, I say to you’ – though you are a great teacher of Israel. ‘Verily, verily, I say to you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ All you have got is useless. ‘…That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I say unto you, You must be born again.’

Do not be surprised at this! Why? Well here is the answer, ‘The wind blows where it wills, and you hear its sound, but cannot tell whence it comes, and whither it goes. So is every one that is born of the Spirit.’ The whole thing is miraculous. It is supernatural. It is God intervening. It is not man striving, it is God coming down. It is not human ingenuity, it is divine wisdom. And ‘the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’ We have got to tell people this. It is a supernatural, it is a miraculous message. It is God acting, above nature, not contradicting it, acting above it and showing His lordship over it.

And this is true of the whole story of the church. You see the people of Israel, the nation of Israel, it was a miracle nation. Israel was unlike every other nation. It had been created out of one man. That was not true of any other nation. Their whole history is miraculous and supernatural. So is the life of our Lord. So is the origin of the Church. So is the continuation of the church, as I have been showing you, and so is the case with everyone of us who is truly Christian.

You can take up religion. You cannot take up Christianity. It takes you up. It apprehends us, as Paul tells the Philippians. He was apprehended, arrested. God, in Christ, intervened in his life on the road to Damascus. He would never have understood it. He was opposed to it. But something was done to him. He was made a new man. He was a miracle. Every Christian is a miracle.

And so that is what this building is to proclaim. Not only the acts and the works of God, but their character – that they are miraculous and supernatural. And this comes out again in those revivals to which I have been referring. Every Christian is a phenomenon. And every revival is a great phenomenon. You cannot explain it. You cannot understand it. People have tried to do so, but they cannot do so. William Sargeant thought he could do it, but he could not – he completely failed. He does not understand this. He says it is a sort of conditioned reflex. You do this and that will happen. It is not so.

I have known many men who acting on that principle thought they could produce revival, by having all nights of prayer or something else. Poor fellows, they have died exhausted and the revival has not come! No, it is God alone who can do it, and it is miraculous and it is supernatural. It is a phenomenon. It is something that amazes men and causes them to cry out as those people did on the day of Pentecost – ‘What is this? What is this?’ They asked that question there as these people ask the questions about the stones outside Gilgal – and as they should ask about this building.

Very well, this brings me to my last point, which is this. What then is all this to convey to people? What is the message that this building is to convey, the answer that we give to them to the question , ‘What mean these stones’? And do you know it is all summarised here in a very terrifying manner – ‘that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord that it is mighty.’ And that you children of Israel, Christian people, ‘might fear the Lord your God for ever’.

What is this building proclaiming here? Well, I think we have got to put it first – it is proclaiming judgment. It is to remind this godless generation that God still is and that this world is His, not ours. And to tell them that it is under judgment. Well, you say, where is that in your text? Oh, I can tell you. Go back to the incident at the Red Sea which is emphasised here. Pharaoh and his people had been maltreating the children of Israel and they had all power. And who were these people, these nobodies? But suddenly these nobodies are led out by this man Moses. Here they are at Pi-hahiroth and Baal-zephon, one each side of them – the hosts of Pharaoh behind them, the Red sea in front of them. God divides the Red sea and in they go and through. And Pharaoh in his confidence said to himself, ‘What they can do, I can do.’ He thought he was only dealing with men, and he did not listen to their warnings, the warnings of Moses about this Almighty God. They went boldly into the sea. And what happened to them! They were all destroyed. The judgment of God!

The deliverance of the children of Israel miraculously through the Red Sea is not only indicative of God’s power to save. It is equally indicative of God’s power to judge and to condemn. And the whole world is under His judgment at this moment. We are here to tell the people to ‘flee from the wrath to come’. We are here to tell them that judgment is abroad in the land. That is why everything is breaking down and is failing, approximating to the condition before the Flood, when God intervened in the Flood and in destruction. Judgment! God is again saying this.

‘You are going to be asked’, said Joshua, ‘what mean these stones?’ Well, tell them, tell those children that God manifested the glory of His power on Pharaoh and his hosts. And he will do the same to any who are opposed to His people, and opposed to Him – the evil of simply waiting for the day of destruction. There are many reserved in chains of darkness waiting for the great day when the Son of God will come again and judge the whole world in righteousness. The hand of the Lord – and it is a mighty hand, and nobody can withstand it. Nobody can avoid death. Nobody can avoid the judgment that is to follow. Tell people when they ask ‘What is the meaning of this?’, say, ‘This is announcing the judgment that is about to come on the whole world’. Judgment.

But, thank God, there is another element here. ‘That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.’ Thank God it is, and because salvation depends on God, there is power sufficient to save anybody. ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ’, says Paul. Why? ‘It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.’ You see before you can be a philosopher, you must have some brains, because before you can derive benefit from Plato, Socrates etc., you have got to have the capacity to follow them. The glory of this salvation is this, it depends upon the power of God. Not on our power, not on our understanding, not on our goodness. Not on anything in us. It is the power of God.

So what if a poor fellow, drunk, stands outside this building, and asks one of you members of this church, ‘What is the meaning of this building? What does it mean?’ You can say to him, ‘My friend, it means this, that there is a power that can deliver you from the slavery of drink. There is a power that can make you not only a new man, a sober man. It can turn you into a saint.’ That is the message! That it is the power of God! That when education and culture and all medicine and everything else fail to deal with your alcoholics and your drug addicts and things which are even worse, God can do it! He has been doing it through the centuries. He is still doing it. So you tell them ‘Believe in this God! Come to Him!’

The power of God! This is what it is proclaiming! ‘The hand of the Lord, that it is mighty!’ So we have got a gospel that we can offer to all and sundry. It is not a place for respectable, nice people only. The vilest sinner can come in. We can say to him:

‘E’er since by faith, I saw the stream, Your flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.
The dying thief rejoiced to see, That fountain in his day,
And there may I, though vile as he, Wash all my sins away.’We preach a hope to all, in a hopeless world, as it is this afternoon.

And the last note is this. The certainty of the completeness of God’s plan and purpose. All these actions and activities of God, of course, have been the carrying out of a great plan and purpose which He determined before He had even created the world. And this is but the record of how He has been carrying it out in parts and portions throughout the centuries. But He is going to finish it. It is going to be complete.

But you say is there any hope for Christianity, with militant communism and atheism and the materialism and the humanism, and all the learning of today. And all these things that keep people from churches today. Is there any future? Are these people here mad to put up this building? The answer is – if it were their activities it would be sheer madness and a tragic waste of money. But they are here because it is God’s work, and God’s work no-one can frustrate, no-one can spoil. God is Almighty. ‘The hand of the Lord it is mighty!’ The moment He arises He will blow upon men’s aristocracy, humanism, every ‘ism’, and they will just vanish out of sight. They will pass away. There will be nothing left with God. The God who has acted, as the history tells us, and has worked miracles, and has done the impossible, and has destroyed the Pharaohs and every other enemy, He will destroy every enemy. As certain as we are here this afternoon, the day is coming when:

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore, Till moons shall wax and wane no more.Christian people lift up your heads, lift up your hearts, lift up your voices. Rejoice in the Lord God Almighty, and in His mighty, almighty hand. That is the message of this building.

So that whenever anybody asks you, ‘What is this? What does it mean?’ That is what you will say. It is God – what He has done – what He is doing – and what He is going to do.

Do you know Him? Have you submitted and fallen under His almighty hand, to escape judgment and to receive His great salvation?

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Only One Way!

Posted by Scott on November 4, 2007

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

 

Ephesians 6:10, 11 “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
 

We come now to the detailed consideration and analysis of this most important statement: ‘Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.’ The Apostle is exhorting these Ephesians to realize something of the nature of the battle in which we are all inevitably engaged as the result of being Christians. Indeed this battle exists whether we are Christians or not. The teaching of the Bible throughout is that this world in which we live is a battle-ground, is a place in which we literally have to fight for our souls, to fight for our eternal welfare.

The Apostle gives these Ephesians some very specific instruction with regard to the nature of that battle, and as to the only way in which it can be waged successfully. Clearly the exhortation is primarily for Christian people; his whole argument is based upon that consideration. At the same time, however, it has a message for everyone; for it is true to say that this is a conflict which affects all persons whether they realize it or not. Those who are not Christian do not understand their own world at this present time; they cannot understand why it is as it is, and why various things are happening. So while we are looking at the Apostle’s instruction with regard to the way to fight this great battle, we shall, incidentally, be seeing the exposure of the complete failure of all who are not Christian even to understand their problem, and still more their failure to deal with it in an adequate and successful manner. In other words, we are confronted here with the Apostle’s teaching as to the way in which we can fight successfully the forces that are arrayed against our souls and their highest and best interests.

Perhaps the best way to approach this subject, and to put it into its modern setting in order that we may realize the relevance of all this to life as it is today, would be for me to quote some words which I read in a newspaper recently. A certain senior lecturer in education in a college in Great Britain said this: ‘The Church should take a firmer lead in moral matters; woolly generalizations must go. The Church must give answers to real modern problems, including sex. While the religious basis offers the best prospect of success it should never be regarded as the only way to teach morality, otherwise we would become narrow-minded.’ This is a very typical statement of the attitude of so many in the world at the present time to the problem which is dealt with here by the Apostle Paul. I refrain from making certain obvious comments upon it, for I am interested in it simply because I think it will help us to understand the Apostle’s teaching. Setting detailed considerations aside for the moment, we shall consider the Apostle’s teaching in general as it gives an answer to this kind of statement. The lecturer uses the word ‘woolly’ – he does not want ‘woolly generalizations’. Yet, poor man, his own statement is nothing but a woolly generalization! However, let us ignore that. It is one of the typical modern clichés – ‘The Church must do this and not do that; it is about time the Church . . .’ We are all familiar with such remarks.

Statements of this type are invariably based on an ignorance of what the Church is, and what is the nature of her teaching. In the Ephesian passage before us, the Apostle is really saying that what he is teaching is the only way to deal with the problem of conflict. The lecturer says that ‘while religion offers the best prospect of success, it should never be regarded as the only way to teach morality, otherwise we would become narrow-minded’. The Apostle, on the other hand, specifically and openly says that the way he propounds is the only way to victory. That is why there is such a note of urgency in his teaching, and why, as I have said, it is a kind of trumpet-call: ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God.’ If you fail to do this you are defeated, you are already finished before you start. The Apostle’s is the only way. We make no apology for saying so. We are not at all afraid of this charge of ‘narrow-mindedness’. When you know that to take a certain course is the only cure for a disease, that it is specific, that it cures it to a certainty, and that nothing else can do so, you do not regard it as being narrow-minded to use that remedy and to refuse to waste time with other remedies. That is not being narrow-minded, it is just being sensible and sane and rational.

Every kind of specialization is in this sense narrow. We are living in an age of specialization; but I have never heard anyone suggesting that an atomic scientist is narrow-minded because he gives the whole of his time to the science of the atom. Of course not! That is just common sense, that is wisdom; it is to concentrate on what matters, what is powerful, what really does yield results.

But let me state my thesis positively. The claim of the Christian faith quite openly and specifically is that it – and it alone – can deal with this problem. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not one of a number of theories and teachings and philosophies confronting the world. It is unique, it stands absolutely alone. The Bible is not one book among many books. It is God’s Book, it is a unique Book, it is the Book, standing apart from all the others. We must emphasize this because it is the whole basis of the Christian faith. The Church is not one of a number of institutions; she claims to be quite unique as an institution; she says she is the body of Christ. We speak because we have a revelation. The Bible does not provide us with a theory, a speculation, an attempt to arrive at truth. The position of all the men who wrote the books of the Bible is akin to what the Apostle says about himself in the third chapter of this Epistle to the Ephesians: ‘For this cause, I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery’.

The Apostle does not address the Ephesians saying: ‘Listen, many people have been offering you advice and teaching; well, I have studied a great deal also, and I have come to this conclusion; so this is what I suggest.’ That is not the case at all! He says, ‘a revelation was given to me’. It is not a message devised by Paul; it was given to him by the Lord Himself, the Lord of Glory, on the road to Damascus. He apprehended him and arrested him and said, ‘I am going to send you as a minister and a witness to the people and to the Gentiles’ (Acts 26:16-18). Divine communication is the whole basis of the Christian faith. It is therefore foolish to regard that faith as one amongst many. No, as the Apostle Peter stated it once and for ever at the very beginning of the Church when he and John had been arrested and were arraigned before the authorities in Jerusalem, ‘There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). None other! There is not even a second! He is the only One, and He is enough; you do not need any addition. This and this alone! And that note is found in everything the Apostle says. That is why he is so urgent, so insistent as he presses his message upon them. This is the only hope. Were it not for this there would be nothing at all. It is a dogmatic pronouncement; and anyone who apologizes for his Christianity, or tries to accommodate it, or to say that it is the best amongst a number, is virtually denying the most essential point in the Christian position.

We must not stop, however, at a mere dogmatic assertion, but must proceed to demonstrate it. I suggest that if you take the evidence of history you will be driven to the conclusion that it is the only way. Go back, review the history of the centuries as far as it is known, look at secular history-books, take history as it is recorded in the pages of the Old Testament, and you will find beyond any doubt or question that the asseveration of the Apostle is fully and completely substantiated.

You find it in miniature, as it were, in the story of the children of Israel themselves. Their story is that whenever they were true to God, and worshipped Him, and obeyed His commandments, all went well with them; they were a pattern and an example to the nations, and highly successful; but every time they turned away from God and looked at the idols of other nations, or took up their religion or their philosophies, everything went wrong with them. It is the principle that emerges as you read through the pages of the Old Testament.

But the most impressive statement of all, the perfect summary of this entire argument, is provided by the Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Romans, beginning at verse eighteen and going on to the end of the first chapter. He says that as nations and peoples in supposed ‘wisdom’ have turned their backs upon God the Creator, they have always become fools – ‘Imagining themselves to be wise, they became fools’. Then he proceeds to give an account of their terrible moral degradation, the perversions and obscenities into which they fell. ‘Ah,’ says our modern lecturer, ‘the Church must speak specifically about sex . . .’ Very well, the Church does so! If you want to know what she has to say, read the second half of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and you will find an account of all the modern perversions, all the foulnesses that are disgracing life at the present time. They have occurred many times before. But when has that happened? It is always when man in his supposed wisdom has turned from the Creator and has given his worship to the creature. The whole history of the human race substantiates what the Apostle claims. Before Christ ever came into the world everything else had had its opportunity. The Greek philosophers had flourished, the greatest of them had already taught their beliefs. But they could not deal with the problem of sin; their teaching was not adequate and had already failed. There was also the great Roman Empire with its system of law; but there was a canker at the very heart of the Empire; and it finally collapsed, not because of the superior prowess of the Goths and the Vandals and the Barbarians, but because of the moral rot at its very heart. That was the cause of the ‘Decline and Fall’ of the great Roman Empire, as is admitted by all. In other words, history substantiates the Apostle’s teaching.

But, unfortunately, modern history, contemporary history, proves my thesis also. This is where we see the relevance of this teaching. And how up-to-date it is! how it speaks to us at this present time! We have read in our newspapers during the last week statements such as that of the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Edinburgh, and of various other Medical Officers of Health who have been giving their annual reports. ‘The Church,’ says the lecturer I have quoted, ‘must supply an answer to the problem of sex.’ What the Medical Officers of Health are reporting is that there is an appalling increase in venereal diseases and especially amongst adolescents and juveniles. Such is the problem confronting us. This moral problem has become the most acute and the most urgent – there is a serious breakdown of morality.

They tell us that we are confronted by an amoral generation, by people who do not seem to have a moral sense at all! But let us not forget that this situation must be considered in the light of the exceptional educational facilities and opportunities and advantages which have been available since 1870. This man who tells us that religion is not the only solution is a lecturer on education, and there has been an abundance of such lecturers and lectures since 1870. And yet here is our great problem – immorality and vice and evil! The world has multiplied its institutions for dealing with the moral and social problems in this present century more than ever before. Clubs, institutions, cultural agencies, have been multiplying one on top of another. Never has the government of any country spent so much in an attempt to deal with moral and social problems as has been done in this country in the present century. And yet here are these men saying one after another that moral standards are deteriorating almost hourly, week by week, and that the problem is becoming appallingly difficult of solution. They are asking what can be done? The lecturer in question says that things have come to such a pass that the Church must do something, the Church must begin to speak. But then he spoils it all by telling the Church what she is to say; and what he says, as I shall show, is completely wrong!

What then is the position? It is as religion has declined in this century that the moral problem has become more acute. Let us remember that we have two lots of statistics. There are the statistics of the Medical Officers of Health, proving that all these terrible problems and diseases are on the increase. But there are other statistics, church statistics. The number of church members is going down year by year; the number of adherents is declining; the number of Sunday School scholars grows less and less. The two things go together. As religion has gone down all these other things have gone up. I am simply saying all this to justify the assertion of the New Testament that its teaching is the only way, and that there is none other. The modern situation is proving it before our eyes, and yet our education lecturer says that Bible teaching must not be the only teaching. He says that ‘perhaps it will give the best hope of success’, but would be ‘narrow-minded’ if we said that this is the only answer and solution. Well, let him mention the others! What has he got to mention? Education? We have tried it. Let him mention various clubs. We have tried them also, and cultural agencies. We are still trying them all. How foolish, how ridiculous, to utter these general clichés and not face the facts!

But there is a further reason why this is inevitably the truth; it is because of the nature of the fight in which we are engaged. The whole of past history proves it, the modern position proves it. But apart from that the nature of the fight itself makes this proposition inevitably true. How? Man’s own nature makes a warfare absolutely certain. The fatal mistake made constantly about man is to regard him only as a mind and an intellect; and therefore, the whole basis of secular teaching is that all you need do is to tell men about the evil nature of certain things, and the evil consequences of doing them, and then they will stop doing them. Conversely, if you tell them to do certain things because they are right and good and true and noble, they will jump at them and do them. What ignorance of human nature!

I am not alone in speaking thus. I was interested recently to read a review of part of the autobiography of a well-known sceptical, irreligious, modern writer, Leonard Woolf. The review was written by another literary sceptic, Kingsley Martin. But the reviewer, at any rate, had reached the conclusion that the trouble with this whole school to which Leonard Woolf belongs is just this, that they will not see that man in the main is irrational. He used what seemed to me to be a very good illustration. ‘What Leonard Woolf and all his companions, such as Bertrand Russell and others, have always failed to grasp is this,’ he said, ‘that man is a kind of iceberg.’ Standing up above the water is a certain amount, about a third perhaps, which may look very white, but underneath are two-thirds out of sight in the depth, in the darkness. Writers like Leonard Woolf, says Kingsley Martin, do not realize that man is mainly irrational. What he means, of course, is that man is not governed by his mind, his intellect; his understanding, but by desires, impulses, and instincts, by what the psychologists call ‘drives’. These are the things that control and master a man; and the problem which is confronting the world in the present era is that of these instinctive ‘drives’.

All this can be seen on the national and international plane as well as in the case of the individual; and that is what makes all optimistic statements about some world organization that is going to banish war so childishly ridiculous. Nations, like individuals, are not governed by common sense. If the world were governed by common sense there would never be a war. War is sheer madness, from every standpoint. It is a waste of money, it is a waste of life, it is a childish way of settling a dispute and a problem. How can you settle a problem of government or any other problem by just killing one another? I repeat, war is sheer madness; there is nothing to be said for it. Why then do the nations fight and prepare for war ? The answer is that they are not governed by their minds and intellects but by the two-thirds that is underneath the surface, the part of the iceberg that you do not see – greed, avarice, national pride, the desire to possess and to become greater than others. These are the things that ever cause wars. ‘Whence come wars among you?’ asks James. ‘Come they not hence, even of your lusts, that war within your members ?’ (James 4:1). That is true of the individual as well as of nations; and because it is true it follows that nothing but that which can deal with this hidden powerful two-thirds can really provide a remedy for the situation. It is the claim of the Gospel that it, and it alone, can do so. Nothing else can.

In the next place consider the enemy that stands against us. ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ ‘Take unto you the whole armour of God,’ says Paul, ‘that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.’ Put up all your moral schemes and teachings against the wiles of the devil and he smiles at you in contempt. Of course! How utterly inadequate it all is! We shall elaborate that later.

Furthermore, consider the standard to which we are asked to attain. Christianity not merely tells us to be nice and good and clean and moral. A Christian is not simply a nice respectable person. It is because so many have thought that mere respectability is Christianity that they have left the Church. They say that. such a result can be achieved outside the Church, and point to the nice, good, moral people who are not Christians. And that is a perfectly fair argument. But the answer to it is that that is not Christianity. A Christian is not merely a person who does not do this, that, or the other. A Christian is positive. He is called to ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness’; to be ‘pure in heart’; to be ‘perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’. That is Christianity! To be like Christ, to live as He lived! And the moment you consider the standard you see how utterly impossible and inadequate are all these other suggestions that are being put forward. We can, therefore, sum it all up by asserting openly, frankly, avowedly, and unashamedly, as the Apostle does here by implication, that this, and this alone, is the only way of victory and of triumph. It was because this is so that the Son of God came into the world. If anything else could have sufficed He would never have come. There would never have been an Incarnation, still less a death upon the Cross, were it not that this is true. ‘The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.’ This is the beginning and foundation and basis of the Christian position. Christ came because, in a sense, He had to come if there was to be any salvation at all. He came because man had completely failed.

O loving wisdom of our God,
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.

It was and is the only way, there is no other. Let the world in its supposed wisdom call it ‘narrow-minded’. As long as it does so it will continue to degenerate morally and ethically, and fester in its own iniquity. The Christian way is the only way.

But let us consider a second general point. It is obvious from the statement of the lecturer which we have been considering that Christianity is capable of being misunderstood and this, unfortunately, is something that has kept recurring throughout the centuries. There has been nothing so tragic as the misunderstanding of Christianity and the Christian message. There are people like this lecturer in education who are very ready to say, ‘The Church must make her contribution. Christianity, perhaps, is the best hope we have got. It is not our only hope, but perhaps it is one that is most likely to lead to results, so the Church must play her part.’ Governments are very ready to say this in times of crises. When the problem gets out of hand they ask, ‘Well now, what has the Church to say?’ And they expect the Church to make some general statements which will improve the moral tone of society. The Church must play its part! Yes, but this attitude betrays, as I say, a complete ignorance as to what the message of the Church really is.

There have been two main misunderstandings in this particular context. The first is that Christianity and its message is nothing but a teaching that we ourselves have to apply. This lies at the root of the misunderstanding of the lecturer whose statement we are examining. It is a very old fallacy. It was the real trouble at the beginning of the eighteenth century before the great Evangelical Awakening took place. It was the over-all fallacy of the men who were called Deists, and others. They said that God had created the world like a watchmaker winding-up a watch and then had no further concern with it, except that He had given it a certain moral teaching. So they merely equated Christianity with a teaching and morality which tell people to live a good life. Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby in the nineteenth century, was guilty of exactly the same fallacy: that was his teaching also. It is sometimes known as ‘Public School religion’ and teaches that Christianity is that which makes you ‘a good little gentleman’. You refrain from certain things and you do certain other things. It is just moral, ethical teaching.

Now this is a tragic misunderstanding of the whole position, for it regarded Christianity merely as one teaching among a number of other teachings, for example, those of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Seneca, and others who supplied high, idealistic, moral teaching. Christianity is but another, and perhaps the best of them all; so let us give great attention to it. And do not forget that the late Mr Gandhi of recent date held a very exalted and noble teaching; and there are various others. They add to their list of great teachers the name of ‘Jesus’, as they call Him, and He generally comes somewhere about the centre. Some rise superior to Him, others are esteemed His inferiors. But such thinking and talking simply reduces Christianity to nothing but a moral, ethical teaching – just a variant of the theme of ‘Goodness, Beauty and Truth’ to which we are to aspire. It is because such multitudes of people, especially in the present century, regard that as Christianity that the Church is as she is.

Such was the teaching of the theological school called Modernism or Liberalism which came in about the middle of the last century in this country. Its theme was ‘the Jesus of history’. They took out miracles, indeed the entire supernatural element, and the substitutionary atonement. What is Jesus? ‘Ah,’ they said, ‘Jesus is the greatest religious teacher the world has ever known. Listen to His teaching, emulate His example, follow Him; and if you do so you will be a good Christian. Do not bother about doctrines, they are not important; it is Jesus’ teaching that matters.’

So Christianity has been reduced to a moral and an ethical code and teaching. That leads inevitably to failure and to disaster, for it leaves the whole business to us as individuals. I have got to admire the teaching, next I am required to accept it, and then I have to proceed to put it into practice. It is left entirely to me. ‘Ah but,’ they say, ‘look to the example of Jesus.’ Example of Jesus? I know of nothing that is so discouraging as the example of Jesus! As I look at His moral stature, at His absolute perfection, as I see Him walking through this world without sin, I feel that I am already condemned and hopeless. Imitation of Christ? It is the greatest nonsense that has ever been uttered! Imitation of Christ? I who cannot satisfy myself and my own demands, and other people still less – am I to imitate Christ? The saints make me feel ashamed of myself. I read of men like George Whitefield and others, and I feel that I have not yet started. And yet I am told to take this ethical teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, this idealistic social teaching, and to put this into practice! ‘It is so marvellous,’ they say, ‘it will stimulate you; look at Him and follow Him!’

It is not surprising that failure has resulted, and that people have left the Christian Church; it is not surprising that we are faced with a moral collapse in this country, and in all the countries, at the present time; for the non-Christian ethical teaching leaves it all to me, strengthless and powerless though I am. I am like the Apostle Paul by nature and I say, ‘Alas, with my mind I see what is right, but I find another law in my members dragging me down. With my mind I receive and accept and admire the law of God, but there is this other law, this other thing, working within me, and making me captive to the law of sin and death which is within me’ (cf. Romans 7:14-25). There is this third of the iceberg, as it were, above water and it is looking at the sun; but I am aware of the other two-thirds that is dragging me down to the depths and the darkness. ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me ?’ That is the inevitable position. If Christianity is but a moral ethical teaching it is as useless as all the others. The ‘Christian’ way has always been proved to be useless when it is reduced to such a level.

But Christianity is no mere code of ethics. Our educationalists cannot just turn to us and say, ‘Well now, come along, you representatives of the Christian Church. Do not be narrow-minded, but give us your help, give us your teaching, we want to know what you think about sex, and many other factors in life.’ I answer that what is needed is not what I think about sex, but a power that will deliver a man from being mastered and controlled by it. There is ample knowledge about sex. Alas, people today know far too much about sex; they know much more than their forefathers knew. They are reading books about it – novels, text-books, and so on – and the more they read the worse they get. Their reading only serves to aggravate the problem. It is not knowledge we need; it is power. And that is where your moral ethical systems break down and fail completely. They have no power to offer, none at all. We must beware, therefore, of reducing Christianity to a mere moral, ethical teaching. God forbid that anybody should still be held in that ignorance and blindness! All that teaching has been tried very thoroughly for a hundred years and more, and it has failed completely, both in the case of the individual, and also in the national and international realms.

But I must say a word about the other misunderstanding. Here, again, is an interesting and fascinating story. There have been those who have said, ‘No, it is not just enough to hold this teaching before men and to tell them to get on with it, because the forces against us are too great. We are up against the world and the flesh and the devil. There is all that I am conscious of within myself, and then as I walk about the streets and see the hoardings and the placards and read newspapers, sin is insinuating itself and tempting me. I see it everywhere around me, in advertisements, in dress, and in all that characterizes the life of a great city like London. How can I fight against all this? ‘No,’ they say, ‘there is only one thing to do. If a man is to save his soul and to live a good and pure life he has got to get away from all this, he has got to segregate himself.’

In other words, the second great misunderstanding of the Christian teaching is that which we can sum up under the whole notion of monasticism. Here is a wonderful story. There is something about the people who started the monastic idea which calls forth one’s admiration. At any rate they were men who were serious and concerned about their souls and their lives and their daily living. This was the biggest thing in life to them; so much so that they would give up a profession, they would give up home, they would give up all that had been dear to them and retire into a monastery, there to live what they called the ‘religious’ life. The idea was that the only way in which you could fight this battle was to get away from the enemy as much as possible. Now in that principle, as I shall explain, there is something which is right and true. The Apostle Paul, addressing the Romans in chapter 13 of his Epistle, says, ‘Make no provision for the flesh’. It would be good for all of us if we spent less time reading our newspapers, kept our eyes straight ahead as we walked the streets of London, did not look at certain things, and did not go to certain places. So far, so good! But certain people carried that further; they said that you must get right out of the world. You must concentrate on this alone, you must give up ordinary life and living, and isolate yourself; you must go into a monastery, or become a hermit on top of a mountain, or get away into some cell somewhere; that being the only way of escape. And they did not stop even at that. They said that you have to keep down the body; so you have to fast twice, perhaps three times a week. You have to do other things also, perhaps put on a camel-hair shirt, and in various ways knock down this body of yours and insult it as much as you can. They indulged in what were called ‘flagellations’; they would beat their bodies, scarify their flesh, all in an attempt to overcome these powers that are against us in this great fight of which Paul is speaking. The best description of all this that I have ever read is to be found in a book called The Vision of God, the Bampton Lectures delivered about 1928 by Kenneth E. Kirk. There you will find an account of how this idea came in, and at a very early period in the history of the church. And that same school of thought has persisted ever since.

But that is not Christianity, and for the following reasons. Though you leave the world and all its prospects, and go and live as a monk or a hermit in a cell; though you have left the world, you have not left yourself – the two-thirds submerged part of the iceberg is still with you! You do not leave your sinful nature outside the monastery. Evil imaginations and thoughts are with you still; you cannot get rid of them. Wherever you go they go; yourself, your nature, this part that drags you down will be with you in the cell exactly as it was on the streets of London. Not only so, the evil powers are also there as much as they were when you were living your life amongst other people. ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ Stone walls do not keep them out, iron bars do not keep them out, locked doors do not keep them out; wherever you are they will be there. They are spiritual, they are unseen, they can penetrate everywhere, and they are with you in your cell. You cannot get rid of them. And for these reasons the great system of monasticism finally broke down completely.

The whole matter can be summed up in the story of one person, Martin Luther. What exactly did Luther discover? He was a monk there in his cell, fasting, sweating, praying, trying to get rid of the body, trying to get rid of this problem, trying to conquer these spiritual enemies. But the more he tried the nearer he seemed to be to complete failure and utter hopelessness. And at last he saw it! His monastic ideas were a travesty of Christianity; they were not Christianity at all. Christianity was something essentially different. He saw that you could be a Christian in the midst of the world, you could be a Christian ‘sweeping a floor’, as he puts it. You need not be a coenobite, you need not take vows of chastity and remain unmarried, in order to be a preacher. No, as a married man you are as eligible as a man who renounces sex. He suddenly saw that the monastic way was not God’s way, and that was the beginning of the great Protestant Reformation. Thank God that that which Luther had to unlearn is not the Christian teaching, for the logical end of the monastic argument is that you cannot be a true Christian and still live in the world. Of course the Roman Church did not teach that, but divided Christians into ‘religious’ and ‘laity’, and taught that the latter could be helped by borrowing from the over-plus of righteousness of the former – the utterly unscriptural doctrine of supererogation. You see how essentially different that is from the New Testament teaching. Here were ordinary people, servants, slaves, husbands, wives, parents, children. The Apostle does not say to them, ‘Off, all of you, into a monastery; get away somewhere from the world.’ Not at all! Thank God it is not that! That would be a gospel for wealthy people alone. And not only so; there would be no Christian witness and testimony in the world.

What a denial it is, ultimately, of the glory of the Christian faith! What is the Christian method? I end with a text. It is not, ‘Set about imitating Christ, adopt His moral ethical teaching, and try to put it into practice’. It is not, ‘Get away and become a monk or a hermit’. But just where you are in the midst of the world, with evil and sin rampant round and about you, and everybody and everything doing all they can to discourage you and to drag you down, just as and where you are, ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand the wiles of the devil.’ It is not retreat, it is not escape, it is not attempting something that is impossible. No, it is this supernatural, miraculous Gospel that enables us to be ‘more than conquerors’ over everything that is set against us.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones 

-Scott Bailey 2007

 

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Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones: Are You Preaching the Gospel?

Posted by Scott on November 4, 2007

 

ARE YOU PREACHING THE GOSPEL?Martyn Lloyd-Jones


It is true that where sin abounded grace has much more abounded; well then, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound yet further?” The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel than this, that some people might misunderstand it and mis-interpret it that it really amounts to this: that because you are saved by grace alone, it does not really matter at all WHAT you do, you can go on sinning all you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. That is a very good test of gospel preaching. If my preaching of the gospel does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel. Let me show you what I mean. If a man preaches justification by works, no one would ever raise the question. If he says, “If you want to go to heaven, you must stop committing sins, live a life filled with good works, and keep this up regularly and constantly until the end, then you will be a Christian and go to heaven when you die.” Obviously, no one will accuse a man who preached like this of saying, “Let us continue in sin that grace may abound.” But every preacher who preached the gospel has been accused of this! They have all been accused of “antinomianism.” I would say to all preachers: IF YOUR PREACHING OF SALVATION HAS NOT BEEN MISUNDERSTOOD IN THAT WAY, THEN YOU HAD BETTER EXAMINE YOUR SERMONS AGAIN, and you had better make sure that you really ARE preaching the salvation that is proclaimed in the New Testament to the ungodly, the sinner, to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, to those who are the enemies of God. There is a kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the doctrine of salvation.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

-Scott Bailey 2007

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