Wednesday, April 26, 2006

jesus who?

"This do in remembrance of Me."
— 1 Corinthians 11:24
It seems then, that Christians may forget Christ! There could be no need for this loving exhortation, if there were not a fearful supposition that our memories might prove treacherous. Nor is this a bare supposition: it is, alas! too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb, and loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should forget that gracious Saviour; but, if startling to the ear, it is, alas! too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the crime. Forget Him who never forgot us! Forget Him who poured His blood forth for our sins! Forget Him who loved us even to the death! Can it be possible? Yes, it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault with all of us, that we suffer Him to be as a wayfaring man tarrying but for a night. He whom we should make the abiding tenant of our memories is but a visitor therein. The cross where one would think that memory would linger, and unmindfulness would be an unknown intruder, is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness. Does not your conscience say that this is true? Do you not find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of Him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should fix your eye steadily upon the cross. It is the incessant turmoil of the world, the constant attraction of earthly things which takes away the soul from Christ. While memory too well preserves a poisonous weed, it suffereth the rose of Sharon to wither. Let us charge ourselves to bind a heavenly forget-me-not about our hearts for Jesus our Beloved, and, whatever else we let slip, let us hold fast to Him.

- C.H. Spurgeon

Monday, April 17, 2006

what is the purpose of the law?

"...Thus the law serves a very important purpose, but we must be very clear as to what that purpose is. In Galatians 3:15-25, we read, the purpose of the law is to show us that we need a savior! The law is described as a stern tutor. The law holds us prisoner to sin until we embrace Christ through faith. The law accomplishes it purpose when we see how sinful we really are..."

"...First, it should be absolutely clear to everyone that there will be absolutely no one in heaven because they kept the law or somehow earned God’s favor through their good works or through their obedience. The law was not given to bring life, it was given to bring a curse and death. What this means is that when we die and stand before God in the judgement, God will not compare us to others, he will not inquire about our sincerity, nor will he cut us any slack if we tried our hardest to be good people.

God will measure us by his law. He will demand perfect obedience to every command. In this sense, the law is like a ten-link chain. Break but a single link and the whole chain is useless. Even a single infraction of that law means that we will hear these frightening words— “not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me on that day, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me you evil doers” (cf. Matthew 7:21-23). God will not let us into heaven on the basis of our deeds, since all of them are tainted by sin. He will not let us in if we try our best, because anything not done from the perspective of faith is sin. And when did we ever, even for a second, try our best?

If your response to this is despair, “well then, who can go to heaven?” the law has done its work. This is why God gave the law in the first place, to show us that we cannot go to heaven on the basis of anything in us or because of anything that we have done. In the words of one old preacher, we must see the law like a mirror. We look in the mirror and we see we are dirty. The mirror shows us our true condition, driving us to the soap and water. We don’t take the mirror down off the wall and attempt to clean ourselves with the mirror! So it is with the law. The law shows us that we need Christ."

- excerpts from Kim Riddlebarger

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

the victorious christian life

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 RSV)

“...the “victorious Christian life.” You hear a lot about that today, and much of it is unbiblical, in my judgment. There are strange ideas of what the “victorious life” consists of: Some people see it as a kind of a Disneyland. Many of you have had the experience of going through the Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland when you get aboard a boat and go through a tunnel. Immediately you are assaulted by enemies; strange figures leap out of the darkness at you, brandishing huge knives and swords; pistols are discharged right in your face, cannons fire and cannonballs splash on either side of your boat, and it looks like your life is in horrible danger. But you sit there, quietly unmoved, because you know that you are going to be led safely through all this, and nothing is ever going to get to you.

There are a lot of people who have that view of the Christian life. They think, because they are Christians, because they happen to now be a child of God, a son of the King, they are going to be protected and kept from every single pressure and danger of life, and nothing is ever going to get to them. And they quote many verses to support that view. Well, if that is the view of the “victorious life,” then I want you to know that Paul did not know anything about it, because he went through terrible testings and great times of pressure. He will describe them for us in this very letter. They are unbelievable in their intensity and in their power to wrack and ruin in his life. Yet he could cry out with great confidence and a triumphant spirit that rings throughout this whole passage, because he knew, according to the great principle which he had learned through much pain and anguish, that God was carrying out his purposes through the very weakness he was going through.

Some people see the “victorious life” as a kind of a constant, visible demonstration of tremendous power so that no obstacle can stand in their way. They see it much like General Patton slashing his way across the countries of Europe in World War II, smashing all obstacles in his path, visibly triumphant all the way into Germany. They expect that. They expect to “feel” powerful, and to see the power of God let loose in such triumphant ways that all the obstacles are visibly crushed. But again, if that is what it is, Paul did not know anything about it.

If we can judge from his life, instead, the “victorious Christian life” is a feeling of weakness, with only brief glimpses of success, seemingly going from one battle to another, from one conflict to another without ceasing, with little sense of personal triumph at the moment. And yet that triumph is happening, and that is what Paul is singing about here. His life was making powerful impact.

...The victorious Christian life is not one of continual victory in the sense of overcoming all obstacles and feeling triumphant as you go. No! No! It is one of anguish of heart at times, of deep inner doubts, of fighting with frustrations without and fears within. It is one of being opposed oftentimes, yet confident that the God who is within you is able to work his work and do his will, that out of the fear, the frustration, and the failure is coming triumph and victory and the fragrance of Jesus Christ. Have you come to that? That is what is going to turn and change this world around us. God grant we will understand this as we go through this passage together.”

-Ray C. Stedman

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

an arminian's prayer

"You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say; but you never heard an Arminian prayer -- for the saints in prayer appear as one in word, and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free will: there is no room for it. Fancy him praying,

'Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists. Lord, I was born with a glorious free-will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know that thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Ghost given to them; they had as good a chance, and were as blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us to differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not -- that is the difference between me and them.'

That is a prayer for the devil, for nobody else would offer such a prayer as that. Ah! when they are preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to pray, the true thing slips out; they cannot help it. If a man talks very slowly, he may speak in a fine manner; but when he comes to talk fast, the old brogue of his country, where he was born, slips out."

C.H. Spurgeon