Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Troubled Soul of Jesus

John 12:27 - “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour."

Audio Only:

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Two "Choices" of Man

"And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” -Joshua 24:15

Most of my life I have heard the above passage as a reference to man's sovereignty over whether he will choose to follow God or not. I don't know how it took this long for me to notice this, but far from being a support of the Arminian position, it's talking about how the man that wants evil has already made his choice: idolatry. If it weren't for the Spirit of God drawing the Israelites, they would've fallen into this category.

I praise God for the doctrine of election, because if it weren't for this glorious truth that salvation is completely and totally of the Lord, then I also would not have chosen the Lord. I would have chosen from the two given choices for wicked man: false gods here or false gods there. Let's not allow this text to be so misused anymore and fight to restore its proper meaning. Man, when left to his free will, will always choose to rebel against God.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

God Chooses Who Will Be Saved

One of the biggest reasons people give for hating the doctrines of election that fill the pages of the New Testament are that they make God seem unfair. Another reason, that is not often given, is that it takes away man's autonomy and sense of power over his own destiny. I myself have spent many nights wrestling with my faith in the power of my own will. Keep these negative objections in mind so that you are well aware of what it is inside you that fights against the following scripture in Romans 9:

"Though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills."

I bolded a few points for the sake of clarity. These are emphases meant to be understood in Paul's letter to the Romans. He's teaching the doctrine of election; God's free right and decision to choose those He will save and those He will not. The question is not how can a person accept and believe this, but how can you not after seeing the clearest of scriptures on the subject here? Forget your angry thoughts of puppets and robots for a second and reread the previous scripture! Could Paul have been more clear for us? It depends NOT on human will, but on God who hardens some and has mercy on others. He even answers your objections in the rest of the chapter. My advice is to read the whole chapter humbly and prayerfully. May the Lord lead you to the glorious truth of His sovereignty and give you a God-centered view of salvation in which man is dead, blind, and in need the Holy Spirit, not the power of his sinful, broken will.

Friday, August 5, 2016

If You Didn't Repent, You Weren't Saved

Whereas in the past, repentance was another side of the same coin as faith, it is now preached against as some sort of accursed addition to the message of the Gospel. It is no wonder there is so little true conversion happening. People are getting their ticket to heaven and then going on with their sinful lives, because "they prayed a prayer one time" or "accepted Jesus as Savior." They aren't repenting, Christ isn't becoming their Lord, they are just getting a flu shot to prevent Hell. Yet, the New Testament refers to Jesus as Lord 925 times and as Savior 16 times. So if you've only accepted Him as Savior and not as Lord, then you've missed the emphasis of the Bible and you're still in your sins.

In Luke 24, Jesus says that "He suffered death, was raised, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations." His and the apostles teachings nearly always mentioned repentance next to faith. If it is so critical, then what does repentance mean exactly? The Greek literally means reconsideration or a change of mind. The change of mind is about sin and consequently a change of heart naturally occurs. For example, when I changed my mind about abortion, my heart ached at my past support of the murder of babies, leading me to change my conduct. In the same way every true Christian will experience a change of mind, leading to guilt over sin and so will begin trusting and obeying Christ. 

May the Lord bring back preachers who will proclaim "repentance and the remission of sins" to America. It is currently the most needed and missing message.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"Kill the Midianite Boys"

Does it ever make you angry that in Numbers 31 God commanded the killing of males of all ages in the Midianite camp? Does it make you doubtful of God's goodness? Most people with at least half a heart would say it's disturbing and upsetting. Do you not find killing disturbing? You ought to. God says "I do not delight in the death of the wicked." So why does He do it? Why did God kill the boys if He does not delight in their deaths, not a single one? What had the boys done wrong? Are you ready for this?

I don't know. 

The Bible doesn't state their specific sins, but I think there is one thing we always know with the killing passages. The wages of sin is death. Everyone that dies is dying as a result of being a sinner. When I die it will be because of my sin. When you die it will be because of your sin. The boys died, because they were sinful and they would certainly grow up to be even more sinful than their parents. It is the tendency of generations to surpass the previous ones in wickedness. God stopped it. The other side of the coin is why does God NOT kill an entire camp when clearing it out of the land of Canaan? They were terrible people! Their camps were full of murder, rape, incest, and child sacrifice. The poor kids right? Wrong, they were going to grow up to do the same thing! The adults doing those wicked deeds were once kids too!

I often think of Hitler when reading passages like this. What would I have thought if somehow I knew that God killed a little baby in Austria? I might be tempted to feel upset, but I don't have the foreknowledge of God in all his actions. Yet, if I knew who it was, I might be tempted to rejoice that the baby died, because that baby was just an undeveloped mass murderer. Why is it ok when God does that and not Hitler you might object? Because no one has the right to sentence but a judge. Here's the simple truth: God would and will be completely justified in destroying this whole wicked world. He knows the innumerable sins of man. However, what has He done rather than just kill everyone? He sent Jesus Christ to pay that price of our sins. Jesus Christ was killed in our place. If you're a Christian, you would be like the Midianite boys, but because of Jesus, you are given eternal life with a loving God instead. Repent and believe the Gospel. Praise the Lord.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why isn't that Christian Giving to the Poor?

There is a wrong reaction that too many people, believers and unbelievers alike, have to the spiritual disciplines of Christians. Someone prays a lot, reads the Bible a lot, or memorizes scripture, and so people, fueled by jealousy and conviction, say "why don't they go serve the poor!?" Yet if the same Christian spent their free time watching Netflix, they'd have no complaints! Why is this?

I think the Bible has an answer, because Judas had the same complaint about a Christian. When someone wanted to honor and serve Christ Himself with a perfume to make him smell good in a time when people didn't smell so good in general, Judas asked this, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." Wow Judas, you're so spiritual! You care about the poor so much! Well, maybe he did care about the poor a bit, but the next scripture says he asked this because he used to grab some extra money for himself in the coin box. Not only did he want money, but he couldn't understand the affection and love for God that drives people to give directly to Him, in our case to give time to pray and read the Bible consistently! This gets to the heart of things, because most of the time people's problem with a Christian being holy just points to a lack of holiness in the people themselves. Maybe there is a bit of concern for the poor there, but the way they use money themselves is for mainly selfish things anyway. We ought to examine ourselves if we are looking for an area where they are less holy, because that could be a sign of jealousy or some other sin.

Please don't misunderstand my point though, because a true Christian practices all spiritual disciplines, including serving the poor with their time and/or money. One really good organization I can recommend is run by a brother I know who will not misuse funds. So I'd encourage you to check out Thirsty Ground International if you want to help a Christian in the Middle East serving Syrian refugees with the Gospel and physical needs.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Has Your Soul Ever Felt Tormented?

Mine has.  Maybe you and I are unique in this.  It's possible we've suffered feelings of despair the average Christian never really encounters.  It is possible, but not likely.

We tend to think more highly of our own trials than we do of those of others. We cast ourselves as the maligned and mistreated protagonist, worthy of pity and honor for what we've had to endure.  Whether we are agonizing to find a spouse, discouraged by the same besetting sin that has plagued us for years, or afflicted with chronic physical pain, it just feels like other Christians have it easier than we do.

Be careful with this kind of prideful thinking.  It has an isolating effect; keeping us from loving each other, and making us easy prey for the devil.  Paul encourages the church in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man."  Statistically and biblically speaking, most of us are average.  That's not to say we haven't faced intense struggles, but that the intensity of our struggles should inform us as to what the rest of the body had to overcome in order to make it to church today.

As we fellowship, let's assume the brother we shake hands with, or the sister we awkwardly side-hug, has had to press through hard trials and resist every effort of the devil, just as we have.  This should remind us to encourage, give grace to, and boast in each other.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

God Made the Gospel Go West

Reading through The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah has brought a lot of clarity to my understanding of what life was like for Jesus. I want to save you time if you don't plan on reading this book by the genius, Jewish convert to Christ, Alfred Edersheim. Below I'm going to quickly tell you about the state of the Jewish people at the time of Jesus.

In the days of Christ, the people of Israel were referred to as the 'dispersion' due to their no longer being centralized in Israel. Most Jews were living in the East at Babylon, but they were largely scattered throughout the entire Middle East. The reason for the majority living in Babylon was that they never returned home from their exile in the days of Daniel. There was much prophecy in the book of Ezekiel about a restoration and return home... only that physically never happened. That's because Jesus is the spiritual Christ (Greek word for Messiah) that came to bring about a spiritual restoration, first to the Jews, then to the Greek.


The other half of the Jews were living in the West. These were called the Hellenists, as they were effected by Greek culture and thought. These Jews were not as absorbed in tradition and Law as their Eastern brothers. They were seen with contempt from them for their lack of piety by the letter, but they sought to honor the God of Israel in their lives just the same, and saw many Jewish converts. How does this scattering and division fit with God's purposes though? Look at this prophecy.

"I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands. According to their ways and their deeds I judged them." - Ezekiel 36:10

God said He would scatter them, so He did. It may seem like God failed His chosen people by never physically bringing them back, right? Not at all. He purposely spread them out so that when the Gospel went forth, it would go West to a land where the soil was already tilled (Jewish converts became Christian converts). At that time, the traditional, by the letter Jews in the East, were hardened, they were like a brick wall for the Gospel. Hence the Gospel going West instead. It's amazing and we still feel the effects of it today, being a largely, albeit nominally Christian country.

Praise the Lord for His wisdom.

Photo by Amira

Thursday, March 10, 2016

How to Find Wisdom

"The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom." -Proverbs 4:7

Reading through Charles Spurgeon's autobiography can get a little dry sometimes to be honest. I'm currently reading a chapter called In Scotland. Scotland's great and all, but there are parts of Spurgeon's life and vacations I really don't care 100 pages about However, like with the Bible, there are some treasures hiding in the areas that require deeper swimming. What I swam down to today was this quote from Mr. Spurgeon to a friend in a letter, "I think I am well acquainted with the book you have culled from; indeed, I would go far to see a proverb-book which I do not know."

Not much special about that right? What are we supposed to take away from Spurgeon reading a lot of proverb-books? Well if you kept the title of my post in mind, it's to be an imitator of this great Christian and seek wisdom with the same zeal he did. The first step in being wise, is admitting the need for wisdom and getting help like he did. Does that mean you have to read all of the proverb books? No, that just means we should be the type of person that cares enough about obeying God's word to seek wisdom diligently. Buy proverb-books, ask teachers and fellow Christians for advice, seek wisdom from God in prayer, and search the scriptures. The Bible says the beginning of wisdom is to be a wisdom-seeker. You won't find wisdom waiting for it to find you, that's what that verse means. Are you actively seeking to grow in wisdom through knowledge and practice? As children of God, we stand at the edge of an ocean of wisdom in God, let's obey His word and dive in after it!


Photo by Vincent Sheed

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Natural Tree House of the Word

"I was sitting, one day, in the New Forest, under a beech tree. I like to look at the beech, and study it, as I do many other trees, for every one has its own peculiarities and habits, its special ways of twisting its boughs, and growing its bark, and opening its leaves, and so forth. As I looked up at that beech, and admired the wisdom of God in making it, I saw a squirrel running round and round the trunk, and up the branches, and I thought to myself, 'Ah! this beech tree is a great deal more to you than it is to me, for it is your home, your living, your all." Its big branches were the main streets of his city, and its little boughs were the lanes; somewhere in that tree he had his house, and the beech-mast was his daily food, he lived on it. Well, now, the way to deal with God's Word is not merely to contemplate it, or to study it, as a student does; but to live on it, as that squirrel lives on his beech tree. Let it be to you, spiritually, your house, your home, your food, your medicine, your clothing, the one essential element of your soul's life and growth.'"

-Charles Spurgeon, C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography: Volume 2

Monday, February 29, 2016

Keep Falling in Love with Your Wife

How do I keep falling in love with my wife? Is that even in my control? It's no secret, at least to those that are married, that the warm, fuzzy feelings simmer down after a few months. What I want to convince you of is that those feelings are something you can make increase. Just a few thoughts:

Do loving things for your spouse and your feelings of love will grow.

Here's a principle from Psalm 119:32 about falling in love with God that also applies to our marriages, "I shall run in the way of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart." In other words, when you're heart doesn't feel full of love for God, obey Him anyway, and He will start to make it feel full of love. How does that apply to our marriages though? Gentleman, I present to you, God's marriage commandments about loving your wife.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” -Ephesians 5:25

The command to love your wife refers to the 'do' of love or the 'verb' of love. So obey God and just do it, give your wife a massage, do the laundry for her, buy her flowers, tell her the good thoughts you have about her, and most of all pray for her daily. I promise you, because the Word of God cannot lie, that He will make those feelings grow that seemed lacking at the time. Your service to her will have the bonus of causing her love to increase as well. The best wisdom I got before getting married was not a warning, it was a command and encouragement from a brother saying, "Keep loving her. You'll love her more and more every year." I thought, that has to be right, Christians are never stagnant and pleased with their amount of love, they always fight for more, and will always have more. So, here's another command from God for Him to enlarge your heart by.

“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” – Proverbs 5:18-19

I've always found that the command to rejoice in something is best executed through giving thanks about that thing. For example, if I don't feel happy about my job, I will give thanks and my heart grabs onto the reasons that I'm reminded of. Thanksgiving is certainly commanded throughout scripture. So if you're not having the feelings of rejoicing, then give God thanks for your wife and you'll soon find yourself rejoicing in her. Just think about her lovely form. Think about how she loves you, despite all of your failings! Think about all of her virtues. Think of how she loves God. Think of how she hates the faults she has and is seeking to overcome them.

Whether you are a husband or a wife, seek to love your spouse, and know that God’s Word will not fail you; your heart will be enlarged.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Opal Ring and The Piping Bullfinch

During a time of long pain and suffering from an illness, Mrs. Spurgeon was often left alone at home due to Pastor Charles being engaged in many Pastoral duties. She added the following story, which he left out in the first draft of C.H. Spurgeon: Autobiography Vol 2, and it is a great thing she did add it, because I think this may be one of my absolute favorites:

"While sick, Mrs. Spurgeon had one very remarkable instance of a desire of hers being granted by what cannot but be accepted as a Divine interposition. Her husband often used to ask if there were anything she would like him to get for her. The usual answer was a negative as she said she had all she needed except health. But one day in a half-bantering tone she said, “I should like an opal ring and a piping bullfinch!” Her husband was surprised, but replied, “Ah, you know I cannot get those for you!” For several days the curious request was laughed over, and then it passed from the memories of both husband and wife.

            Mrs. Spurgeon herself shall tell the sequel of the story. “One Thursday evening, on his return from the Tabernacle, he (the preacher) came into my room with such a beaming face and such love-lighted eyes, that I knew something had delighted him very much. In his hand he held a tiny box, and I am sure his pleasure exceeded mine as he took from it a beautiful little ring and placed it on my finger. "There is your opal ring, my darling." he said, and then he told me of the strange way in which it had come. An old lady whom he had once seen when she was ill, sent a note to the Tabernacle to say she desired to give Mrs. Spurgeon a small present, and could someone be sent to her to receive it. Mr. Spurgeon's private secretary went accordingly and brought the little parcel, which, when opened, was found to contain this opal ring. How we talked of the Lord's tender love for His stricken child and of His condescension in thus stooping to supply an unnecessary gratification to His dear servant's sick one, I must leave my readers to imagine; but I can remember feeling that the Lord was very near to us. “Not long after that I was moved to Brighton, there to pass a crisis in my life, the result of which would be a restoration to better health, or death. One evening, when my dear husband came from London, he brought a large package with him, and, uncovering it, disclosed a cage containing a lovely piping bullfinch! My astonishment was great, my joy unbounded, and these emotions were intensified as he related the way in which he became possessed of the coveted treasure. He had been to see a dear friend of ours, whose husband was sick unto death, and after commending the sufferer to God in prayer, Mrs. T said to him, "I want you to take my pet bird to Mrs. Spurgeon, I would give him to none but her, his songs are too much for my poor husband in his weak state, and I know that 'Bully' will interest and amuse Mrs. Spurgeon in her loneliness while you are so much away from her." Mr. Spurgeon then told her of my desire for such a companion, and together they rejoiced over the care of the loving Heavenly Father who had so wondrously provided the very gift His child had longed for. With that cage beside him the journey to Brighton was a very short one, and when Bully piped his pretty song and took a hemp seed as a reward from the lips of his new mistress, there were eyes with joyful tears in them and hearts overflowing with praise to God in the little room by the sea that night, and the dear Pastor's comment was, 'I think you are one of your Heavenly Father's spoiled children, and He just gives you whatever you ask for."'

If you're wondering how the special care of God for Mrs. Spurgeon applies to you, know that every child of God is a spoiled one; given abundant grace and the privilege of children to "ask whatever you wish, and receive." 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Hell on Trial by Robert Peterson

Eternal Hell is Real

I never liked the doctrine of eternal Hell and I still don't enjoy it. However, I now glorify God for the truth after reading this book. I read it eagerly, as I had just been praying for God to help me understand this doctrine and I'd spent far too long feeling unconvinced that Hell is really a place of everlasting torment. I'm no Greek expert, but some Annihilationists (those who believe Hell is not eternal) put up some convincing arguments... or "ear-tickling" ones if you will. Dr. Peterson helped dispel those myths. 

1. Old Testament

The author starts with verses in the Old Testament that prepared the Jewish people to have a full understanding of Hell when Jesus came along. 

"And they shall go forth, and look on the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring to all flesh."
-Isaiah 66:24

As this verse was explained my mind started to change. The kindness of God led me to repent and accept the meaning of eternal Hell. What does it mean for a fire to not be quenched? Well, what happens when your thirst is not quenched? You keep drinking. The fact that the fire needs to keep drinking something proves that there will always be an object for its consumption.

2. The Redeemer's Words on Hell

I loved that the next step from the Old Testament was Jesus. Jesus said more about Hell than any other person in the entire Bible. That deserves repeating, Jesus said more about Hell than any other person in the entire Bible. Now, considering that Jesus is the most loving person in the Bible, why are people always quick to tell preachers that speak on Hell that they aren't loving like Jesus? It's because of a lack of Bible study. So the next question is why did Jesus talk about Hell so much? It's because the loving Christ did not want His listeners to go there. He wanted them to be lovingly warned, and His warnings were thorough!

Three times in the Gospel of Matthew, He refers to Hell as a place of "outer darkness" and "weeping and gnashing of teeth." He also quotes the Isaiah verse mentioned above, often. He says it's better to cut out your eye than to go to Hell. He sets it alongside eternal life as its opposite and calls it eternal destruction. He talks about it so much Dr. Peterson had to write a book to contain all of the quotations and I'm running out of space. Let's just leave it at those few quotations. I highly recommend the book for a more extensive verse list and a Greek defense if that's what you were looking for. Hint: there's nothing about the Greek that suggests Hell is just annihilation.

3. What I Would Add

Recently, God showed me that He delights in the justice of Hell, while not delighting in the mechanism. This is something I also want to say again, because it has helped me understand how the abounding, loving heart of God is also the heart that wills for men to go to Hell. God delights in the justice of Hell, while not delighting in the mechanism. Lamentations 3:33 says "He does not afflict from His heart." Ezekiel 18:23 says He "does not delight in the death of the wicked." God is not a maniacal torturer who enjoys watching suffering. He is a loving Judge and a just Judge, who rejoices that the scales of justice are balanced. 

Glorify God for it

These scriptures are why I believe in eternal Hell. God's justice is why I glorify Him for it. Praise Him for His justice like the angels do. Warn people. Fear is uncomfortable, but healthy, so let's stop being sheepish and scare people about it. Jesus did! He said "do not fear him who can kill the body, but fear Him, who after killing the body can destroy both body and soul in Hell." If I were a doctor and my patient wouldn't believe they had cancer, I would scare them into believing and being treated, and that would be the most loving thing to do. I would tell my dying patient, I love and care about them, but to leave it at that would not be loving and caring. Let's not be shy to preach "the whole counsel of God." I pray that all who read this would live it. Thanks for your time.