Friday, April 30, 2010

Prayer for Revival and Renewal in Your Church

You can pray that God would move in way that results in:

  • hundreds of people coming to Christ,
  • old animosities being removed,
  • marriages being reconciled and renewed,
  • wayward children coming home,
  • long-standing slavery to sin being conquered,
  • spiritual dullness being replaced by vibrant joy,
  • weak faith being replaced by bold witness,
  • disinterest in prayer being replaced by fervent intercession,
  • boring Bible reading being replaced by passion for the Word,
  • disinterest in global missions being replaced by energy for Christ’s name among the nations, and
  • lukewarm worship being replaced by zeal for the greatness of God’s glory.
-- Justin Taylor (Between Two Worlds)

Thursday, April 29, 2010


“Repentance consists in a radical transformation of thought, attitude, outlook and direction….repentance is a turning from sin unto God and His service.

“Repentance is a revolution in that which is most determinative in human personality and is the reflex in consciousness of the radical change wrought by the Holy Spirit in regeneration.

“It is a mistake, however, to underrate the place of grief and hatred for sin and turning from it unto God….”

“The necessity of repentance as a condition of salvation is clearly inscribed on the biblical witness….

“…there is no salvation without repentance. This does not interfere with the complementary truth that we are saved through faith. Faith alone is the instrument of justification. But justification is not the whole of salvation, and faith is not the only condition…..

“Faith is directed to Christ for salvation from sin unto holiness and life. But this involves hatred of sin and turning from it. Repentance is turning from sin unto God. But this implies the apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ.”

-- New Bible Dictionary (J.D. Douglas, ed.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What it means to be a Christian

"Being a Christian means being a person who labors to establish his beliefs, his dreams, his choices, his very view of the world on the truth of who Jesus is and what he has accomplished -- a Christian who cares about truth, who cares about sound doctrine."

-- Josh Harris, "Dug Down Deep" (Multnomah) p.19

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

If you see Him, you will find Him, if you seek Him with all your heart...

"There is nothing easier than getting into the right relationship with God, unless it is not God you seek, but only what He can give you." -- Oswald Chambers

HT: Dave Penfield

Monday, April 26, 2010

Christian: Why do you do what you do?

"The great nineteenth-century preacher Charles Spurgeon [tells] the story of a humble gardener who presents a bunch of carrots to his king because he so esteems and loves his sovereign. The king rewards his love with a plot of land so he can continue to bless his kingdom.

"A courtier sees this and thinks, 'An acre of land for a bunch of carrots--what a deal!' So the next day the courtier presents the king with a magnificent horse. The wise king, discerning his heart, simply accepts the gift with a 'thank you.'

"When the courtier is disconsolate, the king explains, 'The gardener gave me the carrots, but you have given yourself the horse. You gave not for love of me but for love of yourself in the hope of a reward.'

"Are you feeding the hungry or are you feeding yourself? asks Spurgeon. Are you clothing the naked or are you seeking your own reward? Are you serving God or serving yourself?

"The Bible talks often of reward, but that reward is God himself -- the joy of knowing and pleasing the God we love and in whom we delight."

-- cited by Tim Chester in "You Can Change" (Crossway) p.29

A Comprehensive View of Sin

“Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of your body over your mind – this thing to you is sin.”

-- Susanna Wesley

Sunday, April 25, 2010

God's Counteroffensive Against Sin

“The Bible is the story of God’s counteroffensive against sin. It is the grand narrative of how God made it right, how he is making it right, and how he will one day make it right finally and forever.”

- Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010), 61.

HT: Of First Importance

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Let his love win your love..."

“When we go to the cross, we see our God dying for us. If you let any other god down, it will beat you up. If you live for people’s approval or your career or possessions or control or anything else and you don’t make it or you mess up, then you’ll be left feeling afraid, downcast, or bitter. But when you let Christ down, he still loves you. He doesn’t beat you up; he died for you.

Let his love win your love, and let that love replace all other affections. The secret of change is to renew your love for Christ as you see him crucified in your place.”

- Tim Chester, You Can Change (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2010), 128.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A faith that works...

True faith works. That is, an authentic trust in God and reliance on God and allegiance to God produces, it bears fruit, it expresses itself through love (Gal.5:6).

And a survey of the Scriptures shows that true faith in God produces:
-- a love for God in his response to his cross-centered love for us
-- God-focused worship
-- a pursuit of holiness and commitment to obedience
-- a deeply rooted (even if imperfect) contentment, thankfulness and even joy in the midst of all kinds of circumstances
-- perseverance and patience in the midst of trials
-- enterprising involvement in witness and service, carrying out the mission God has for us
-- a foundational sense of significance and security, with a Godward identity
-- prayerfulness
-- hope in relation to the promised future happiness in the new heaven and new earth

If these fruits or effects of faith are absent or weak in my life, it must mean that my trust in God and confidence in God is missing or weak. What can be done?....

" comes from hearing...the word of Christ..." (Rom.10:17). In other words faith begins and grows in response to heartfelt acceptance of the message from and about Christ.

So, does your faith 'work'? Has it, today -- this week -- been expressing itself in love, obedience, contentment, service, perseverance, purposefulness?....


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are you 'happy in the Lord'?

"According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself!

"Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm and settled condition for the last five and thirty years. For the first four years after my conversion I knew not its vast importance, but now after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself."

George Mueller, Autobiography of George Mueller, or A Million and a Half in Answer to Prayer, compiled by G. Fred Bergin (Denton, Tex.: Westminster Literature Resources, 2003), ix. 2:730-731

From a biographical essay on George Mueller at Desiring God

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Faithfulness for "Ordinary Pastors"

Without a doubt one of the most meaningful aspects, for me, of the Together for the Gospel (T4G) Conference was C.J. Mahaney's powerful, insightful, convicting message on 2 Tim. 4:1-5, reminding pastors to be faithful to the message, faithful to the ministry and faithful to the Savior.

Even those who aren't pastors can greatly benefit and learn from this excellent preaching on what pastoral ministry is truly all about (or what it SHOULD be all about).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Possessing All the Blessings Secured by Christ's Obedience"

"As soon as the sinner by faith accepts God's general pardon... he is personally justified... justfication is thus by grace alone without works. It (justification) puts the believer into possession of all the merits or blessings secured by Christ's perfect obedience. The justified sinner has entered into the state of grace and peace, in which he is assured of his present and final salvation."

-- John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, p. 319 (cited in "Justified in Christ" K. Scott Oliphint, ed. (Christian Focus)

Monday, April 19, 2010

How Can an Evangelical Emphasis on the Atonement Go Wrong?

For a while now I have thought that, as deeply ironic as it might be, it is possible for things to go wrong in the midst of an emphasis on substitutionary atonement. I have absolutely no doubt that the reality of Christ's substitutionary sacrifice on the cross is at the very heart of the Christian faith. But even this crucial doctrine can be conceived of in ways that are so man-centered and self-centered that its real meaning is subverted.

So I was struck by a blog post that I saw today, that makes essentially the same point, triggered by a quote from John Stott's classic book, "The Cross of Christ":

"… if we dare to call our Judge our Father we must beware of presuming on him. It must even be said that our evangelical emphasis on the atonement is dangerous if we come to it too quickly. We learn to appreciate the access to God which Christ has won for us only after we have first seen God's inaccessibility to sinners. We can cry ‘Hallelujah’ with authenticity only after we have first cried ‘Woe is me, for I am lost’." (p.109)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"The Christian Life" -- recommended reading

Today in his sermon Pastor Denyes referred to a book by Sinclair Ferguson, saying he wasn't sure if it was still in print. Thankfully, it England it had been published with the title, "Know Your Christian Life." Now it's published by Banner of Truth, available in the U.S. with the title, "The Christian Life."

This is one of the very best books available explaining the essential doctrines related to coming to Christ, and then living the Christian life. It is solid and substantial without being overly complicated or technical. I highly recommend it!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Powerfully Insightful Hymn on Spiritual Growth and Suffering

This is one of the songs we sang at the Together for the Gospel conference. It is full of Scriptural wisdom and real-life honesty....not surprising, since it comes from John Newton (who also wrote "Amazing Grace").

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He'd answer my request
And by His love's constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
"Tis in this way" The Lord replied
"I answer prayer for grace and faith"

7. "These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me."

-- John Newton 1779

Friday, April 16, 2010

Till I'm Home at Last

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face,
full arrayed in blood-washed linen,
how I'll sing Thy sovereign grace.

Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
bring thy promises to pass,
for I know Thy pow'r will keep me
till I'm home with Thee at last.

-- Bob Kauflin

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thoughts on Human Approval from Ray Ortlund

1. Human approval is divided. Some like you, others dislike you. A split vote. Who can you believe?

2. Human approval is shallow. None of them know your deepest heart. What if they did?

3. Human approval is distorted. Your friends overlook — hopefully — some failings. Your enemies are blind to your merits. How do you sort it all out?

4. Human approval is unsatisfying. The need of your heart for belovedness goes far beyond anything another sinner can say or do.

5. Human approval is a blessing. The loving favor of true friends is a gift from God. Receive it cheerfully, with thanks to Him. And be sure to give it out to others in generous supplies every day.

“I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” Philemon 7

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Experienced Christianity

"If you want to feel deeply, you must be willing to think deeply" [about the Gospel and the core truths of the Christian faith]. -- C.J. Mahaney

Monday, April 12, 2010

John Stott on Repentance

"[Repentance is the first part of Christian conversion. It can in no circumstances by bypassed. Repentance and faith belong together. We cannot follow Christ without forsaking sin.

"Repentance is a definite turn from every thought, word, deed and habit which is known to be wrong. It is not sufficient to feel pangs of remorse or to make some kind of apology to God. Fundamentally, repentance is a matter neither of emotion nor of speech. It is an inward change of mind and attitude toward sin which leads to a change of behanvior...."

-- John Stott "Basic Christianity" (IVP), pp.138-139

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Truth We Already Know

"I think we have greater reason to ask the Lord to impress more deeply upon us the truth we have received than to ask Him to give us more truth; For what we already have might suffice us if we did but know it better; and if we kept in mind the things which we have already heard, we might almost be satisfied even if we heard no more."

-- C.H. Spurgeon

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Prayer for True Worship

"...Father, I pray...for our whole church family—especially as we gather each Lord’s Day to worship you, the Lord Jesus and God the Holy Spirit. In a day when there seems to be more gadgets and gimmicks needed to create 'worship experiences,' free us needing anything more than the gospel to worship you the way you deserve to be worshiped… and delight to be worshiped. Teach us how to be stewards of technology, not slaves to technology. Teach us how to be creative, not cute… faithful, not manipulative… simple, not spectacular.

"Reel us back in anytime we move away from the 'simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ' (2 Corinthians 11:1-3) And let us never forget that you are not seeking 'great worship,' but true worshipers—those who worship you in spirit and truth (John 4:21-23)...."

-- Pastor Scotty Smith, pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

J.I. Packer: The Old Gospel and the New

"Without realizing it, we have during the past century bartered [the biblical] gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing. Hence our troubles; for the substitute product does not answer the ends of which the authentic gospel as in past days proved itself so mighty. Why?

"We would suggest that the reason lies in its own character and content. It fails to make men God-centered in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts because this is not primarily what it is trying to do. One way of stating the difference between it and the old gospel is to say that it is too exclusively concerned to be 'helpful' to man -- to bring peace, comfort, happiness, satisfaction -- and too little concerned to glorify God.

"The old gospel was 'helpful' too -- more so, indeed, than is the new -- but (so to speak) incidentally, for its first concern was always to give glory to God. It was always and essentially a proclamation of divine sovereignty in mercy and judgment, a summons to bow down and worship the mighty Lord on who man depends for all good, both in nature and in grace.

"Its center of reference was unambiguously God. But in the new gospel the center of reference is man.

"This is just to say that the old gospel was religious in a way that the new gospel is not. Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach people to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better.

"The subject of the old gospel was God and his ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference....."

-- J.I. Packer, "A Quest for Godliness" (Crossway) p. 126

Monday, April 5, 2010

The True King Has Come

“For the New Testament authors, the ‘gospel’ was the proclamation that the true King had come to claim his throne, with all its cosmic, corporate, and individual implications.”

- Michael R. Emlet, CrossTalk (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2009), 58.

posted at "Of First Importance"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Christ's Resurrection and the New Creation...

'In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul places followers of Jesus within a new creation that has already begun: "… the old has gone, the new has come!" This is the reality brought about by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The old powers have been defeated, the old self has been crucified, and the futility of creation is being undone. A new king is lord, the new self has been raised, and the creation is catching a glimpse of an eternity with hope.'

-- J. R. Daniel Kirk

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What if it's true?....

In Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," the Misfit explains the world-shattering significance of Jesus' resurrection: "He thrown everything off balance. If he did what he said then it's nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow him, and if he didn't, then it's nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can."

With these words O'Connor declared, in concert with the New Testament writers, that the Resurrection is everything. Its truth or falsity determines whether the world has been irrevocably shaken by Easter Sunday or whether, instead, God has left Jesus, us, and the entire created order unanswered in our cries for salvation. No less than this is at stake in our affirmation that Jesus is raised from the dead.

-- J.R. Daniel Kirk

The Fact and Meaning of the Resurrection

Michael Patton summarizes the evidence for the fact of the resurrection.

J.R. Daniel Kirk writes about (one aspect of) its significance: "The story of the Gospels is one in which Jesus inaugurates a new reign of God and deals a deathblow to the imposter king through his death on the cross. If the Cross is the defeat of the old king, the Resurrection is the enthronement of the new."

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Gospel Poem for Good Friday

O ye sons of men be wise,
trust no longer dreams and lies,
Out of Christ, almighty pow’r
can do nothing but devour.

God you say is good. ‘Tis true.
But he’s pure and holy too;
just and jealous is his ire,
burning with vindictive fire.

This of old himself declared:
Israel trembled when they heard.
But the proof of proofs indeed
is he sent his Son to bleed.

When the blessed Jesus died
God was clearly justified:
Sin to pardon without blood
never in his nature stood.

Worship God, then, in his Son,
there he’s love and there alone.
Think not that he will, or may,
pardon any other way.

See the suff’ring Son of God,
panting, groaning, sweating blood!
Brethren, this had never been
had not God detested sin.

Be his mercy therefore sought
in the way himself has taught:
There his clemency is such,
we can never trust too much.

He that better knows than we,
bids us all to Jesus flee.
Humbly take him at his Word
and your souls will bless the Lord!

-- Joseph Hart

HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Meditation for Good Friday

Yea, once Immanuel’s orphan’d cry

His universe hath shaken;

It went up single, echoless –

‘My God, I am forsaken!’

It went up from the Holy’s lips

Amid his lost creation,

That of the lost no son should use

Those words of desolation.

--Excerpt from “Cowper’s Grave” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning