Sunday, June 30, 2013

Billy Graham on 'Repentance'

From Billy Graham ("Peace with God"):

“If repentance could be described in one word, I would use the word renounce.  ‘Renounce what?’ you ask.  The answer can also be given in one word – ‘sin.’…

“Not only are we told that we must renounce the principle of sin but we are also to renounce sins – plural.  We are to renounce the world, the flesh and the Devil.  There can be no bargaining, compromise or hesitation.  Christ demands absolute renunciation…..

“…repentance and faith go hand in hand.  You cannot have genuine repentance without saving faith and you cannot have saving faith without repentance….

“…[To repent] means a great deal more than just regretting and feeling sorry about sin.  The Biblical word repent means ‘to change, to turn.’  It is a word of power and action.  It is a word that signifies a complete revolution in the individual.

“When the Bible calls upon us to repent of sin, it means that we should turn away from sin, that we should do an about-face and walk in the opposite direction from sin and all that it implies….

“….True repentance means ‘to change, to turn away from, to go in a new direction.’  To be sorry is not enough in repentance….

“….repentance cannot take place unless first there is a movement of the Holy Spirit in the heart and mind….”

“….There must be a determination to forsake sin – to change one’s attitudes toward self, toward sin, and God; to change one’s feelings; to change one’s will, disposition and purpose.

“Only the Spirit of God can give you the determination necessary for true repentance….

“There is not one verse of Scripture that indicates you can be a Christian and live any kind of a life you want to.  When Christ enters into the human heart, He demands that He be Lord and Master.  He demands complete surrender….

“…He must have first place in everything you do or think or say, for when you truly repent you turn toward God in everything.

“We have the warning of Christ that He will not receive us into His kingdom until we are ready to give up all, until we are ready to turn from all sin in our lives.  Don’t try to do it part way.  Don’t say, ‘I’ll give up some of my sins and hang on to some others.  I’ll live part of my life for Jesus and part for my own desires.’”

“God demands a total change, a total surrender.”

(“Peace with God, pp. 100-107)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Evangelical Repentance

“Evangelical repentance is turning from sin, now recognized as ruinous, to a new life of following Christ in righteousness, now embraced as the only hope of life.”

-- David Wells, "Turning to God"

What is "repentance"?

Repentance is “…radical conversion, a transformation of nature, a definitive turning from evil, a resolute turning to God in total obedience (Mk.1:15; Mt.4:17; 18:3)….  This conversion is once for all.  There can be no going back, only advance in responsible movement along the way now taken.  It affects the whole man, first and basically the center of personal life, then logically his conduct at all times and in all situation, his thoughts, words and acts (Mt. 12:33ff. par; 23:26; Mk.7:15 par.).

“The whole proclamation of Jesus…is a proclamation of unconditional turning to God, of unconditional turning from all that is against God, not merely that which is downright evil, but that which in a given case makes total turning to God impossible….

“It is addressed to all without distinction and presented with unmitigated severity in order to indicate the only way of salvation there is.

“Repentance calls  for total surrender, total commitment to the will of God….  It embraces the whole walk of the new man who is claimed by the divine lordship.  It carries with it the founding of a new personal relation of man to God….  It awakens joyous obedience for a life according to God’s will.”

-- "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament" (Kittel) on 'metanioa' (repentance)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reaping the whirlwind...

Years ago, Christian thinker Francis Schaeffer recognized what would almost inevitably happen, given the shift from a Judeo-Christian world-view in relation to the law:

"First, the whole concept of law has changed. When a Christian consensus existed, it gave a base for law. Instead of this, we now live under arbitrary, or sociological, law. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes took a big step in the change toward sociological law. Holmes said, 'Truth is the majority vote of that nation that could lick all others.' In other words, law is only what most of the people think at that moment of history, and there is no higher law. It follows, of course, that the law can be changed at any moment to reflect what the majority currently thinks.

"More accurately, the law becomes what a few people in some branch of the government think will promote the present sociological and economic good. In reality the will and moral judgments of the majority are now influenced by or even overruled by the opinions of a small group of men and women. This means that vast changes can be made in the whole concept of what should and what should not be done. Values can be altered overnight and at almost unbelievable speed."

~ Francis Schaeffer, "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?"

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Soul's Index

"Like an index tells what is in a book, so what a man meditates upon [or, daydreams about] tells us what is in his soul." --Thomas Watson

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"The prayer of our High Priest"

"It doesn’t matter how complicated, how desperate, perhaps even hopeless your life has become. No matter how overwhelmed you may feel by your problems, if your trust is in Jesus Christ, you can be sure that he is praying for you now and through that prayer he will provide for you the resources to bring you relief or enable you to carry on.

"The most important thing that you and I need to learn about prayer is this: first of all and ultimately, prayer is not something we do but what Jesus does for us."

— Richard B. Gaffin
"Christ, Our High Priest in Heaven"

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Like it or not, when it comes to religion sometimes you really have to make a choice...

When it comes to authentic Christianity, many seem to have forgotten that choosing ‘A’ necessarily means rejecting ‘B’ (that is, the opposite of ‘A’).  We live in a time when it seems to be imagined the better way is always to find a way to blend the two.  But again, logic (particularly the ‘law of non-contradiction’) and countless passages in Scripture insist that in many, many cases such a blending is impossible.  Sometimes such blending and mixing together corrupts and pollutes and adulterates (adding a third person to the marriage union doesn’t strengthen the bond, it spoils it), and sometimes such an attempted blending of ‘A’ and ‘B’ nullifies and destroys ‘A’ altogether.

Let me give one very clear example from Paul in Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”  Paul is talking here about how God chooses and saves a ‘remnant.’  But the main point to see for what I’m saying now is that Paul insists that if you try to blend grace and works, you do not merely weaken or pollute grace, you nullify it altogether – grace (undeserved favor) is no longer grace at all.

And the Bible is full of many such ‘either-or’ matters, matters of fundamental importance:
Josh 24:14-15 – the choice between the Lord (Yawheh) and the ‘gods [idols] your forefathers worshiped’.  It is abundantly clear that this could never be a matter of ‘both…and’  (compare the First Commandment – Exod. 20:3)

Yahweh or Baal – 1 Kings 18:16ff.   The Israelites were specifically rebuked for endlessly wavering between two opinions, and refusing to make the choice  (v. 21)

1 Thess. 1:9f. – For the Thessalonians, turning to the living and true God necessarily meant turning from their idols.

Titus 2:11ff.  – Paul wants Titus to be very clear in his teaching that when God’s saving grace is truly received, it “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions….”   Grace is, in this sense inherently negative (which is very much out of character with much of so-called Christianity today).  Saving grace teaches us not only to receive, but also to  renounce.

1 Jn. 2:15b   “If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.” -- love of the Father or love of the world

Matt. 6:24 – “You cannot serve two masters….God and mammon (money).”

Gal. 1:6-7a – Paul emphatically insists that one must make a choice between beliving the true Gospel or a different ‘gospel’ (“which,” he insists “is really no gospel at all”) [compare Gal. 5:4; 1 John 4:1ff.; Titus 1:9]

Gal. 5:16ff. – In Galatians 5 Paul traces out the irreconcilable war between  “flesh” and “Spirit”

2 Cor. 6:14-17 Paul again presents a compelling list of things that must not be yoked together or mixed; things we ought not even attempt to harmonize, but rather keep separate (and keep ourselves separate from).

And this either-or (saying ‘yes’ to ‘A’ means saying ‘no’ to ‘B’) principle necessarily permeates our religious thought and life.

  • And so a person must choose between atheism or theism.
  • Those who choose theism face the choice between monotheism or polytheism.
  • Those who choose monotheism must choose between Judaism, Islam and Christianity (because, to cite just one crucial difference, Christianity insists that God is Three-in-One – a Trinity – and Judaism and Islam emphatically reject this).
  • Those who choose Christianity face the choice of whether to be Greek Orthodox,  Roman Catholic or Protestant (because, again, there are fundamental and contradictory differences – for example, Protestants insist that justification is by grace alone through faith alone, and the official teaching or Roman Catholicism says that this Protestant belief is a heresy that causes damnation).
  • Those who choose to be Protestant face the choice of whether to be essentially Lutheran, Reformed or Baptist -- because, to cite just one example, these three groups believe fundamentally different things about ‘baptism’ and they cannot all be right at the same time.   (At this level, however, all three groups can be genuinely saved because they agree, at the core, on the Biblical Gospel.)

I know that looking at things this way will be very uncomfortable and unwelcome to some.  But the issue is whether or not this way of conceiving things is true (including true to Scripture).  Until these post-modern times, people acknowledged that these distinctions were real and inescapable, even if they were hard to  accept.

But today, even many professing evangelicals are profoundly confused, and the confusion is spiritually dangerous.  (Ephesians 4:14; Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Tim. 2:16-17; 2 Pet. 3:16)

One final thought from Charles Spurgeon,  “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather, it is the difference between right and almost right.”  And that takes things to a higher level still.  (Phil. 1:9-10f.; 1 Thess. 5:1-2; 1 John 4:1ff.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

"Disciples Are Apprentices"

"Ancient discipleship was essentially a form of apprenticeship. As apprentices, disciples follow an expert and absorb their master’s mindsets and practices until they become capable on their own. Jesus’ disciples do not graduate from apprenticeship to perfection this side of death, and Jesus never leaves the disciples without his presence. But Jesus works to make his apprentices like their master, not least so that they will be capable of making other apprentices.

"Apprenticeship is increasingly a lost art in the contemporary world, and a number of obstacles suggest that this metaphor requires more attention than it normally receives. When we follow a coach or the CEO of our company, that doesn’t mean we are authorized to do things they do. As a result, it is not readily apparent to modern disciples that when Jesus calls people to follow him, he means they are to imitate his self-sacrifice and dependence on God. It is not clear that our vocations are similar to his vocations or that following Jesus means doing Jesus-like things.

"The notion of a 'personal relationship with Jesus' is sometimes presented as a self-styled relationship capable of being tailored to our tendencies and desires rather than being understood in terms of lordship and apprenticeship (which are, of course, personal and relational). We shall have more to say later about apprenticeship in the Gospels, but for now it is enough to note that apprenticing with Jesus requires putting ourselves second, which means putting ourselves on a cross (Mk 10). Apprenticing with Jesus requires the surrender of prized traits of the Western world: independence, comfort, originality and efficiency. Apprenticeship also sometimes involves trading breathless activity and accomplishment for the seemingly unproductive task of sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet (Lk 10:38-42)."

-- Jason B. Hood, "Imitating God in Christ: Recapturing a Biblical Pattern" (Kindle Locations 898-912). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


"The One who was completely obedient must now be completely obeyed." -- P. Bonnard (commentary on Phil. 2:8-11)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

There is hope in the Gospel for any person...

"There is hope in the Gospel for any man, so long as he lives. There is infinite willingness in Christ to pardon sin. There is infinite power in the Holy Spirit to change hearts. There are many diseases of the body which are incurable. The cleverest doctors cannot heal them. But, thank God! there are no incurable diseases of soul. All manner and quantity of sins can be washed away by Christ! The hardest and most wicked of hearts can be changed."

"Reader, I say again, while there is life—there is hope. The oldest, the vilest, the worst of sinners may be saved. Only let him come to Christ, confess his sin, and cry to Him for pardon—only let him cast his soul on Christ, and he shall be cured. The Holy Spirit shall be sent down on his heart, according to Christ’s promise, and he shall be changed by His Almighty power, into a new creature. "

— J.C. Ryle
"The New Birth"

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"A little clearing in the jungle"

“Thus in the turmoil of life without, and black despair within, it is always possible to turn aside and wait on God.  Just as at the center of a hurricane there is stillness, and above the clouds a clear sky, so it is possible to make a little clearing in the jungle of our human will for a rendezvous with God. . . . Once, in Times Square, I was glancing disconsolately but also avidly at the rows and rows of paperbacks, each with some lewd or sadistic picture for its cover, and noticed that by some strange accident my book on Mother Teresa, Something Beautiful For God, had got on to these sad shelves.  Wondering how it could have happened, Herbert’s beautiful lines came into my mind:

And here in dust and dirt, O here
The lilies of His love appear.”

-- Malcolm Muggeridge, Confessions of a Twentieth-Century Pilgrim (San Francisco, 1988), pages 22-23.

HT:  Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Heaven Help Us.....

How did this happen?

How we ever got from the presentation of the Good News in, say, the Gospel of Matthew to our current ‘my-predicament-centered, give-mental-assent-to-the-atonement-plan’ way of thinking about what it means to become a Christian is a long, sad story, but it’s a serious and crucially significant difference.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as the messianic King, the Lord who saves, and it is obvious that the right and required response to Him and His message is one of repentance/faith -- unconditional though imperfect confidence/trust/allegiance – consider the case of the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16ff). In this scenario, a right response to the Message of Jesus means a person begins to be a believing follower of Jesus as Teacher/Master/Savior, recognizing and rightly responding to his authority in every area of life, and seeing all of life, from now on, in terms of serving him and his purposes.

What a contrast to so much ‘evangelism’ today which is almost entirely focused on taking care of my problem of being headed to Hell, so as to get me the assurance that I’ll go to Heaven instead, by ‘praying a prayer.’ No wonder so many professing Christians, populating evangelical churches today, are stalled out and stagnant, constantly wanting their ‘christianity’ on their own terms in every sphere, manifested in carelessness in regard to a grace-based pursuit of holiness (Titus 2:11-15), cluelessness when it comes to contemporary forms of worldliness, self-centeredness that is uninterested in deferring to others in matters like music preferences, indifference to baptism and membership, volatility when it comes to serving (“volunteering”), vulnerability to every kind of mis-belief and faddish trend, disinterest in authentic evangelism and mission, etc.

At the same time, individual ‘believers’ continue to live profoundly self-centered (in-the-‘flesh’) lives and wonder why their ‘christianity’ is powerless, life-less, joy-less and uninteresting. All this leave us discontent, bitter and feeling perpetually entitled to better from God, the church, family, friends, etc. Such is life in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-20).

Jesus’ actual message was, and is, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven [the return of the reign of God] is near.” (Matt. 4:17) May God have mercy on us and bring us back to the Biblical Good News, and to an authentic understanding of what a genuinely saving response to that Good News really means – a faith that works, and a repentance that actually turns from idols and self-centered sinning to the glad and willing service of the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:3, 9-10), obeying everything that Jesus, our new Master, commands (Matt. 28:18-20).

This is not some extreme or exotic form of Christianity. This IS (authentic, Biblical, Spirit-empowered) Christianity.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"The eminency of the Father's love"

"So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more.

"Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from him; but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him. This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?

"Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly say: believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a further discovery of the sweetness of the streams. You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment."

--John Owen, Communion with the Triune God (ed. K. Kapic and J. Taylor; Crossway, 2007), 128

Friday, June 14, 2013

"Jesus shall reign...."

"No matter how many strong enemies plot to overthrow the church, they do not have sufficient strength to prevail over God’s immutable decree by which he appointed his Son eternal King."

— John Calvin, quoted by Eric J. Alexander in
"The Supremacy of Jesus Christ in John Calvin A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology," ed. Burk Parsons  (Orlando, Fl.: Reformation Trust, 2008), 109

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"I give good gifts..."

I stood, a mendicant of [i.e., beggar before] God, before His royal throne
and begged Him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.

I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart I cried,

'But Lord, this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange and hurtful gift which Thou hast given me.'

He said, 'My child, I give good gifts. I gave My best to thee.'
I took it home. And though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
as long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.

I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace:
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

-- Anonymous

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Doing us good in spite of our evil

November 6, 1777

My dear Sir,

You say you are more disposed to cry miserere than hallelujah.  Why not both together?  When the treble is praise, and heart humiliation for the bass, the melody is pleasant, and the harmony good.  However, if not both together, we must have them alternately: not all singing, not all sighing, but an interchange and balance, that we may be neither lifted up too high nor cast down too low, which would be the case if we were very comfortable or very sorrowful for a long continuance.  But though we change, the Savior changes not.

All our concerns are in his hands, and therefore safe.  His path is in the deep waters; his thoughts and methods of conduct are as high above ours as the heavens are high above the earth; and he often takes a course for accomplishing his purposes directly contrary to what our narrow views would prescribe.  He wounds, in order to heal; kills, that he may make alive; casts down, when he designs to raise; brings a death upon our feelings, wishes and prospects, when he is about to give us the desire of our hearts.  These things he does to prove us; but he himself knows, and has determined beforehand, what he will do.

The proof indeed usually turns out to our shame.  Impatience and unbelief show their heads, and prompt us to suppose this and the other thing, yes, perhaps all things, are against us; to question whether he be with us and for us, or not.  But it issues likewise in the praise of his goodness, when we find that, in spite of all our unkind complaints and suspicions, he is still working wonderfully for us, causing light to shine out of darkness and doing us good in defiance of ourselves.

I am, etc.

John Newton

HT:  Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Christ Is Our Hope

"When Christ died on the cross our hopes began, when he rose they were confirmed, when he went up on high they began to be fulfilled, when he comes a second time they will be realized." -- Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, June 8, 2013

When God Comes Down

“A revival . . . is a special and manifest outpouring of the Spirit of God, when the work no longer labors in the hands of man but seems to be taken up by God himself, and God comes down in a manner and with an influence before which the wicked stand in awe, and all the people feel his special presence. . . . Everybody hears, because they come [to church] to hear; everybody feels, because they cannot help it.  Every day sinners are awakened, and every day sinners are converted.  While one is weeping for his sins, another is rejoicing in hope.  And ministers and experienced Christians give themselves up entirely to the work which God has thrown upon their hands, to warn those who are yet careless, to guide the inquiring, and to nourish those who are born again.  Conscience is almost universally tender.  Turn where you will to speak of the things of eternity, and you may find a willing ear; address whom you will on the concerns of his soul, and not unlikely the first word will open a fountain of tears.  And what is all this?  And whence comes it?  It is the Spirit of God, it is the power of the Highest, and all feel that it is so.”

Calvin Colton, The History and Character of American Revivals of Religion (London, 1832), pages 80-82.

HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"The Primacy of the Word in Worship"

-- Ron Man (orginally posted at The Gospel Coalition website_:

The Word of God is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian, containing as it does God’s revelation of his Person, his will and his ways. The Word needs to be pored over, ingested into one’s mind and heart, meditated on, and acted upon. It is a unique and precious repository of spiritual truth and guidance and encouragement. There is no aspect of the life of the church or of the individual believer that should not be tied to a scriptural mooring and infused with biblical substance (2 Tim 3:16-17). The Bible is indeed 
”a lamp unto my feet, and a light 
unto my path” (Ps 119:105).

When Christians gather for
 corporate worship, it is logical that 
the Word of God should play a 
central and dominant role. For 
since worship involves focusing our
 thoughts and hearts and voices on 
the praise of God, in response to
 his self-revelation and his gracious
 saving initiative, we of course need
 that view of God which the Word gives us if our worship is to be “in truth” (John 4:23-24). Our worship can only duly honor God if it accurately reflects what he reveals about himself in his Word.

The Word Neglected

That said, the astounding observation has been made as to how little use is made of Scripture in the worship services of most evangelical churches. The irony of course is that those who claim most strongly to stand on the Bible have so little of it in their worship. While the sermon of course takes a prominent role in our services, even preaching consists mostly of talking about the Scriptures (often after reading just a very few verses). It must be said that liturgical groups (whether on the more liberal or the more conservative end of the spectrum theologically) have probably ten times as much actual Scripture in their services (because it is built into their liturgies) as most evangelical free churches!

In too many of our churches the entire first part of the service consists just of music, and no Scripture is read at all. This author has experienced this often in both traditional and contemporary services: the problem is pervasive. It would seem crucially important for people in a service, believers and unbelievers, to hear (and/or see printed in a bulletin or flashed on a screen) verses of Scripture chosen to give a clear signal that: “We have come to worship God. The Word is how we know about God, and therefore it is the foundation for all that we do here and for our understanding of why we have come together.” Without hearing such a declaration, worshipers make the faulty assumption (consciously or unconsciously) that we invite ourselves into God’s presence, when in actuality it is only by virtue of his invitation (and his opening the way through the work of Christ) that we may come before him at all.

As James White puts it, “the first step toward making our worship more biblical is in giving the reading of God’s Word a central role in Christian worship on any occasion” (“Making Our Worship More Biblical,” Perkins Journal 34:38). We simply cannot overstate the importance of Scripture for our worship. By all means, let us be as creative as possible in building in Scripture (verses on banners or projected onto a screen as people enter, verses on the bulletin cover, readers’ theater, children reciting verses, original Scripture songs, etc), but let us make sure that the primacy of the Word in worship is obvious throughout the entire service—not just during the sermon. As White adds: Scripture is read, not just for a sermon text, but to hear what word God addresses to the gathered congregation. Preaching usually builds on that but Scripture is read for its own sake as God’s Word . . . . It needs to be communicated to all that the centrality of Scripture stems from its functions as proclamation of God’s Word to the gathered people (38).

In Scripture we find the prerequisites for worship, the invitation to worship, the authority for worship, the material for worship, the regulation of our worship, the message of worship, and the end to which worship should lead.

The Word and the Prerequisites for Worship.

The Word of God helps to bring us to the point where our approach to God in worship is possible: it teaches us that we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1); it reveals that God has provided for redemption, forgiveness, and eternal life through the work of Jesus Christ; and it presents the opportunity to come by faith into a right relationship with the Father. “The washing of water with the Word” (Ephesians 5:26) provides the spiritual cleanliness which God requires for us to be able to enter confidently into his presence (Ps 15:1-2; Heb 10:19-22; 12:18-24).

The Word as the Inviter to Worship.

God has done everything to make our approach in worship possible, and in his Word he extends the invitation (yea, command) to draw near. The Old Testament book of worship, the Psalter, is replete with calls to “praise the Lord!” (Hebrew: hallelujah). As the Danish hymn (text by Thomas Kingo, 1634-1703), puts it: We come, invited by your Word, To kneel before your altar, Lord.

The Word as the Authority for Worship.

The fact of the matter is that every aspect of the service should serve to reflect and honor the Word of God. The sermon (and the preacher) must be subservient to the Word: the Word must guide and control the preacher’s thoughts and words if the sermon is to communicate God’s message and not just the ideas of man. But also the music must be subservient to the Word: the texts must reflect and express biblical truth, and the music itself must be a suitable medium to carry the text; the musician(s) must also be subservient to the Word in terms of motivation and execution of the music. In addition, prayers and readings must be consistent with biblical teaching, if not actually taken from Scripture. As John MacArthur has put it, “If we are to worship in truth and the Word of God is truth, we must worship out of our understanding of the Word of God” (The Ultimate Priority, 122-23).

The Word as the Material for Worship.

Gary Furr and Milburn Price have suggested a number of ways in which the revelation of the Word can be communicated in the service, besides the ser- mon: Scripture readings of all sorts, music (setting Scripture texts, and also faithfully presenting scrip- tural truth in paraphrased or freely composed form), symbols (fish, cross, stained glass, etc.), carefully used drama (The Dialogue of Worship, 8- 15). When Scripture and scriptural truth are perva- sive in the service, then the acts of response will properly be understood as response to God’s self- revelation through His Word.

The Word as the Regulator of Worship.

Worship must be guided and channeled by truth, i.e. be in accordance with what God has revealed about Himself and His ways (and, as John 4:25-26 shows, must be through the Son, the Messiah, who is the truth [John 15:6]). As Furr and Price state: “This is the perfect blend: emotion regulated by understanding, enthusiasm directed by the Word of God” (125).

The Word and the Message of Worship.

Preaching is part of worship, and leads to worship. Indeed, John Piper calls preaching “expository exultation” and adds: “The all-pervasive, all- important, all-surpassing reality in every text is God. Whether he is commanding or warning or promising or teaching he is there. And where he is, he is always supreme. And where he is supreme he will be worshiped” (“Preaching as Worship”).

The Word and the End of Worship.

The Word should rightly be exalted in our worship (because it is the Word of God), but not as an end in itself. For the ultimate goal of worship (as of the church and of our lives as believers) is to display and pro- claim and magnify the glory of God. The glory of God will be well served in our worship as the Word speaks of the wonders of his person and his ways through reading, preaching, praying, singing, meditating, and practicing ordinances which are infused with and reflective of scriptural truth. The Word will enable us to obey its own command to “praise him according to his excellent greatness” (Ps 150:2).

Ron Man is the director of Worship Resources International, author of Proclamation and Praise: Hebrews 2:12 and the Christology of Worship (Wipf & Stock, 2006), and produces Worship Notes, a free monthly online newsletter. Follow Ron on Twitter @ronmanwri.

HT: The Gospel Coalition

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Theology 101

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." -- A.W. Tozer

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Christians and Suffering

"If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other people. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory to the end – all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions."

 ~ J.C. Ryle

Monday, June 3, 2013

"Made Clean Forever"

“I do believe and confess that Christ’s condemnation is my absolution, that his crucifying is my deliverance, his descending into hell is my ascending into heaven, his death is my life, his blood is my cleansing and purging, by whom only I am washed, purified and cleansed from all my sins, so that I neither receive nor believe any other purgatory, either in this world or in the other, whereby I am purged, but only the blood of Jesus Christ, by which all are purged and made clean forever.”

-- Bishop John Hooper, quoted in Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, "Theology of the English Reformers"(London, 1965), page 65, style updated.

Self-invented punishment does not cleanse.  Christ alone cleanses.  Christ all by himself.  Now and forever.  And on terms of grace. -- Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

"Good Master" -- Matthew 19:16

'If the young man in the gospel used this title in speaking to our Lord, how much more fitly may I thus address Him! He is indeed my Master in both senses, a ruling Master and a teaching Master. I delight to run upon His errands, and to sit at His feet. I am both His servant and His disciple, and count it my highest honour to own the double character. If He should ask me why I call Him "good," I should have a ready answer. It is true that "there is none good but one, that is, God," but then He is God, and all the goodness of Deity shines forth in Him. In my experience, I have found Him good, so good, indeed, that all the good I have has come to me through Him. He was good to me when I was dead in sin, for He raised me by His Spirit's power; He has been good to me in all my needs, trials, struggles, and sorrows. Never could there be a better Master, for His service is freedom, His rule is love: I wish I were one thousandth part as good a servant. When He teaches me as my Rabbi, He is unspeakably good, His doctrine is divine, His manner is condescending, His spirit is gentleness itself. No error mingles with His instruction—pure is the golden truth which He brings forth, and all His teachings lead to goodness, sanctifying as well as edifying the disciple. Angels find Him a good Master and delight to pay their homage at His footstool. The ancient saints proved Him to be a good Master, and each of them rejoiced to sing, "I am Thy servant, O Lord!" My own humble testimony must certainly be to the same effect. I will bear this witness before my friends and neighbours, for possibly they may be led by my testimony to seek my Lord Jesus as their Master. O that they would do so! They would never repent so wise a deed. If they would but take His easy yoke, they would find themselves in so royal a service that they would enlist in it for ever.'

-- Charles Spurgeon