"Oh to Grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee!"

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Who Are You Calling A Pharisee? And Why?

(This article is from the blog Old Truth.com)

(Originally posted 12/1/05) - JC Ryle warned that if you dare to say of one doctrine that 'it is true' and of another 'it is false', you can expect to be called narrow-minded and uncharitable. And as Paul Crouch from TBN demonstrates, you can often expect to be called a 'Pharisee' as well: "I'm tired of Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites blocking God's bridges when the harvest is perishing out there and God's calling the body to come together. Let Him sort out all this doctrinal doo-doo, I don't care about it!". But before you call someone a Pharisee, consider this advice.

Here's an excerpt from John MacArthur, as he explains
a common misuse of the term 'Pharisee'. From his book:
Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses its Will to Discern

Sometimes the Pharisees are accused of having been overly concerned with orthodoxy. But that was not at all where they went astray. Their error was that they became so wrapped up in their own traditions that they downplayed the truth of Scripture and distorted sound doctrine. Far from being theologically orthodox, they had simply invented their own traditions and used a man-made system to nullify the truth of divinely inspired Scripture
(Matt. 15:3-6).

It is fashionable today to characterize anyone who is concerned with biblical doctrine as Pharisaical. The biblical condemnation of the Pharisees' legalism has been misread as a denunciation of doctrinal precision. And love of the truth has often been judged inherently legalistic.

But love for truth is not the same as legalism. The fact that it has been portrayed that way has sabotaged the very thing the church so desperately needs today. Too many Christians are content to gaze nonchalantly at the surface of scriptural truth without plunging any deeper. They often justify their shallow indifference as a refusal to be legalistic. Conversely, they dismiss as pharisaical narrow-mindedness, any attempt to declare the truth authoritatively.

Doctrine divides; therefore any concern for doctrinal matters is commonly seen as unchristian. People concerned with discernment and sound doctrine are often accused of fostering a pharisaical, divisive attitude. But that is exactly backwards! True unity is rooted in truth.

Jesus prayed: "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth... For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one" (John 17:17-21). The unity for which He prayed is preceded by and grows out of sanctification in the truth. Fellowship that ignores or glosses over the crucial doctrines of the faith is not Christian unity; it is ungodly compromise.

As doctrine has been deemphasized, the church has moved from preaching the Word to other activities: drama, music, entertainment - things designed to evoke an emotional response rather than enlighten the mind. The charismatic movement has supplanted doctrine with experience. Psychology has elevated "felt" needs over real needs and behavioral theory over revealed truth. All this has accelerated the move away from doctrine and focused the pulpit message on everything but the objective truth of Scripture. Preachers have become comedians, storytellers, therapists, showmen, and entertainers rather than powerful envoys of divine truth. . . .

[One] reason for the low level of discernment in the church today is the reluctance to take a definitive stand on any issue. Those with any convictions at all are supposed to hold those beliefs with as much slack as possible. Dogmatism is not permitted. To pronounce anything true and call its antithesis error is to challenge society's only remaining dogma. Refuse to equivocate on any point of principle or doctrine, and you will be labeled too narrow. Zeal for the truth has become politically incorrect.

Related Topics:
Paul Pruett explores the Do Not Judge scriptures.
Read about the Types of Judging from Stand To Reason
Where does scripture tell us to defend the faith?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"His hand is good where all else is unsuccessful..."

"My Beloved put in His hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for Him."—Song of Solomon 5:4.

KNOCKING was not enough, for my heart was too full of sleep, too cold and ungrateful to arise and open the door, but the touch of His effectual grace has made my soul bestir itself. Oh, the longsuffering of my Beloved, to tarry when He found Himself shut out, and me asleep upon the bed of sloth! Oh, the greatness of His patience, to knock and knock again, and to add His voice to His knockings, beseeching me to open to Him! How could I have refused Him! Base heart, blush and be confounded! But what greatest kindness of all is this, that He becomes His own porter and unbars the door Himself. Thrice blessed is the hand which condescends to lift the latch and turn the key. Now I see that nothing but my Lord's own power can save such a naughty mass of wickedness as I am; ordinances fail, even the gospel has no effect upon me, till His hand is stretched out. Now, also, I perceive that His hand is good where all else is unsuccessful, He can open when nothing else will. Blessed be His name, I feel His gracious presence even now. Well may my bowels move for Him, when I think of all that He has suffered for me, and of my ungenerous return. I have allowed my affections to wander. I have set up rivals. I have grieved Him. Sweetest and dearest of all beloveds, I have treated Thee as an unfaithful wife treats her husband. Oh, my cruel sins, my cruel self. What can I do? Tears are a poor show of my repentance, my whole heart boils with indignation at myself. Wretch that I am, to treat my Lord, my All in All, my exceeding great joy, as though He were a stranger. Jesus, thou forgivest freely, but this is not enough, prevent my unfaithfulness in the future. Kiss away these tears, and then purge my heart and bind it with sevenfold cords to Thyself, never to wander more.

-C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Beware of False Prophets

A great message from Mike Redmond on what the Bible says about false prophets in 2 Peter chapter 2:

"These guys are good at what they do. They are slick, they have an appeal, they learn how to appeal to that base human nature in you and they are good at what they do....But God does know how to deliver his righteous ones out of temptation (verse 9), specifically the temptaion to get sucked in to that false teaching."

The Windsor Baptist Verse of the Week

The Lord has blessed me SO MUCH in these last 3-4 weeks. I have found a church that has been ABSOLUTELY the biggest blessing. I'm serious, it is a HUGE testiment to the Lord and his faithfulness. The story behind finding it and the relationships that have resulted is something that I have been dying to write about, but just haven't gotten the chance to. Lord willing I will do that soon. But each week we have a verse that we deal with, usually from the sermon that week, and we memorize/meditate on it all week long. Well this weeks, its a great one that I want to share. I am so grateful to go to a church that is about teaching truth straight out of the Scriptures and that tries to get you to examine yourself each week and not a place where you just show up and get your ears tickled. This verse is from Jeremiah 12, and well, you won't find it to be your favorite verse in the Bible...probably not even your top 25...

Jer 12:5 "If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the jungle of the Jordan?"

The background of this verse is that Jeremiah, who is enduring one trial after another, has just gotten done kind of complaining to the Lord about the wicked people in the nation and how they seem to be the happy ones. He is pretty frustrated and more or less just asks the Lord to hurry and bring judgment and kill them. Well, verse 5 was the Lord's response to Him. I know that when I am frustrated and weary, which is what Jeremiah was in this chapter, the last thing I want to hear anyone, let alone the Lord say is: You think this is bad? This is only the beginning. If you can't deal with this, how will you ever be able to handle things when I crank it up a notch? When we were discussing this in church, what we found was that the majority of women don't want answers like this when they are upset. They want to be confirmed and encouraged. They want their husband's embrace of consolement; they don't really want answers. Haha, that is so true. It takes men a while to figure that out. But even talking about humans in general, we like sympathy, but that's not always what we NEED to hear. In this case God wasn't consoling Jeremiah. Keep in mind that Jeremiah was a VERY faithful man. He was the lone light of hope shining in this nation, and for the most part he had been very obedient to the Lord. He was preaching God's law and casting down the idol's of this nation. So of course he was hated amongst men, but was faithful in God's eyes.

But God takes the opportunity to answer Jeremiah's complaint by admonishing him. He even adds in the little part "in which you have trusted" almost scolding him for still placing his trust in the things of that nation and of those men (while Jeremiah had remained faithful, he still was letting the actions of the wicked get to him). But Jeremiah was human...and he was capable of losing sight of the Sovereign plans of the Lord, just like all of us. And the all-knowing God knew that then, and He knows it now with us. So next time you are crying out to the Lord and wondering exactly what it is He is doing in your life...remember this verse. Theres plenty of room for encouragement after He gets you back on the right track of thinking....which is God is in control and we must remember we are a tool on His toolbelt, not the other way around.

Jeremiah chapter 12 is a great chapter....take a look at it and get the context in which God was saying this in its entirety.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Cost? You Probably Won't Want To Hear It

"There are those who would trouble you because you can't get all steamed up about material things. A friend of mine was quite irked because I just can't get all excited and steamed up about earthly things. I can't possibly do it. I can't possibly stand off and strike an attitude of awe at a Buick or a Cadillac or something else. I can't. The houses they're building that are supposed to be so magnificent, I can't get excited about them. When you have seen the house of city that has foundations who builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10), you can't get excited about any house any man in this world ever built. You can't get excited about it. Abraham saw the city that had foundations whose builder and maker was God and he wouldn't build a house after that. He said "I will never try to imitate. I will live in a tent until I get my house up there." It was so beautiful.

I want to tell you that it costs to know Jesus Christ like that. It costs, and most people won't pay the price for it at all. That's why most Christians are common. They have for Christ's sake surrendered evil things - that is, things that are injurious and things that are unclean and grossly sinful; but they are unwillng to surrender "good things". Everywhere in fundamentalism we have given up the grossly sinful things. We have all agreed on what those grossly sinful things are. But this is the mark of a common Christian and the man who has never gone beyond that is a mediocre Christian. Paul surrendered the good along with the bad. He said, 'Not only the things that are bad have I given up; but what things were gain to me those I counted loss. I have given up even that because I've seen something so much better. It is that which was with the Father. It is that Source, that Fountain from which flows all wisdom and beauty and truth and immortality. So for the sake of 'That,' I have given it all up.' Paul knew the human heart was idolatrous and would worship anything it posessed. Anything that you get your hand on you will worship. Paul never allowed those things to touch his heart. Any external treasure that touches your heart is a curse."

-A.W. Tozer

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

An Urgent Call to STAND

A Short Video From John Piper:

Concerning Deliverance From Sinning...

Ch. 6 from C.H. Spurgeon's All of Grace

Concerning Deliverance From Sinning

In this place I would say a plain word or two to those who understand the method of justification by faith which is in Christ Jesus, but whose trouble is that they cannot cease from sin. We can never be happy, restful, or spiritually healthy till we become holy. We must be rid of sin; but how is the riddance to be wrought? This is the life-or-death question of many. The old nature is very strong, and they have tried to curb and tame it; but it will not be subdued, and they find themselves, though anxious to be better, if anything growing worse than before. The heart is so hard, the will is so obstinate, the passions are so furious, the thoughts are so volatile, the imagination is so ungovernable, the desires are so wild, that the man feels that he has a den of wild beasts within him, which will eat him up sooner than be ruled by him. We may say of our fallen nature what the Lord said to Job concerning Leviathan: "Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?" A man might as well hope to hold the north wind in the hollow of his hand as expect to control by his own strength those boisterous powers which dwell within his fallen nature. This is a greater feat than any of the fabled labors of Hercules: God is wanted here.

"I could believe that Jesus would forgive sin," says one, "but then my trouble is that I sin again, and that I feel such awful tendencies to evil within me. As surely as a stone, if it be flung up into the air, soon comes down again to the ground, so do I, though I am sent up to heaven by earnest preaching, return again to my insensible state. Alas! I am easily fascinated with the basilisk eyes of sin, and am thus held as under a spell, so that I cannot escape from my own folly."

Dear friend, salvation would be a sadly incomplete affair if it did not deal with this part of our ruined estate. We want to be purified as well as pardoned. Justification without sanctification would not be salvation at all. It would call the leper clean, and leave him to die of his disease; it would forgive the rebellion and allow the rebel to remain an enemy to his king. It would remove the consequences but overlook the cause, and this would leave an endless and hopeless task before us. It would stop the stream for a time, but leave an open fountain of defilement, which would sooner or later break forth with increased power. Remember that the Lord Jesus came to take away sin in three ways; He came to remove the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and, at last, the presence of sin. At once you may reach to the second part - the power of sin may immediately be broken; and so you will be on the road to the third, namely, the removal of the presence of sin. "We know that he was manifested to take away our sins."

The angel said of our Lord, "Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." Our Lord Jesus came to destroy in us the works of the devil. That which was said at our Lord’s birth was also declared in His death; for when the soldier pierced His side forthwith came there out blood and water, to set forth the double cure by which we are delivered from the guilt and the defilement of sin.

If, however, you are troubled about the power of sin, and about the tendencies of your nature, as you well may be, here is a promise for you. Have faith in it, for it stands in that covenant of grace which is ordered in all things and sure. God, who cannot lie, has said in Ezekiel 36:26:

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

You see, it is all "I will," and "I will." "I will give," and "I will take away." This is the royal style of the King of kings, who is able to accomplish all His will. No word of His shall ever fall to the ground.

The Lord knows right well that you cannot change your own heart, and cannot cleanse your own nature; but He also knows that He can do both. He can cause the Ethiopian to change his skin, and the leopard his spots. Hear this, and be astonished: He can create you a second time; He can cause you to be born again. This is a miracle of grace, but the Holy Ghost will perform it. It would be a very wonderful thing if one could stand at the foot of the Niagara Falls, and could speak a word which should make the river Niagara begin to run up stream, and leap up that great precipice over which it now rolls in stupendous force. Nothing but the power of God could achieve that marvel; but that would be more than a fit parallel to what would take place if the course of your nature were altogether reversed. All things are possible with God. He can reverse the direction of your desires and the current of your life, and instead of going downward from God, He can make your whole being tend upward toward God. That is, in fact, what the Lord has promised to do for all who are in the covenant; and we know from Scripture that all believers are in the covenant. Let me read the words again:

A new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give an heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19).

What a wonderful promise! And it is yea and amen in Christ Jesus to the glory of God by us. Let us lay hold of it; accept it as true, and appropriate it to ourselves. Then shall it be fulfilled in us, and we shall have, in after days and years, to sing of that wondrous change which the sovereign grace of God has wrought in us.

It is well worthy of consideration that when the Lord takes away the stony heart, that deed is done; and when that is once done, no known power can ever take away that new heart which He gives, and that right spirit which He puts within us. "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance"; that is, without repentance on His part; He does not take away what He once has given. Let Him renew you and you will be renewed. Man’s reformations and cleanings up soon come to an end, for the dog returns to his vomit; but when God puts a new heart into us, the new heart is there forever, and never will it harden into stone again. He who made it flesh will keep it so. Herein we may rejoice and be glad forever in that which God creates in the kingdom of His grace.

To put the matter very simply - did you ever hear of Mr. Rowland Hill’s illustration of the cat and the sow? I will give it in my own fashion, to illustrate our Saviour’s expressive words - "Ye must be born again." Do you see that cat? What a cleanly creature she is! How cleverly she washes herself with her tongue and her paws! It is quite a pretty sight! Did you ever see a sow do that? No, you never did. It is contrary to its nature. It prefers to wallow in the mire. Go and teach a sow to wash itself, and see how little success you would gain. It would be a great sanitary improvement if swine would be clean. Teach them to wash and clean themselves as the cat has been doing! Useless task. You may by force wash that sow, but it hastens to the mire, and is soon as foul as ever. The only way in which you can get a sow to wash itself is to transform it into a cat; then it will wash and be clean, but not till then! Suppose that transformation to be accomplished, and then what was difficult or impossible is easy enough; the swine will henceforth be fit for your parlor and your hearth-rug. So it is with an ungodly man; you cannot force him to do what a renewed man does most willingly; you may teach him, and set him a good example, but he cannot learn the art of holiness, for he has no mind to it; his nature leads him another way. When the Lord makes a new man of him, then all things wear a different aspect. So great is this change, that I once heard a convert say, "Either all the world is changed, or else I am." The new nature follows after right as naturally as the old nature wanders after wrong. What a blessing to receive such a nature! Only the Holy Ghost can give it.

Did it ever strike you what a wonderful thing it is for the Lord to give a new heart and a right spirit to a man? You have seen a lobster, perhaps, which has fought with another lobster, and lost one of its claws, and a new claw has grown. That is a remarkable thing; but it is a much more astounding fact that a man should have a new heart given to him. This, indeed, is a miracle beyond the powers of nature. There is a tree. If you cut off one of its limbs, another one may grow in its place; but can you change the tree; can you sweeten sour sap; can you make the thorn bear figs? You can graft something better into it and that is the analogy which nature gives us of the work of grace; but absolutely to change the vital sap of the tree would be a miracle indeed. Such a prodigy and mystery of power God works in all who believe in Jesus.

If you yield yourself up to His divine working, the Lord will alter your nature; He will subdue the old nature, and breathe new life into you. Put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and He will take the stony heart out of your flesh, and He will give you a heart of flesh. Where everything was hard, everything shall be tender; where everything was vicious, everything shall be virtuous: where everything tended downward, everything shall rise upward with impetuous force. The lion of anger shall give place to the lamb of meekness; the raven of uncleanness shall fly before the dove of purity; the vile serpent of deceit shall be trodden under the heel of truth.
I have seen with my own eyes such marvellous changes of moral and spiritual character that I despair of none. I could, if it were fitting, point out those who were once unchaste women who are now pure as the driven snow, and blaspheming men who now delight all around them by their intense devotion. Thieves are made honest, drunkards sober, liars truthful, and scoffers zealous. Wherever the grace of God has appeared to a man it has trained him to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world: and, dear reader, it will do the same for you.

"I cannot make this change," says one. Who said you could? The Scripture which we have quoted speaks not of what man will do, but of what God will do. It is God’s promise, and it is for Him to fulfill His own engagements. Trust in Him to fulfill His Word to you, and it will be done.

"But how is it to be done?" What business is that of yours? Must the Lord explain His methods before you will believe him? The Lord’s working in this matter is a great mystery: the Holy Ghost performs it. He who made the promise has the responsibility of keeping the promise, and He is equal to the occasion. God, who promises this marvellous change, will assuredly carry it out in all who receive Jesus, for to all such He gives power to become the Sons of God. Oh that you would believe it! Oh that you would do the gracious Lord the justice to believe that He can and will do this for you, great miracle though it will be! Oh that you would believe that God cannot lie! Oh that you would trust Him for a new heart, and a right spirit, for He can give them to you! May the Lord give you faith in His promise, faith in His Son, faith in the Holy Spirit, and faith in Him, and to Him shall be praise and honor and glory forever and ever! Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2007


"Encourage him."
- Deuteronomy1:38

God employs his people to encourage one another. He did not say to an angel, "Gabriel, my servant Joshua is about to lead my people into Canaan-go, encourage him." God never works needless miracles; if his purposes can be accomplished by ordinary means, he will not use miraculous agency. Gabriel would not have been half so well fitted for the work as Moses. A brother’s sympathy is more precious than an angel’s embassy. The angel, swift of wing, had better known the Master’s bidding than the people’s temper. An angel had never experienced the hardness of the road, nor seen the fiery serpents, nor had he led the stiff-necked multitude in the wilderness as Moses had done. We should be glad that God usually works for man by man. It forms a bond of brotherhood, and being mutually dependent on one another, we are fused more completely into one family. Brethren, take the text as God’s message to you. Labour to help others, and especially strive to encourage them. Talk cheerily to the young and anxious enquirer, lovingly try to remove stumblingblocks out of his way. When you find a spark of grace in the heart, kneel down and blow it into a flame. Leave the young believer to discover the roughness of the road by degrees, but tell him of the strength which dwells in God, of the sureness of the promise, and of the charms of communion with Christ. Aim to comfort the sorrowful, and to animate the desponding. Speak a word in season to him that is weary, and encourage those who are fearful to go on their way with gladness. God encourages you by his promises; Christ encourages you as he points to the heaven he has won for you, and the spirit encourages you as he works in you to will and to do of his own will and pleasure. Imitate divine wisdom, and encourage others, according to the word of this evening.

-C.H. Spurgeon