"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!"

Monday, December 31, 2007

An Emerging Dilemma

The more I study and learn about the Scriptures and the Doctrines that the Christian faith is founded upon, the more certain I am that they are in complete contradiction with the ways of this world. That may seem very simplistic and obvious, but it is a truth that the Lord is making very plain in my life. It is a truth that, if grasped and believed upon, can set you free from many chains Satan would like for you to be trapped in. For instance, prior to the Lord awakening my soul to His holy righteousness, I got by a lot of the time in life because of appearance. No, not by my clothes or by the way my hair looked, but by the way I "appeared" to be living my life. For 20 whole years I was able to make it look like I was the most humble person, but in actuality I was one of the most prideful. Because I had mastered how to appear humble, I was able to peacefully live the cultural Christian lifestyle with virtually no conflict or interruptions. No it wasn't all candy canes and lolly pops, but as far as peace with the world, I had it. Why? Because no one was ever confronting me with truths that would have been in direct conflict with my pride, and nor was I confronting the world with them either. If you ever questioned my belief or salvation, well all I had to do was point to myself...my works...my character, and it usually sufficed. People saw me going to church and leading high school Bible studies and not cussing and not going out to parties, so there was no grounds for questioning right? Oh great goodness, if there was one thing that I wish I could change, it would be that there would have been some way some how my heart could have been examined a decade earlier than it was. I never lacked affirmation from people in my life. There was never a time when the people around me weren't encouraging me and patting me on the back and telling me I was doing a great job. I thought I was truly blessed, and there is no doubt that I was (my point is not to say that encouragement is a bad thing), but I was also equally cursed.

Ok, here is the tricky part...I was completely 100% dead set that I was sincerely following Christ during this time. I confessed that everything I did was to give God the glory, and while I knew I wasn't perfect, I really did desire to glorify the Lord in all that I did. Or did I? That isn't a question added for clever interjection...I seriously don't know if I did desire that or if I was just deceived into thinking that I did. It wasn't like I knew that I was prideful and I was purposefully getting up every morning planning on tricking people into thinking I was humble...No. I truly believed that I was humble. Do you see the problem? I believed with all my heart that I was walking in truth, when really I was deceived. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? (Jer 17:9). I knew the truth. Some of it at least. It was common knowledge to me, however it wasn't a reality in my life. And it took the Word of God to change that. I don't get too meticulous when I look back at that part of my life, not because I take my deception lightly; no way, there have been plenty of sleepless nights spent with tears and godly sorrow and repenting for the times that I lived deceived by the idols in my life. I simply don't get too meticulous in trying to define exact details of why I was this way and why I was that way because it is simple. I loved my darkness and sin more than the light of Jesus Christ and I am held responsible for that, while at the same time, God is sovereign and was working out my salvation on His timing. The most important thing that I learned was that I was not the author of my own salvation, and that the opening of my eyes to truth was completely dependent on a gift from God....so who am I to boast?

But with many people today, the emerging church specifically, it is completely alright with them to appear to be living the Christian life. As long as they have fooled themselves into thinking that what they are doing and believing is true simply because of their experience and their feelings affirm them, well of course they are going to object to anything that is on any other level than the one they are on. Reaching any deeper might cause them to have to question this "nirvana" they have reached. That is not a truth seeker my friend, that is a personal peace seeker. The ways and thoughts of God are at utter variance with man's thoughts. The emergent, seeker-sensitive church is not producing converts with new, regenerated, heart of flesh souls, they are simply bringing thoughts and ideas of this world which agree with their natural fleshly state and sprinkling a little talk about God and Jesus and the Bible and WAHLA, of course people are going to eat it up. It's like personal peace served up on a platter to them, and even better, it satisfies the question of eternity for them too. Great, killing two birds with one stone! It is true that Jesus Christ meets the sinner directly where they are, but not so that they can stay there and enjoy a latte and worship on a comfy couch. It is so that their lives can be transformed by the renewal of their minds. And the renewal of their minds comes from nothing other than the truths found in GOD's Word.

To tie this all back together...what is my point? My point is that for 20 years I appeared to have it all together, especially in the eyes of the world. And all the while, the 'Christian' aspects of my life at the time were doing a great job in fueling this deception. I'm not writing this post to say that I have all the answers. All I am simply doing is sharing my concern for a situation that I was firsthand right in the middle of. I thought I was living for Christ. My feelings and emotions confirmed that for me, and of course so did the others that were right there in it with me. But I wasn't. And going to many of what the world calls Christian functions did nothing but further me into this deceived state. SO WHAT DO WE DO WITH THIS?!!

Well, really it is simple, and it is the only thing that rescued me from the pit of this deception: preaching the ENTIRE counsel of God. If the heart is wicked, and if there is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12), then wouldn't it be wise to look outside our feelings and emotions and personal experiences to define what it means to be a follower of Jesus? We need to preach the character of God that comes from Scripture. The one thing that bothers me so much about seeker sensitive churches is how much they talk about being like Jesus, and following Jesus, and loving Jesus, and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, when in all actuality they don't even know the true character of Jesus, the Son of God. And even if they have some grasp, why do they spend so much time and effort refuting the people who embrace the idea that doctrine (the actual TEACHINGS OF JESUS) should be studied thoroughly and diligently in order for the correct Jesus to be portrayed? It boils down to this: the emergents preach an all-inclusive (non)gospel that is unoffensive to sinners (this is not an exaggeration, they are proud of this fact), all the while God's Word, when preached in its entirety is very offensive to people and to the very nature of mankind. It offends the self-righteous, which includes, um, everyone in their unregenerate state. That was me. It was only when my pride and self-righteousness were confronted head on with the preaching of the character of a God who will have nothing to do with anything of the sort that my form of godliness was brought to the exposure of the white light of Christ. In Philippians 1:10, Paul's prayer for the brethren of Philippi is "that you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ." In the Greek, the word sincere (eilikrinēs) means judged by sunlight, that is, tested as genuine. WOW! Why are people afraid of the preaching of doctrines from the Bible? Is it because they are afraid their true identity will be exposed? It certainly exposed mine.

It is frustrating, but it makes perfect sense. The ways of God are in perfect variance with the ways of man. When I was a professing believer I was known as a humble person, but since the Lord, in His loving and underseving grace, has opened my eyes, to the world I am probably looked at as a prideful and arrogant person who thinks she is always right. But in all actuality I am more humble now than I ever have been (I say that in an unprideful way, for it is by the Grace of God alone). I used to be so full of self-righteousness that I couldn't see past my own selfish ambitions. Now, I am more aware of my sin and my faults and my selfishness and my unrighteousness before a holy and perfect God than I ever have been, and that usually results in a prostrated position on my dorm room floor. I am so aware that every part of my flesh wants to be prideful in myself, and because of that I still struggle with it, but I fight it with the power of Jesus Christ risen. And yet the world sees me as arrogant because I believe in objective truth and believe that the doctrines of this objective truth should be taught. If that isn't evidence to the Lord's ways being directly contrary to man's then I don't know what is.

I kind of got off track in this blog post. I meant for it to be about how dangerous it is to have what the Bible calls a form of godliness but denying the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5) and how the emergent church and seeker sensitive movement is only leading people down this path. I may or may not have stayed on that track, I really don't know, but you can see that I am very passionate about this subject. But one thing that I have learned is that it is completely, 100% possible to be walking in complete and utter darkness and yet be deceived in thinking you are in the light. It may sound obvious, but I've been there. The only way to get someone out of the darkness is to make them aware that they are walking in it in the first place. It is like man's default position is to think that they are fine right where they are and walking in the light, but we know that this is not true (total depravity). For the longest time I had myself and others fooled by my appearance of godliness. But it took hard Biblical preaching to shine the light of Christ on my life to expose it. Did it hurt my personal peace at the time? Very much so. But looking back, there isn't anything in the world that would make me go back to the deceived state. Why? Because the personal peace is a fraud. It is an idol that is ultimately being served. It is not eilikrinēs and it will not withstand the test of sunlight. Only through living in the truths of Christ can you obtain the peace that passes all understanding.

Ultimately it is not important if you know something is true; it is only important that the truth becomes a REALITY in your life. The confusing part is that not everything preached at these particular churches that I am referring to is untrue. It is, however, severely one-sided. They spend too much time trying to convince people that they really are sincere, when they need to be holding up themselves to the mirror of Scripture and then determining if they pass the sunlight test or not. Not running full speed away from the light in fear that they will get burned, and ultimately, exposed. When God finally held my life up to the entire counsel of His word, I flunked the sincerety test with a capital F. My idols couldn't stand the sunlight and they came rushing to the surface, and well, that didn't go over very well with my personal peace. And whether we realize it or not, the emergent church and a lot of these 'seeker sensitive' ideas are creeping, one by one, into a lot of evangelicalism, and I'm afraid that the disdain for hard, Biblical preaching is one of them. The plead to dig deeper is labeled as Pharisaical, and that thought alone makes me cry.

Because the power of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can save a blind person from falling into the pit of deception, join me in praying that the Lord will save His people from this horrifying dilemma.

Here is a video by a Sis that knows exactly what I'm talking about:

Friday, December 28, 2007

"Christ came here NOT to help those who were willing to help themselves..."

A lot of today's evangelicalism consists of the idea of walking down an aisle and making a decision to 'choose' Christ as your Savior. They say, Jesus is knocking at the door and it is now up to you to let Him in. While most of the time this is done with the sincere intention to invite souls to believe in their Savior, I'm afraid that it is done in blindness to the truth and is causing a lot of false converts in our churches today. The idea that man has the free will to choose Christ is not a Biblical teaching; it denies that man's will became totally depraved and dead in sin after the fall of Adam. This teaching is also very man-centered and it attempts to rob the Lord of the glory that is His regardless of what we say when it comes to the conversion of human souls. The debate between free will and election is not a trvial argument, rather it is a fundamental backbone to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While, most professing Christians will say that God gets the credit when it comes to their salvation, you will usually find something different when you dig a little deeper because most people believe that it was them that chose to trust in Christ. Even if it was 1% them and 99% God, it still leaves room for man to hold on to a self-righteousness that is not theirs. The Bible says we are saved by faith and not by works and that there is nothing that differs between the saved and unsaved other than the gift of grace given to us by the Lord Himself.

It wasn't until about a year ago that the ideas of free will and election even ever crossed my train of thought, but once the Lord began to reveal what the Scriptures said about it, it was like the floodgates opened up. Suddenly I saw that I had been blindly (I didn't know it at the time) holding on to my self-righteousness because I believed that I had something to do with my own salvation (even though it was God went 99.9% of the way and I went the .1%). I saw that this little bit of righteousness of my own that I held was the breeding area of a life lived full of pride and selfishness, and ultimately I was led into much godly sorrow and repentance. It is for that reason that I am writing about this, because I know the freedom that these truths can bring. Once I saw that I was dead in my trespasses and sins and that my natural, depraved will could not get me out of that state, Christ began to quicken my Spirit to life through the preaching of the Word. It wasn't until Christ regenerated my soul and replaced my stony heart with one of flesh that I was able to choose that which was pleasing to Him. Preaching man's free will is very dangerous, and we are beginning to see the results of it taking over our churches as the gospel is being watered down to make Christ more appealing so more people "choose" Him. I pray that this post will allow you to see the importance of knowing the Biblical explaination of how God converts the human soul.

The following is a long excerpt from the book "The Sovereignty of God" by Arthur W. Pink. It is from the chapter called God's Sovereignty and the Human Will. I know that it is lengthy, but please hear me when I say that it is welll worth the read.

The freedom or bondage of the will was the dividing line between
Augustinianism and Pelagianism, and in more recent times between Calvinism and
Arminianism. Reduced to simple terms, this means, that the difference involved
was the affirmation or denial of the total depravity of man. In taking the
affirmative we shall now consider the impotency of the human will.

Does it lie within the province of man’s will to accept or reject the Lord Jesus
Christ as Saviour? Granted that the Gospel is preached to the sinner, that the
Holy Spirit convicts him of his lost condition, does it, in the final analysis,
lie within the power of his own will to resist or to yield himself up to God?
The answer to this question defines our conception of human depravity. That man
is a fallen creature all professing Christians will allow, but what many of them
mean by "fallen" is often difficult to determine. The general impression seems
to be that man is now mortal, that he is no longer in the condition in which he
left the hands of his Creator, that he is liable to disease, that he inherits
evil tendencies; but, that if he employs his powers to the best of his ability,
somehow he will be happy at last. O, how far short of the sad truth!
Infirmities, sickness, even corporeal death, are but trifles in comparison with
the moral and spiritual effects of the Fall! It is only by consulting the Holy
Scriptures that we are able to obtain some conception of the extent of that
terrible calamity.

When we say that man is totally depraved, we mean
that the entrance of sin into the human constitution has affected every part and
faculty of man’s being.
Total depravity means that man is, in spirit and soul
and body, the slave of sin and the captive of the Devil—walking "according to
the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children
of disobedience" (Eph. 2 :2). This statement ought not to need arguing: it is a
common fact of human experience
. Man is unable to realize his own aspirations
and materialize his own ideals. He cannot do the things that he would. There is
a moral inability which paralyzes him. This is proof positive that he is no free
man, but instead, the slave of sin and Satan. "Ye are of your father the Devil,
and the lusts (desires) of your father ye will do" (John 8:44). Sin is more than
an act or a series of acts; it is a state or condition: it is that which lies
behind and produces the acts. Sin has penetrated and permeated the whole of
man’s make-up. It has blinded the understanding, corrupted the heart, and
alienated the mind from God. And the will has not escaped. The will is under the
dominion of sin and Satan. Therefore, the will is not free.
In short, the
affections love as they do and the will chooses as it does because of the state
of the heart, and because the heart is deceitful above all things and
desperately wicked "There is none that seeketh after God" (Rom. 3:11).

We repeat our question; Does it lie within the power of the sinner’s
will to yield himself up to God? Let us attempt an answer by asking several
Can water (of itself) rise above its own level? Can a clean thing come
out of an unclean? Can the will reverse the whole tendency and strain of human
nature? Can that which is under the dominion of sin originate that which is pure
and holy? Manifestly not. If ever the will of a fallen and depraved creature is
to move Godwards, a Divine power must be brought to bear upon it which will
overcome the influences of sin that pull in a counter direction. This is only
another way of saying, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent
Me, draw him" (John 6:44).
In other words, God’s people must be made willing in
the day of His power (Ps. 110:3). As said Mr. Darby, "If Christ came to save
that which is lost, free will has no place. Not that God prevents men from
receiving Christ—far from it. But even when God uses all possible inducements,
all that is capable of exerting influence in the heart of man, it only serves to
show that man will have none of it, that so corrupt is his heart, and so decided
his will not to submit to God (however much it may be the devil who encourages
him to sin) that nothing can induce him to receive the Lord, and to give up sin.
If by the words, ‘freedom of man,’ they mean that no one forces him to reject
the Lord, this liberty fully exists. But if it is said that, on account of the
dominion of sin, of which he is the slave, and that voluntarily, he cannot
escape from his condition, and make choice of the good—even while acknowledging
it to be good, and approving of it—then he has no liberty whatever. He is not subject
to the law, neither indeed can be; hence, they that are in the flesh cannot please God. " The will is not sovereign; it is a servant, because influenced and controlled by the other faculties of man’s being. The sinner is not a free agent because he is a slave of sin—this was clearly implied in our Lord’s words, "If the Son shall therefore make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). Man is a rational being and as such responsible and accountable to God, but to affirm that he is a free moral agent is to deny that he is totally depraved—i.e., depraved in will as in everything else. Because man’s will is governed by his mind and heart, and because these have been
vitiated and corrupted by sin, then it follows that if ever man is to turn or
move in a Godward direction, God Himself must work in him "both to will and to
do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). Man’s boasted freedom is in truth "the
bondage of corruption"; he "serves divers lusts and pleasures." Said a deeply
taught servant of God, "Man is impotent as to his will. He has no will favorable
to God. I believe in free will; but then it is a will only free to act according
to nature. A dove has no will to eat carrion; a raven has no will to
eat the clean food of the dove. Put the nature of the dove into the raven and it
will eat the food of the dove. Satan could have no will for holiness. We speak
it with reverence, God could have no will for evil. The sinner in his sinful
nature could never have a will according to God. For this he must be born again"
(J. Denham Smith). This is just what we have contended for throughout this
chapter—the will is regulated by the nature.

Among the "decrees" of the
Council of Trent (1563), which is the avowed standard of Popery, we find the

"If any one shall affirm, that man’s free-will, moved and
excited by God, does not, by consenting, co-operate with God, the mover and
exciter, so as to prepare and dispose itself for the attainment of
justification; if moreover, anyone shall say, that the human will cannot refuse
complying, if it pleases, but that it is inactive, and merely passive; let such
an one be accursed"!

"If anyone shall affirm, that since the fall of
Adam, man’s free-will is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing titular,
yea a name, without a thing, and a fiction introduced by Satan into the Church;
let such an one be accursed"!

Thus, those who today insist on the
free-will of the natural man believe precisely what Rome teaches on the subject!
That Roman Catholics and Arminians walk hand in hand may be seen from others of
the decrees issued by the Council of Trent:—"If any one shall affirm that a
regenerate and justified man is bound to believe that he is certainly in the
number of the elect (which, 1 Thess. 1:4, 5 plainly teaches. A.W.P.) let such an
one be accursed"! "If any one shall affirm with positive and absolute certainty,
that he shall surely have the gift of perseverance to the end (which John
10:28-30 assuredly guarantees, A.W.P.); let him be accursed"!

In order for any sinner to be saved three things were indispensable: God the Father had to purpose his salvation, God the Son had to purchase it, God the Spirit has to
apply it. God does more than "propose" to us: were He only to "invite", every
last one of us would be lost.
This is strikingly illustrated in the Old
Testament. In Ezra 1:1-3 we read, "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of
Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled,
the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a
proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing saying, Thus
saith Cyrus king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the
kingdoms of the earth, and He hath charged me to build Him an house at
Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? his God
be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the
house of the Lord God of Israel." Here was an "offer" made, made to a people in
captivity, affording them opportunity to leave and return to Jerusalem—God’s
dwelling-place. Did all Israel eagerly respond to this offer? No indeed. The
vast majority were content to remain in the enemy’s land. Only an insignificant
"remnant" availed themselves of this overture of mercy! And why did they? Hear
the answer of Scripture: "Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and
Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all whose spirit God had
stirred up, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem" (Ezra
I :5) ! In like manner, God "stirs up" the spirits of His elect when the
effectual call comes to them, and not till then do they have any willingness to
respond to the Divine proclamation.

The superficial work of many of the professional evangelists of the last fifty years is largely responsible for the erroneous views now current upon the bondage of the natural man, encouraged by the laziness of those in the pew in their failure to "prove all things" (1 Thess. 5:21). The average evangelical pulpit conveys the impression that it lies wholly in the power of the sinner whether or not he shall be saved. It is said that "God has done His part, now man must do his." Alas, what can a lifeless man do, and man by nature is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1)! If this were really believed, there would be more dependence upon the Holy Spirit to come in with His miracle-working power, and less confidence in our attempts to "win men for Christ."

When addressing the unsaved, preachers often draw an
analogy between God’s sending of the Gospel to the sinner, and a sick man in
bed, with some healing medicine on a table by his side: all he needs to do is
reach forth his hand and take it. But in order for this illustration to be in
any wise true to the picture which Scripture gives us of the fallen and depraved
sinner, the sick man in bed must be described as one who is blind (Eph. 4:18) so
that he cannot see the medicine, his hand paralyzed (Rom. 5:6) so that he is
unable to reach forth for it, and his heart not only devoid of all confidence in
the medicine but filled with hatred against the physician himself (John 15:18).
O what superficial views of man’s desperate plight are now entertained! Christ
came here not to help those who were willing to help themselves, but to do for His people what they were incapable of doing for themselves: "To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house" (Isa. 42:7).

Now in conclusion let us
anticipate and dispose of the usual and inevitable objection—Why preach the
Gospel if man is powerless to respond? Why bid the sinner come to Christ if sin
has so enslaved him that he has no power in himself to come? Reply:—We do not
preach the Gospel because we believe that men are free moral agents, and
therefore capable of receiving Christ, but we preach it because we are commanded
to do so (Mark 16:15); and though to them that perish it is foolishness, yet,
"unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18). "The foolishness
of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor.
1:25). The sinner is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), and a dead man is
utterly incapable of willing anything, hence it is that "they that are in the
flesh (the unregenerate) cannot please God" (Rom. 8:8).

To fleshly wisdom it appears the height of folly to preach the Gospel to those that are dead, and therefore beyond the reach of doing anything themselves. Yes, but
God’s ways are different from ours.
It pleases God "by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (1 Cor. 1:21). Man may deem it folly to prophesy to "dead bones" and to say unto them, "O, ye dry bones, hear the Wordof the Lord" (Ezek. 37:4). Ah! but then it is the Word of the Lord, and the words He speaks "they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). Wise men
standing by the grave of Lazarus might pronounce it an evidence of insanity when
the Lord addressed a dead man with the words, "Lazarus, Come forth." Ah! but He
who thus spake was and is Himself the Resurrection and the Life, and at His word
even the dead live! We go forth to preach the Gospel, then, not because we
believe that sinners have within themselves the power to receive the Saviour it
proclaims, but because the Gospel itself is the power of God unto salvation to
everyone that believeth, and because we know that "as many as were ordained to
eternal life" (Acts 13:48), shall believe (John 6:37; 10:16—note the "shall’s"!)
in God’s appointed time, for it is written, "Thy people shall be willing in the
day of Thy power" (Ps. 110:3)!

What we have set forth in this chapter is
not a product of "modern thought"; no indeed, it is at direct variance with it.
It is those of the past few generations who have departed so far from the
teachings of their scripturally-instructed fathers. In the thirty-nine Articles
of the Church of England we read, "The condition of man after the fall of Adam
is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and
good works to faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good
works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ
preventing us (being before-hand with us), that we may have a good will, and
working with us, when we have that good will" (Article 10). In the Westminster
Catechism of Faith (adopted by the Presbyterians) we read, "The sinfulness of
that state whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the
wont of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his
nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all
that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually"
(Answer to question 25). So in the Baptists’ Philadelphian Confession of Faith,
1742, we read, "Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all
ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural
man, being altogether averse from good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own
strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto" (Chapter 9)...

...In what does the sinner’s freedom consist? The sinner is ‘free’ in the
sense of being unforced from without. God never forces the sinner to sin. But
the sinner is not free to do either good or evil, because an evil heart within
is ever inclining him toward sin. Let us illustrate what we have in mind. I hold
in my hand a book. I release it; what happens? It falls. In which direction?
Downwards; always downwards. Why? Because, answering the law of gravity,
its own weight sinks it. Suppose I desire that book to occupy a position three feet
higher; then what? I must lift it; a power outside of that book must raise it.
Such is the relationship which fallen man sustains toward God. Whilst Divine
power upholds him, he is preserved from plunging still deeper into sin; let that
power be withdrawn, and he falls—his own weight (of sin) drags him down. God
does not push him down, anymore than I did that book. Let all Divine restraint
be removed, and every man is capable of becoming, would become, a Cain, a
Pharaoh, a Judas. How then is the sinner to move heavenwards? By an act of his
own will? Not so. A power outside of himself must grasp hold of him and lift him
every inch of the way. The sinner is free, but free in one direction only—free
to fall, free to sin. As the Word expresses it: "For when ye were the servants
of sin, ye were free from righteousness" (Rom. 6:20). The sinner is free to do
as he pleases, always as he pleases (except as he is restrained by God), but his
pleasure is to sin.

(from the footnotes of the book)
The doctrine of inability does not assume that man has ceased to
be a free moral agent. He is free because he determines his own acts. Every
violation is an act of free self-determination. He is a moral agent because
he has the consciousness of moral obligation, and whenever he sins he acts
freely against the convictions of conscience or the precepts of the moral
It is often assumed that man cannot be held responsible for his response to
the Gospel unless he is capable of choosing Christ; thus it is
generally taken for granted that "freewill" and human responsibility are
synonymous and that you cannot deny one without denying the other. On the
basis of this confusion the Reformed Faith is frequently charged with not doing
justice to man's responsibility because it denies his "freewill." The
Biblical and Reformed view of man's responsibility is in fact much more profound
than the popular Arminian conception. man is responsible not merely for his
will, but for his whole nature, and as long as his nature remains what sin
(not God) has made it, he "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God" (1
Corinthians 2:14) and he "will not come" to Christ that he might have life (John
5:40). Consequently, while it is every man's duty to receive Christ, it is only
the will of a man renewed in his nature by the Holy Spirit that responds to the

Here are some great videos with more information on this topic:

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Isn't It Enough?

No words are needed for this...just watch.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Can You Be Alone?"

"If I could look back and point out one thing I see in common with men and women of God, it is their willingness to be shut up to God."

"Very rarely will you find a young man or a even man of God who will separate himself from all his playmates and just be alone with God."

-Paul Washer

Sunday, December 16, 2007

If Christ Be Not Raised, Our Faith is Vain

1 Corinthians 15:17
"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins."


empty, that is, (literally) profitless, or (specifically) an idol: - vain, vanity.
1) devoid of force, truth, success, result
2) useless, of no purpose

"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead." 2 Timothy 2:8
"The opening verses of the second chapter of the Second Epistle to Timothy are in essence a comprehensive exhortation to faithfulness. The apostle Paul was lying imprisoned at Rome, with expectation of no other issue than death. The infant Church had fallen upon perilous times. False teachers were assailing the very essence of the Gospel. Defection had invaded the innermost circle of the apostle's companions. Treachery had attacked his own person. Over against all these dreadful manifestations of impending destruction, he strenuously exhorts his own son in faith, Timothy, to steadfast faithfulness. Faithfulness to himself, faithfulness to the cause he had at heart, faithfulness to the truth as he preached it, faithfulness to Jesus Christ, their common Redeemer and Lord.

The temptations to unfaithfulness by which Timothy was assailed were very numerous and very specious. Many good men had fallen and were falling victims to them. The perverted teachings of the errorists of the day were urged with a great show of learning and with eminent plausibility. And they were announced with fine scorn which openly declared that only dull wits could rest in the crude ideas with which Paul had faced the world-- and lost. The sword of persecution had been ruthlessly unsheathed, and sufferings and a cruel death watched in the way of those who would fain walk in the path Paul had broken out. It seemed as if the whole fabric which the apostle had built up at such cost of labour and pain was about to fall about his ears.

Paul does not for a moment, however, lose courage, either for himself, or for his faithful followers. But neither does he seek to involve Timothy unwittingly in the difficulties and dangers in which he found himself. He rather bids him first of all to count the whole cost. And then he points him to a source of strength which will supply all his needs. We called the passage an exhortation. We might better call it, more sepcifically, an encouragement. And the encouragement culminates in a very remarkable sentence. This sentence is pregnant enough to reveal at once the central thought of Paul's Gospel and the citadel of his own strength. Amid all the surrounding temptations, all the encompassing dangers, Paul bids Timothy to bear in mind, as the sufficing source of abounding strength, the great central doctrine, --or rather, let us say, the great centract fact-- of his preaching, of his faith, of his life. And he enunciates this great fact, in these words: Jesus Christ raised from the dead, of the seed of David.

...Paul bids Timothy in the midst of all the beseting perplexities and dangers which encompassed him to strenthen his heart by hearing constantly in remembrance, not Jesus Christ simpliciter, but Jesus Christ conceived specifically as the Lord of the Universe, who has been dead, but now lives again and abides for ever in the power of an endless life...

It is not to be overlooked, of course, that Paul adverts to the resurrection of Christ here with his mind absorbed not so much in the act of His rising as in its issues. "Bear in mind," he says,"Jesus Christ, as one who has been raised from the dead": that is to say, as one who could not be holden of the grave, but has burst the bonds of death, and lo! He lives for evermore. But neither can it be overlooked that it is specifically to the resurrection, which is an act, that he adverts; and that he adverts to it in such a manner as to make it manifest that the fact of the resurrection of Christ held a place in his Gospel which deserves to be called nothing less than central...To Paul, it is clear, the resurrection of Christ was the hinge on which turned all his hopes and all his confidence, in life and also in death...

It is through the power exerted by His resurrection that His saving work takes effect on men. That is to say, Paul discovers the centre of gravity of the Christian hope no less than of the Christian faith in the fact of the resurrection of Christ. And of the Christian life as well. From the great fact that Christ has risen from the dead, preceed all the influences by which Christians are made in life and attainments, here and hereafter, like him.

O the comfort, O the joy, O the courage, that dwells in the great fact that Jesus is the Risen One, of the seed of David; that as the Risen One He has become Head over all things; and that He must reign unil He shall have put all things under His feet."

-B.B. Warfield from "The Risen Christ "

*I pray that the fact that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead will
encourage you just as it encouraged Timothy in Paul's second epistle to him.
Let it be your strength as you endure the tribulations and laborings for
Christ in the midst of a fallen world.

Also, here is a great video from Paul Washer on this subject:

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Sovereignty of God

-An excerpt from the book "The Sovereignty of God" by A.W. Pink

The "Sovereignty of God" is an expression that once was generally understood. It was a phrase commonly used in religious literature. It was a theme frequently expounded in the pulpit. It was a truth which brought comfort to many hearts, and gave virility and stabilty to Christian character. But, today, to make mention of God's sovereignty is, in many quarters, to speak in an unknown tongue. Were we to announce from the average pulpit that the subject of our discourse would be the soverignty of God, it would sound very much as though we had borrowed a phrase from one of the dead languages. Alas! that is should be so. Alas! that the doctrine which is the key to history, the interpreter of Providence, the warp of woof of Scripture, and the foundation of Christian theology, should be so sadly neglected and so little understood.

The sovereignty of God! What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the Godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purposes, or resist His will (Psalms 115:3). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is "The Governor among the nations" (Psalms 22:28), setting up kingdoms, over throwing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the "Only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords" (1Timothy 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.

How different is the God of the Bible from the God of modern Christendom! The conception of Deity which prevails most widely today, even among those who profess to give heed to the Scriptures, is a miserable caricature, a pathetic travesty of the Truth. The God of the twentieth century is a helpless, effeminate being who commands the respect of no really thoughtful man. The God of the popular mind is the creation of maudlin sentimentality. The God of many a present-day pulpit is an object of pity rather than of awe-inspiring reverence. To say that God the Father has purposed the salvation of all mankind, that God the Son died with the express intention of saving the whole human race, and that God the Holy Spirit is now seeking to win the world to Christ; when, as a matter of common observation, it is apparant that the great majority of our fellow-men are dying in sin, and passing into a hopeless eternity: is to say that God the Father is disappointed, that God the Son is dissatisfied, and that God the Holy Spirit is defeated. We have stated the issue baldly, but there is no escaping the conclusion. To argue that God is "trying His best" to save all mankind, but that the majority of men will not let Him save them, is to imply that the will of the Creator is impotent, and that the will of the creature in omnipotent. To throw the blame, as many do, upon the Devil, does not remove the difficulty, for if Satan is defeating the purpose of God, then Satan is Almighty and God is no longer the Supreme Being.

To declare that the Creator's original plan has been frustrated by sin, is to dethrone God. To suggest that God was taken by surprise in Eden and that He is now attempting to remedy an unforeseen calamity, is to degrade the Most High to the level of a finite, erring mortal. To argue that man is the sole determiner of his own destiny, and that therefore he has the power to checkmate his Maker, is to strip God of the attribute of Omnipotence. To say that the creature has burst the bounds assigned by his Creator, and that God is now practically a hopeless Spectator of the sin and suffering entailed by Adam's fall, is to repudiate the express declaration of Holy Writ, namely, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain" (Psalms 76:10).
In a word, to deny the sovereignty of God is to enter upon a path which, if followed to its logical terminus, leads to blank atheism.
The sovereignty of the God of Scripture is absolute, irresistible, infinite. When you say that God is sovereign, we affirm His right to govern the universe, which He has made for His own glory, just as He pleases. We affirm that His right is the right of the Potter over the clay, viz: that He may mould that clay into whatsoever form He chooses, fashioning out of the same lump one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour. We affirm that He is under no rule or law outside His own will and nature, that God is a law unto Himself, and that He is under no obligation to give an account of His matters to any."

-Arthur W. Pink

Saturday, December 8, 2007

O God, Hear My Cry

The only thing bringing me comfort right now is scripture, so I thought I would share.

Psalm 4
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: you have delivered me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.
O you sons of men, how long will you turn my glory into shame? how long will you love vanity, and seek after falsehood? Selah.
But know that the LORD has set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.
Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
There are many that say, Who will show us any good? LORD, lift up the light of your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their grain and their wine increased.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for you, LORD, only make me dwell in safety.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Spurgeon's Spiritual Journey

"When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul - when they were as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron; and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown all of a sudden from a babe into a man - that I had made progress in scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God ... I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, I ascribe my change wholly to God."

-Charles Spurgeon, Autobiography: 1, The Early Years, Banner of Truth, pp. 164-165

This was like reading a page ripped straight out of my biography. God is so good.

"We declare on scriptural authority that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful, supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained toward Christ."
- Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

No Really, You are NOT Going to Believe This....

Scenario: A couple of days ago it was 4 o'clock in the morning and I was pulling an all-nighter studying for two of my finals the next day. One of those which happened to be my "Television and the American Family" class. One of the chapters that I was studying in my textbook was on how television influences religion in our society. AND GUYS, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP....right there in the middle of the night with my eyes getting real heavy, there it was...the passage that woke me up straight out of my bed and on to my feet. Take a look...and keep in mind this is from my textbook...

It may be that the mere presence of television as a medium has altered all religion in subtle but profound ways, so much so that the perceived reality about religion will never be the same agian. In his provacative book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman (1985) argued that television has radically reshaped practically everything about our lives. One domain that has been greatly changed is religion, in ways that go far beyond the Sunday broadcasts and the TV evangelists. Postman argued that, because TV is, at heart, entertainement, then the preacher is the star performer, and "God comes out as second banana" (p.117). Although Christianity has always been "a demanding and serious religion," its TV version can acquire its needed share of the audience "only by offering people something they want" (p.121), which is hardly historical Biblical Christianity. Furthermore, Postman argues, TV is such a fundamentally secular medium that religious TV uses many of the same symbols and formats (e.g., The 700 Club was modeled after Entertainement Tonight).

Thus, TV preachers are stars attractive and affluent just like movie stars. Worship on TV is not participatory; the audence can sit at home and absorb, but cannot have the corporate worship experience of group singing, praying, or liturgy. Although a church may be considered holy ground where people act with reverence, there is no comparable sacred space when watching church on TV at home, where one can sit in dirty underwear drinking beer and eating pizza during the sermon.

Postman argued that, as more and more religious services are broadcast on TV and as pastors are more acquainted with the television medium, the "danger is not that religion has become the content of television shows but that television has become the content of religion" (p.124). Pastors become concerned about providing the kind of worship conducive to television, even if the service is not being televised. Congregations subtly expect to be entertained, even amused. Worship services have jazz music, rap liturgy, and computerized multimedia presentations. One church ran a full-page ad touting its contemporary Saturday evening service called "Church Lite" for college students who wanted to sleep in on Sunday. Other churches use Sunday school curricula like "The Gospel According to the Simpsons" or "The Gospel According to Harry Potter." A Baptist church in Arkansas hired Wacky World Studios in Tampa for a $279,000 makeover of a former chapel into "Toon Town," with buzzers and confetti that explode during joyful celebrations like baptisms; the Sunday school attendance doubled (Labi, 2002). Is this creative reaching out to people in mission or selling one's soul on the altar of popular culture? The answer is not always obvious.

Places of worship have no particular sacred character, because one can worship through TV while at home. One congregation worships regularly in a former roller rink, another in an old laundromat, whereas yet another rents space on Sunday mornings in a large university classroom. There is no sense of the sacred, as was found most strikingly in the magnificent cathedrals of Europe. Thus, behavior in the house of worship is no different than it is anywhere else. Has television contributed to this change?

Wow. Folks, this is a class at the University of Florida. We may win a sports championship here and there but we sure as heck don't win theological debates and we certainly wouldn't be considered anything less than a liberal school. This wasn't an article I copied from an, oh what are they calling them these days..."over-religious, Pharisaical blogging-coward." Nope. Straight from the mouth of Richard Jackson Harris in his book A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication. Even the psychologists are picking up on what most of American Christianity is letting happen right before their eyes. He did a FANTASTIC job of pointing out the danger and absurdity of the "emergent" philosophy of "let's just get them here in any way that we can!" There are consequences of that, and it usually results in the compromising of truth. Harris said it himself, the only way to get the needed audience (or as we have heard by leaders of these places referred to as "their numbers") is to offer what it is their audience wants...and well, let's be honest that usually isn't to hear they are a sinner and that without Christ they are storing up for themselves jars of wrath from a Holy and righteous God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ of the scriptures was a very offensive thing to the world 2007 years ago, so offensive in fact that they killed Him. So we must ask what Richard Harris asks in his book: have we sold our souls to the altar of pop culture in order to become friends with the world? Do you see the danger?

Many people will read this and call me judgmental, but I'm seriously just calling it like it is. As the church becomes more and more like the world, its hard to point out which is which....and as Richard Harris proves right here, it doesn't take a John MacArthur or a R.C. Sproul to see it. America is doing an excellent job of letting pop culture infiltrate the very doors of the church (little "c"). I am not saying that in order for a church to grow and be big that they must be doing something wrong (nor do I think it is wrong for a church to meet in a rented out space), I am simply saying when the cases in which they do so involves conforming to this world, it is doing the very thing that God hates. But despite all of this, God has and will continue to preserve and protect His Church (big "C") in the midst of a world that insists on exchanging a truth for a lie, and for that I am very grateful.

Test for Biblical Assurance- Paul Washer

5 of the most amazing sermons by Paul Washer on Biblical Assurance of Salvation...

Monday, December 3, 2007



Saturday, December 1, 2007

Realizing Truth- Alone on a Friday Night

Here is something that I wrote last night while out late by myself...I'm sharing it with you in hopes that you will find the Truth of God and be encouraged...even if it's just one person whose life is pointed away from sin and unto Christ, it is well worth it to me.

It's about 11:30 at night and I'm sitting outside of the Starbucks in Gainesville, FL and I have this incredible burning to write. It's like the Lord is revealing so much to me my pencil has no chance of keeping up. It's a Friday night and I'm right next door to a liquor store that is in plain view. I can see streams of college students trickling in buying what they hope will finally bring them that happiness they long for. They are hopeless; it's really hard to just sit here. Thank you, Lord, for keeping me and protecting me from all of that junk. Many people look at me and say, "man, that girl is out on a Friday night by herself reading a book- what a loser." But the Lord is doing something incredible for me right now because I can honestly say I don't care. No really, I don't care. For years I professed those very words, but deep down I struggled between living a life that serves Christ in truth and in Spirit and a life that just "appears" to. Thank goodnes the truth ALWAYS comes to the light, and thank goodness it came now while I was still on this earth to repent than when I met my Maker and it was too late.

Earlier tonight, on my way home from Bible study I was overcome with the presence of the Lord in my car. I'm serious, it was like all of a sudden I felt him take me into his hands and holding me so tight that all the lies from the world were shut out. It was an impenetratable fortress. It was like I finally realized, by the Grace of God, that I can serve Christ and not have to worry about what anybody says or thinks of me as a result. The Lord says it is impossible to serve 2 masters- and WOW is that true. So let me explain. It's Friday night and I'm overcome by this drawing from the Lord into His presence- to the point where I wanted nothing other than to just spend the rest of the night with Him, alone, just basking in His holy presence. Normally I would think to myself, "But its a Friday night, aren't I supposed to hang out with my roommates or teammates? You know, I don't really have THAT many friends here in FLA and it's probably because I'm not out interacting enough, I should go out and try to meet some new people." OR "What if my family calls and I tell them that I spent my Friday night with my pencil and paper and a Book and, oh yeah, the LORD." It will just confirm to everyone for the millionth time that I've changed and I'm not the same "Susan" that they knew not too long ago. Because that Susan didn't ever seem to be lacking anything, especially friends or things to occupy her time with. So usually I find myself right back into contemplating those statements and trying to deny all the truth the Lord has revealed in my life. I think back to all the times, now, that I denied truth in order to keep "peace" and I seriously get physically sick. I realized tonight that I've been serving the wrong master.

But also, tonight my thought process was different. While those thoughts entered my mind, they did so with a flash of light that exposed them for what they really were: lies. So instead, I found myself looking around out of my car window and finding no comfort whatsoever in the things of the world. I was right by a movie theater at the time and the sight of it made me sad- sad that I would ever go there hoping it would fulfill any longing I had in me. Because isn't that what we do? Movies, hanging out with friends, going out to dinner and bars- don't people do that stuff in hopes of fulfilling something in their lives? Even if its just so it takes up enough of their evening to keep them from being alone and having to deal with Truth and with reality. I'm not condemning hanging out with friends, I'm condemning the act of idolizing and worshipping the act of distracting yourself from the Truth. I mean think about it....how incredibly DANGEROUS!

So there I was- probably one of the most single-minded passion-filled moments I had ever had thus far in my 20 years of life. My passion was single- no not perfectly because I still manage to muddy up even my most pure thoughts with my depraved thoughts and nature. But in that moment I felt like my mind was so heavenly minded that the world was going to swallow me up. But at the same time the Lord was right there, protecting me and reminding me that I shouldn't act so surprised. He has already told me this would happen. It's right there for me to read in His Word.

So while the world says, "Sue, just go watch a movie and find something fun to do" the Lord says, "Sue, follow me." I was set free. I was set free from the lie that I have to cater to the world while I still try to please Christ. Impossible. It can't be done and it is a path of sin that leads straight to death. If the Lord called me EVERY NIGHT to dedicate my time to enjoying His presence then that is what I am to do. Not do it some of the time and still try to maintain the ties to this world. I'm not saying we withdraw out from this world because it is the Lord's will for us to be "in" it but not "of" it and we have a duty to love others by telling them the truth of Jesus Christ. What I'm talking about is serving man over God. I'm talking about not being obedient to God because you are too busy being a slave to the world. I'm talking about how all this time I didn't let God do with me what he wanted because part of me wanted to make sure I tended to my "earthly" duties first. Well the result is sin everytime. The result was a girl who denies truth in order to keep peace with the world and that is enough to lead you straight into Hell. So tonight I let go of the lie that I should fear what people think when I choose time with the Lord over the distractions of the world. And those "distractions", while most are perfectly ok in the right timing, are sin 100% of the time if you are denying what the Lord has for you during that time instead.

If you were to compare me to the person I was a year ago, wow, words can't even describe it. I'm afraid of what actually would have come out of my mouth if asked about some of the foundational DOCTRINES and TRUTHS that the Bible stands on. Sure I could have given you most of the right words to say- which was a horrible thing because no one ever dug deeper than the surface of those words to find out what really lied beneath. It is because of that right there that I am so grateful that the Lord chose to reveal truth to me and to deliver me from that bondage. He brought me to my knees and showed just exactly how deceitful and wicked I really was. Once I saw I was wretched, and naked, and poor, well, it forced me to look outside of myself for a remedy- and there stood Christ beckoning me to come. It is for this very reason that I cringe when people ignorantly say stuff about Doctrine not being important, or the oh so famous "doctrine divides" comment. Your exactly right. Doctrine divides the True followers of Christ from the professing ones, and if it wasn't for the truths that come from studying such Biblical doctrines, well, I would have been stuck right where I was in serving mammon (more info on this topic here). I thank GOD that someone took the time to dig past my facade and expose truth to me. It is that kind of love that I am a debtor to because that is the love of Christ- and that is what allows lives to be changed through the renewal of minds. I don't have to hide it...I'M NOT THE SAME PERSON I WAS A YEAR AGO and that is just simple truth. So why I try to deny it and act like I am, I have no idea. Well, yes I do, it is because of the sin inside of me. But I know that Susan Yenser of old might have looked like she had it all together (tons of friends, basketball scholarship, popularity, cultural Christianity) but let me tell you- I was enslaved to the ways of the world and it took Christ's light to reveal to me just how miserable I truly was. I looked like I had it all but indeed I had nothing, because without Christ there is nothing to be had. Now I have Christ, the true Christ of the Bible, and He is everything I will ever need. And it is now those very things that 'made' me then, such as a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Florida that I lay at the foot of the cross and ask the Lord to use for His glory, not so that I can be on top of my own selfish throne. And He is faithful to strip all the stuff that I had only to consume for my own lusts out of my life. Remember that next time you pray for the Lord to reign in your life, because it just might actually happen, and it is a beautiful thing but foolishness to the world. The Lord has separated me unto Himself- so therein lies my loyalty and duty. I'm not naive enough to say that I will never struggle with this again because I know my heart and I know it wanders full speed away from a holy God, but I pray the Lord will remind me of tonight anytime I start answering to man instead of God. Because the sweetness of a single-passion for the righteousness of God was so real to me tonight it repulses me to think I would ever depart from it.

So I sit here tonight, alone and content on a Friday night. Enjoying the quietness and fellowship with the God that created me. And Lord, I pray for those that may be going through the same thing right now. Maybe they too are alone and seeking you instead of comfort from the world. Protect them from lies Lord, and comfort them in such a way that they are content with spending time with You, and You alone. Keep their passion single, and help them shut out the patronizing of the worldlings. Thank you Lord. There is nothing in me that is worthy of this calling, but through the righteousness of Christ I can pursue a life that is pleasing to you. Amen.